Finally the day has arrived. The big day that we‘ve been waiting for so eagerly. We trickled into the Sullivan police grounds mostly with sleep deprived eyes, courtesy the pre-tour jitters. Last minute bike checks, bib number tagging and a quick breakfast, we were ready to roll. The chief guest Mr.Bhaskar Rao, IG (internal security) and the dignitaries from SBI said a few words before the charity riders, Arun D’Silva, Siva Sai Nellore, Chris Tsen and Magendran Rajashekaran lead the way and we started out on the challenging tour.
|The flag-off… Pic courtesy: Chethan Ram|
After riding through the maze of morning traffic on Hosur road we got on to the relative nicety of the NICE road and started getting into our stride. Just to break the rhythm my teammate, Gautam Raja decided to have a flat. We spent some time fixing it and got back to the business of catching up with all the people who passed us in the meantime. I formed a train with Mohan(The Demon) and Gautam(Minkey Chief) and started drilling it. With the wind on our back and the grade going southwards combined with the fresh legs spinning on the adrenaline rush saw us touching 60kmph on a nice downhill stretch on the NICE road.
As we got out of the nice road and got on the Kanakpura road, we were a little confused if we were on the right road because we saw no one for a long time. Then after what seemed like an eternity we saw someone ahead of us. Then one more and then a lot more. We kept riding strong and went past most of them. There was a nice breeze which could be termed as headwind or crosswind if you will but it didn’t matter as we got into a nice rhythm going fast even while affording an occasional glance to enjoy the beautiful views offered by the lakes and fields by the road.
72kms into the ride we stopped at the first support station and gorged on biscuit sandwich with peanut butter and bananas while gulping down gallons of fruit juices and water. A quick stretching routine with Dhanajeyan from Spectrum Physiocenter and we were off to the next destination which was at around 100km mark where the competitive section(CS) for the day starts.
The Competitive Section:Results:
As the time station approached, Mohan and Gautam did their warm up and were ready to ride the CS. Since I was riding as the official blogger and was not competing in the race sections this year, I decided to ride ahead and watch them finish from the other end of the CS. The CS was a relatively flat 15.3 km section. There are a few flyover kind of raises in between but it is a pretty fast course. It felt fast and easy course for me since I just rode easy. The guys who were after a good position on the GC and were suffering giving it everything they got, might disagree with me a little on that aspect. They suffered and smoked the course.
|Dipankar Paul was a surprise podium finisher today at 3rd spot.. Got to see how he fares on the climbs.. Pic Chethan Ram|
In the Open category(35 and below) men, Naveen John nailed it and Lokesh Narasimhachar(Loki) was exactly 30 secs behind him at 2nd place. The dark horse of the day though was our Ironman, Dipankar Paul who finished 20 secs after Loki and came 3rd in open men.
|Open Men- Top 10 – Day1|
In Masters category(above 35), Bjorn Suetens finished first followed by Mohan, the Demon 48 secs behind to take the 2nd spot. Deepak Shashikant Patwardhan finished 3rd in masters category.
|Masters Category Top 10 – Day1|
Women category was the closest fight with just 3 secs difference between the top two. Anjali Bhalinge claimed the top honors for the day 3 secs ahead of Shailaja Singh Sridhar at 2nd. Deepali Nithin Joshi took the 3rd spot.
|Women category results..|
Technology To The Rescue: Solverminds GPS Tracker:
Anuja Jain is disqualified from the GC as she was unable to complete the full ride for the day as she took transport in between. She unfortunately failed to take the exit onto the NICE road and went on to ride towards Hosur road. When she didn’t find any other TFNers around after riding about 20km or so, she decided to use the SOS feature of Solverminds GPS tracker each of the riders were given and was able to get help in terms of getting the directions to get back on course. Nice to see that the extra weight of about 200gms that the riders are carrying is coming to good use.
Food Spotlight: Bannur Mutton:
After the CS, at support station 3, we waited for lunch and when it arrived in the form of pasta and spinach, not many of us were very enthusiastic about it. You can understand the state of deprivation and hunger we were in when we see a herd of sheep grazing in beautiful grass fields and all it reminds us of is mutton. We were hungry and a few opted to ride ahead and see if they could get to taste some ragi mudde and mutton or some other exotic local food.
A few of us ate the pasta but were hungry for more. So, when we got to Bannur and saw a welcoming milatary hotel with suggestive pictures of a chicken and sheep in multicolor, we came to a sudden halt. Siva, here by referred to as chief food director on the tour, led us into the hotel and even acted as voluntary salesman for the hotel by waving down passing riders to stop and get into the hotel to eat. Gautam, Dipankar, Sapeksh Madan, Rama Krishna, Siva and myself sat down and feasted on numerous servings of the most delicious mutton pulav and mutton korma ever. We reluctantly stopped eating when the hotel ran out of mutton and started riding towards Mysore. This is a must stop for anyone going on this route. Vegetarians please excuse the graphic language.
|Good food, good company and good time on the bike.. along with beautiful sights all around. I call it a dream vacation! Pic: Chenthil Mohan|
Happy Birthday, Abhishek Gupta:
|The birthday gift with a difference..|
After reaching the hotel and getting freshened up, we assembled for a surprise birthday party for Abhishek Gupta arranged by his fellow riders from Delhi. We were treated to a yummy chocolate cake and he was gifted a mixer grinder by his friends. There is a story behind that unusual gift. Apparently as soon as he landed in Bangalore for the tour, Abhishek started missing his milk shakes that he can not do with out. So to get his fix of milkshakes he was hoping to go out and buy a mixer and carry it around with him on the tour. So, his friends became his Santa and granted his wish. You can see that he considers it one of the best gifts he ever received.
It was a beautiful ride to start the tour. A bit of sketchy road towards Bannur made it a little harder than it should have been. But I thought the road conditions were better than they were last year. May be it was the delicious Bannur mutton that made the difference. Anyway, now that the first competitive section is over and the results gave everyone an idea about who their main competitors are, it would only get more interesting from here. It would be interesting to see how the guys who did well in the flat TT course fare on the climbs starting tomorrow. Tomorrow is 10 km climb up to Madikere that starts after 104km of riding from Mysore.
Read day two preview here: TFN – 2012 – Day Two In Preview.
Read the day one account form my fellow blogger Freya here: http://blog.fatema.in/2012/12/tfn-day-1-its-not-cold-its-just-a-breeze/
Here are the photos from my phone: https://picasaweb.google.com/102172342564541481938/TFN2012Day1
Watch for beautiful photos from our official photographers Chenthil Mohan and Chethan Ram along with other updates on Tour of Nilgiris FB page.