So the 2011 edition of TfN is now over, and I can finally sleep in for a few days (and also take 2-3 days off the bike), which provides a perfect opportunity to post some random musings on the event
For me, it was a bittersweet ride. It was great to meet up with a bunch of riders from across the country, many of whom I previously knew only by their forum names. It was nice to do a bunch of tough rides back-to-back. But being unable to finish the tour due to crashing was a less-than-ideal way to end the trip: finishing the last 2 days of TfN in a car kinda sucked personally.
But I did learn some good lessons about my cycling - mainly, nutrition. Day 3, at 180-odd kilometers, was my longest ride ever and also the day I felt the best, mainly because I ate a lot more than I usually do while on the bike. As a result, I felt amazingly fresh at the end of the 180km, and - crash injuries aside - could have hammered another 50km quite easily at that point.
On the other hand, I was a little disappointed with my power numbers from the first 2 days. While the Day 1 power output was enough to put me in the 5th place, it was still a good 10-15% lower than what I should have been able to put out - which would have put me in 3rd. Day 2 was abysmal - high Zone 2, and I felt as though I was dying. This was, in hindsight, due to nutrition issues. So while I was holding 5th place after Day 2, I was underperforming. A lesson learned from this, and my 2012 training is going to be modified accordingly.
And of course, I have realized that even without the crash, I'd have been hard put to hold on to a top-10 place. If I leave aside the time lost in the crash, I would have been in 8th or 9th place at the end of Day 4, with Ooty still to go - and would most likely have finished in 11th or 12th place. So it isn't about horsepower, I think I will need to find a way to get down to 75kg for next year's TfN - at 82kg, I am simply too heavy to compete in a climber's event.
Moving on to less mopey musings, here are some moments that stick to my mind from TfN:
- Sumit's monster ride: For someone who's only training has been 15km commutes, the man came out and murdered everyone for the first 4 days, and had a very impressive ride in Ooty for a non-climber, holding on to 6th place. I think he gets the award for best results per unit of training!
- Cowzilla's always-unique method of peeing: last year, it was a massive strip-a-thon, which gathered a crowd of awe-struck locals. This year, it was a very interesting torso bend, which prompted me to hastily remind him that there was water available in the support station!
- The plastic crinkling contest at 6:00am in Ooty: judging by the increase in intensity and volume, it seemed to have gone right down to the wire. The winner still has to be declared - Sumit or Erik. Jokes apart, they were pretty good room-mates to have, even though one of them (I don't know who) snores like a fast-approaching jet plane, and they always relegated me to the mattress on the floor. Such is the life of the domestique. :)
- Last year, I always had the impression that the ride itself was sort of secondary in the grand scheme of things - this year, the Tour was entirely rider focused, no doubt about that. Having fewer people was actually good: it meant better hotels everywhere and generally better support. The Tour volunteers were absolutely rock stars, as always: a big thumbs up to them, for making it a success.
- Watching Venky climb on his fixie was an alarming sight - it looked as though he was about to fall off the bike, the way he was muscling the gear. Yet he put in some absolutely great times. He'll be a scary climber on a road bike.
- A big shout-out to Narayan, from Gurgaon, for stopping to help me when I crashed, and also for lending me his bike and his shoes, thereby enabling me to complete the Day 3 CS at the expense of his own competition. Unfortunately, by pulling out on the Ooty day, I didn't do full justice to his gesture, one of my regrets from the tour. But I owe you one, buddy!
- The Feeding Frenzy at the Savoy in Ooty - This is my contribution to TfN tradition, and - if I may say so myself - is one of the high points of the Tour, along with Siva's "Raising The Bar". This year's feeding frenzy didn't disappoint, either, with about 18-20 riders taking over the dining room of the Savoy, and causing them to run out of pizza and severely testing the capacity of their staff.
To all my cyclista friends, old and new, it was great riding and hanging with you guys. And remember, the Assos Beak is watching!