King of Kundadri!
Essence of GMC!
The route of the penultimate day of the Great Malnad Challenge was a microcosm of the tour itself in a way. It has a challenging little beast of a climb, a fantastic route devoid of any traffic that is interspersed by some lovely off-road trails!
We started from Agumbe around 7:30am with the cool breeze in our faces and the roads still slightly wet with the overnight rains. High on our agenda was a tryst with the beastly little climb of Kundadri, a 4km climb with an average gradient of almost 10%.
Although the nasty climb, that was the competitive segment of the day, was on our minds, the lovely route leading up to the climb itself helped us not to fixate on it too much.
We rode through some lovely off-road trails and some amazing country roads to reach the base of Kundadri.
From far off, we could see the intimidating rockface of the hill. We wondered how only 3-4km can take us up that massive looking structure. The answer was there in the steepness of the road that takes us there.
Kundadri: A Ferocious Little Beast!
The race started at the arch at the base. The initial 1km is a rolling terrain and didn’t have much elevation. The 2nd km was a series of steep kickers and a few flat bits. That meant, most of the elevation is going to be from the last 2kms. My heart sank at that depressing realization.
The heat was unbearable even that early in the day. Probably the radiant heat from the rockface is adding to the direct heat of the sun. I was sweating bucket loads.
The road was pointing straight up and my right thumb was working hard to find the gears that were non existent. The front wheel was rearing to lift off making the bike feel like a wild horse that is yet to be tamed.
To keep the bike planted, I had to move so forward on the saddle and so bent towards the handlebars that I wondered if there was a danger of getting my teeth knocked out by the handlebars.
It felt like I saw the 1km to go sign on the road in my last life but it was taking an eternity to see the finish line. When I finally made it to the finish, there was a great sense of relief and life flowed back in to the body only after a couple of minutes. That was one ferocious little beast of a climb.
On this tour, I was already reminded multiple times of what’s waiting for me in December(TFN) when the time to climb Kalahatty comes. I’m not really looking forward to it.
Kundadri is apparently a site for preservation of medicinal plants. There was an old Jain temple at the top. The view from there was spectacular. We spent a lot of time there taking in the scenery and clicking lots of pictures. Some guys even had fun riding down the stairs of the temple.
The Super Fun Ride Back!
If climbing Kundadri was tough, descending it was scary! The disc brakes and the mountain bike geometry does help a little taking on the scary steep descent. After the descent, we were routed through another section of off-road.
The lovely off-road trails lead to a stream crossing. I tried to ride through the stream only to be quickly pushed off along with the bike with the force of the flowing water. I quickly got off and managed to wade to the other side.
Some of the riders decided to take a dip in the cool waters while others took it as a challenge to make it across the stream on their bikes. Multiple attempts from them resulted in some fun watching as the water kept pushing them off the bikes.
After having loads of fun at the stream, we started riding again on the trail. The trail got a little more technical with a few off-road climbs and descents. It was super fun riding through the trails until we made it on to the road leading us back to Agumbe!
Tomorrow is short ride to Kundapura that marks the end of what has been a fantastic tour. From Agumbe which is at around 650m elevation, we reach Kundapura which is at the sea level. There, we will have podium ceremony and a cool off party before heading to our respective homes.
Here is a video summary of the day!