Kerala –Montra Tour of Nilgiris In God’s own country
The much-needed rest day of the Montra Tour of Nilgiris was utilized to its fullest by the cyclists and the TfN team. The day started off late with breakfast followed by an official photo shoot for the riders and the volunteers. The rest of the day was spent exploring attractions in the vicinity like the Malampuzha Dam( largest reservoir in Kerala).
Race day 21st December 2014
The next morning started pretty much the same as the Montra Tour of Nilgiris riders flagged off from Srichakra hotel, situated on the outskirts of Kerala, Palakkad. While day 4 ended with a happy downhill, day 6 is all about riding hard on an above sea level climb. The Valparai, situated 3,500 feet above sea level, with 40 hairpin bends uphill, offers some spectacular views and breath-taking roads. The pollution-free pristine land spreads out majestically with lush green mountains and forest all around. The 108 km ride was about to bring out the joy and peace within the riders creating beautiful green memories to cherish a life-time.
The Montra Tour of Nilgiris route was a complete flat out with smooth roads until the base of Valparai dam passing through fields, villages and country roads. The Dutch train was the first to reach the support station 3 which marked the start point of the competitive section. The remaining bunch of riders had already passed support station 1 and headed towards the next. At the same ‘Nils’ the leader of the under 35 category was nowhere to be seen. As the Dutchmen got ready to take on the scenic Valparai tucked in one of the corners of Tamil Nadu. As the CS took off we decided to follow them all the way up to the mountain-top.
For the first few kilometers, the climb seemed easy on the riders until they reached a point where the elevation started taking a toll on their bodies. With every hairpin loop we enclosed the sight beneath opened up to us as our ears begin to pop. As the photographers went clicking, a huge figure in blue appeared from nowhere. It was non other then Nils who’s absence was missed, decided to ride to kill. With a furious face, his heart galloped as he started taking the Dutchmen one at a time. As the competitive section was the last of this year’s edition of the Montra Tour of Nilgiris, riders fought to improve their grand standings (GC).
As we waited for the other riders to come, we could see the sun taking over the Valparai illuminating different shades of green. After a long wait, we spotted riders coming towards us pedaling easily on granny gears. After attempting the cruel ‘Kallhatti’ everyone had learned a lesson or two and understood the situation better. Calm weather, cool breeze, birds chirping, fully blossomed flowers where a treat not only to everyone. ‘Nils and the Ducth‘ by now had finished the competitive segment and headed towards the Green Hill Hotel where accommodations were arranged.
While the others continued their scramble, the sun overhead made a few sections blistering due to nonexistence of trees. Once they completed the competitive section they were free birds to ride the remaining 30 km without any pressure. These hungry cyclists reached the end of the segment and filled their hungry bellies before they carried on. On resuming their journey, Montra Tour of Nilgiris riders had to ascend some more until they reached a magnificent view point which offered a panoramic view. Not to forget the infinite tea and coffee fields appearing like a field of bonsai from a distance. Following the markings on the road, riders arrived at Valparai city which lead them to the Green Hill Hotel to finish the chapter.