On a Sunday morning back in 2008, a bunch of friends got together on the outskirts of Bangalore to see who could go fastest on a particular stretch of road. They got a kick out of it and decided to get together every third Sunday of the month. And so a series of races called the Bangalore Bicycling Championships (BBCH) was born.
IMAGES: Sports Anonymous
Most of the riders started cycling in the mornings or the weekends to stay fit, while slogging through 40-60 hour desk jobs in the IT capital of India. The races gave them a purpose that was beyond just staying fit and made their rides all the more interesting. The number of riders at these races kept increasing as the word spread through blogs and beautiful photos captured during these fun community events. With each passing month, along with the number of riders, the quality of their riding kept on improving.
The volunteer-driven BBCH races always followed a specific schedule set at the start of the each season so that riders could plan their training accordingly. Riders from different parts of the country started participating and the prestige of the events kept growing with the quality of the field. The volunteers from probably the biggest cycling community in India executed these races immaculately and that only added to the charm of the race series. BBCH now is one of the premier racing platforms in India and typically the Nandi race is the last and most prestigious race every season.
Nandi hills, a 7.34km climb gaining about 400m elevation is the only paved climb of any substance that is easily accessible to riders around Bangalore. Located around 60km from the centre of the city, it makes for an ideal weekend long ride with a fix of climbing for most riders in Bangalore. Climb times tend to serve as a scale, deciding the pecking order amongst riders in the community. When a 100km race is designed to finish at the top of Nandi, it automatically becomes everyone’s favourite race. They call it the Nandi Epic 100 and it usually lives up to the hyped-up name!
This year’s race was moved to a Saturday to avoid the Sunday crowd on the hill that played havoc with last year’s race. The race starts on a national highway just after the Bangalore airport on the outskirts of the city. For Elite and Master’s categories, the 100km route goes 42km down the highway where it takes a u-turn and remains on the highway for another 37km. It then takes the approach road to the hill, 21km from the finish. For Amateur and Women categories, the race route follows a similar pattern but with the u-turn being at 22km, making it a 60km race.
BBCH events get police permission, but they have to be conducted on open roads as blocking the roads for the little-known sport of cycling isn’t going to happen anytime soon. However, with lead vehicles, volunteers managing traffic, and support vehicles following the riders, it is as pro as it can get for India right now.
Enjoy the following gallery from this year’s BBCH Nandi Epic and check out Venky’s race report here (also an epic!)
All up, 181 riders from Goa, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and all over the country made it to the start line for this year’s edition of the BBCH Nandi Epic.
Snap. His bike’s rear derailleur broke, breaking his rhythm and bringing him to a standstill. He furiously tried to see if he could set it right and quickly realised he could do nothing. With 2 more km to go, he threw his shoes off and began to run up the hill with the bike…