Montra Tour of Nilgiris – 2014 – Day 6 – Palakkad to Valparai

Fun On The Rest Day At Palakkad!
Rest Day in Palakkad yesterday (Day 5) was very well spent. Some went exploring the town and visiting places like Malampuzha dam and Ayurvedic spas for massages. The younger Dutch gang went to visit Silent Valley some 80km from Palakkad. Cleaning the bikes and doing laundry might have been the single largest activity after the day’s photo shoot for TFN class of 2014 was done. Some went exploring local cuisine in the morning and came back high on Palm and Coconut toddy. Those local drinks were conveniently termed organic recovery drinks. The day too ended on a high note with volunteers’ birthdays being celebrated with fair bit of the cake ending up on their faces.

Riding The Dutch Train!
The day’s ride today was kicked off at 7:45 am. The roads out of Palakkad were quite good although they were narrow. I was not feeling too good as I had some tummy trouble in the morning. So, I wanted to get to the CS as soon as I can and get the CS over with before I start feeling any weaker. There were some strong headwinds as we got out of Palakkad. I caught the Dutch train of Walter De Kok, Thijs de Blaeij and the Dijkshoorn brothers, Wouter Dijkshoorn and Geert Dijkshoorn. 
The Dutch train!

The guys set a strong pace and we covered the 30km to the CS quite fast but I was not feeling particularly good to continue with the Dutch train’s high pace. The energy levels were somehow low. So, I decided to drop off and rode easy until I stopped for some coconut water by the road side after crossing Meenakshipuram.

The Mumbai Local!
I flagged down the Mumbai train of Don D’mello, Milam Saxena and Anand Kapoor at the coconut stop. The Swiss citizen from Bangalore, Michael Steiner, also joined us. After having coconut water, we started riding towards Aliyar dam check-post where the CS starts. The energy levels were flagging further and I tried drinking and eating to refuel the energy. The stomach started grumbling again and it was not a great sign before the CS.
The Mumbai local.. Don D’mello, Anand Kapoor and Milam Saxena!

The Valparai CS!

I went ahead to the CS start to get the race section over with and then rest for a while. I started behind Michael Steniner while the Dutch trio of Louwke van der Steen, Peter van Enk and Peter Van Tilborg started before Michael. I had a 3 second lead over the bigger Pete(Peter Van Tilborg) after the first two competitive sections. Although he is quite powerful, his nearly 100 kg weight is not going to be an advantage on the climbs.

The CS starts with a flattish 2 km before the climb starts and then continues climbing for about 9.5 km making it 11.5 km time trial. I started out well and got to within 50 meters of Michael just as the climb started. But I was not able to pass him. The legs were not turning smoothly but the heart rate was close to redlining. I was struggling to get any rhythm going and put out power that I wanted to.
The beautiful climb!

The views on the climb were fantastic as we could see the Aliyar dam and reservoir on the left side as we climbed up. I was trying to take a peek at the fantastic views although I was struggling to make good progress. I understood that it is not a good day for me and decided to just hang in there and get the climb over with. I was not able to accelerate even standing up and it felt like the pedals were turning in squares.

Although the legs are not able to generate power, the breathing was ragged and heavy. The steam engine like huffing and puffing actually scared a mountain goat that was standing on one of the hairpin bends and it jumped off to the lower bend. Around 9km into the climb, I saw and went past Peter Van Tilborg and felt a little relieved that I was at least able to build on the minuscule 3 second gap I had on him. 
Peter Van Enk finishing the CS as his pal Louwke cheers him on!

Louwke was ahead of Pete but I was not able to pass him. In the meantime Micheal came past me and crossed me to finish ahead. When I crossed the finish line, I knew it went very bad but at least it was over.

The Beautiful Climb!
I was barely able to go through half of the lunch pack that was served after the CS. I was not feeling great either physically or mentally. Vicki and I decided that we could use some tea and went into the hotel opposite to the support station. We were surprised to see a lot of riders skipping the packed lunch provided and instead having nice thali lunch with omlets and fish fry in the hotel. I regretted missing the nice thali but instead ordered some fish to get some protein. It was delicious. We followed it up with some nice tea and decided to get going.

Beautiful views on the route!

After the CS that ended in Attakatti, there was about 28 km with a fair bit of climbing to be done to reach Valparai. Shankar, Vicki, Anantha, MJV, Venkat Rajmohan, Siva and I started riding together towards the hotel. The views on the climb were simply breathtaking. We stopped a lot and took a lot of pictures. The easy relaxed pace with all those stops helped me as I wasn’t feeling well. But the views lifted the spirits a bit for me. It was one of the prettiest climbs I’ve done in a while. Would love to climb this again some time!

In Men’s open category, Nils set the hill on fire with a blazing pace and finished first. Kiran Kumar Raju finally came up with a performance that we have come to expect of him over the years and finished 2nd on the day in the category. Rakesh Rana, the kid from Kumaon hills has shown tremendous progress and finished 3rd in the category, just 5 secs behind Kiran.

Day 6 Men’s open results

 After day 6, Nils is still the undisputed leader in GC. However, Dipankar Paul who was on 3rd in GC after day 2 has made a jump to 2nd after day 6. Geert Dijkshoom who was in the second place had a relatively ordinary climb today and ended up losing his 2nd position in GC and slipped to 5th position. Walter De Kok who was in 5th position after day 2 had the fifth fastest climb time on the day and moved up to 3nd in GC from 5th place.   

Men’s GC after day 6..

In Master’s category Vivek Radhakrishnan has put in a monstrous effort to finish 2nd overall and 1st in Master’s by a huge margin. He has put in 6:23 into his nearest rival Shankar Jayaraman and staked the claim on the Blue Jersey. Shankar finished second for the day while yours truly finished 3rd in Master’s category.

Day 6 Master’s results!

The top 3 in Master’s GC remains the same after today’s race but the gap from the blue jersey has put in a huge gap between himself and the rest of the podium places. It was an emphatic performance that left no doubts as to who deserves the blue jersey this year! Great show from Vivek. Shankar retains his 2nd place on the podium while I retained the third place. Peter Van Tilborg dropped three places and finished 7th from 4th while his friend Louwke moved to 4th to take his place. 

In Women’s category Vicki Nicholson has put in another impressive performance and finished first. She maintains her position as GC leader while Namu Kini finished 2nd while Misha Gill finished 3rd both on the day and in GC.

Women’s Day 6 results!

Women’s GC results

Note: The GC results are provisional for now. However, since there are no further races, they will remain the same unless someone ends up not finishing the rides on the remaining two days. 

Long Day Ahead!
Tomorrow is 172 km ride to Munnar of which more than 40km is climbing. It is going to be a long day for a lot of people. This could be as tough a day as Kalahatty day if not tougher. Have to see how the tired bodies respond to the challenge.

You can check out a few more photos from today here.

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 3: The Foggy, Soggy and Cold ride in Ooty: Ooty – Kodanad – Ooty
Day 4: Ooty to Palakkad: One world to Another!!
Day 5: Rest Day in Palakkad(no report)
Day 7: The Epic Ride to Munnar: Valparai – Munnar 
Day 8: A Beautiful End to The Tour: Exploring the Beauty of Munnar

You can read the account from fellow blogger on the tour, Abhishek Tarfe, here.

One thought on “Montra Tour of Nilgiris – 2014 – Day 6 – Palakkad to Valparai

  1. Seriously NUTS.. Considering the multiple days and multiple climbs. Here i am at the office desk posting this and there you are sweating it out. 😀 Have fun and ride safe. Loved the documentary as always.. Cheers.. to all riders..

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