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TfN: Day 7: It’s All Downhill From Here

Route Name: Gravity Sucks You
From: Ooty
To: Mettupalayam
Distance (km.): 51
Elevation Gain(m.): +1853 m / -3763 m

Today we bid goodbye to the Blue Mountains and head down to Mettupalayam a fast developing town that has established itself as a hub for trading fruits and vegetables from the hills. But that is not it’s only claim to fame, the Ooty steam train build during the British period (the only rack and pinion railway in Asia) starts from here and runs to Ooty through 16 tunnels, over 250 bridges and 46km of forests and tea plantations.

Since we didn’t have much distance to cover, just 60 km and most of it downhill, we were starting late. That would have been a wonderful thing if only breakfast had been early 😉 After a late breakfast we lazed around talking to cyclists as we waited for the volunteers to find a free moment for a group photo.

Getting all the volunteers together took a while and even then some of them kept running in and out of photos. This bunch of volunteers are a hard working lot and they are almost always busy. From the marker team that leaves at 3am every morning to the support station and sweep staff who are the last to arrive at night; they create the magic, they make it happen. TfN has been a well oiled machine and credit for that goes to the organisers and volunteers. Not forgetting the cyclists ofcourse who did turn up on time, every time. 🙂 With all that hard work these guys also have fun…

At about 11 the first cyclists started to leave and we headed to our room to quickly grab our bags and follow them. That was supposed to be a simple enough thing to do but it landed me in a mini heart in my mouth situation. Just by the stairs we ran into Kiran who asked Che to click a photo of him riding down the stairs. Che said ok and walked down to position himself while I just stood there with my mouth open, only recovering just in time to fumble and capture this video.

Leaving Sterling Fern Hill we headed into Ooty town towards Kotagiri. Around here every place has two or more routes to get there so we were following the road markers carefully but Jayalalitha seemed to be visiting today so the town was a mela of sorts and we must have made a wrong turn because before we knew it we had gone a very long way without seeing a TfN marker. Back tracking we alerted two cyclists also on the wrong route and headed back into a traffic crawling town to get onto the right path.

Finally on the right route we took off towards Kotagiri hoping to catch up with riders. Last night over dinner Venky and Siva had said that the route doesn’t take more than 45 minutes non-stop. 60 kilometers in 45 minutes was fast, we thought we’d never catch up with them but that wasn’t how it turned out. The views were so spectacular that the cyclists stopped at just about every corner. We met them just around the bend and then again and again down the hill.

Stopping a few times for photos we reached Kotagiri and drove through it. I remember Kotagiri from 10 years ago when it was a large village, now it seemed to have grown larger, expanding at its seams. Time doesn’t stand still even in the mountains. 🙁

Dropping Chethan off at one of the bends we moved ahead to a spot 2 km further down where Che and I settle down to wait for cyclists. It was a long wait, the cyclists were taking a slow pace and stopping often today so we waited almost 2 hours. But it wasn’t boring at all, we had landed at the time of tea leaf collection so all the workers from the estate came onto the road with their load of leaves and weighed in. Watching this motley crew ranging from young to quite old crack jokes and laugh as they worked, I couldn’t help but smile along.

The waiting two hours paid off, we did see a few cyclists and got delayed enough to catch up with a batch that had taken a detour to Kodunadu View Point too. The KYNKYNY team made our day by coming round a bend in top form, watching these guys ride in a pack is almost like watching a ballet performance, they don’t cycle, they dance.

Hungry we headed towards SS3 to grab lunch but even in our hurry we took time to enjoy the mountains. We were leaving them today and as if in a final flourish the mountains were throwing views and bends at us that made want to never leave. As a final parting gift just a bit before SS3 we spotted a bison, remember the ones we missed capturing yesterday? Well this one stood eating a little about the road for a long time and didn’t give two hoots about us.

Cyclists were doing good time today. Most of them had reached SS3 by the time we reached for lunch. I thought the pulao was good yesterday but today topped that with yummy pasta and gulab jamun. By 4:30 SS3 started to wind down, there were only 4 cyclists left.

We headed out to Mettalayam bidding goodbye to the Nilgiris for now. [We’d get a glimpse of the hills again tomorrow at Satyamangalam though 🙂 ] Among the last to arrive at the hotel at 5:30 we were ready to knock off but the day didn’t end there, at 8 we watched the TfN 2011 video and relived our journey again. And that a tour it’s been, I’ve made some friends, been inspired and learned so much. We head to Chamarajanagar tomorrow to complete TfN 2012 and I so wish I could turn back time to the start of the tour again, especially since I am not cycling it 😀

There was no Competitive Section today so the top 3 are the same as yesterday.

Venky and the cyclists had a ball coming down the hills today. You can read his side of the story.

Dialogue of the Day

“Its very soft, it takes everything off.” – Vivek when asked about the Johnson’s baby wipes he uses to wipe down his bike.

Two Wheeled Trivia Of The Day

The London Ambulance Service has recently introduced bicycling paramedics, who can often get to the scene of an incident in Central London more quickly than a motorized ambulance.

Today’s Pedaled Patois

Marks of road rash on a cyclist’s body are called ‘Bacon’. ‘Brick’ is a rider who is a slow climber but an efficient descender and ‘Kite’ is a rider who climbs very well but is a poor descender. ‘Squirrel’ is cyclist who has a tendency to swerve unexpectedly and maintain inconsistent speed and ‘Vultures’ are race spectators who garther at a technical point of the course where a crash is more likely to occur.

Sponsor Spotlight

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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 6: Loopy Loops

Day 8: And On The 8th Day It Was Done!

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