Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tour oF Nilgiris 08 (Dec 25th-31st 2008)

For those who don't know it already, TFN was a 919 km cycle ride through Bangalore-Mysore-Madikeri-Wayanad-Ooty-Mysore-Bangalore. We actually did a shorter distance(~800 km) as we didn't do most of the local rides.

Short report:
Did my longest ride ever (~750 km)
The ride was awesome.
Support crew were excellent.
Met a diverse bunch of amazing people
The Ooty climb was not as hard as expected.
The Madikeri to Sultan Batheri ride was the hardest and most fun. With ~150 km of rolling terrain (ups n downs)
Madumalai-Bandipur was the awesomest stretch
Ooty was cold
Had loooads of fun
Photo slideshow is at the bottom of the post

Day minus one (Dec 24th): A very un-brief briefing..... Collected goodies. Deposited luggage. Got to know abt the riders riding along......

Day 1 | Bangalore - Mysore (160 km): Lots of ppl turned up from RFL and BBC to send us off..... Some even rode all the way to Mysore..... Did the first 75 km at a 26.6 kmph avg speed. Then by the time reached Mysore average speed dropped to 25 kmph...... Was an uneventful ride except for a fall at Mysore and injured my hand a bit (due to which i couldn't do the Chamundi climb)
Before the start

Evening saw us at a nice resort (WindFlower) at Chamundi base, where we had snacks and coffee.... Did a local ride and met up with some Mysore bikers..... Finally reached the Youth Hostel to listen to the Warden's very long breifing on the "norms" of the hostel and the history of their employees(sigh!), before heading to sleep.

Day 2 | Mysore - Madikeri (125 km): Amazing road until Kushalnagar...... Nice pleasant ride.... mildly scenic, nothing worth the camera though...... But after Kushalnagar, the scenery turned beautiful and the roads turned horrible.... And there was a long climb to reach Madikeri. Climbed hard, ran out of juice within myself and also my hydration pack..... Caught up with Sameer (like we inevitably always did almost through the tour) who was also out of juice..... We stopped and waited for the support car to load up on food and Gatorade..... Chit-chatting, especially with the witty remarks from Sameer got me through the climb. A six kilometer descent later, reached the estate where we retired for the day.
At Madikeri

Had a campfire at night, where we heard Avinash doing the Malgudi days tune on the flute..... Lots of jib-jabbing and a tiny walk later, went off to sleep.

Day 3 | Madikeri - Sultan Batheri (150 km) aka i-love-my-bike ride: Extremely scenic. But the road was bad. Most road bikers didnt do much of riding as the bikes would be a piece of rubble at the end of it (except for the ones who bunny-hopped over potholes).... Since mine was a hybrid bike it did both thae bad patches and good patches reasonably well.... Wayanad was beautiful.... Ullas had a bad fall with a lost tooth and a fractured hand..... I rode extra carefully on the downhills..... The whole route was ups and downs.... Steeeeeep ups and downs..... Some ups were so steep and long that, one could give up on it just by looking! But i rode managing my best to avoid stooping down to the nanny gear..... Finally reached the dingy hotel where we stayed the night. Was proud that i did every stretch of the steep climbs and long bad roads(thanks to padded shorts for safety of important stuff).

The night was spent cribbing about the hotel and worrying about how safe our bikes would be, before we went to sleep peacefully keeping our bikes indoors.

Day 4 | Sultan Batheri - Ooty [95 km (70 km on cycle + 25 km in sweep vehicle)] : Was a scenic ride, going through tea estates at Devarsolai. After Gudalur came the big climb that many of us were fearing all through. Took plenty of breaks (photo breaks, water breaks, food breaks, rest breaks). But the gradient was not even close to the gradients climbed on the previous day. Only thing was that it was up n up n up this time instead of ups n downs. And finally after 70 kms of hard effort, got swept (sweeper vehicles are the ones that pick u up and float u to the destination if u don't do it fast enough) with around 25 km yet to go, as it was getting cold and dark. But i now realize that i could have actually rode through, as it was mainly downhill with a coupla small ups).
On the climb to Ooty

The night saw shivering people and a warm campfire with amazing local food. There was singing and dancing especially from Seema and Avinash. Then a few slept, while the others were busy preventing them from sleeping, laughing their hearts out listening to ride stories (especially from Avinash).

