Every year the TFN team sets themselves on four recces to explore new terrains of wilderness and beauty.The recce was an instant hit, attracting positive aura as your eyes feast on the different shades of green with the sound of cascading waterfalls leading an excellent background score.
The team kept marking bends, rough patches and counting the distance with laughter and debates, all under review in the winger. This seven-day event covering 900 km’s, includes cycling through the borders of Kerala and Tamil Nadu with a view that is sure to take your breath away. Well, before you find yourself dreaming about the beauty of the Nilgiris, let’s run through the route and what it has on offer for cycling enthusiasts.
The Tour of Nilgiris Route:
The Tour of Nilgiris Route covers a distance of 100 to 130 km on a daily basis where cyclist will ride as a group up to a point and then battle it out in a competitive stretch. The tour passes through five wildlife sanctuaries this year, Mudumalai National Park, Mukurthi National Park and Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park in Tamil Nadu and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. The organisers promise that the tour of Nilgiris will always be more of a tour with the competitive stretches thrown in only to add some more spice to the event.
Take a look at the Tour of Nilgiris Route Break up – Day wise segments
Day 1(Speedway) Route: Bangalore – Mysore (approx. 188 km)
The route consists of flat stretches of tarmac getting you out of Bengaluru city, speeding into the heritage city of Mysore. An early morning start, with sparse traffic, well-rested legs and butter smooth roads assures you of an adrenaline pumping fast getaway. The day 1 route promises some more excitement with an attractive view and a pleasant gulmohar carpeted welcome stretch through Kanakpura road. The Tour of Nilgiris Route Day 1 has a competitive section covering a total distance of 15kms.
Day 2 (The Wall) Mysore-via Kalhatty – Ooty (approx. 130km)
Considered a ‘Hors categorie’ climb, it consists of 36 hairpins pushed over 12kms of terrain with waterfalls and a stunning view of the Kalhatty as it rises like a wall. The 1200 metres distance has an average of around 10% to 15% or more of a gradient with the loops gradually getting tighter. This perfect blend of beauty and challenge is what most cyclists thrive on. However, organisers warn against underestimating the mighty Kalhatty, as cyclists have paid a heavy price for this folly in the past. The Tour of Nilgiris Route day 2 includes one competitive stretch and 1 king of Kalhatty and master of Kalhatty challenge.
Day 3(Beauty and the beast) Ooty- Khodnar- Ooty (approx. 100kms)
Aptly named since riders will first enjoy the bliss of riding downhill and then hit climbs as they fight their way up with a competitive stage on this route. The Tour of Nilgiris Route offers amazing downhills that offer cyclists a recovery period with vast stretches of tea gardens, colonial atmosphere and natural vegetation make it a route most look forward to.
Day 4( Doooowwwwnnnn) Ooty – Palakkad (approx. 151 km)
As you leave the Queen of hill stations behind, the route to Palakkad offers tranquility and natural beauty. This stretch, comprising of a brilliant downhill, will leave you asking for more. The tour skirts around Coimbatore to avoid the city traffic as we go through a small Village Safari. Amidst all the beauty, don’t forget to be alert and stay gentle on the curves. After all, you don’t want an injury to ruin the breathtaking experience.
Day 5 – Rest day (Room – breakfast – lunch – dinner – room) (approx 900 m)
After four days of strenuous cycling covering vast stretches of tarmac, your tired mind and muscles get a day off as organisers reserve day 5 for a complete recovery. The rest day is usually utilised by cyclists, volunteers and others to do their laundry, mingle around and tune their bikes.
Day 6(Curvezzz) Palakkad – Valparai (approx. 107km)
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 107 km ride will bring out the joy and peace within you as you create beautiful green memories to cherish a life time.
Day 7 (Sauce pan)Valparai– Munnar (approx. 160km)
If you thought Kalhatty was a battle, then the sauce pan is war! The day is so called because the route consists of a downhill, followed by a flat which goes back uphill. Brace yourselves for some cool runnings, with a hot humid flat plain and cool weather later in Munnar. As it’s the toughest day for cyclists, there won’t be any competitive challenge.
Having conquered the Kalhatty, Valparai & Munnar, the tour offers a relaxed ride to end the awesomeness as you bask in the tranquility of the rivers, waterfalls and the never ending greenery. If you get lucky, you might spot 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 (that blossoms only once in twelve years). All at the Tour of Nilgiris Route.3. Day 8- (In Gods own country) loops around Munnar (approx. 50km)
Competition & Races on the Tour of Nilgiris Route:
Each day of the tour includes a competitive segment where the riders battle it out on the tough terrains to be crowned the King/Queen of Mountains.
While an average day at TFN ranges between 100 to 160kms, the last two years have had time trials on climbs or flat courses. The individual TT distance, even though they do not surpass 25-40 kms each day, tests the rider’s grit and endurance since some of the TT sections are designed to take place on the most difficult bits of the Tour of Nilgiris Route.
Courtesy: Tour of Nilgiris team
Editor: Tracy Alvares
Photography: Ray Photography