So it’s 1st September (Strava), day when much awaited Tour of Aravallis (3 days, 350 KMs, 4500+ meters of elevation) finally begins. How I prepared and how I reached to the starting point is detailed in my previous post.
It’s 5 AM and we get a wakeup call at room by a volunteer. I spring up from the bed, worried that if I don’t hurry, I will get late. My room-mate Mayank seems chilled out and in no particular hurry. While he spends some more time lying in bed, I get into bathroom. I try to be as quick as possible and change into cycling clothing. I pack my bag, pick-up helmet and other bike accessories and walk out of the room. Walking with cycling shoes on hotel’s marble floor and descending down staircase was scary but somehow I managed to reach the lobby without any drama. We deposited our bags to be loaded onto support vehicle and then went to take breakfast. It was drizzling, but tour has to begin.
Tour Director Anuj was on megaphone giving us instructions and details for the day to come. After that we warmed up under guidance of physiotherapist accompanying us on the tour. Soon it was 7 am and we were flagged off. I forgot to wear my gloves, so I stopped briefly to put them on and off I went again. Everybody was riding easy so I quickly caught up to the bunch. I noticed, most people were chatting and riding casually, most of them knew each other. Since I didn’t know anybody, I decided to keep moving ahead. Kishan said hi to me, when I caught up to him. We talked briefly and I kept moving ahead. Soon I caught up to the lead bunch of 4 riders from Team Montra (Rudra, Sheriyar, Madhu and Ryan). I decided to follow them, they seem to know, what they were doing. Soon Devang joined me and we started talking. He gave me good company throughout the tour.
First 20 KMs or so were flat and went by without any real effort. We soon reached the base of Mount Abu and here started my first HC climb of life. It was just 18 KMs from base but with an avg. gradient of 5%, it took us 800 meters up. Soon I started slipping away from front bunch of Team Montra, but I knew you can’t fight with mountain, so I slipped into lowest gear and just kept pedalling at a comfortable cadence. My only aim before coming to the tour was to climb Mt. Abu in one go, without any breaks and I was working my way up towards that.
It was drizzling when we started the day and as we climbed up, it turned foggy. It was difficult, but I was enjoying every moment of it. Many times, I thought that I won’t be able to keep riding without break till top, but I kept pushing for a little more distance. At times gradient climbed up to 25% making it really hard to keep pedalling, so I revised my aim to reach at least till the first support station, which was a a few KMs before the top and I kept riding. Sometimes I tried looking at the road in front of me and I had to literally look into the sky to see the road after next bend. However after sometime gradient eased up a little bit and I felt better and support station came, but I kept going without stopping and finally I stopped on top of Mt. Abu. only. What a feeling!! Ya it was back-breaking and ya Mayank and Marco came from behind and passed me with ease while I was fighting my way up, but I was very pleased nonetheless.
After riding through outer Mt. Abu town for sometime, I reached the start point of Competitive Segment (modeled like an Individual Time Trial). Ya after climbing up the Mt. Abu, they wanted us to now sprint with all our might up a Category 2 climb to reach Guru Shikhar, which was at the top of Aravalli mountain range. I rested for sometime, drank water and electrolytes, ate chikki etc and then decided to be done with the CS. Tour Director Gaurav recorded my time and off I went. I was expecting this section to be easier than the Mt. Abu part and also it started with a descent, so I pedalled with all my might but soon gradient started climbing and fatigue took over and I couldn’t really pedal as fast as I wanted to. I gave up on my CS ambitions and settled to just finishing it somehow. I kept pedalling through fog and mist somehow and after sometime, which really felt like an eternity finally encountered Anuj coolly sitting on a camping chair on the side of the road. I heaved a sigh of relief. I was finally on top of Aravallis and I climbed all the way up on my bike. I was definitely feeling proud and satisfied.
Ever helpful Avishi was there with all the snacks supplies, glucose, water and soft drinks. I rested for sometime there. Devang soon joined me at the top and we decided to start our journey down to Mt. Abu where we were staying for the day today.
Descending from Gurushikhar at really high speed was very scary for me. I kept pressing brakes really hard most of the time. I soon reached the Mt. Abu town and found my way back to the Hotel. It was a beautiful heritage hotel and we were there right on lunch time.
However our bikes were completely dirty after riding in rain, so we decided to first wash our bikes. After cleaning up the bikes, it was time to clean ourselves and then enjoy a much deserved lunch. After lunch I wandered around the hotel for sometime, but I was feeling really tired and wanted to recover before the start of next day, so I decided to go and take a nap at the room. After the nap too, I just lazed away most of the time till dinner.
After a sumptuous dinner, results for the CS were announced with Kartik, Mayank and Rudra taking the honours on first day. Women category was won by Eva and veteran category was won by Marco. We all soon retired to our respective rooms to rest and be fully fresh and ready for a big day tomorrow.