Day three of the Indian Terrain tour of Nilgiris required the riders to cross the border of Karnataka to enter God’s own country- Kerala. To do so, they are required to pedal a respected 147 km passing through foggy weather, coffee fields and more. When the tour kicked off, it was quite cool with a low visibility of about 20 meters. After the riders were briefed about the hazardous bends and folds throughout their journey, day three finally flagged off.
As the riders cleated and rolled down the hotel, ‘Coorg- the Scotland of India’ looked quite calm and surreal. The less visibility, chilly winds, up and down terrain and the epic view of the tree tops covered in fog were quite unique to the ‘Southern Peninsula‘.
After a certain period, the roads unwound into a constant uphill and downhill that offered a tranquilizing scenic view. This might appear to be fascinating, however, the riders had to worry about the formation of fog and water droplets on their glasses, helmets and even arms for that matter. As the riders rode lower down the climb, the fog started to fade and the sky got clearer.
On their way, riders could absorb the tranquilizing view of endless coffee plantations, tall slender betel nut trees. They could also see a number of barks of silver oak trees as well as coconut trees that assisted the growth of black pepper. The further they rode, the more they could relish the beauty of the South Indian Terrain tour of Nilgiris route had to offer.We were stunned as the rolling terrain brought us over a bridge that gave us a glimpse of the ancient Kaveri River. While the riders and the photographers were busy with their respective duties. Abhishek Tarfe had the freedom to walk around and take a better look.
We were stunned as the rolling terrain brought us over a bridge that gave us a glimpse of the ancient Kaveri River. While the riders and the photographers were busy with their respective duties. Abhishek Tarfe had the freedom to walk around and take a better look.
The leader of the race ‘Nils’ had already departed with a handful of riders for the long journey. There were numerous others who rolled over the tarmac with ease, trying to save energy and not exert unnecessarily.
The fatigue and the constant uphill and downhill made the process of covering distance even longer. Riders also saw to it that, they stop at every time station to relax, refresh and move at a steady pace into the new city. This was required to keep their pistons in good conditions for the competitive section which would start after covering a distance of 120 km out of the total 147 km.
While everyone is cautious, mishaps do happen and can take you by surprise. Times when the adrenaline is kicking in, and the view gets beautiful, riders tend to break-free unknowingly. As a result, you invite accidental situations and that’s what happened to one of the riders. A small brush from the car threw him off his bike, but he was lucky. No broken bones or scratches, just his bike taking a beating that forced him to complete the remainder of the tour on a spare bike.
Moving forward towards support station three located between Tholpeti forest reserve, the coconut baugs, banana and paddy field did not stop at all. While the silver oaks and the Kalpavriksha tree offered shade and protection from the building heat. The paddy field exposed the riders to the intense heat, wind that reduced their speed drastically. As they rode further, the forest checkpoint (support station 3) the past back to back ascends, descends and several loops that made the ride a bit technical.
In no time, we crossed the border of Karnataka and entered into God’s own country. By the time we reached the center of the Tholpeti forest reserve, many riders were enjoying “Sulemani Chai” and the best “Unniyappams” that are known to be a favorite among cyclists for years. We decided to join them and have a go and experience them for ourselves. As food was arriving late, we had all the more reasons to try them and were quite delicious. Some of the riders even gave the usual lunch a break and lunched on the appetizing Unniyappams from at Kuttetan’s Unniyappam stall.
After everyone’s hungry bellies were satisfied, the riders resumed their journey towards the start point of the competitive section. With the vast teak plantation offering shade, the riders pedaled cautiously over the bad patch of asphalt that had caused a number of punctures throughout the day.
After a long ups and down’s in the heat and narrow roads passing through the greenery, most of the riders seemed pretty tired. The awaiting 19 km section already seemed to be a difficult task for many of the tour riders. However, this did not help the situation. The forest officials had only given the Indian terrain Tour of Nilgiris to only pass through the reserve. As the end point of the competitive segment and the support station 4 happened to fall within the forest premises, the race director had to move the end point by three kilometers last minute. This further added to the misery of the riders and nothing could be done.
Take a look at the Indian Terrain Tour of Nilgiris race results of day 3 below:
- 45 and above Category:
- Men’s Masters Category:
- Under 35 Men’s Category:
- Female GC standings:
What’s Lying ahead of the riders?
Tomorrow is a big day for all the cyclists as they are required to cover a good 103 km. Besides, completing the century ride, they also have to tame the toughest mountain in the whole of South India. The Ooty via Kalahatty route is going to test the mettle of every rider who wishes to be named as the kind or queen of the mountain. besides, at the start, there will also be a 21 Km competitive segment for riders that can prove to be vital to improving their GC standings. With R.A.Y Photography on board, we promise to bring you some of the best shots from the southern part of our country.
Picture Courtesy: R.A.Y Photography