|With a setting like this, what else can they ask for?|
Where does the climb start?
We were not sure where the 20 kms of the climb started in nearly 50kms of the ride from Gudalur to Ooty. When we mapped the route on Google maps and looked into the elevation profile, it seemed to suggest that the climb starts some 10 kms after Gudalur. We were hoping to see some flat stretch to ride as a warm-up before the climb started. But the road kept climbing. With every passing kilometer we were expecting the road to descend while hoping that it won’t. We knew where we’re headed, what goes down has to go up.
When I did the Nandi climb, I was able to climb the first 5km without stopping. So, thinking it would be like climbing Nandi three or four times, my initial strategy was to try and stop every half an hour to let the muscles relax. Vineeth was taking it easy after a hard ride the day before and decided to let me set the pace. The pace was a consistent 10kmph. The gradient was steady and constant. We were confused and were thinking, “If this was supposed to be the flat before the climb how bad-ass would the actual climb be?” Something didn’t add up.
Half an hour came and went by. I continued pedaling and wanted to see how far I could go and how far the road would climb. There was no sign of any descent or a flat section even after 10km and an hour into the ride. It was then that a slight suspicion that we might be in the middle of the actual climb raised in our minds. I decided to stop for a couple of minutes before proceeding further. Some chikki, a few gulps of water and a couple of minutes later, we’ve decided to continue the climb. I’ve decided to see how far I can go before I needed to take a break. I just didn’t want to try too hard and burn out before long climb is done. The amazing views on either side of the road acted as a perfect dope to keep us going on the continuous climb.
It took me a while to realize that the climb was over in a little over 3hrs and 30mins. That was a big relief for me after the Kalhatty debacle. Vineeth has completed two tough climbs on two successive days. He’s an awesome rider and a great person to ride with. It was a pleasure to be riding with him. His constant presence behind me on the climb gave me a silent confidence on the long climb. We posed for a few victory snaps before we started the descent.
|Venky and Vineeth after the climb to Ooty..|
The descent was very enjoyable in parts and looked dangerous at parts. There were sections where the tree shade made spotting potholes impossible. The road was not particularly smooth the whole way. I know that hitting potholes at the downhill speeds can be quite disastrous even for my 700*28s. The bends and the on-coming traffic meant we got to be really careful not to get into their line.
I had a bit of a scare when a cow walked into my path as I was turning into a bend. Fortunately, I was in control. There was another instance on the way up when a TN state bus came very close to me and forced me off the road. Fortunately that section by the side of the road was not that bad and I stayed in control.
On the descent, I was hanging on to the brakes and continued to turn the pedals as smoothly as I can. Took a couple of breaks to take photos and relax the arms that were gripping the brakes for dear life. Swooped down to the location of the car at exactly Vineeth was some ten minutes ahead of schedule.
It was a great ride that made the whole trip worthwhile for me. Quite satisfying in the end.
|The elevation profile of Ooty ride from Gudalur..|