Ooty – Kodanad – Ooty – Montra Tour of Nilgiris – 2013 – Day 5

The Surreal Views..
After a fun filled rest day, the riders were recharged and were raring to go. The plan for the day was to head down to the Kodanad view point via Kotagiri and ride back up to Ooty, making it a ~97 km ride filled with amazing views of the valley and the tea estates. 

Some of us getting together and posing at the Kodanad View Point

On any ride starting from and ending at Ooty, we always tend to lose elevation and we have to climb it all on the way back. We got out of the hotel descending for two km to get into the town and head towards Doddabetta junction. The first 4km as we got out of Ooty until we reach Doddabetta junction is a good climb that warmed our bodies up against the morning chill. Once we crossed the junction and turned towards Kotagiri however, the road formed on the side of the mountain ridge started to flow downwards with an occasional tilt upwards. 

I was on the wheel of the blue jersey Nils Bradberg who was making mental notes of the distance and elevation profiles for every meter of the race section which would take place on the same stretch of road but on the way back. After we went past the race section, he picked up the speed and sucked me into his slipstream, powering up the occasional rollers and descending with amazing speed and grace. The flowing nature of the descent and the amazing views into the valley on the left made the ride immensely enjoyable as we got to the first support station just before Kotagiri.

Took The Breath Away..
The next 20km stretch to get to Kodanad view point had some gentle uphills on which I knew holding Nils’ wheel would be a struggle. But he was keen to pull Oluf and me along and promised to slow down for us. It was a massive struggle for me to hold onto his train on those inclines. Although I was panting like a dog, I managed to stay with him mainly because he would look back and slow down a bit if any gap was developing. 

As we got closer to the view point and saw the board saying 2km to view point, I slowed down to take pictures and take in the views of the valley as I rode gently into the support station. 

Work place with view…

Harry Wiltshire and Mark Bruce who got there earlier apparently spent some time training for an alternative career in harvesting tea leaves under the able guidance of the ladies picking tea leaves there. They are perhaps tempted with the workplace with such fabulous views.

From the support station we walked down to the view point near by to take in the expansive view of the massive valley. It was a little hazy with low lying clouds in the valley but whatever was visible was simply amazing. 

Breathtaking views at the Kodanad view point..

After spending time at the view point watching the distant waterfall gently falling into the valley, taking in the immense silence of the vast valley gazing into the distance, we took a million photos before returning to the support station to have lunch and head back.

Competitive Section: 8.5km climb ~280m
The competitive section for the day was an 8.5km section with about 280m elevation gain. The first couple of km of the climb average about 5% with the course flattening out for a little over a km before picking up again. The last half of the climb is gentle, averaging to about 2%, with an occasional steep portion but the majority of it appearing as a false flat. It is a very deceptive course where pacing oneself was tricky. You could big ring most of the course but you could be found out due to an odd surge in the gradient all of a sudden which can throw your rhythm off. 

Most of the major riders seem to have done well on the course with a surprising exception in the leader of the race. In Men’s open category, Nils seemed to have had an off day. In the middle portion of the course he apparently had difficulty breathing and began to feel dizzy perhaps due to high altitude. He somehow managed to finish but lost huge chunk of his lead to Mark Bruce who finished the day on top. Christoper Larsen finished second and Harry Wiltshire finished third for the day.

Men’s Results Day 5

Nils still holds the blue jersey but the lead is just 32 seconds going into the final time trial on day 7. The 16km rolling terrain should suit him but Mark can spring in a surprise as he has done in the last two stages. It is going to be a nerve wreaking finale for sure.

Men’s Open GC after Day 5 

In the Master’s category, Christopher Hay again put in a great ride and extended his lead by another 1:57 to now have a 4:17 buffer on Bjorn going into the last time trial. Bjorn’s place on the podium looks secure at second. The battle for the third position continues although Gautam Raja extended his lead by more than a minute and half and now has a 2:04 over the 4th place Louwrens. The gap between Lowrens and Vineeth is 5secs and would be a fight between them in the last CS.

Day 5 CS Master’s Results
Master’s GC after Day 5

In the Women’s field, Vicki Nicholson continues to dominate with another stage win and extending her overall lead further. She could now cruise through the last competitive section without worrying about the blue jersey. 

Day 5 CS Women’s
Women’s GC after Day 5

The top spots in Master’s and Women’s category are more or less sealed but the Men’s open battle looks like a cliffhanger. With such a slender lead, anything could happen but with a flattish rolling course, Nils with his massive power has an advantage over Mark’s slender frame.

What’s Ahead?
The great time we had in Ooty riding in some of the best routes comes to an end as we head out of Ooty today. We descend via Kalahatty and head towards Sultanbathery via Masinagudi and Gudalur. 

Nils, Mark and Harry have conducted a knowledge sharing session after dinner yesterday where they have explained how to tackle such a steep descent and take care of things like braking, cornering effectively and maintaining your balance on the bike etc. Vicki and Vineeth shared their experiences from the last tours and shared tips on how to ride through the crazy Kerala traffic. It would be an interesting day although there is no competitive section on the day.

More photos here

Also Read:
Day 1: Let The Fun Begin! Bangalore to Mysore
Day 2: The Legend of Kalahatty: Mysore to Ooty
Day 3: Ooty Kunda Lovedale Loop 
Day 4: Rest day! Party time!!
Day 6: Ooty – Sultanbathery  
Day 7: One Hell of A Ride: Sultanbathery – Madikere  
Day 8: Madikere to Mysore! Winding up on a Windy Day! 

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