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TfN: Day 4: Even A Trickle Piss Counts

Route Name: Le Clasique
From: Sultan Bathery
To: Ooty
Distance (km.): 96
Elevation Gain(m.): +3704 m / -2344 m

Today from coffee plantations we ride on into tea estates leaving behind Kerala to enter Tamil Nadu at Gudalur on our way to Ooty. Something I love about going to Ooty is the change in air. Just as you cross Gudalur the sun gets warmer and the air cooler. There is a certain bite in the wind that brings a flush to my cheeks. Oh I love the blue hills.

Leaving the hotel at 7:45 the riders headed out of Sultan Bathery towards the first support station 34 km away on the way to Gudalur. We waited for the last of the riders to leave before starting out as we wanted to tag the slow paced riders for a bit today. A few kilometers away from Sultan Bathery we came across a road marking that said ‘Bad Road Ahead’, after yesterdays moon surface ride I cringed at the thought of another day of it. And there it was just round the bend, a huge crater in the road and a message that said ‘Told You So’. Gawd! I laughed for quite a while. The Marker Men Adarsh and Neel have an awesome sense of humour. You should see the messages this year. I’ll try and post as many of them as I can everyday. Here are two –

The roads here were in great condition and we had a ball charging down them as we tried to catch up with the riders. Its a climb but nothing compared to what was coming ahead past Guladur. We wove through the mountains and watched the coffee plantations change to tea estates; we were in tea country. With a quick stop at SS1 we headed out to catch up with the lead riders before the competitive section 13 km ahead. Today was a day to capture the starts at the CS. Positioning ourselves we settled down to watch the riders start-off a minute after each other. Some of them struggled up the climb and some of them just shot off like Usain Bolt.

This CS is a 22km steep uphill climb that in TfN tradition gives every TfN rider bragging rights back home as they take on the challenge of the misty blue Nilgiri Mountains to seek its mysteries. Riders got rid of anything and everything they felt they didn’t need for the climb to reduce weight, this included measuring water and throwing away excess. :O

Leaving after a few riders had started hoping to capture them on the climb we headed up and I soon saw the sound reasoning behind the shedding. Every little gram would count on this climb as the roads switched around and about the mountains constantly and relentlessly climbing up towards Ooty.

We got dropped of in the middle of the CS and Che settled down to take some tea inspired photos while I took in the views and caught-up with the riders. Watching them it was clear that it was a struggle but these guys seemed driven to take it on, it was a challenge and they weren’t stepping back. I don’t know if the riders feel this way about it but to me it definitely seems so.

We headed out towards the end of the CS after alot of riders had passed to grab lunch and watch a few finishes. The riders who had reached the end had relief on their faces as they wolfed down lunch. But that relief was to be short lived as there were still some walls to be climbed in the 31 km left before they arrived at Sterling Fern Hill Resort, the stop for the next two nights. It had been a long day, great roads and views but at a steep price.

On the way up to Ooty and the hotel we ran into Malik who was fixing a puncture. Soon the air was filled with raucous laughter as Che and Chethan joined Malik, showing skills beyond the camera. It was a fun stop with photographers and cyclists joining hands over a wheel.

Tomorrow is a rest day, a day to recharge and explore Ooty. Ooty has a lot of history both indigenous and British. The Nilgiris has challenged many a man over the centuries. One of the first Europeans who undertook the gruelling climb to meet the indigenous Todas was Father Fininicio, a Jesuit priest in 1603. Over the years after that the Nilgiris saw regular expeditions but construction began only in 1822 when John Sullivan, then Collector of Coimbatore built the Stonehouse in Ooty and brought his wife and son to stay. Today the Stonehouse is the administrative building of the Government Arts College. There is a lot that riders can see and do in Ooty but I have a feeling a lot of them are just going to put their feet up and catch up with friends.

But the action doesn’t stop, tomorrow is the Entrée, the special offer this year for those who coudn’t make it to the full tour of TfN. Its going to be a lot of walls tomorrow! Alright then, so long, see you on the other side.

Video Courtesy – Venky | Video Shot by – Chenthil (ChePhoto)

Dialogue of the Day

Overheard just before the start of CS today – “and finally I’m going to take a trickle piss.”

Results of the Top 3 as of today 🙂

TfN Day 4 Results

And as always don’t forget to read Venky’s rendition of the climb today.

Also check out more photos from the ride on Che Photo and Chethan Ram Photography

Two Wheeled Trivia Of The Day

The word bicycle was coined by the Belgian newspaper La Gaulois in the 1890s. Before that, and in some places thereafter, bikes were known primarily as velocipedes.

Today’s Pedaled Patois

The peloton (field, bunch or pack) is the main group of riders in a road bicycle race.

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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 3: The Unniappam and The Elephant

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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