Day 4 of the Tour started quite differently than I had anticipated. After finishing my daily rituals in the morning I headed to the breakfast hall. As I looked around for a seat I noticed a familiar face smile at me. It was none other than ‘Sridhar Pabbisetty’ (Co- founder Tour of Nilgiris) who was seated beside the other organizing committee members at the dining table relishing some mouth watering breakfast. An invite from their table got me excited as I joined them for breakfast. Praises from a man like him for the work VeloCrush India has been doing set my mood for the day. I have always kept my critics closer than my fans, but now it was time for a shift with the latter.
The weather from the hotel seemed quite similar to yesterday (Day 3) with cold wind, but the fog was comparatively less offering better visibility. This weather still managed to delay the flag off by 30 minutes. As the riders were still relishing their breakfast, ‘Vivek Radakrishnan’ (brand manager Specialized India) and a participant at the tour enlightened us on techniques of bike handling on downhills.
Post breakfast the TfN Team and the riders gathered at the entrance of the Elk hotel for the flag off. As we headed to the ghats it seemed quite like the same story as it didn’t look promising. The organizers had announced that the weather will improve as the journey progresses. With time, the weather started going through a complete transition from Icy cold and foggy to a clear sky and great visibility. As we began our descent on the bends and folds heading towards support station 1, the tea fields that were truly missed started appearing. With every passing loop, the aerial view offered a treat to the eyes as a carpet of tea plantations rested below the feet of shrill silver oak trees.As I sat on a rock, my friends stood in position awaiting the arrival of riders savoring the moment. At this very moment, the weather appeared apt for cycling. I could hear the birds chirp and the soft wind that managed to sway the leaves. As a bunch of strong riders had already passed us with ‘Nils Eigil Bradtberg‘ (member of team ABC Elite, in Denmark) leading the pack way ahead, even the bikers equipped with a 250 cc engine failed to latch onto him. Away from the daily life routine, these riders truly enjoyed the pleasure descending with the scenic view appearing on their adjacent sides. In spite of the photographers capturing everyone on camera they still halted at hot spots and clicked selfies and bike pictures.
As we arrived at support station 1, we saw a large number of cyclists amused at what they had just experienced and wouldn’t mind doing it all over again. High on endorphin’s, they went on talking about the beauty of the scenic route. They all took their own sweet time to restock their empty sippers, attend nature’s call and carry on with the trip.It was already noon as we drove toward support station 2 located at Karamadai. The lead peloton decided to take a nap there waiting for lunch to arrive while others sat discussing their interests. As lunch arrived everybody pounced on it and fed their hungry bellies, after which they headed to support station 3 situated right next to a vast lotus pond. We decided not waste time and drive towards the next time station looking for spots tucked in the outskirts of the city. After covering several kilometers we reached a sharp left that led us to narrow village roads. With the absence of civilization, the massive coconut baugs and corn fields were good enough indicators to the beginning of a village safari. This was exactly what the photographers were looking for.
We followed them towards support station 4 and to our surprise the lead peloton who was taking a nap arrived. They all zoomed passed the station as the other riders halted to refill again. These riders were followed by the under 35 men category leader ‘Nils‘ who had taken a nap at support station 2. It’s a pleasure watching him ride, especially when he’s leading the peloton or sprinting in a competitive segment or taming kallhati.
After covering about a distance of 120 km we found a spot on the highway (a slight uphill) where pictures could be taken with ease. Once done, we rushed towards support station 4 to taste the much-bragged filter coffee. When we arrived at the station the cyclists, bikers including the volunteers had given their bikes a break as they relaxed their tired minds over coffee.
The long day was finally coming to an end as the tired riders cruised on the country roads enjoying the warm evening before they crashed at the hotel. At the same time, the lead peloton had already reached the hotel. The tired riders finally entered the big gates of Srichackra International hotel welcoming the much-needed rest day( Day 5).