TfN: Day 8: And On The 8th Day It Was Done!
Route Name: Finish Line
Distance (km.): 109
Elevation Gain(m.): +1796 m / -1410 m
It may have been the last day of the tour but it still was an early start. Breakfast was served at 6:30 and by 7:30 cyclists were all geared up, standing with their cycles, itching to start. Today’s road led home and everyone was eager to get going I guess, it’s been a great tour but home was calling. Or maybe it was the route we were to travel today – a mostly flat and fast competitive followed by the Sathyamangalam forest ghats.
Standing by watching the cyclists gather I noticed Naveen doing a pre-ride check of his cycle and moved towards him. This is a joy to watch, especially the part where he adjusts his rear derailer. He lifts the bike, gets the rear wheel spinning and listens to the gears shift. Then he tweaks a nob and listens again and repeats until he is satisfied. When he’s done the gears switch soundlessly. It’s like watching a musician tune his guitar!
Flagged off the cyclists headed out towards the competitive section start 12 km away at a comfortable pace. Everyone was conserving energy for today’s last and final CS. A 21 km long, relatively flat section, passing through three villages that would be a blast to ride. For those seriously competing, today’s timing would affect their overall standing so it was a ride hard, ride fast day.
Chasing the riders, we set a fast pace to out race them to the CS finish. It was a day to capture dramatic finishes. Passing the CS start we saw Peter start off on the section and gunned the engine some more to cover the 21 km quickly. We managed to get a good lead and bought ourselves enough time to comfortably set up shop before the cyclists started to arrive. And boy did they arrive! After the first cyclist crossed the finish line, the rest followed quickly and by 9:30 all 70 cyclists had completed the CS section. This was probably the fastest CS section completed by all riders.
The CS complete everyone was now on a relaxed ride. The Satyamangalam ghats lay a little way ahead but our first stop was an eatery at Bannari where we had chai and the cyclists ate pre-lunch 😀 Energy recharged we started off on the climb up to Dhimbam through 27 picturesque hair-pin bends. The cyclists stopped quite a few times on the way up, some to take a moment to soak in the views and others to catch a breath. Not that we were complaining, after all we got more photo opportunities.
The Satuamangalam forest is famous among other things for Veerapan the Bandit who was lived and looted here. Starting out as an elephant tusk poacher, he soon became a sandalwood smuggler, a most wanted man and even a celebrity kidnapper. While he lived and was at large here, this road had been closed for years. But now we can climb through this green dense forest gaining about 1100mts. over 14km to reach the lush green Dhimbam ghat. And so, we climbed.
Right at the top of the ghats just before you start to descend is a chai shop. I remember stopping here a few times for a chai and pakoda. It’s a perfect mid point stop in the forest. But this time we stopped just a little ahead at SS3. Since this is a narrow down hill road we didn’t stay long and headed on to SS4 where we would get lunch. Every one seemed hungry this morning.
This was the last of the hills we would see for now. Here on it would be flats all the way to Bangalore and we all wanted to enjoy what was left as much as we could. The cyclists stopped often and we descended slowly. But no matter how much you stretch it, there is only that much that you can stretch and before long we were at SS4.
SS4 is just round the corner after crossing into Karnataka. From the moment we saw the Welcome to Karnataka board we braced for impact, we were expecting huge craters. Karnataka roads are legendary for their badness, especially at borders when you’ve been driving on kilometers of good road in another state. 100 meters into Karnataka we were still holding on, only now we were peering ahead to see when the potholes would start. And we were still waiting a while later. Surprise of surprises there were no bad roads. When did this happen here?
Reaching SS4 really hungry at 12:45 we headed straight for the food. There was pulaiogare rice and curd rice, wasn’t exotic but it was simple and soulful and we ate like pigs. Walking around after lunch I turned suddenly when I heard a thud and people cry out to find Venky sitting on the ground and a bull standing in front of him. The close face to face encounter came about when Venky startled the bull and tripped over when trying to step back. The stand off was long enough and strong enough to have had Venky hidding behind a tree for quite a while surrounded by peals of laughter.
Leaving the last support station of TfN 2012 reluctantly, we continued on towards Chamarajanagar which is named after Chamaraja Wodeyar, King of Mysooru who was born here. From here we head back to Bangalore; for the cyclists the ride ends and so does most the suffering but here on the bragging begins!
But it all didn’t end so soon. Cyclists had already started arriving when we reached our destination in Chamarajanagar at 2:30. There was a lot to do before we left for Bangalore, cycles had to be packed, cyclists to be freshened up with food and bath, results to announced and prizes to be given. So everyone got to doing something. By 4:30 everyone settled down to hear the results. But before that, it was time to put names to faces we had all seen through the last 8 days (even I didn’t know all the volunteers by name). There loud cheers and whistles as Francis introduced all the different teams and it’s members that made TfN 2012 possible. Cyclists were asked if they had any suggestions for the next year and every cyclist was univocal saying “It was already the best.” Two suggestions did emerge though – Ulhas Joshi who had come from Pune requested for more mountains less plains and Dr. Nishith Shah asked that the next time flats be explained better since in the South flats are more rolling flats but in Gujarath flats are flat.
Finally it was time for the results. Here are the Winners for Tour of Nilgiris 2012.
1 Bjorn Suetens
2 Prashanth Tidke
3 Gautam Raja
1 Lokesh Narsimhachar
2 Naveen John
3 Richard McDowell
1 Shailja Singh Sridhar
2 Anjali Bhalinge
3 Deepali Nitin Joshi
After all the hurrahs, cheers, email exchanges, facebook connections, and sad goodbyes we boarded the buses at 6 pm heading to Bangalore. It didn’t take too long for everyone to fall asleep only to wake up at the dinner stop. Bangalore wasn’t very far away now and I was so looking forward to my body-shaped bed. Che and I ate a light dinner and after much contemplation gave up on the dessert idea, we figured we should be good at least on one day of the tour. 😉 We made good time and reached Bangalore at 10:30. But this was not the final goodbye, there is still the TfN cool-off party tomorrow!
If you haven’t seen Venky’s rider reports of TfN 2012, you should. Here is the Day 8 report.
Dialogues of the Day
Locals overheard at CS end – Husband: Looks like people from all aver the world have come to cycle.
Wife: See, and how many times I’ve told you to buy the kids a cycle.
Cyclist overheard at CS – “He’s got aero-bars but I’ve got aero-balls.”
Two Wheeled Trivia Of The Day
The first ever French cyclosportive was La Marmotte, which was first run in 1982 on a route starting in Bourg d’Oisans and finishing at the top of one the most famous Tour de France climbs at Alpe d’Huez. It is one of the most popular cyclosportive events today and is often considered to be the hardest cyclosportive.
Today’s Pedaled Patois
Door Prize is a term used when a rider collides with the open door of a parked car while cycling.
Started way back in 1930 in Dehradun The Himalaya Drug Company today serves the health and personal care needs of consumers in 82 countries and is endorsed by over 300,000 doctors around the globe.
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 7: It’s All Downhill From Here