Montra Tour of Nilgiris 2014 – Day 8 – Exploring the Beauty around Munnar!

Exploring the Beauty of Munnar!
After the epic ride to Munnar yesterday that ended up draining a lot of riders of all the energy, today was a day to rejuvenate the spirits and restore their sanity a bit. The plan was to do a 57 km loop around Munnar that goes through Bison Vally, Pottanakad, Kunchitanni, Munnar and back to the Sterling resort in Chinnakanal via Devikulam. It is not an easy ride with about 25km climbing on the way back in the 57 km ride. Since the ride was an optional ride, many of the riders decided to give it a pass and relax at the resort to recover from the pounding of yesterday’s ride. 


About 25-30 people started riding the planned loop. The rest relaxed at the resort or went for shorter rides to explore the beauty around Munnar sans too much climbing. I was in one of those smaller groups that decided to do a smaller exploratory ride to take in the beauty of the place since we were in the mood the enjoy the beauty of the place yesterday evening when we were at our wits end and wanted to just get the tough ride over with. 

Vicki Nicholson, Misha Gill, Rajesh Krishnan, Shankar Jayaraman, Anantha Vishwanathan and I were in that small group that went to explore the route towards Munnar that we came by yesterday evening. The weather was perfect with the morning sun lighting up the vast blue skies and the mammoth verdant mountains.


I simply run out of words to describe the beauty of the place. The vast blue skies and the valleys among the mountains were just surreal. I came to this side of the western ghats for the first time and I’m simply blown away by it’s beauty. In the 8km we rode to the tea shop we must have taken about 80 pics. After a few minutes we got tired of taking pictures and just stood at places just taking in the silence and sounds of the forests in the valleys. It was meditative. 

After having tea, we rode back and reached the hotel and reached by 9:30. After shower, we packed our bags and bikes and were ready to go. But we waited for lunch and presentation ceremony before we head back to Bangalore.


The Not-So Easy Munnar Loop:
The planned Munnar loop apparently turned out to be much difficult than expected. Riders apparently had trouble negotiating steep technical downhills and even steeper uphills. Some riders had flats on the downhills due to their rims heating up while braking. A couple of riders had minor crashes too. The 25km climb was also apparently quite steep at parts. Only about 20 bad-ass riders completed the ride. Kudos to them. For me, I was quite pleased with the short, serene and beautiful ride we did in the morning.

This year’s Tour of Niligiris was probably the toughest TFN I have done so far. Or perhaps as one of my friends remarked, I’m just getting old.

Montra Tour of Nilgiris 2014 Champions!

Results:
Nils Eigil Bradtberg successfully defended his Tour of Nilgiris title. Ironman, Dipankar Paul finished second in open men category with a four second lead while the Dutchman, Walter De Kok finished third. 

Final results in Men’s category!

In Master’s category Vivek Radhakrishnan emerged victorious with consistently impressively performances throughout the tour. He actually finished second overall after Nils and was the fastest Indian national on the tour. Shankar Jayaraman finished second in master’s while I finished third. 

Master’s Final GC results!

In Women’s category Vicki Nicholson successfully defended her Tour of Nilgiris title. Namu Kini finished second with impressive show of determination. Misha Gill who was in third position couldn’t finish the tough ride yesterday from Valparai to Munnar due to an injury that she sustained because of a crash on day 4. She ended up losing her spot on the podium to Hemal Shah who moved up to 3rd.  

Women’s Final GC results!

Vivek and Dipankar finished 2nd and 3rd overall behind Nils. It is great to see, Vicki finishing 12th overall too. Here is the consolidated results across all categories.

Overall Results across categories!

Marking team lead Adarsh Kashyap won the best volunteer award 3 years in a row. 
  
Summary:
It was a hard tour. It had lot more climbing than last year and is longer although the race sections were lesser in number and shorter in distance. Everyone thought day 2 to Kalahatty would be the hardest day on the tour but the long grinding ride on Day 7 to Munnar proved us wrong. The harder the tour gets the more determined the riders seem to get to finish it. Quite a few who couldn’t finish Kalahatty last year were able to find closure this year by coming to the tour better prepared. If the tough ride to Munnar caught some riders off guard this time I’m sure they are going to come back stronger and better prepared.   

 End of the tour always brings mixed feelings. At one side people or relieved that the continuous hard days of riding and suffering are over. At the same time we miss all the fun and pampering and have to go back to normal life and realities of deadlines and targets to be met. We just have to wait for Dec-2015 for the next tour.  

Tour of Nilgiris and The Bonds It Forges!

Skandan Suryanarayana was part of Tour of Nilgiris last year and was swept from the top of Kalahatty last year as it got dark by the time he got there. He was determined to complete it this year and has come back with better gearing as well as better prepared legs. He was able to complete the daunting climb without un-clipping his right leg and taking just a few short breather breaks. That achievement gave him immense satisfaction and says perhaps he would go faster and with even fewer breaks next time. It was same with the tough ride to Munnar. He kept on going with out stopping much and was able to reach Munnar in time. 


For him the challenges TFN has offered not only helped him push his physical boundaries but also gave him friends he can connect with emotionally. He says that TFN has given him some of the best friends since his school and college days. He now rides regularly with the buddies he made on TFNs over the last couple of years and considers them an extended family.  

Dr. Shekar Rao and Skandan Suryanarayana chatting up and bonding on the rest day!

Dr. Shekar Rao, a pediatric heart surgeon, was always on a bike as a kid and as teenager. After a couple of decades of separation, he fell in love with bikes again when he went to buy a bicycle to his younger son and picked one up for himself too. His son eventually has gone to pursue higher studies and has become too busy to cycle but the good doctor hasn’t looked back from that day. 

Cycling has become as much of a passion for him as golf has been for the past few years. Both the sports seem to give him a way to socialize as well as a great way to keep physically active. He cherishes a challenge and says that being able to complete a tough days like Kalahatty and the ride to Munnar gives him immense satisfaction.

Some beautiful photos from the day can be seen 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 6: Palakkad to Valparai  
Day 7: The Epic Ride to Munnar: Valparai – Munnar 

Read the account of the other blogger on the tour Abhishek Tarfe here.

And that’s a wrap for Montra Tour of Nilgiris 2014! 

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