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..|
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:
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.
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..|
|Through the forest..|
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.
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.
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..|
|Open Category GC after Day6|
|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.
|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.
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.