Great Malnad Challenge! Day 2: Hethur to Mudigere

Malnad Challenge And The GMC Advantage!

GMC being an MTB event in the Western Ghats, has the unique advantage that no route/road is out of bounds. The worst the road conditions the better. In fact, if there are no roads, and just a trail or a Jeep track, it’s even better. Apart from that, of course, the amazing landscape the region offers, is the obvious advantage.

Over the last 10 years, the organizers have been taking advantage of these advantages fully. They gave a great knack for finding the most beautiful and challenging of routes between any two given destinations in the region.Apart from MTBs, I think, GMC is a great candidate for gravel bikes that are gaining popularity all around the world. As people are moving away from roads and on to the gravel paths, more and more gravel races are coming into existence and are proving rather popular everywhere in many countries including the US.

I’d categorize GMC as a multi day semi-gravel tour/stage race. Anyone who has a decent MTB or a gravel bike and loves riding it in some of the most beautiful and challenging terrains should definitely consider putting GMC on their list of events to do.Mudigere Maga!

Second day’s ride to Mudigere from Hethur doesn’t have any major climb but was peppered with what are called Malnad flats, a constant dosage of rollers!After the first 15km of gentle rolling, we reached the start of the day’s race segment. The race segment was an 8km long minefield of potholes. It was super fun going bonkers on the broken roads on the MTB. The adrenaline rush while bombing downhill and redlining on the uphill portions is a heady combination and is amazingly addictive.After the race segment was over we had lovely post race nutrition that included freshly cut watermelons etc., before riding on.We reached the lunch point quite early and having experienced the lovely hot lunch on the first day, we didn’t want to miss it. The remoteness of the roads we ride on means we are not sure we’d get anything that good if we decide to ride on without eating there. We explored a bit of trails around the resort where lunch was arranged and spent the rest of the time taking pictures and chatting about everything and nothing in particular.After lunch it was time to explore more trails on the route getting lost in their beauty!Puncture Woes!

While passing through one of the off-road sections, I noticed my rear tire going soft. I stopped and started to rotate the wheel in the hopes that the tubeless tire will seal itself. As it turned out, there wasn’t enough sealant left in the tire and the hole it developed wasn’t getting sealed.Yuvaraj who was passing by, stopped and helped turning the tubeless set up into a tubed set up. While doing that though, we made the mistake of not checking the tire for any thorns that may still be lodged inside. So, as soon as we pumped it up, it punctured again due to a thorn that was lodged inside the tire. We removed the tube, fixed the puncture and put it back only to notice that it was leaking again.

To my utter dismay, there was another thorn that we missed the first time that ended up causing a second puncture in the tube.

Frustrated, I did consider calling it a day and getting in the car of Flashbulb Photographer, Krishna, who stopped by after seeing us struggle on the road side. However, I borrowed Yuvaraj’s spare tube, thoroughly checked for any more thorns inside the tire and managed to ride the last 15km to reach Mudigere.

I’m glad that I got to ride the route instead of taking the car because, the views as we got into Mudigere were mind blowing! It was totally worth the unforeseen troubles on the day!

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