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TfN: Day 6: Loopy Loops

Route Name: Suffering
From: Ooty
To: Ooty (Out and back via Upper Bhavani)
Distance (km.): 129
Elevation Gain(m.): +4675 m / -4675 m

Tonight also we stay in Ooty but today’s day take us to Upper Bhavani into the Korakonda Estates before we return to Fern Hill Resort. The ride planned for today is one of the most gruelling routes on TfN this year, especially since the downhill hair-pins that the riders enjoy on their way to Upper Bhavani, will be the same ones they will have to climb on the return in the competitive section today.

Upper Bhavani and the route to it is a treat to the eyes with pristine tea estates along secluded winding roads. Forests are usually shrouded in mist and they take you back to those spine tingling horror flicks with things around hidden foggy bends. But today we had no fog, no mist and largely clear skies. When we did see mist on mountain tops ahead of us and chased them, we were never successful. The mist eluded us today but it did make for some beautiful sky shots.

Leaving after the riders we started our day on the road at 7:45 and headed toward Emerald Bazaar. I settled down into the front of the jeep with Satish looking forward to the 68 hair-pin bends I had been promised while Che and Chethan geared up in the back to begin shooting. I didn’t stay settled for very long though; chasing the cyclists a few kilometers out of the resort we ran into three huge bison walking along the road. We jumped or rather I jumped as they were right by my window. My feathers ruffled I watched as we in turn startled the last bison in the line who took an animated little startled hop without thinking but still landed goat like on the culvert. You remember the size of a full grown bison don’t you? Gawd that was nimble!

In our worry for the cyclists right behind us we forgot all about taking a photo of the bison. And by the time the cyclists passed and we turned around to take a photo they were gone. But our and the cyclists affair with animals didn’t end here, we ran into a herd of cow and then into a herd of buffaloes that spooked when they saw the cyclists and started running ahead of them. It was a sight!

And then ahead into the hair-pin bends we met our first rider on the way back. We stopped in shock and then stopped her too! We wanted answers how had this happened, where had all the other riders gone, we hadn’t seen them; was the route so short as to be done in 2 hours. Only after Anuja removed her earphones did she realise she had got turned around somewhere and that she had been telling riders she passed earlier that yes, she had finished. 😀 Oh poor riders, they must have been so psyched!

Moving on we headed past Manjoor and on towards the end of the loop so that we could catch the riders on the return in the competitive section. We dropped Che off in the middle of the Thaishola Estate to take some pictures and moved on towards SS3. These were dream roads with very little traffic but ofcourse oncoming traffic thought so too and that’s the perfect recipe for a tricky situation. And to make it more tricky, nature had placed some very eye-catching waterfalls by the road. 😉

Just day before yesterday the markers team had given me a mini heart attack about the bad roads and today they did it again. We came across a road marker that said ‘Bad Road’ and just ahead were some bad potholes with a message ‘No Kidding’. I breathed a sigh of relief, that was the end of the bad road but alas, just ahead was another message – ‘Seriously’, that was followed by 4-5 km of bad road. Just you wait Markers, Just you wait!

Having finished the 34 hair-pin bends and the bad roads with a few more bends we entered Korakonda Estate and reached SS3. We were running low on diesel and were hoping to find some here but there was no diesel here and the only other place was Manjoor all the way back we had come. Time and fuel being of essence we headed back stopping for a bit at the waterfall hoping a cyclist would come by but no one did, so we continued on until we spied Che crouched by the road side taking photos.

Che wanted to take some more photos in the area so Satish and Chethan headed down to Manjoor to fuel up while I hopped off the ride to walk by Che. (Cheesy I know but I couldn’t resist) We had a ball – a warm sun, a cool wind and views to give-up everything for; what more could we ask for. We walked along the road looking for possible photos and framed cyclists in them without noticing time or distance. Before we knew it an hour had passed and so had 2 kilometers before we spied a volunteer vehicle and hitched a ride.

Passing SS4 we headed on quickly to the CS start at Kundah Bridge to grab lunch and regroup with Satish. Kundah Bridge is just ahead of the 21st hair-pin on return and the CS today was a 4.2km uphill through 11 bends ending just after the 10th. We had a good packed lunch (one of he best until now) of pulao as we watched cyclists take off on the CS [sorry cyclists :)] Entree riders also joined us today but they had the option of doing the CS section without competing. This CS was a tough one but even then Naveen clocked the fasted time of 13 something minutes.

Taking pictures from the jeep we continued our journey back to the resort to catch up with riders who had already reached. Man, some guys were really fast today, the first batch of riders reached SS3 (the turn around point) at 10:30 this morning! I wonder if SS3 was even set-up yet.

I had a memorable day today, not only did I spend a day roaming the hills that I love doing 68 hair-pin bends and more (you should see it, I have Rudolph’s nose right now) but I also saw riders fall, only to stand right back up again and ride, I saw riders stop to help the fallen, riders who were doctors practice their art by the road and the cherry-on-top was riders using newspaper inside their jerseys to keep out the wind! It works, I know, I’ve used that trick for years.

Tomorrow we head out of the hills into the plains again :( as we go to Mettupalyam. It’s an easy day on the legs but the traffic here is tricky and everyone’s gonna have to be on their guard.

As before the top 3 results are –

Day 6 Results

And before you go, don’t forget to read Venky’s rider version of the climb today.

Two Wheeled Trivia Of The Day

In the United States, Americans spend over $81 billion a year on cycling gear and trips.

Today’s Pedaled Patois

The situation where a mechanic in a support vehicle will appear to be making adjustments to the bike but in reality they are giving fatigued riders a break by holding onto the car and getting a massive push-off when the commissaires get too close is called a ‘magic spanner’. A ‘sticky bottle’ is when a rider holds on longer than necessary while taking food and water from the team car during a race to give himself a moment to relax.

Sponsor Spotlight

TfN Brought to You by

The Ride a Cycle foundation aims to create more cyclists and bring more cycles on the road through various programs. TfN is one of them!

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 4: Even A Trickle Piss Counts
Day 5: An Entrée and A Proposal

Day 7: It’s All Downhill From Here
Day 8: And On The 8th Day It Was Done!

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