Great Malnad Challenge 2019- Day 1 : Madikeri to Hethur

The Magical Malnad!

10th Edition of Great Malnad Challenge kicked off today in Madikeri. GMC is an MTB tour that takes the riders through some of the most beautiful back roads in the Malnad region criss crossing the Western Ghats.

The amount of rainfall that this region receives ensures amazing greenery, gurgling streams and gushing waterfalls everywhere you look. It also brings with it quite a few landslides that might make roads disappear altogether.

Ball Busting Kickers!

The ride was flagged of by Green City Forum head Mr.Jayanna and deputy SP of police for Madikeri Mr. Ramesh. The Deaf and mute youngster from Spectrum Development team, Manigandan, had the honor of leading the ride on the day.

The first 16k of the day was a nice little rolling route that mostly pointed downwards. We then arrived at a beautiful waterfall that marked the start of the day’s competitive segment. It was a 11km climb that took our breath away!

The 11km was not all uphill. It had many downhill and flat sections. That meant whatever elevation we were going to gain came from a series of some seriously steep climbs.

Serene beauty! The calm before the storm!

Even with the smallest gear available on my MTB, I was searching for another gear. The front wheel kept popping up resulting in unexpected wheelies. It felt like we had about at least half a dozen hail Hitler section that’s so famous on Kalahatty. The gradient in those sections was definitely more than 20% and most of us found ourselves zigzagging our way up them.

Gurgling streams and tricky land slides along the route!

It was a relief to finally finish the climb and cross the line at the end of the timed section. The view at the top was amazing and helped forget the torture that preceded it.

Kishore, Mani and Yuvaraj after the CS!

As we refilled our bottles and started riding again, the route kept throwing more and more climbs at us. The skinny dudes, Mani, Kiran Kumar Raju, Kishore etc disappeared into the horizon as I kept chipping away at the climbs one at a time.

We reached the lunch point at 48km mark and decided to wait for lunch to arrive as we would hardly get anything in Hathur which is a remote location.

Waiting for lunch! 😉

We had a hot and sumptuous lunch and started riding again. The route took us through a couple of proper technical off-road sections. It felt really good to be able to get through them without getting off the bike.

Managed to take a few pics before it became super technical to ride!

In the 70km on the day, we saw all kinds of terrain and beauty that GMC had to offer. We saw the most beautiful and serene back roads with cicadas as loud as a thousand DT Swiss freehub bodies coasting at the same time. We had some of the steepest kickers that showed us stars in the broad daylight. We had some of the most exhilarating and hairy downhill sections. We had stream crossings and technical off-road segments that tested the best of us at our bike handling skills.

Whatever the remaining 6 days will bring us, I felt the organizers did an amazing job in route selection for today.

The bikes needed a thorough cleaning right after!

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