You have been dreaming of this day. You have been dreading this day. This was day that got you out of your bed at ungodly hours to do your hill repeats. This was day that pushed you to death on that last threshold interval. This was day that made you say no to that mouth watering slice of cake and stick to your salad bowl. This was the day that made you stronger. This is the day that’s going to be etched in the memory with that indelible ink of pain and of the incredible joy of accomplishment! The day that Kalahatty came calling! And you answered! The day you got Kalahattied!
After a really hard ride to SultanBhateri we spent the day recovering in Sterling Wayanad. After many years of struggling with stay arrangements in SultanBhateri during TFN, the organizers seemed to have finally found a really nice hotel near the city to take care of the tired souls. Sterling Wayanad is a very well maintained facility with great food and hospitality. The organizers ensured we recovered well from a hard day and were in good spirits for what’s ahead of us on another hard day in the saddle.
As the morning mist slowly started to raise at day break, we started the ride out of Wayanad and towards Kalahatty.
I started riding with my friend, Milam Saxena, who joined us on the newly introduced ‘TFN Half ticket’. It is an option that the organizers introduced this year for those who are not about to spare the entire week for the tour but could take a couple of days off along with the weekend to join for four days. So, he starts off his ‘TFN half ticket’ with Kalahatty and will be with us till the last day in Sunday.
We rode taking in the stunning sights of Wayanad and through the amazingly orchestrated beauty of tea estates of the Nilgiris. We had a quick lunch outside Gudalur and were ready to ride through the Bandipur forest.
The ride through the forest was escorted by a couple of vehicles from the organizers as well as one from the forest department itself. It was beautiful riding at a leisurely pace, completely silently, as we took in the sights and sounds of the forest.
We sighted a few wild tuskers bathing in the streams and a few tamed ones going about their daily business.
With the rollers on the way helping the legs wake up, we reached the base of Kalahatty around 2pm. It was sunny and warm and a few of us decided to wait until 3pm for it to cool down a bit. I took a power nap hoping to find some power in the legs at the other end of it.
This Is The Day!
We all have been dreaming of this day. We all have been dreading this day. This was day that got us out of our beds at ungodly hours to do our hill repeats. This was day that pushed us to death on that last threshold interval. This was day that made us say no to that mouth watering slice of cake and stick to our salad bowl. This was the day that made us stronger. This is the day that’s going to be etched in our memory with that indelible ink of pain and of the incredible joy of accomplishment! The day that Kalahatty came calling! And we were there to answer it! The day we were ready to get Kalahattied!
Focussed and ready to be Kalahattied! PC: TFN media crew
I started my CS around 3:10pm with a slight cloud cover. After 4 hard days in the saddle with little sleep and recovery, my legs were refusing to speak the language of pain. They wanted rest. I silently pleaded with them to get me up Kalahatty without stopping with the promise of a complete rest the next day. The first 4km helped a bit with warm-up and tried to convince the legs to push a bit harder on the climb so that we could complete the climb faster and have to suffer for lesser time. But, they were having none of it. I decided to listen to them instead and let them do what they can to get me up the monster of this climb.
As I kept moving one pedal stroke at a time, one hairpin curve at a time, I began to see the riders that started ahead. For many of them it was their first calling of Kalahatty that they were answering.
It was incredible to see their courage and mental strength as they kept pushing at their physical limits. Each and every one of them was inspirational.
Some were zigzagging up the mountain. Some were stopping at every hairpin curve to take a breather before they start to push again. Some were pushing on the saddle when they could and pushing the saddle when they couldn’t.
They were digging deep into their mental and physical reserves to keep moving. With each pedal stroke and with each step, they were making progress; both mentally and physically.
To see them cross the finish line having completely given their everything, to see the complete exhaustion and the incredible satisfaction written on their faces at the same time, is to understand why we love this beautiful sport!
Watch the video here:
Cycling Together at TFN!
Tarun Kumar and Mukta Kumar, from Mumbai, have been married for nearly 20 years. They both have been runners for most of those years. When the triathlon bug bit Tarun some 3 years ago, it was time for him to get a bike and start riding. Within a month of him starting cycling however, he met with an accident that resulted in him ending up in crutches and his bike completely shattered.
He needed to get back on the bike and Mukta was there egging him on as they went buying a new bike while he was still in crutches. Two years down the line, Tarun did his first Kalahatty climb last year in his first TFN. He was so much in love with TFN that he not only decided to come back again but also let Mukta experience the beauty of the tour.
Mukta started riding all of two months ago and this brave and beautiful lady made it to TFN along with her husband. She says she’s still learning to ride and everyday at TFN has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Keep riding, forever together, Tarun and Mukta!
No surprises in the under 45 category. KKR took the King of Kalahatty jersey with a sub 1hr climb again and 1:08:15 for the CS section. Dipankar finished second with a 64 min climb and 1:13:49 for the CS. Mani did an awesome maiden climb up Kalahatty with a 70 min climb and took 1:20:15 for the CS. He was the 3rd fastest on the day. It was amazing to see him fly past on the climb.
In Women’s Category Avanti Biniwale took the Queen of Kalahatty jersey with an impressive ride up Kalahatty with a time of 2:20:26!
In 45 and above, Arvind Raju took the KoK jersey with an impressive maiden climb up Kalahatty with a timing of 2:19:24!
Today is a rest day! Time to eat, sleep and eat some more. Maybe do some laundry and go shopping as well.
Tomorrow is a 90k loop around Ooty going out to Kodanad view point with a 5km climbing CS right at the end. It’s the last chance for the climbers to move up the GC!