Feast For Eyes And Torture To The Legs! Day 2 – Tour of Nilgiris 2016

Mysore to Kalpetta:
The ride to Kalpetta was flagged off from Mysore by Deepak Majipatil and Ajit Tandur. Lokesh Narasimhachar of Cyclopedia and a few more riders from the Mysore cycling club joined us for the first part of the ride. Winners of the Day 1 competitive segment across all categories were presented with the leader’s blue jerseys and were asked to lead the ride out of Mysore. It was a pleasure joining Nils, Lena and Richard at the start leading the awesome TFNers.

The ride through Mysore in the beautiful morning felt so heavenly. The city is such a beautiful and calm place especially in the early hours. Hope it stays that way for a long time to come. The first part of the ride was mostly downhill and I joined Akshat, KKR, Murali, Ashok and a few others to calmly roll towards support station 1 at 37km mark. It was beautiful terrain and even more lovely weather.

The competitive segment for the day was to start at 55km mark, just outside HDKote. KKR and I waited for Vinesh at SS1 so that we can start together at the CS. We were joined by Rahul Mohandas, Vishnu Janardhan and Nikhil Ram Mohan on our way to the start of the CS. Arvind was waiting at the start of the CS and we have decided the order to be Vinesh, Nikhil, Arvind, Me followed by KKR. We did a warm up routine riding up and down the road near the start. Belinda was nice enough to wait and let us form a line at the start according to the order we decided. Murali came and inserted himself behind Vinesh.

The Competitive Segment:
The competitive segment for the day was 14km. The first 2km is a gentle climb followed by mostly downhill till 9km mark and the last 2 kilometers is again a gentle climb to the finish. It is a course that doesn’t offer any clear advantage to either heavier more powerful riders or the lighter climbing types. After Arvind started the race, I started with KKR starting one minute behind me. I was hoping to catch Arvind and stay away from KKR.

3,2,1, go! I try to clip in and it doesn’t go in. I try to force it in, no luck. Then it occurred to me that the mud from the bio-break by the road side was nicely lodged into the cleats. I had to hit the shoe on the side of the pedal to lose that mud and while that helped the mud out, it also dropped the chain from the big chain ring. I quickly shift it up and try to get into the rhythm. It was time to shake off the frustration and get the mind to focus on the job. It took a couple of minutes to get the bearings right and start pushing.
Richard put in a great effort again today! Pic: Milam Saxena
Once the initial uphill was done and the downhill started, it was difficult to keep the power but I kept spinning big gears as much as possible. It was smooth sailing for the next 10mins or so. At the 9km mark, a big trailer truck was over taking a bullock cart and moved to the right just as I was beginning to overtake it. I had to brake hard to slow down and let it overtake and move to the left or I was in the danger of being pushed off the road and lose control. As always, I put safety first at the cost of a few seconds and tried to get back in the rhythm once I went past the truck. I later heard from 4-5 riders that the truck disrupted their progress as well.
Jamie killing it on the course! Pic: Milam Saxena
After I went past the truck, I tried to keep the pace uphill but it was, well, an uphill task. At 11km mark, I saw KKR go past me. I shouted encouragement as he went past but as soon as he went past, he realized that rear tire had a puncture. I was considering offering him my wheel when we saw Jaideep Singh doing his race. I asked him if he could help KKR and he quickly gave his rear wheel.  I continued on my way and was surprised to see the CS ending in 13.5km but was happy to get it out of the way. Although it wasn’t completely satisfactory, it was all I could manage. To keep the competition fair, as he lost time due to a puncture, upon request, KKR was allowed to ride the CS section again and he managed to put in a great effort the second time too.
My finish among much fanfare! 🙂 Pic: Shankar Jayaraman
Riding to Kabini Forest reserve:
After the CS section, we were made to wait so that we can form groups of at least 10 riders with an escort vehicle to ride the next sections through the forest. We stopped at support station 2 where lunch was arranged. But since it was only 11:30am, we weren’t really hungry but with very little chance of finding anything edible in the forest, we decided to have a light lunch and start riding. It was getting really hot by noon and it was not easy keeping pace in the rolling terrain through the forest.

Only the beautiful scenery could help keep our minds off the heat. We kept a steady pace and got to the SS3 at the end of the forest reserve and the start of the Kerala border. We quickly filled water and moved across Kerala border to join my Spectrum Racing teammates, Shankar Jayaraman and Siva to belt egg and fish curry with Parathas followed by unniappams and lemon tea.

In all this while of waiting for making groups etc, we lost quite a bit of time and we still had 50km of a very challenging rolling terrain to ride in the day.

Rolling and Bone shaking!
After our second lunch, Shankar and I started riding together. I was struggling but Shankar slowed down whenever I fell behind. He kept a steady pace that I could keep up with through the rollers and downhills. Tackling the never ending series of continuous steep pitches was very taxing in that heat. The scenery was a feast to the eyes but the challenging terrain also put the legs through a lot of torture. 

While struggling up the short steep bits, I was constantly wondering if I am struggling like this today on these short rollers, how will I ever climb Kalahatty tomorrow!! I had to force myself to not to think of Kalahatty and focus on taking one pedal stroke at a time and one day at a time! To add to the woes, there were many places where the roads were really patchy. By the time we got to the Green Gates hotel in Kalpetta, we were totally exhausted. Thanks to Shankar for the great company and pulling me all the way! 

In Elite category, Nils managed to managed to put 27 seconds on Jamie who finished second again today. KKR finished 3rd fastest on the day 1:19 down on Nils. Both Murali and Vinayak put in great efforts to move into 4th and 5th respectively in GC after day2! With climbing stages coming up tomorrow, it is going to be interesting how the GC shapes up in Elite where the competition is intense.
GC after Day2

Day2 race results!
In Women’s Category, Lena put in another superb ride to finish on the top. Belinda finished 2nd with Juhi Mehta finishing 3rd for the day and the GC remains in that order. 
GC after Day2

Day2 results!
In Veteran’s category, Richard managed to put 22 more seconds on Arvind who finished second with Russell close on his heels at 11 seconds down. This guy never ceases to amaze us! With a bit of climbing starting in the next few days, will the GC see a bit of shake up? Will the light folk be able to take advantage of lesser weight to move up the GC? Let’s wait and see. 

In Master’s category, I managed to hang on to the lead with Anurag Sharma at second and Sai Pratyush at 3rd. 

I still hang onto the 4th overall although it is going to change quickly over the next couple of stages. 
What’s Ahead:
Kalahatty! The name that stikes fear in the hearts of all. Yes, tomorrow(or rather today, in a few hours), we ride to Ooty via Kalahatty. There is a CS of about 6km before we get to the beast of the hill where King and Queen of Kalahatty will be determined. Who will emerge as KOK and QOK and who will move up the GC by doing well in CS before? We will have to wait and see. I will be happy to survive! 

Also Read:
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

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