After a tough climb up Kalahatty yesterday, we were looking forward to the comparatively easier ride to Kodanad view point and back. But as we woke up and went out today, we could hardly view anything. The visibility is close to zero and the temperature was almost in single digits. The planned ride time of 7:30 am was postponed to 8:30 am but the conditions hardly changed.
|At the hotel.. at around 8am..|
The couple of hours of sleep I got yesterday(or this morning perhaps) was hardly enough and I was hardly able to eat anything at breakfast as I was feeling queasy. So, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to going out to ride in wet and cold conditions. I just wanted to go back to the warmth of the bed and sleep. I reluctantly got dressed and put on all the winter clothing I had, including a fleece hoodie(yup), before I got out.
The 2 km steep downhill with sketchy road from the hotel to get into the town itself was quite a challenge to tackle. The wet rims were offering hardly any braking power. The fingers were going numb both from the cold wind and death grip on the brakes that I had to maintain to control speed on the downhills.
After we got out of the town traffic and started climbing towards Doddabetta junction, it was a bit better as the climb warmed the body up slightly. However, the effects of cramps towards the end of the ride yesterday were clearly being felt in the leg muscles. I just got into the granny gears and kept spinning up the slopes. As we completed the climb and took a turn towards Kotagiri however, the downhills/rolling terrain started and I began to feel extremely cold even with the dozen layers I wore. The HR was in the 70s and I was shivering.
|Foggy and soggy…and COLD!!|
View? What View?
This ride to Kodanad view point and back from Ooty is one of the most scenic of routes around Ooty. However, with almost zero visibility today, we could hardly make out which way the road was curving ahead, let alone see any of the beautiful views the route had to offer. We had to have our numb fingers all the time on the brakes to control the speed so that we don’t end up overshooting a curve and ride into the valleys or into the on coming vehicles.
The wet shoes made the toes numb as well. I can take either wet or cold but not both. I wasn’t particularly enjoying gingerly making snails progress in the conditions. As we rolled into the first support station at 24km mark, the hot tea they had serving there felt heavenly.
While I had a dozen layers on me and still shivering, Dipankar Paul who was riding with me was riding without as much as arm warmers or base layers. But within a few kms he realized how foolish it was of him to think that the conditions would get better quickly and that he would not need any warm clothing. At SS1, he desperately converted one of unused garbage disposal bags into a base layer and wore it under the jersey.
|The shivering Ironman trying to be ingenious with cold weather riding gear..|
Race Called Off:
I needed more warmth and I decided to spend some time inside the hotel opposite the support station and order coffee. The warmth of the coffee was bringing life back into the limbs and in the meantime we received the news that the conditions at the view point were extremely windy and with zero visibility. It was almost noon by that time and it was decided by the organizers that it was risky to conduct the race or continue the ride in those conditions. So, we were asked to turn back from SS1 and were given a choice either to ride or take the sweep vehicle back to the hotel.
I was relieved to hear that and promptly turned back and started riding to the hotel. On the way back we met Siva and the gang and had some bland pasta that was supplied by the volunteers for lunch.
|On our way back.. at about 12pm..|
Tea Trains and TASMAC Trains:
After trying the bland pasta for lunch we needed to eat/drink something to bring the palate to normalcy and we formed a Tea train and rode in search of some good chocolate tea. We found one shop that served some ten varieties of teas including ‘ginger tea’, ‘cardamom tea’, ‘chocolate tea’, ‘lime tea’ among others.
We tried quite a few varieties of teas and ate a few dozen egg puffs and about a kilo of local chocolates among us. We flagged down any of the riders that were going that way and had then join the festivities. Nils got the taste of ‘Ginger tea’ and ‘Chocolate tea’ and seemed to have quite liked the taste.
|The gang raiding the tea shop..|
After we made sure we wiped out the monthly supplies of the shop, we decided it was time to move on. This time the guys began their search for some warmth giving liquids that could go well with dinner and began their search of a TASMAC outlet and decided to form a TASMAC paceline on the way to the hotel.
We got to the hotel, took a hot shower and gathered around in a room to let the good times and a few of the TASMAC liquids flow along with noisy chatter! The Tour of Nilgiris is not just about suffering after all!
With the day’s competitive segment getting cancelled, some of the climbers that were looking forward to making up time on their rivals might have been disappointed. But the conditions were very challenging and it could have been dangerous to race in poor visibility with the flowing traffic. I, for one, am definitely not complaining.
Tomorrow we leave Ooty to reach Palakad. We would be taking the same route as today for the first 25km till we get to Kotagiri where we will be going 40km downhill to get to Mettupalayam and head towards Palakad to make for a 165km ride. It is mostly downhill and flat but with thunderstorms predicted it is going to be a challenge to tackle the long, flowing and slightly technical downhill. There is no competitive section tomorrow.
Here are a few photos from the day.
Read About The Rest of the Tour:
Day 1: The Tour Kicks-off: Bangalore to My’sore’
Day 2: The Madness of Kalahatty: Mysore to Ooty
Day 4: Ooty to Palakkad: One world to Another!!
Day 5: Rest Day in Palakkad(no report)
Day 6: Palakkad to Valparai
Day 7: The Epic Ride to Munnar: Valparai – Munnar
Day 8: A Beautiful End to The Tour: Exploring the Beauty of Munnar
Read the account of the other blogger on the tour, Abhishek Tarfe, here.