Day 5 | Rest day at Ooty (rode 15 km): Some went running up Dodda betta, others went cyclng. Some mended their bikes all day through. The support team finally slept that day and did a tiny ride around Ooty....... I rode around Ooty in the morning with Francis and Murali...... "Trekked" in the garden at the KSTDC hotel with them.... Had a gala time and then slept tight through noon, instead of earlier plans of riding up Doddabetta..... Then went around chocolate shopping..... Finally rode the "Chaiyya-Chaiyya" train from Ooty to Coonoor with a bunch of riders. Dickie gifted me a nice jersey. (Saminder Singh aka Dickie is an avid cyclist, now 46, is very rich at heart and has a lot of cycling gear that he gives out as "shareware", to build a cycling community that helps each other). Had a fun time, taking a break from the daily cycling, and got to know so much more about Dickie, from the first time i heard of him.
Ooty Lake

Once more, there was a campfire at night, where we had more fun n frolic. Many of us stayed up late at bed singing and guffawing. And boy, what a mix it was when we had professional singers like Deeksha, and the besuras like myself, and of course with the woofers provided by the snoring lot! We stayed up until 1 am, inspite of knowing that we had to ride the next day! That would most likely be the last day we could stay together like that! (Thanks to the "norms" of the Mysore hostel the next day)

Day 6 | Ooty - Mysore [120 km (80 km on cycle+ 40 km in sweep vehicle)] : Woke up to the tunes of Murali playing the flute before we headed off.... reached Madumalai after a slow and careful ~20 km descent with breathtaking views, and 36 crazy hairpins...... Burnt rubber on the descent (not the rubber of the tyres, but the rubber of the brakes)...... I was scared chicken shit of the crazy downhills and hairpins, that i went almost at the pace of going up hill!..... (Nelly, the pro downhill rider did the descent in 18 mins, where i took 1 hr 18 mins). Then entered the awesomest stretch through Madumalai-Bandipur. The feel was so amazing that i slowed down as much as i could and just enjoyed the scenery..... the gentle sun coming through the branches of the trees around..... the chirping of birds.... the chattering of Langurs..... i was drunk with nature, din't bother takin my camera out, lest i screw up the high i was relishing..... I wanted this state of mind to last ass long ass it could, doing my best to be as slow as possible....... That's the most amazing slow ride i've ever had.

On reaching Guldlupet, the road was mighty horrible and even my padded shorts couldn't save my poor butts. I survived through the bad patch of roads, which were worsened by strong headwinds, which also picked up some dust. But i could do it at a horrendously slow pace. The road after Gundlupet was good, but i was still 40 km short around 5 pm. I still could've managed to reach Mysore on the cycle by 7 pm, but i din't wanna brave crazy traffic at dark. So willingly got swept.

No campfire this night, yet, many of us just sat together, with another round of guffawing.... The ladies slipped into our rooms too, sneaking away from the warden's eyes.... Some more gala time and off to sleep.

Day 7 | Mysore Bangalore (155 km) : Rode initially with Deeksha, Kaushik and Francis until almost near Mandya. there were really strong headwinds.,,,,, Drafted behind a tractor carryinng gravel, for a looooong while before i could no longer match sppeds. By then had lost the group. Stopped for a while and relaxed, waiting for the group...... still no sign.... then saw Vaz, and tried drafting behind him..... lost all my energy trying to keep up pace.... gave up and took some rest and food...... Then was a constant effort doing the boring stretch all the way to Bangalore, where i finally managed to get lost in the Bangalore University campus (We were supposed to meet at the BU gate, but someone gave me directions to a different BU gate :).
The 11 yr old Sukhdev who did 95 km on day 1 and 75 km on day 7

