TFN – 2012 – Day Four In Preview

Ice Ice Baby.. Ooty Time! 

Sultan Bhatery to Ooty:
Day four of Montra Tour of Nilgiris -2012 is the ~95km stage from Sultan Bhatery to Ooty. This is the same route as that on day 7 of last year’s tour which decided the winner of the tour. Even this year, I think this will be the queen stage although the Ooty-UpperBhavani loop is going to be vying for that spot. 

From Sultan Bhatery, we would be riding on some of the most beautiful rolling terrain surrounded by huge tea plantations and enter Tamilnadu(TN) near Devarshola. Last year we were stopped near Devarshola because of a bandh happening on Kaveri water dispute in the area. We had to wait for almost an hour before we were led into TN and towards Gudalur by police escort. Hopefully the organizers won’t need to use their time sorting out issues like that this year. 

The roads conditions are pretty good and the terrain although is rolling is not something that will kill your legs before the big climb. Save them. You’d need them for the big climb. The ride is not done once the CS climb completes at Pykara. You’d still need to climb up to Ooty riding up pretty rolling hills till you reach the 3 star accommodation at Sterling Holiday’s Fren Hill, Ooty. Be prepared to walk up to the hotel’s super steep and dodgy approach road.     

Competitive Section:
The 21km climb from Gudalur to Pykara makes up the competitive section for the day. I said that this is still going to be the queen stage because this is the longest climbing CS on the tour. With a long climb like this a great day for you vs an ordinary one for the guy next to you in GC would mean a huge time advantage. Look no further than last year’s CS results for evidence. With a great climb, Rajesh Nair not only took back almost 2mins of lead from MDA, he also surged into a couple of minutes lead in the overall GC and won the tour.

With such a long climb it is important that you warm up well. With an interrupted ride last year, almost all of us felt that we were not warmed up properly before we took on the CS. So, it would be a good idea to get your legs moving and the heart pumping before you enter Gudalur town. The CS starts around half way through the entire ride(i.e., after a little over 40km from the start). So, you can plan accordingly.

Although the climb is a very steady one with the grades almost never going into double digits, pacing yourself on the long climb is very important. If you go too hard too early you might end up suffering through the later half of the climb and lose more time than you gained. Getting into a zone that can be sustained for almost the entire duration and giving it all for the last 4-5km would not be a bad strategy. 

Making sure that you eat and hydrate well throughout is something you could easily forget through the suffering. Eating something every half an hour and taking a sip or two every 15mins through the ride should keep you away from any chances of bonking. It is important that you pay heed to the signals your body sends you and respond accordingly. Well, that is the end of my super generic gyan of dubious value. You’re on your own now. 

Destination Ooty:
After the CS ends at Pykara, you can probably check out the view point and the Pykara lake if you feel like it. You’d need to walk up the view point with your bikes for that which might not be a very comfortable thing to do. There are a few spots on the route which are famous film shooting spots. The tea shops on the route, not very surprisingly, serve pretty awesome tea.

This year on the tour, we will spend three nights in Ooty, the most popular of hill stations in southern India. The town is full of stores selling a hundred varieties of ‘home made’ chocolate, an even greater varieties of tea leaves and coffee along with a range of other products including great sweaters and shawls. Expect a super busy pandemonium of a town and look for beauty of the hill station outside the actual town. 

Featured Rider:
Around 2nd week of June-2012 a Purdue undergrad from US landed in Bangalore and was hoping to find a place among millions of cubicle dwellers. The next week he somehow found his way to a BBCh race that happens every third Sunday of the month. Not many bothered about that muscular creature with a slight firangi accent who looked to be at the front of the group all the time. No one needed to bother as well. Not until they got the glimpse of the monster that he was when he almost bridged up to the leaders with a solo effort after a wheel change to deal with a flat. He ended up on the Cat2 podium in that race. 

After a couple of weeks, Naveen Thomas John, not surprisingly, got into the best team in Bangalore, the Specialized Kynkyny Cycling Team. The rest, as they say is, well- not history yet but hopefully, will be. The 72kg muscular guy that we see now apparently used to be a 102kg behemoth not very long ago. It was cycling that helped him redefine himself as he worked hard on the bike and found himself riding for his university team and a local club. In the process he moved up to Cat2 in US club level cycling before coming to Bangalore after his graduation.

NJ during his US club racing days… Photo from his FB Profile

While he could win a BBCh race probably riding zone 2, his biggest win so far has been a second place finish in the 120km 2nd stage at Tour De India where there was a good international representation. That is no mean an achievement. They did reasonably well in Bintan as well. I am sure 2013 would see many more results for him and SKCT at International races where they belong.

TFN could be a jolly outing for him and his team mates. With the competitive sections in TFN being all short individual time trial events, his main competition could be his other teammates, Loki, Naveen Raj etc. The rest of the field might have to fight for spots outside the podium.

Featured Sponsor: 
Oakley India is Our Eye Wear Partner for Montra Tour of Nilgiris 2012.  The prizes for the CS Winners will from Oakley. 

NJ might be ending up with a lot of Oakley gear to go with his Oakley Radars.
About Oakley – Oakley, Inc. is a sport and lifestyle brand and is recognized as oneof the most coveted brands in performance technology and fashion(Oakley sunglasses awarded more than 575 patents and 1100 trademarks).

They currently deal with Oakley Sunglasses and Oakley prescription eyewear from a wide array of market-leading products that Oakley offers eg: apparels, footwear etc. 

Also read:
TFN – 2012 – Day One In Preview. 
TFN – 2012 – Day Two In Preview. 
TFN – 2012 – Day Three In Preview.

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