Day 3: Hassan to Madikeri
A day filled with scenic routes but a lot of climbs and pretty tiring too in the end. It turned out to be a long day for me. The best part was early on when we had the Gorur dam stretch opened up for us to cycle on – around 3-4 kms on the dam itself. The ascent to Madikeri was a tough, tiring and long climb to end the day and after that we had another descent of nearly 5 kms to the homestay off Madikeri – made worse by the really really bad roads. We were glad that we had some Coorg food waiting for us!
Day 4: Madikeri to Irppu
It’s not about the bike, says Lance Armstrong. But to a great extent, a bike in good order does really help matters! Nearly all of us had our share of bike trouble (except a few lucky ones!) on Day 4 and I was amongst the unlucky lot!
I started off on Day 4 with good pace and momentum (it was downhill :-). This really helps me during my long rides. But unfortunately, hardly 15 kms down the road and I had problems and help came an hour later by which time I had lost a lot of ground already. After that it was a fight to catch up with the rest of the gang, which had already gone far ahead.
After Talacauvery, the roads were extremely bad and made sure that my progress was rather slow. At one point, my front brake stopped working completely. By this time (it was early afternoon and we had been served lunch on the road by one of our support vehicles) we were quite tired and when a friendly estate owner invited us home for coffee, we decided to accept. We didn’t really get coffee (his cook had gone off, what luck!) but he did offer us some refreshing coconut water from his farm. We also lost close to 45 minutes on this break!
It was tough going after this – quite a few folks tried to fix my brake but with not much luck. Finally Sameer did manage to get it working till we reached the third support station. After reaching Virajpet, the bike seemed to be recovering and the roads were getting smoother, but time was running out! Trying to complete the day’s quota (140 kms on next to non existent roads) became an impossible task.
From near support station 4, we were picked up unceremoniously by the truck and deposited at our homestay in Irppu.
Day 5: Irppu
Day 5 was assigned for rest – and I did nothing but. My intention was clear. To rest my now aching muscles and also to get some much needed sleep. While the others wandered around to Irppu Falls, I much preferred the comfort of my bed! Followed by a nice massage in the afternoon, I felt much better by the evening.
Day 6: Irppu to Sultan Bathery
Day 6 was much better – the roads were bad and while the roadies suffered a bit in these stretches, I had a nice time on my hybrid, making full use of its good suspension, especially on potholes and rough stretches. The road became much smoother after we crossed the Karnataka-Kerala border and by early noon, most of the road bikers raced ahead!
I still managed a nice pace through some really scenic patches of Wayanad’s forest area and reached our hotel in Sultan Bathery in quite good time. In fact, that whole day, we kept travelling faster than the support stations could be set up – as a result a lot of riders didn’t really get lunch till the last support stop in the forest. And some only after they reached the hotel.
Day 7: Sultan Bathery to Ooty
A tough day – everyone had been gearing up for it. I had tired myself on Day 6 and could feel it as my muscles didn’t really feel refreshed in the morning. The first half of the day was okay and I kept going at a reasonably fair pace till we reached Gudalur where the treacherous climb started. A few kms up the slope and I could feel the strain already and I was already on 1-1! My knees and legs just wouldn’t cooperate. A few kms up the slope and husband surprised me by joining in to give me company (he had been whiling some time away at the nearby Jungle Retreat in Masinagudi). Even he was wondering why I was going so slow!
I kept pace with different riders for different parts but most of them left me behind since I was getting slower and slower! After support station 2, which was in a lovely stretch of eucalyptus forest, husband too turned back (he had lunch waiting at his resort, was his excuse!) and then I was on my own. Lunch at support station 3 was most welcome and I was told that there wasn’t much more climbing left. Of course, in the hills, don’t believe anyone who says this! There is nothing else you do in the hills except CLIMB!
Anand and Pratvii gave me company for a large part of the 50+ kms stretch upto around 65 kms or so – which was probably the toughest bit of the climb – it was up all the way and I had to take a break after nearly every kilometer now.
Anyway, Anand who tried to pace me also lost his patience when he saw good roads where he could race home! I decided to just take it one km at a time. After about 70 odd kms, I was quite happy to see our Tour Director Vasu’s familiar face at the last support station (packing up!).
Home couldn’t be too far away – but with my slow pedaling, it took me another 40 minutes or so to get to Ooty and then to find the resort (it had turned dark by now!). Thankfully, a couple of riders had come out by car to buy stuff and turned on the headlights for me so I could find my way to the resort (which was located in a part of town, I could never have found on my own!!).
So there it was – the completion of the Ooty climb – personally my most challenging out of all the TFN days. But we were all “Ootacamunders” now!
Day 8: Ooty to Bandipur
The last day of TFN – Day 8 – we had a late start since everyone was still recovering from the previous day’s climb. At around 9 am we started from our resort. A few riders had starting problems already – flats, fallen pedals etc. By the time, I got to the descent point, it was around 10 am already. From there, it was just downhill. Just about a few hairpin bends down, my rear brake shoe got overheated and burnt out!
It was a really awesome day – brilliant blue skies and I slowly made my way down the slopes – some of them really steep! By around 11 am I was down after the last slope where husband was waiting for me patiently! I pedaled till the first support stop from there and then after saying goodbye to the folks there, packed up my cycle and went off for a short, but well deserved day’s rest and relaxation at the Jungle Retreat!
(PS: Please forgive errors in post that may have crept up in a hurry and a limited Internet connection! Done during my holidays. A spell check and grammar check will be applied once I’m back!)
More pictures from TFN: