A cycling tour of The Nilgiris

Over field and mountain A challenging ride that gave participants an experiennce of a lifetime  

December is not just about Christmas; it is also the time of the year when a motley group of bicyclists convene for one of the most-awaited cycling tours in India: The Tour of Nilgiris.

In its 10th edition this year, the tour covered 1000 km with an elevation gain of close to 14,000m. Experience Nature is the tour’s tag line and my team-mate, Sakthiprakash and I truly experienced eight days of bliss on a bicycle.

Pedalling away

Pedalling away  

The tour started with us hurrying to beat Bengaluru’s early morning traffic to get to Mysuru with a quick sprint on the NICE road. This is the one time when cyclists get to ride the butter-smooth dual carriageway. We rode along the Coffee County, with our senses caressed by the scents and scenes of Coorg’s coffee estates . As we crossed the Tholpetty forest, a part of the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary, the thought of encountering a lone tusker around the next corner was motivation enough to keep us going. Once we reached the Blue Mountains, we rode off the beaten track to cruise through Kookalthurai, the vegetable basket of the Nilgiris, and soaked in the views of the cloud-capped Kodanadu Peak. The tour was just not about riding through beautiful landscapes, but also experiencing what a beast the Nilgiris can be. The Kalhatty Climb — a 12km Hors Catégorie climb — is one of the steepest motorable roads in the world. The incline was unrelenting, and keeping the bike moving was a challenge. All I wanted during that stretch was to get to the top. I started slowly and steadily with water bottles topped up and a load of nuts and raisins to replenish energy reserves.

The formula was simple on paper at least: keep pedalling, two sips of water every 15 minutes and a couple of nuts and raisins every half an hour. The sight of motorised vehicles struggling to go up the steep gradient can bog you down. Often I searched for the non-existent lower gear to find respite from the suffering only to hear the click of the gear shifters. This climb is definitely not for the faint of heart. I gave it my all — ride, walk or crawl I just wanted to complete it. As the saying goes, you can get over Kalhatty, but cannot conquer it.

Sakthiprakash had this tour on his to-do list for three years. “It was about taking me to the next level as a cyclist. But the routes we rode through in the Nilgiris were a total surprise. I didn’t know that places with such beauty existed so close to home.”

True to its vision, The Tour was not about the destination. It was the journey itself, the challenges and the camaraderie that made it an experience of a lifetime.

Star Studded Tour

Alexi Singh Grewal: Indian-origin gold medallist at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics

Srinivas Gokulnath: First Indian to complete the 4900km, Race Across America (RAAM) in Solo category

Kiran Kumar Raju: Indian National Mountain Biking Champion, 2015 and 2016

Tenth Edition of the Tour

· 3 States, 8 days, 1000 kilometers and 14000 meters of elevation gain

· Hors Catégorie climb – Cycling term for a climb that is steep beyond categorization

· 128 participants from over 8 countries

· Organized by – Ride a cycle Foundation

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 1:51:20 PM |

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