LBO is at Ooty sharing all the live action from TfN 2018. After a relaxed start on the first few days, rides gradually got tougher. It was time was time face The Wall – Kalhatti was their next big challenge. From misty mornings to scenic tea plantations, read on to know more about all the action we saw on day four, five and six at the Tour of Nilgiris.
Sultan Bathery to Ooty
The toughest day of all has finally arrived. It is the day of the birth of brave in everyone. After lunch in the Thorapalli plantations and ride through the Mudumallai Wildlife Sanctuary, the riders had to slay some dragons at Kalhatti. This is a steep route to get to Ooty, about 75 km after Mavanalla, a climb of over 12 kilometers and 36 hairpin bends; a 1230 meters vertical climb of the Kalhatti ghat. Riders were out of breathe as they rode through every hairpin bend. Panting, sweating, cycling, dragging their bikes, the riders finally managed to reach the top with extreme emotions overflowing and an exhausted mind and body.
This day meant a lot to all the riders. They were not competing against anyone else but themselves this day. They wanted to prove to themselves that they are capable of climbing up one of the toughest climbs of the world. The volunteers kept cheering and pushing all the riders throughout. As the riders crossed the finish line, each one of them was overwhelmed. Their hard work had paid off. There was a rush of emotions on every rider’s face.
It was the face of determination, grit and salvation. Those were the moments which can’t be explained enough in words but will be cherished by them all forever. The chilly winds of Ooty made everyone rush around and the riders quickly bundled themselves in warmers and were then escorted in vehicles for the remaining 12 km to Highland by Accord, Ooty.
Kalhatti brought out the hero in every rider and now it was time for some hard earned rest. While some struggled to get out of their cozy beds on this chill morning, some enthusiastic riders head out to explore Ooty and the nearby Coonoor, Lovedale and other quaint locales of the hill station. Shopping for chocolates, Nilgiri tea, coffee and eucalyptus oil was on the list for some.
Some riders even went out cycling through Ooty to be prepared for the next day. However the highlight of the day was the official group pictures. All the riders, organisers and volunteers flaunted their TfN jerseys at the photo-shoot followed by the TfN rituals of grabbing on to Satish, the Tour Director and other team members and tossing them in the air. Now it was time to fix those bikes, stretch them calves and get set for the next leg of the tour.
Ooty to Ooty
It was a misty morning at Ooty. And riders rode further into the deep Nilgiris while the sun was peeking through the greens. After spotting some skylarks and parakeets while passing along the Bandisolai Sanctuary route, the riders were headed to Brookland, Bredford, Wellington. No we haven’t teleported to the United Kingdom, these fancy British names are remnants of Coonoor’s colonial past, from John Sullivan’s time.
The ride was mostly downhill in the first half, testing descent skills of all riders. Their skills while riding through the hairpin bends was admirable. The emerald tea estates, set like layers of greens on the mountains made for a picturesque view for the riders. They rode about 113 km with a 1300+ meter climb before they reached back.