Indian Terrain Tour of Nilgiris 2015! Day 1- Bangalore To Mysore!

The Excitement of An Adventure! 
For many of us, the excitement with which we sign up for the Tour of Nilgiris in the middle of the year turns to into a mild trepidation as soon as we receive the confirmation of the entry into the tour. That trepidation is what motivates many of us to train well for the 8 day long epic journey that we take each December 16th. But as the day for flag-off comes nearer, all those months of training fails to help us deal with the butterflies the size of elephants that take residence in the tummy.

As we got to Shangri-La, the hospitality partner for this year’s Indian Terrain Tour of Nilgiris, around 5 am, the excitement, anticipation and the nervousness were evident on almost every face there. The last minute bike tuning, tire pressure check for the millionth time, fretting over how to place the bib in the most aerodynamic way were what most of us resorted to, to deal with that nervousness. Some of the riders had big contingents of family and friends who came to wish them well for their week-long adventure.
Bharath Devanathan’s family and friends come to hand him over the TFN family for 8 days!
The wide spread menu at Shangri-La helped us fill our tummies with a superb breakfast and drive some of those butterflies out of there. After we picked up the bib numbers a brief note from the Indian Terrain CEO wishing us all the best, Hon. KJ. George, the Minister of Development and Town Planning, Government of Karnataka, flagged off the tour and we were off on our TFN-15 journey at 7am!

Getting Away From All The Madness!?
Shangri-La is situated right on Palace road at the center of the city. That meant we needed to go through Brigade road, Madiwala and the famous Silk board junction to get onto Hosur road and then on to NICE road to exit out to Kanakapura road. Starting at 7 am meant it was already rush-hour(well, almost). The 24km of the route through the city(till we got to the NICE road) with a million signals and crazy motor commuter traffic was a hair-raising experience to say the least. It was, in a way, a fitting reminder for us all on the kind of madness we are all escaping for the next 8 days. Of course, signing up for a tour like TFN is a madness of different kind that we all take pride in.

We Get Rolling!
Once we got onto the NICE road, the tailwinds and downhill ensured that we were cruising at a fair clip. Vikram Nekkanti, a volunteer in TFN-2013 who has signed up as a rider this year decided he wants to push the pace. Richard Mueller and Vinayak Gaonkar from Goa decided to join him and after a brief hesitation, I jumped in as well. My hesitation was about spending too much energy at the start of a long day and well before the day’s competitive section. But the poor guy, Vikram, fell into that nice little trap that the adrenaline rush lays for most rookies and began to go berserk getting into aero position using his aero bars.

Once we exited the NICE road and got onto the Kanakapura road, I let the three of them go for a bit and was joined by Yogesh Murthy and my teammate at Spectrum Racing, Vivek Bhateja. We kept riding at a nice pace mainly being driven by Yogesh and bit by Vivek. After a bit we caught up with Richard, Vinayak and Vikram. Vinayak and Richard were taking good turns but by that time Vikram was beginning to show signs of tiring especially when the road began pointing slightly upwards.

After a while, Yogesh and Vikram dropped back while Vivek and I made it to the first support station(SS1) at the 64km mark along with Richard and Vinayak.
Sumit and others rolling in to SS1
The race section for the day was set at 108km from the start a little after the SS2 at 104km. Vivek and I rode those 40km together at an easy pace. As we were getting close to the support station, I decided to do some warm up for the race. It was quite difficult to do any sort of hard effort on the potholed road with tractor and truck traffic. After a half baked warm up routine, I reached the SS2 with the intention of heading directly to the race start. We had to wait a few minutes there so that the race timing crew who were behind us could go ahead and get ready for timing.

The Competitive Section:
Nils and others at the start of the day’s CS!
The competitive section for the day was a 14.5km stretch of road before Malavalli. The stretch of road is mostly false flat with a bit of down slope in between. Although I was warning myself not to start too hard, it is a fine balance to decide what is too hard for that distance. You won’t have enough time to correct any blunders over a short race. I was hoping to hold a wattage, a little above my FTP for the entire duration. But, having done very little intensity training of late and having just recovered from a fever a couple of days ago and having to continuously throw yellow snot missiles for the last week or so, that target turned out to be a bit optimistic. I was doing reasonably well for about 15 mins or so and overtook a couple of riders who have started ahead of me. But after that, the legs lost the zing and I wasn’t able to put much power out. The strong headwinds didn’t help my cause either. I ended up crossing the line in 23:45 at 36.6kmph which is a little slower than last year on the same stretch.

