Tea Tea Tea “Tea”FN..TFN: Ooty to Mettupalayam:
After one awesome scenic ride yesterday, we move onto another equally pretty but much easier and shorter ride. With just 64 km ride from Ooty to Mettupalayam on the cards and with almost half of the distance being a downhill it was never going to take much time to reach the destination. So, we had lots of time to fool around even though we started at 11 am.
So, some of us decided to ride to Kodanad View Point which was where the tour ended in 2011. The rest of us decided to just try all the tea shops and view points on the route.
|Tea estates all the way on our way to Kotagiri..
Brrr… The Downhill Wind Chill:
There was an uphill of about 8 km getting out of Ooty after which it was some slightly rolling but mostly downhill to get to Kodanad. Since we expected it to get quite cold during the downhill, I was wearing a jacket over my jersey. But it became quite hot while climbing and I had to take it off. But as the rolling downhills started, it began to feel quite cold. The wind cheater jacket was promptly put back on. The sun was out but the route was mostly wooded. So, every time we went through shadow we used to feel the wind chill quite badly and it used to get better when passing under sunlight. The wind jacket was very useful.
We stopped at the first support station which was at 10 km mark and moved ahead after a bit of peanut butter and biscuit sandwich feast. Then we stopped wherever we saw a beautiful view which is almost every kilometer. We posed and took a lot of photos with the tea plantations in the background. Siva even made us stop at what he called a designated pee-stop on the route. After we ran out of different poses for photos, we rode ahead.
Chetan Gupta, Varun Sanon, Tirath Singh, Siva, Gautam and myself were in the group riding together. Within another couple of kilometers, Siva smelled tea and made us all stop. We stopped at the small tea shop from where the tea aroma was spreading to the surroundings. The lemon tea we had there was so good that most of us repeated the order. A few of us decided that it was lunch time and wolfed down parotas. After stress testing the shop we moved ahead towards Kotagiri.
Just before Kotagiri was the support station two where we had lunch. The packed lunch of pasta and salad with two gulab jamoons for dessert was easily the best packed lunch so far on the tour. After devouring my plate and portions from Siva and Gautam, it was time to move towards Kotagiri. We stopped at Kotagiri before the start of the downhill and contemplated tasting another variety of tea there but decided against it as it was hardly ten minutes after the last one we had.
We reached Kotagiri which was ~33km away from the start in 3 and half hours. If there was an award from the organizers for the best group that fooled around the most and had the most fun I think our group today would win it.
For me, if there is anything more exhilarating than climbing up a hill on a bike and suffering, it must be feeling the wind in your hair as you let gravity take charge and direct its power to leave the world behind. As we started the 25km continuous downhill from Kotagiri to Mettupalayam, the king of bad roads and downhills, Siva started to ride ahead past everyone. As he was gliding down the hill like a master I was right behind him imitating.
|The long winding downhill..
Focusing on the road that slithered by the side of the hills as we zoomed ahead at great speeds flowing into the curves as if we were one with the bike, felt like meditation. Although we were shaken out of our reverie a couple of times with troops of monkeys that were busy playing in the middle of the road and an occasional truck that refused to give us way, it was one of the best downhill ride experiences ever. If not for the time, I wouldn’t have minded climbing up that hill so that I could repeat that descent. May be next time.
With in a couple of kms after the amazing downhill ended we entered Mettupalayam town and made our way to our Hotel to end another amazing ride.
Rider of the Day:
She has been fighting with asthma since she was a two year old. Over the years most of the treatments she tried have been ineffective. Although yoga has helped her deal with the ailment over the years she has seen marked improvement since she started riding a bicycle. The aerobic exercise she gets from her cycling has been a big help in managing her asthmatic conditions says, Renu Mittal the senior most rider on TFN this year. This 56 years young retired yoga teacher from Ahmedabad has been an inspiration to many on this tour.
|Renu Mittal from Ahmedabad has been a silent inspiration for many
She says she has a strange but loving family with three people with three different surnames living in three different cities with her husband, Urjith Yagnik working and living in Mumbai and her daughter Avni Tanya working and living in Bangalore while she lives in Ahmedabad. Whenever someone calls her Renu Madam, she politely requests to be called just Renu.
The riders who saw her ride on tough days like on the climb up to Madikere swear by her tenacity and her never-say-die attitude. Behind that soft spoken nature and the warm smile hides a steely resolve to fight and keep fighting. Keep riding for a long long time to come, Renu.
It felt a bit sad to be leaving Ooty and its amazing beauty behind. It is difficult to think that this amazing tour is going to come to an end in a couple of days. But we continued to make most of the time left on the tour and had a gala time on the short downhill ride. There was no competitive section today. With the final competitive section remaining tomorrow riders used this short ride to give their legs rest and be prepared for one final effort to hold or improve upon their positions. Although the 21km time trial on flat road might not throw up big changes to the general classification it would be interesting to see if it does. I’m looking forward to enjoying the Sathy climb.
Day 1: Bangalore to Mysore
Day 2: Mysore to Madikere