On the 1st of August, Chennai had their first No Contact ITT. An Indididual Time Trial to satisfy the hunger of the racing junta in these Covid times…
Racers want to race. No matter hell or high water. Or lockdowns!
With this lockdown now having extended to 5 months and no respite in sight, the racing folks of Chennai took matters into their own hands..
Enter Madras Racing Circuit (MRC). A group of cyclists who have been organising road races in Chennai for the last 3 years based on strong volunteer support. With 5 dry months, everyone was showing withdrawal symptoms. Talk resumed of how one can go racing safely in this day and age.
No Contact ITT
MRC rose to the occasion and conducted the country’s first ‘No Contact ITT’ on the 1st of August.
The philosophy was simple, to remind racers what adrenaline feels like, when you break through the barriers of pain to enjoy the sweet taste of success.
Riders on the MRC Whatsapp group were invited. These were riders familiar with MRC racing formats and the course was familiar to most.
The ITT was held on a Saturday, because the city is under lockdown on Sundays.
A time window was set for people to start their ride, from 6 to 7:15 AM on the 1st of August. This helped stagger the start line. To ensure that no one was bunched up, before the start line and on the course.
There was no registration, bib collection and other usual pre-race stuff. You showed up at the start line and rode your heart out. Simple.
As in any ITT, drafting was not allowed. With the staggered start, this was easier to maintain. There were also a few race marshals, stationed throughout the race course, to ensure that everyone followed the letter and spirit of the rules.
One of the most important aspects to conduct a race like this is discipline. It is pertinent that all the racers and organisers have to maintain decorum and physical distancing. Racers rose to the occasion by reporting in a great attitude to the start line.
A lot of the participants rode from their home to the start line, raced the 34 km pancake flat course and then rode back home. Few of the racers came in their cars.
Even the guys shooting the race, slung their cameras on their backs and went cycling!
24 cyclists turned up to race, out of which 2 were female participants.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the racers weren’t rusty after 5 months of zero competition. They were all fast out of the box.
The course record previously set in a mass start race was broken by the winner.
You know everyone was fast, when many participants notched their PRs on the course!
Both the KOM and QOM for the Strava segment were set on race day.
Adarsh Saxena took the win riding the 34 km course at a whopping 43.7 kmph, while Abirami Manoharan was fastest woman averaging an eye popping 37.5 kmph. She was 9th overall, comfortably faster than many guys.
Behind Adarsh, Sanjeev Ramki and Sachin Chavan finished on the podium, clocking speeds of 40 kmph and 39.4 kmph respectively.
Chennai’s favourite LBS, ProBikers contributed prizes for the podium.
After the race, there was no podium ceremony, backslapping or cheering. Everybody stuck to being responsible citizens and went home without any post-race antics!
Chennai and MRC pulled off a clean No Contact ITT on the 1st and the racers will be coming back for more. The next ITT will be held in Chennai on the 29th of this month. Get in touch with them if you would like to race.
The Chennai folks kicked it off for other cities as well. A week later, Bangalore had an ITT along the same lines. It was organised by Naveen John. You can read about it here: NJ’s ISO TT.
Pune has also jumped into the fray and is organising an ITT on the 15th of August.
With no other form of racing appearing possible safely in the near future, ITTs look like they are here to stay…