The Results:
In the Female Category, the 54 year young lady, Belinda Viegas Mueller came first with a timing of 28:14 while Divya Chandran finished second with 30:33 followed by Firoza at 3rd with 32:28.
Female category GC after day1. 
In 45 and Above Men’s category(Veterans), the 50 year young Richard Mueller finished first followed by 53 year Russell Bell and the 52 year Aijaz Ahmed. 
Veteran’s category(45+) results!
In 35-45 Men’s category(Masters), Peter Van Tilborg finished first while I finished second followed by Preet Singh at 3rd. 

Master’s Results

In the Under 35 Men’s category, as expected, the reigning champion, Nils, finished first by a huge margin. The 21 year old youngster from Pune, Rajat Subhra Roy, finished second while the youngster from Goa, Vinayak Goankar finished 3rd. 

Under 35 Results!
New Category And New Motivation:
The introduction of the new Veteran’s category(45+) brings in an added motivation to about 20 riders who fall in that category and makes the masters category(35-45) a little less crowded(43 now). There are 37 participants who are under 35 while there are 9 female participants. Some of the riders from each category chose not to get timed during the race sections and just ride it like the rest of the tour at their own pace. 

The first competitive segment is always interesting and the results give the riders to get to know their competition better. It will be interesting to note how the things progress for everyone in the coming days.    
Bannur Mutton And The Biryani Express!
After the competitive section, we stopped at support station 3 for a bit. After taking in refreshments, I didn’t want to wait for lunch there. Instead, I wanted to ride the 25km to Bannur and have the famous Bannur mutton for lunch. I decided to entice a few more riders to join my Biryani Express(My Lemond). Of course, the mention of mutton biryani was enough and it did not need any further efforts on my part. 

Four riders from Hyderabad, a couple of riders from Delhi and my teammate, Gaurav Duggal, joined me and the Biryani Express began to roll! After a bit my Hyderabadi friends decided to slow down a bit while three Delhi boys, Sumit Kumar, Viju Varghese and Gaurav Duggal kept the express rolling until we reached Bannur and screeched to a stop at ‘Sri Siddeswara Biryani Paradise’. One of the bike patrol volunteers, Ramprashanth, was waiting outside the hotel for us and offered to keep an eye on the bikes as well as making sure our other friends don’t miss the place. Without much further thought, we ordered a few dishes (mutton pulav, mutton chops, mutton fry.. vegetarians please excuseJ) and delightfully wiped them out.

It was a bit difficult to start riding after such a satisfying meal but we just wanted to get it over with and get to Mysore. The three Delhi boys drove the pace during the last 25km and got me safely to our hotel in Mysore by 3pm.
It was a fantastic day a great start to the tour despite being a long(176km) and tiring one. A few riders got to the hotel as late as 6:30 pm. Vikram Nekkanti was one of those having paid the price for that early adrenaline rush.

Where Are We Headed?

Tomorrow’s ride to Madikere a 120km ride on rolling terrain that goes through a forest area after Kushalnagara. A 10km climb starts at Shuntikoppa at about 104km. That climb is the competitive section as well. It will be interesting to see how the GC changes after the first climb of the tour. Are the skinny climbers going to move up the ladder? Let’s wait and see tomorrow.

A few more pics from day one can be viewed on my FB here.

Also Read:

Day 2: Mysore to Madikere
Day 3: Madikere to Sultanbatheri
Day 4: Sultanbatheri to Ooty
Day 5: Rest day in Ooty
Day 6: Ooty to Palakkad
Day 7: Palakkad to Valparai 
Day 8: Valparai to Pollachi  

5 thoughts on “Indian Terrain Tour of Nilgiris 2015! Day 1- Bangalore To Mysore!

  1. This is going to be my tool to vicariously enjoy the tour that I could not make it this year, Lord Venky thanks for a truly brilliant write up, your expression is outstanding and your ability to first ride and then write like a champion is one of a kind, I'm hooked

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