A Beautiful Ride to End An Amazing Tour!
The ride from Valparai to Pollachi is the last ride for the Indian Terrain Tour of Nilgiris – 2015. After a tough but incredibly beautiful ride from Palakkad to Valparai, it was time to wrap up another awesome addition of Tour of Nilgiris with an easy ride to Pollachi from Valparai.
We started with an 11km loop around Valparai through some really beautiful tea estates before getting back on the same route we took yesterday to get to Valparai. After about 17kms of riding most of which was uphill, we got onto the downhill section. During the uphill section, I was riding with Shreyas Kumar from Karcher, one of the official prize sponsors for the tour.
|Shreyas joined us for the last three days of the tour!|
However, once the downhill section began, it was difficult to keep up with him.
I tried to follow him for a couple of kilometers but I noticed that many of the curves and hairpin bends were wet and I did not want to take any chances. So, slowed down and started going slowly. Krish Agarwal from Hyderabad crossed me and went ahead.
After a while I saw Viju and noticed that he had a bit of scraped elbows and knees. He apparently crashed trying to avoid an oncoming truck out of a blind corner. Luckily he was just fine apart from a few scratches but his wheels were out of true. He had to disengage the brakes and ride slow until he had the official mechanic on the tour true the wheels for him. He is a very talented rider but these things could happen to anyone and utmost caution is necessary riding downhill.
|Jaideep and Joost descending at a calm pace!|
After a few meters, I found Krish Agarwal on the road being attended by volunteers. He apparently washed out on a curve. He was attended by the Sita Bhateja ambulance and the Spectrum Physio staff immediately. He seems to have a dislocated shoulder but was thankfully fine otherwise. He doesn’t remember how he crashed but that is not very uncommon.
|Exploring local food joints has always been a big part of the tour for me!|
After a few more kilometers of downhill, we reached Attakatti, where the competitive section ended yesterday. We again got into the ‘Hotel New Restaurant’ and wiped out all the vadas, onion dosas, ghee roast dosas, egg dosas, idlies and whatever they had to offer. It was the same restaurant where we had fish for lunch yesterday. The food in that tiny restaurant is quite amazing. We rounded it off with a couple of tumblers of coffee each but were contemplating if we can wait for a bit longer so that we can finish lunch there before we go.
|The beautiful Valparai switchbacks that we climbed yesterday and descended today!|
After reluctantly getting out of the restaurant, we started riding downhill on the CS section of yesterday. While suffering during the competitive section yesterday, we hardly noticed the scenic beauty of the climb. But as we started descending, two eyes were not enough to take in the spectacular views of the valley with the Aliyar reservoir below. We kept stopping at almost every bend in the road because we found the view from there to be more spectacular than the one before. We must have taken more time to descend today than we took for climbing up it, yesterday.
|The beautiful sight of Aliyar reservoir from the Valparai climb!|
Finally we reached the Aliyar check post where we had the second support station, 35km away from the hotel. Initially, my teammate Gaurav Duggal and I at Spectrum racing teamed up with Viju and Sumit of OldCranks from Delhi and wanted to participate in the fun Team Time Trial that was organized for 5km from there. However, we decided to not participate and instead race to the hotel so that we could get first chance to wash up and get ready to celebrate the end of another awesome tour.
It just took a strong push on a slight incline by me to get Sumit going and he began to drill it against the headwinds as we crossed rider after rider and reached Shakti resorts outside of Pollachi. With the tour wrapped up we washed up and got ready for lunch and presentation ceremony.
Nils won in under 35 category by a huge margin. That, of course, is not a surprise. It was his third consecutive win at TFN starting with his first in 2013. The fight between Rajat and Vinayak was very exciting with both the youngsters giving each other great competition. Going into the last competitive section, Rajat had a lead of 1:56 on Vinayak. However, on the last CS on the long climb in Valparai, Vinayak did an amazing climb to not only cover that deficit but also take a lead of 7 seconds to take the second spot. He is the fastest Indian on the tour followed by Rajat. It is so heartening to see the youngsters shine on a stage like this. Rajat, at 21 years, has a huge potential to grow stronger and evolve into a much better cyclist in future.
In Master's category(35-45), I have managed to retain my lead and slightly build on it to retain the Blue Jersey for the category. Preet Singh and Sumit Kumar also retained their positions at 2nd and 3rd in Master's with a consistent show through the races.
In 45Plus category, Richard Muller was the fastest in the category on Valparai too and retained the Blue Jersey. The podium battle for 2nd and 3rd which has been quite close through the various stages settled with Russell nailing the Valparai climb on his 70th birthday yesterday and putting an additional 2:11 on Aijaz Ahmed. Aijaz finished 3rd overall with an impressive show just 10 months after starting cycling. Great bunch of guys.
In women's cateory Belinda took the Blue jersey with a comfortable lead. The ever smiling psychiatrist from Goa is an awesome package of endurance and positive energy. Divya Chandran, has been riding the tour to raise cancer awareness among women by giving out cancer educational material through all the towns and villages through the 3 states that TFN has gone through. She has finished 2nd in GC with consistent riding through out. Chaua Bee Geok Kazay of Singapore finished third in the category.
Big Thanks To The Volunteers!
This brings to an end another amazing tour. The volunteer power has been as awesome as ever. The way they took care of every aspect of the tour to enable the riders to just ride and face the challenging terrain fearlessly. They are a big part of the success of the tour.
For me, it is the most satisfying of the tours for obvious reasons. It is a privilege to and a proud moment to be wearing the blue and red jerseys. This win is dedicated to my team skipper at Spectrum Racing, Dr. Arvind Bhateja, who was unable to join the tour due to a pelvic fracture that he sustained in a crash just weeks before this tour. I am sure he will come back stronger and participates in the tour next year. Thanks everyone for a great tour. The Biryani Express had a great time!
|The Biryani Express salutes TFN! :)|
More pics can be seen here.