On the first day of TFN, one of my roommates, Bhupesh, who is a first time TFNer asked me if I have done this tour before. I said, ‘Yes, this is my 6th TFN’. He looked at me incredulously and said, ‘Why? Don’t you get bored riding the same tour?’ The answer for that is, it never is the same! Every year there are changes to the route and more importantly, there are always different people you get to meet and ride with. There are different and mostly better challenging rides every year. I suffer, I enjoy and I get my mind blown every time, with the sheer awesomeness of the tour. The volunteers and riders that I get to meet and ride with provide great inspiration. This time was no different. It has been an amazing tour and I’m already looking forward to the next year.
The Downhill Ride To Pollachi!
Today was the last day of the 9th edition of the Tour of Nilgiris and we had a ceremonial ride to Pollachi. It was all of 65km and most of it was downhill. Yes, it actually was! Of course, the downhill came after a 10km climb.
The initial part of the descent has nice tree cover and is a bit cold as we descended. After about 12km of downhill, we reached Attakatti, the home of the ‘Hotel New Restaurant’. It didn’t matter that we had a pretty decent breakfast at our stay in Green Hills hotel in Valparai. We just had to stop at this lovely place. We ordered some ghee dosas and vada and belted them non-stop. The shop guy must have had the business for the entire year like farmers have harvest season.
After spending a couple of hours at the restaurant, and posing for millions of pictures, we headed further downhill to pose for million more pictures.
The views on the hill are just unbelievable. On day 7, we were able to savor the beauty of only the beauty of only the top half of the climb since the initial part from Aliyar dam to Attakatti was part of the competitive section.
This time as we descended, we were able to stop as we please and take in all the beauty. The water level in the dam was no where close to that we had last year, but still, it was an incredible sight.
Man vs Wild! Or was it wild vs wildest? 🙂
The Final Train To Pollachi Leaves From Aliyar Dam!
After making it down the hill, we quickly signed at the final support station and formed a train to head quickly down to Shakti resorts in Pollachi which was the ride officially ends for this year. Kiran and I shared the load initially but when others found the youngster’s pace too hot to handle up the hills, I steadied the train into a manageable pace and still make it quickly to the destination. Attacks and sprints in the last one kilometer ensured that all of our hearts finished the tour on a high note. It has been a super fun 8 days full of unforgettable experiences.
The Champions Dinner!
After having lunch on the banks of a river at Shakti resorts, we took transport to Coimbatore for the cool of party, The Champions Dinner, at Vivanta Taj, this year’s amazing hospitality partner for TFN. The presentation ceremony and dinner party that followed were another highlight of a week crammed with heady highlights.
In Elite category, the podium remained the same with Nils taking the overall title. The fight this year has been incredibly close and very exciting to watch the competition unfold over the last 8 days. Jamie, who has brought so much excitement to the tour, retained his 2nd place on the podium with Kiran Kumar Raju finishing a close 3rd. The younsters Muralidharan and Vinayak Goankar finish 4th and 5th respectively.
Nils’ performance under pressure against lightweight climbers in a climbing tour, shows how strong a rider he is. It is great that TFN gives youngsters in India a chance to compete with some of the strong riders from around the world. I’m sure the guys learn so much from the likes of Nils and Jamie.
In Veteran’s category, the competition was intense through all the stages with Richard showing dominance in the flatter stages and retaining lead till the last stage. However on the final mountain finish on Valparai, Dr. Arvind Bhateja managed to put in a great show to dethrone Richard and took the top spot on the podium. It was amazing to watch them battle it out. The 71 year youngster, Russell Bell, gave all of them including Richard and Arvind a run for their money and finished 3rd on the podium. These guys are an amazing inspiration to everyone.
Winners have won a Trek 1.2 bike from Trek and Jayanth ProBike, a mountable camera from Karle Town Center and 25k gift vouchers from Indian Terrain.
Dr. Arvind Bhateja has announced that he will donate all the proceedings from the prizes to the Giving Back program he is raising funds for. Through the program he raises funds for providing free spine surgeries for those who cannot afford them. Please feel free to donate for the great cause. You can find the transfer details here.
In Women’s category, Lena dominated the standings right from day one with strong performances that matched and surpassed many men. She finished comfortably on the top of the podium. Last year’s champion, Belinda Mueller continued to amaze everyone with her endurance, grit and humility while finishing 2nd in the category. Juhi Mehta, the lovely lady from Mumbai, finished 3rd overall with commendable performances through out the tour.
In Master’s category, I managed to retain the top spot on the podium. While it might look like I had no competition in my category, the guys in the Veteran’s category constantly gave me a scare. So, it is still satisfying to finish a little more than two minutes ahead of everyone over 35 years except the incredibly strong Jamie Anderson. Veera Manikanta of Mysore finished second in Master’s category, climbing his way up the ranking as the gradients got higher and higher. Siddarth Chopra finished 3rd overall with a commendable and consistent performances through the tour.
It is interesting to note that Lena finished 14th overall across the categories while I managed to stay at 6th overall. It is heartening to see KKR finish very close to Jamie and within 4 mins of Nils. Murali has showed great heart and is bound to improve further with experience. Vinayak Goankar, the ever smiling young man from Goa, continued his progression getting stronger from last year’s TFN but the fact he finished lower in rankings than last year was just due to more intense competition.
Thank You All!
This brings to close an another amazing edition of the Tour of Niligiris! Thanks to all the sponsors, partners, organizers, riders and most importantly, the incredible volunteers! Words don’t make justice to the amount of fun we had this year! Thank you!! Looking forward to next year already!
|Kudos to the Volunteer class of TFN 2016! Thank You Guys! You Rock!|
TFN 2016 Day 1: Bangalore to Mysore
TFN 2016 Day 2: Mysore to Kalpetta
TFN 2016 Day 3: Kalpetta to Ooty! Kalahatty!
TFN 2016 Day 4: Rest Day
TFN 2016 Day 5: Ooty Thaishola
TFN 2016 Day 6: Ooty To Palakad
TFN 2016 Day 7: Palakkad to Valparai
TFN 2016 Day 8: A Beautiful End