The Bulldog Goes To TFN: Day 5: Rest Day At Kannur

Day 4 was a short but bone shaking entry into Kerala to reach Kannur. Day 5 was a much awaited rest day. The hotel in Kannur offered so many opportunities to have fun. It had six bars in the hotel along with a swimming pool on 5th floor, a pool table, a table tennis table among other things. For those who wanted to get out and explore the old forts and beaches of Kannur turned out to be great avenues.
A couple enjoying the sea and the sunset..
 A few of us went out and explored St. Angelo’s Fort by the sea which was built around the port where Vasco-de-gama landed. It was an nice experience exploring the nooks and corners of the 500 odd year old fort and wondering how it actually looked back in the day. Guys were taking turns creating an imagery of the Dutch soldiers would have lived in the tiny barracks and which of the structures would have been quarters for colonels etc.
The views of the sea from the back of the fort were simply amazing. It was also fun looking at a couple of newly wed Keralite couples running around the trees and putting on a performance for their wedding video. The embarrassing smile on the face of the bride and the groom whenever someone was passing by was something to watch.   
After a bit of exploration of the fort we tried pickled mangoes and pineapples that were being sold in a small stall inside the fort’s garden. With a couple of important and tough days of riding ahead the guys were initially very hesitant to try them. But once we started eating we liked them so much that we ended up with a couple of repeats each.
The fort closes at 6pm and we walked out to the main road, took an auto and landed near the beach. A few of us just sat on the ultra soft sand taking in the amazing views of the sea in the twilight after sunset. A lot of guys went for a swim in the ocean and had a blast. The unbridled fun the guys were having playing throw ball or discus or just putting in a beach run after the swim was such a treat to watch.

We had a blast on the rest day. So did the support staff.
I have to put in a word here about the support staff/volunteers. Not a single day on TFN has passed by when I did not wonder what drives these guys. They are all volunteers and no one gets paid. Some of them I think are not even connected to cycling. But the kind of passion with which they go about ensuring that everything is running smoothly is unbelievable. For me, what they are doing to ensure the riders are able to have fun on the ride without worrying about anything else is much more of an achievement than scaling hundreds of mountains on a cycle.
Just a small example of how the guys go out of their way to help. After Vineeth’s crash, Dr. Arvind needed a medical item that helps in healing the skin wounds quicker and leaves no scars, to be used on Vineeth’s face. It needs to be used with in 72hrs of the injury for best results. It is a rare item and is not available outside of big cities. He made a couple of calls to find out where it was available in Bangalore and then approached the race director Vasu to see if someone is coming from Bangalore to get it. The next morning the item reached Kannur by overnight bus from Bangalore and Vineeth no longer had to go around with ghastly bandages on his face.  
Kiran Kumar Raju, who is in charge of marking the route goes out at 3am and starts marking the route so that no one gets lost. He comes to us during dinner and takes feedback from many of us trying to find if we had any difficulty in following the route so that he can do better the next day. Numerous funny and encouraging lines and even a line to take to avoid potholes used to appear on the road to keep us on track and to keep our spirits up. He has done a fabulous job. 

These are just a couple of examples out of hundreds of incidents everyday that the twenty odd volunteers humble us with. The Tour Director Francis Santosh Lobo goes around talking to people and taking feedback. Karthik, Badri, Promod, Adarsh, Praveen are a few names that come to mind among others. Thank you guys for the great work. 

More photos here:

Read about the rest of the Bulldog’s Tour of Nilgiris(TFN’11):
Day 1: Bangalore to Mysore
Day 2: Mysore to Hassan
Day 3: Hassan to Madikere
Day 4: Madikere To Kannur
Day 6: Kannur to Sultanbhateri
Day 7: Sultanbhateri to Ooty
Day 8: Ooty – Kodanad

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