The Bulldog Goes To TFN: Day 4: Madikere To Kannur
The day 3 from Hassan to Madikere was a long day and a great day. After a 180km ride with a 10km climbing CS, most of us surprisingly were feeling fresher than ever. We chilled out in the evening in the Madikere late into the night as day four is a shorter and easier ride of 64km towards Kannur. Due to the traffic and road conditions along with mad traffic on Kerala’s narrow roads, organizers decided to keep the ride short to 64km and then send the riders with a bus to Kannur where we’d chill out on day five which is a rest day.
A beautiful morning to ride..
The Solitaire Exotica resort, in which we were put up for the day, is located in a nice setting and is reasonably well maintained. But its kitchen is obviously not capable of delivering breakfast for the hundred odd people on time. The dinner of the night before was fine but they botched up with breakfast as enough was not served and what was provided is complained upon. Minor thing considering everything has been going on spot-on so far.
As it was a short ride, we started out late at . We were briefed to be careful on the 15km downhill that follows after around 35kms of bad roads which is followed by more bad roads. As soon as we got out of the resort it was pretty clear that we were in MTB terrain. The roads were bad to non existent but the scenic beauty was amazing.
The beauty along the route..
The terrain was pretty rolling and the roads made life pretty difficult for quite a few road bikes on the descents. Gaurav’s rear wheel had a couple of spoke causalities around 20km into the ride. I’m sure the hybrid bikes and MTBs on the tour had a field day riding on those roads. Maninder surely loved it and was disappointed that there was no competitive section for the day and that he missed a golden opportunity to roast the roadies on those bad roads and down hills.
As there was no competitive section for the day and the ride itself was very short, we were having a pretty relaxed ride. We stopped anywhere we pleased either to capture the scenic beauty in our cameras or for having tea and some exotically named coke-a-cola imitation drinks. It was loads of fun.
Vandit, whose broken bike has not been fixed yet, decided to take a five minute penalty for the GC and ride in the support car. He was continuing his domestique duties for his master Jedi Cowzilla from his car by exchanging empty bottles of water with him and posing for cameras.
The Domestique and the master.. 🙂
After reaching and crossing the support station one the 15km downhill has started. The down hill section had better roads when compared to the earlier 35km but it was peppered with craters that suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It was also a very winding course and a bit of a technical descent with loose gravel and intermittent potholes. So, one couldn’t really go all out and had to be really careful.
6-7km into the downhill I saw a lot of riders stopping by the road side and stopped to figure out what happened. Vineeth who was apparently looking to overtake Siva on a curvy descent ended up taking a wrong line and headed into a rough patch on the road and washed out. He crashed pretty badly resulting in laceration on his face around his left eye and his right palm.
Dr. Arvind who was riding by stopped and took out his cycling gloves and wore his surgical gloves and with his cycling attire and helmet still on, sutured the wound on Vineeth’s face. He ended up with a few stitches around the left eye and a small cast for a broken finger on the right hand. He is doing better but will not be able to ride any further because the broken finger does not allow him to hold the handlebars and use the brakes.
It is bad luck for Vineeth who is a very strong and experienced rider. He has been riding at his own strong pace and was finishing the rides in the first group on all the days and is in 13th position in GC without even riding the CS sections any differently than the rest of the ride. All it took was probably a bit of bad timing on a small section of a technical descent to ruin a perfect tour for him. When we took a look at his helmet that took a bashing in the crash we understand how important a role it played to save his head from any serious injury.
Another rider, Akshat from Pune who was on his hybrid bike, also crashed on the downhill. He had few abrasions and rode on after first aid. Lucky to have a neuro-surgeon(Arvind) riding on the tour and have the Sita Bateja ambulance support available to take care of the safety of the riders.
After the downhill completed and as we went further, the omnipresent Mohanlal, the narrow roads and the drunken buses having a ball on them were enough indications that we entered Kerala. We could feel the heat and humidity right away. Thankfully we didn’t have to ride much and reached the support station two which was also the end point.
From there we were to take a bus to Kannur. As the bus got full, and I didn’t want to wait for a second trip, I got into Siva’s support car and got to the hotel in Kannur. It is later learnt that the bus driver lived up to the reputation that Kerala drivers have and gave the guys a ride that they would never forget in a lifetime bringing them to hotel in record time.