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Montra Tour of Nilgiris (Day 8) – Munaar loops

By the end of day 7 the 172 km ride had taken a toll on everyone’s body and minds. Quite a few riders gave up while others waited for the float at Munaar to carry them to the hotel. The heat, the inclines terrain, failing to hydrate and the energy wasted to fix flats had all contributed to this torment. As day 8 also didn’t have any competitive segment the organizers decided to make it an optional ride for the cyclists.

The next morning post breakfast, 30 riders set off to cover the 57 km of Munaar consisting of three downhill’s and two uphills. Having conquered the Kalhatty, Valparai & Munnar, It was said that the route offered a relaxed ride to end the awesomeness as you bask in the tranquility of the rivers, waterfalls and the never ending greenery. If any of you guys did get lucky, you must have spotted several threatened and endemic species such as the Nilgiri Thar, the Grizzled Giant Squirrel, the Nilgiri Wood-pigeon, Elephants, the Gaur, the Nilgiri langur, the Sambar, and the Neelakurinji (blossoms once in twelve years).

With the ride starting off with a downhill life seemed quite easy, but as they moved towards the belly of the route the fun downhill got serious. The terrain started getting rough and the downhills got steeper with narrow road allowing just one vehicle to pass. With the downhill, the hairpin loops made it even tough to hold the line heating up the rims that caused flats and minor falls. Even Nils the champion stated that, “This is horrible, my rims are getting extremely hot and it’s difficult to hold the line with the hairpin loops”.  Nils and few others had to change their inner tubes due to flat. To avoid mishaps, some of the riders rode holding their brakes all the way to the belly. As we hit the belly of the route it flattened out and gradually started moving upwards. The riders had a tough time after day 7’s agony as the terrain managed to shake all their organs.  The much expected leisure ride or what they though was a recovery ride, made their tired minds push as some even gave up. As we crossed support station 1 there was no rider to be seen as some were still crawling towards it or were on their way to station 2. On reaching support station 2 we saw the Dutchmen hydrating and munching on some Chicki. Thijs one of the Dutch was facing some issues with his left knee. As he had plans of running a marathon in Holland, he decided to call it an off and join us in our car to the hotel.

On our way we had a good chat about the cycling culture in Holland compared to India. We also spoke about recovery, nutrition and the Tour of Nilgiris. “Thijs de Blaeij” tells us that, this was his first tour on a bicycle, unlike the other Dutchmen who have been cycling for the past 15 years. He also tells us that, India is the most beautiful country he’s ever been too and would love to visit again. The food and the greenery around are very pleasant as Holland situated below sea level has only flats. We were surprised to know that “The Khallati” was the first mountain Thijs has every climbed. As we stopped to click pictures of the riders passing by, Thijs was all excited as he barely got off the saddle to click the scenic view around.

On reaching the hotel many of the riders had finished packing up their bikes and all set to leave for Bangalore while few had to head back home. We weren’t surprised to know that just 20 of the riders were able to complete the day 8 route. Just after the press meet was done with the riders relished themselves one last time before heading to Bangalore for the cool – off party. Once lunch was done, organizers started off with the prize distribution ceremony. The Montra Tour of Nilgiris spirit of the year award was given to five riders. Every year the organizers pick 3 riders who they think have motivated and inspired everyone at the tour. And the other two are chosen by the riders. Dr. Shekar Rao (Pediatric heart surgeon), Mili Sharma (Completed the tour with one month of training) and Antonio Andy Joseph( A chef) are three of them who won the spirit award.
Below are the results for the three categories.
  • Under 35 Men’s category
  1. Nils Eigil Bradtberg (winner of TfN 2013, 2014)
  2. Dipankar Paul (Ironman)
  3. Walter De Kok
  • Men’s Masters
  1. Vivek Radhakrishnan
  2. Shankar Jayaraman
  3. Venkateswara Rao Navanasi
  • Womens Category
  1. Vicki Nicholson
  2. Namu Kini
  3. Hemal Shah
The best volunteer for the tour award was given to the markers who marked directions on the route every day before the flag off. This year marked around 2500 marking in the form of arrows and quotes which not only helped riders stay on track, but also motivate them to carry on. This award was chosen by the riders and given to Adarsh Kashyap and team who have won the award 3 years in a row.
Stay tuned for a guest appearance by RAY photography. They will be sharing some of the best moments with us.
Also, read account by Venkateswara Rao Navanasi on his blog here.

Courtesy: RAY Photography

Written By

Abhishek Tarfe is a Certified Bike Mechanic from Park Tool School. He enjoys teaching people how to cycle and loves going on multi-day tours. Besides, he loves dogs and coffee. Follow his madness on Instagram

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