Then was the tough and strenuous part of riding upto Vidhana Soudha beside some crazy traffic (Even though the traffic police tried their best to limit traffic). And then it was finally over, with lots of cameras flashing, some from the press, many from the ones who wanted to grab as much as possible for memories.
Tossing the support crew

Post TFN Party: Most riders and support crew met up at Orange Peel on Jan 1st and had a good time, having the one last time we could see all of us together like that until probably the end of this year.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

Photo slideshow

Something that i felt during the ride...... Sameer, seemed extremely like my REAPmate Suhas, the kind of witty jokes and remarks.... Both Hari and Dino seemed like another REAPmate Aditya Rotti... the way they talked and laughed.... I'm probably seeing the past great company i've had in the new friends i make...... Or long distance riding does things to ur mind :) .... Anyway, a wierd feeling.

Current mood: Missing people already
Currently listening to: Linger - The Cranberries


Pushkar Paranjpe said...

awwsome post dude!
will save it for a later read ...
and blog looks pro

neuromancer said...

@Pushky: Thanks man!

modi said...

hey sudhir nice writeup. the pics are amazing!

Jayadeep(JDP) said...

Congratulations on your TFN ride! Great to read about it as well and the pics are usual superb! Sultan Battery seems to be in the news for the wrong reasons - may be they should've picked Kapetta instead of S.Battery for the stopover.

neuromancer said...

@modi: Thanks dude.

@JDP: Thanks! Well, the organisers apologised for the state of the place. The only nice place we found at S.Battery was under construction during their recce. Kalpetta wouldn't be ideal, as we would have to do some 50k more on the day of the ooty climb, which is a bad idea.

sameer said...

Yeah dude, missing the people and ride already :)
Lovely pics and great writeup, btw. I was so glad there was someone riding more or less at my average speeds - tho I'd have shot down the Kalhatti stretch with or without brakes :) Missed that.
See u soon on a ride. Rest the rear till then!

neuromancer said...

@sameer: pleasure riding with u man. U've got a nice sense of humour. Really helps when doing a long ride with someone!

My rear is already itching for a ride. Especially a hard climb! Guess i'll do Nandi again tomorro or day after. Just for the heck of it! Damn! climbing is addictive!

BK said...

Sudhir, congrats on the accomplishment. Sounds like it was every bit as advertised and then some!

And as always great pics too!

Happy New Year!

Mallik said...

Well Done Sudhir! Nice pics and write up. Thanks.

neuromancer said...

@BK annd Mallik: Thank you! And happy new year to you too.

Srikanth said...

Sudhir , beautiful writeup man.
It was so much fun supporting you guys!
I wanna ride with you guys next time.
Cheers !

neuromancer said...

@srikanth: Thsnks so much for the support. Hope the next edition will see us riding together

manoj said...

Nice post and whatta ride i say. I caught a glimpse of you on my way out of Ooty on Sunday, with some 30odd kms to go, i guess. I shouted out "Go Go Sudhir" and waved frantically out of my car... that is how much TFN i caught this gonna have to take it on the saddle next year... :)

Praveer Nijagal said...

Quite inspirational guys! I saw you guys and talked to few guys along Sultan batery route during my vacationing around Madikeri. I'm looking forward for joining you guys next time. Have fun!

neuromancer said...

@Manoj: Oh! SO it was you! I thought it must've been the support car! It was a bit odd, as the support car don't frantically yell "Go! Go!" coz they'd be out of energy faster thhan us, if they'd do it all day...... Now everything fits the picture.

Hope to ride with you next time dude. And congrats on ur new firefox.

@Praveer: I'm already in the "waiting for TFN" mode. Hope to ride with u this yr

aytida ittor said...

hey this is great sudhir.... i am very very jealous of you right now........ hope to catch with your adventueres soon

neuromancer said...

@rotti: Hope to meet up w u soon man. On a long ride perhaps? Have u been cycling lately? And dude, there's a cycling club in pune too. Try joinin em. Its called Pune Cycle Pratishtaan or somethin similar. I've met a few from their group on TFN. Awesome ppl.

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