This is a guest blog I wrote to VeloCrush whose Abhishek Tarfe and I will be blogging at TFN this year.
The Begginings of An Addiction!
The Begginings of An Addiction!
Oct 2008 is when I got into cycling. Dec 2008 is the year that Tour of Nilgiris started. It was only natural that I got to hear about the tour that went through some of the most beautiful country roads and hills. I poured over every ride story during that time and every story that I read about the tour only fueled my resolve to be part of the tour one day.
The first week I moved to Bangalore in Dec 2010, I happened to go to the post tour party to meet my friends from Hyderabad who were part of the tour that year. Hearing the stories from each of the participants during the course of that evening only made my resolve to ride the tour stronger. I decided it was time and applied to be part of the tour in 2011. The only bike I had that time was my fixed gear bike and so I decided I’ll train to do the tour on the same bike.
To see if I can climb for long distances on that bike, I decided to attempt Ooty as a test. After managing that, my apprehension reduced slightly or so I thought. But it is when my registration was accepted in June 2011 that the reality of the challenge hit me and the mild apprehension turned to a debilitating trepidation. I was about 78kgs in June 2011 that was something that I had been maintaining after losing 16kgs to come down to 76 from 92 during 2008. But I knew that I had to lose some more weight and train a lot more if I were to manage riding TFN. I knew continuing to be a weekend warrior won’t be enough. So, I started riding at least 4-5 days a week.
During the next six months that followed, until the tour in Dec 2011, I had lost 12kgs to reach 66kgs and rode about 11,000km including multiple visits to Nandi. I was consumed by the fear of not being able to complete the tour. It got me out of the door and made me ride rain or shine. It was training for the tour that changed me completely and the tour itself was a fantastic experience. I had a blast riding with some of the best riders in the country and picked up some invaluable tricks of the trade from them. Friendships for life were forged during those exciting 7 days of the tour even as TFN got me hooked to cycling for life.
Hooked For Life!
I came back next year and the year after that and the year after(this year). Every year I meet great people and ride in some of the most challenging and beautiful terrains in southern India. Every year the tour is the same and yet it is so different. Every year there are familiar faces who are similarly addicted to the tour and can’t stay away from its calling every December. And every year there are new people with their own awesomeness to wonder and learn from. Every year there are new friendships being forged and memories of a lifetime being taken home.
It is not just the riders but also the volunteers that make the tour as awesome as it is. Their constant energy and enthusiasm to make sure that you don’t need to worry about anything but your ride is simply awesome.
Every year there is something different in terms of the excitement, be it the high of the competitive sections or the mind boggling challenges like Kalahatty. Every year the pristine beauty of the routes seem to keep getting better. This year additions include the challenging long climbs on the way to Palakad and Munnar adding to the already daunting challenge of Kalahatty.
The mind-blowing scenic beauty and mind-numbing challenges go hand in hand when it comes to Tour of Nilgiris. The exciting anticipation and anxiety always tend to go hand in hand when I think of the tour. No wonder I am addicted to TFN like so many others who had ridden the tour at least once.
Less than a month to go. Can’t wait!
TLDR: Those beautiful winding roads amongst the most scenic of settings, those hills that make your legs and lungs scream, those awesome people you get to meet and ride with. What more does one need? No wonder I’m addicted to #TourOfNilgirisand look forward to it every year with delightful anticipation mixed with anxiety.