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TfN: Day 3: The Unniappam and The Elephant

Route Name: Paris – Roubaix
From: Madikeri
To: Sultan Bathery
Distance (km.): 142
Elevation Gain(m.): +2238m / -2356m

Today we were headed up and down and up to Sultan Bathery before the climb up to Ooty. The first 40 odd km of the day were really bad roads so the bikes and cyclists got transported to Gonikoppal. It was just 40 km but it took us almost two hours to cover the distance. Rolling hills of coffee plantations with valleys of golden paddy are beautiful but when terrible roads bounce you all about, the beauty gets marred a bit.

Getting down from the jeep to stretch at Gonikoppal had me wishing I was a dog. How I wish I could have just shaken off all that dust we were covered with! The riders were picking up their bikes and unpacking them while I stood by to watch. And I got to see my first quick tube change. It was fun to watch Venky change his tube in no time at all, as if a puncture is nothing.

With a late start from Gonikoppal at 11:30 the riders headed out towards Kanoor, the first SS and lunch stop about 15-18 km away. This was still bad road, just, better than before. Today was a testing day for road bikes, the MTB guys might have had some fun though.

A little beyond SS1, at Kutta the Wayanad Reserve Forest starts and in this 20 km section cyclists had to stay in groups with instructions to not stop in the forest but ofcourse there was an exception. Cyclists left SS1 in groups headed into the second largest santuary in Kerala that covers over 345 sq. km. and houses a large variety of flora and fauna. And then they stopped right in the middle of the forest for some unniappams and sulaimani chai (black tea). This was a stall at a juction in the forest, that I had heard alot about and was looking forward to.

But Alas, I didn’t taste the unniappams. I grabbed a chai hoping to come back later with the boys for some unniappams but we rushed off to shoot pictures of the cyclists in the forest and I forgot all about it until later. 🙁

Now that we were in Kerala the roads got better and it was a wonderful drive through the forest. We reached the end all to soon though and turned around to spend more time in the forest shooting cyclists. This proved to be a good decision because not only did we get some good photos but we also saw a healthy tusker munching away by the road 😉

Making a quick stop at SS2 to check on the cyclists ahead of us, we left for SS3 at Panamaram which was the lowest point for today. Until here there had been a fair number of downhills to enjoy but after this the last leg for today was hugely uphill to Sultan Bathery (town gets its name from Tipu Sultan who used the abandoned Jain temple here as his battery in the 18th Century). It had been a testing day but this last stretch pushed the test some more. Not that I saw any cyclist complain, they did groan but then got right back on the cycle to suffer some more.

With a late start, it was a rather long day today and the first cyclists reached the hotel in Sultan Bathery only at 4:30. When we reached at 5:30 there were still more cyclists to arrive. The last few reached at 6:30; Kudos to them for shear will-power. Today’s been a long day, not in distance but definitely in time, effort and endurance, and it doesn’t end here. Tomorrow is the 99km climb up to Ooty and I’m looking forward to it. See you at the top tomorrow.

No CS, No Results. Top 3 and timings same as yesterday.

Don’t forget to check out Venky’s Update on how the Riders fared today.

Two Wheeled Trivia Of The Day

In 1899, Mile-a-Minute Murphy (Charles Minthorn Murphy) became the first man to ride his bicycle a mile in under a minute.

Today’s Pedaled Patois

‘Yard Sale’ is a crash causing every piece of gear to be scattered all over the place. The resulting scene is reminiscent of a yard sale.

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Photo Credit: Che Photo and Chethan Ram Photography

Here are the other days posts from the Tour of Nilgiris 2012 –
Day 1: It’s not cold, it’s just a breeze
Day 2: To Get Into the Cool Hills, You Have to Climb

Day 4: Even A Trickle Piss Counts
Day 5: An Entrée and A Proposal
Day 6: Loopy Loops
Day 7: It’s All Downhill From Here
Day 8: And On The 8th Day It Was Done!

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