Montra Tour of Nilgiris – 2012 – Day Six – Ooty Upper Bhavani Loop

Brrr… It Is Cold:

After a nice rest day yesterday we were ready for the tough ride today. The morning chill in Ooty meant everyone had to find ways to beat the chill. A couple of layers and a wind cheater jacket and I was still shivering at 7:30 am even in the sun. After a good breakfast and the usual pre-ride briefing, we started out riding the steep downhill out of the hotel. After a couple of km from the hotel, we joined the 20 or so of riders from TFN Entree. 
Deepak Rao was doing TFN Entree and joined us this morning for the ride..
Dr. Deepak Rao, Shankar Jayaraman and a few others from TFN Entree joined us. As we rode on slowly, suddenly a herd of wild buffaloes standing in the middle of the road got scared of either Dipankar’s red jacket or Shailaja’s Pink fleece jacket. They panicked and I thought they were going to charge us. Thankfully, they were as scared as us and moved to the side of the road and we rode ahead.

The route is full of rolling hills and hardly had a flat stretch. Just a few kms into the ride we had a bit of narrow and steep downhill which had trucks coming up. Quite a few of us were almost pushed off the road and had a few close shaves. 

Scary Winding Downhills And Crashes:
Shreyas was trying to avoid a tractor coming towards him on the downhill and braked hard in panic resulting in him going over the bars and landing on his chin. The medical staff of the tour attended to him. He had stitches on his cut and after ten minutes continued to ride. Quite a spirited guy. 

Uma Havaligi was not that fortunate. She was hit by a motor biker coming on the wrong side as she was descending and landed on her right hand. She immediately knew that she had broken her bone. A volunteer jeep that was near by immediately took care of her and the tour doctors took her to a hospital for further examination after the first aid. She now has her hand in a cast and is going back to Bangalore for further treatment. She was riding the tour despite a bad shoulder and she is taking this latest misfortune quite bravely. She came in to dinner with her arm in cast and thanked the volunteers and the medical staff on the tour who took care of her immediately and efficiently.

The medical team on the tour and the volunteers have been of great help to all the riders.

Pristine Beauty:
Dipankar played a few songs on his harmonica we rode on. Once we got out of Ooty the sun disappeared behind the clouds and we rode via some of the most insanely scenic settings via Thiashola tea estates. As we continued to climb at places it appeared like we were riding right into the clouds. 
Riding into the clouds..
After support station two we entered the beautiful forest area where we sighted huge Sambar. Two eyes were not enough to take in all the beauty around as we rode through the shaded woods. Everyone was just bowled over by the beauty.  
Through the forest..
Towards the last 10 km of the turn around point, the roads became quite patchy. Climbing up those bad roads was fine but riding downhill on them was not so pretty. As we approached the turn around point, the front group of KYNKYNY boys, Richard, Bjorn etc were riding back towards the CS. 

We spent sometime at the support station at the turn around point eating Goodday biscuit and peanut butter sandwiches before starting back. The ride back was quite a bone shaking downhill ride on the bad roads. Although the sun was a welcome relief in that cold weather it also made it difficult to make out the potholes from out of the shadows of the leaves and branches. 

Only Tamil:
On our return we saw Tirath Singh stopping by the roadside and talking to a puppy that was around. Just then a small girl who saw him talking with the dog in English came up to him and says, “It doesn’t understand English. It understands only Tamil”. Poor Tirath never knew. 

By The Flowing Brook:
We had lunch at the support station four and started riding back to the start of the competitive section. We decided on a riding order and sent Gautam ahead of Chetan Gupta followed by Mohan, Dipankar and Nachiket Joshi.

I let them go ahead as my stomach was growling and asking for relief. But I was more than 30km away from the hotel with considerable climbing left to be done. So, I decided to go the natural way and found refuge in some bushes under the bridge. There is a nice brook that was flowing under the bridge. It was a beautiful setting offering an unique experience and an immense relief. 

Competitive Section:
The short but slightly steep climb for the competitive section meant that everyone was going all out right from the start. By the time they got to the finish line most of them were completely wasted and collapsed at the support station there.
Chetan at the start of the competitive section..
Results:
Naveen John ripped the climb and finished first with a time of 13 min 53 secs followed by Richard 3 secs behind. Third fastest for the day was Loki at 14:40. Loki still gets to wear the blue jersey since he still has over 5mins advantage over NJ in the GC. Richard is exactly 3 mins behind NJ and stays safe at 3rd with a 5min advantage over 4th place.
Open Category GC after Day6
In Masters, Bjorn again finished first with a 16:41 climb time while the 49 year youngster Prashant finished just 9 seconds behind with 16:50. Gautam finished 3rd fastest for the day and displaces his teammate Mohan in 3rd place in the GC. Bjorn and Prashant have an unassailable lead and are certain to remain at 1st and 2nd place respectively. One more good day in office will see one of the Spectrum boys in 3rd place on the podium.
Masters Category GC after Day 6

In Women’s category, Shailaja put 1 min 10 secs over Anjali on the climb today and extended her over all lead to 2 min 39 secs in the GC. Anjali apparently lost her chain during the GC and ended up losing time. With just the 20km time trial remaining on the final day, it is going to be difficult for her to make up that time. Let us see how it goes.

Women’s Category GC after Day 6

Rider Of The Day:    

When a lady on a hybrid bike (albeit with slick road bike like tires) finished at the top of Women’s podium on the first day, she got everyone’s attention. When I came to know that she is 14 years older than her competitor who was at second place that day I tipped my hat in respect. When I saw her drooling over her competitor’s Pinarello admiring its pink highlights apart from the whole beauty and artistry of the bike, I saw a small girl in her. I found it hard to believe that she is a mom of two daughters who are 21 and 16 years old. She herself looks and rides like someone in her late twenties at best.
Anjali is second in women’s category.. One strong lady!

Anjali Bhalinge, the gracious lady from Pune started cycling in 2007 and entered state level women’s team at the age of 40 with in one year of starting cycling. She credits that completely to the able guidance and coaching of a retired national level cyclist Ashok Captain. She rides 30-40km on most days and does a ride and hike every Thursday with her friends.  She loves Pune and the amazing terrain that it offers to do the most things she loves like cycling and hiking. Great show so far, Anjali. All the best ahead.  


Summary: 
While the entire world eagerly waited for apocalypse, at TFN we were busy riding on one of the best routes I have ever rode on. Everyone unanimously says that it was the most beautiful route they rode on. The rolling terrain which gets a bit steep at times gets to you. We had a gain of 2350m in 104km. The competitive section saw them everyone going all out and putting up a great show. The leaders of each of the categories are almost decided. It is unlikely that the 20km flat TT on the last day is going to make much difference to the GC. Tomorrow is the time to enjoy the short downhill ride to Mettupalayam. 

Although it was a tough ride it was not as tough as we initially thought it would be partly because it was cut short by 30 km. For me the queen stage was still day four which pretty much decided the leader board. Tomorrow, everyone needs to ride carefully without being carried away on the long downhill.

Photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/102172342564541481938/TFN2012DaySix#

You can read the Day Seven preview.

Also read:
Day 1: Bangalore to Mysore
Day 2: Mysore to Madikere

4 thoughts on “Montra Tour of Nilgiris – 2012 – Day Six – Ooty Upper Bhavani Loop

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *