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Day 5: Ooty to Thiashola and back

Before the round trip

I woke up quite early and felt rejuvenated after the much needed rest day. The weather was also very good and the sky was clear.


The beautiful sunrise in Ooty

Yesterday, Amit Goyal, a fellow rider had lent me his spare bottle. It was one of the most useful things somebody had lent me in the entire ride. I need at least one and half litres of fluids in forty kilometres, roughly the distance between two support stations.

A few people formed their own group and gathered around a veteran rider, Srinath Rajam (aka the coach). He was taking them for a different course altogether. The organisers noted their bib numbers so that they would not be attended to by the official support staff for the day.


Srinath Rajam planning his own detour of Nilgiris with ten more riders.

Nils gave a small briefing about how to do technical descends. After a while we were off to a staggered start (bunch of 20) escorted by a four wheeler for the first ten kilometres.


Ups and downs

Todays course had four small hills to traverse. To an amateur (and a beginner) like me, the climbs, if not brutal, were exhausting. If I had to finish the course, I had to be slow and steady. I did not wait at any of the support stations for more than 10 minutes. Just before support station 2, there was a tea stall and most riders had gathered around to have some tea. I did not have the luxury. Instead, I went ahead and bought two bars of chocolate from the next town for my on-bike food.


The roads were too good. On top of that, there wasn’t much traffic either.


This view is from the base of one of the brutal climbs.

Every time I had fun descending, I kept reminding myself that I would have to climb the same hill on my way back.

I think I had the fastest lunch of all these days. It was already 1:00 pm. By my calculations, it would take about five hours to get back. I also saw Srinath Rajam’s group moving further ahead in some other direction.

Bad weather

En route to the lunch point at Thiashola, I had seen clouds all around the neighbouring mountain. While returning, these clouds fast approached our route. There were occasional drizzles. I just kept my pace and passed support station 3 (erstwhile, support station 2) and reached support station 4 (erstwhile, support station 1). I did the recommended stretches, filled my pockets with biscuits and headed for the excruciating 25 km climb. This was the same downhill I had enjoyed at the beginning of today’s ride.


Clouds covering the neighbouring hill.

My strategy was simple – no matter what the speed, do not stop. Even if I had to get off the bike to rest, I walked while chewing on a biscuit. Clouds had surrounded the hill completely; visibility was reduced to 100 metres.


Only the nearest trees were visible. A fellow rider, Mayank, was about 100 metres ahead. He wasn’t visible at all.

By the time I was at the hotel, I was tired and cold. Experienced riders enjoyed the route.

A briefing about training and nutrition

Since Jamie Anderson was one of the riders, the organisers had asked his to give a talk regarding training and biking. His talk was focussed on the people who were on the wrong side of 30s and had a day job and a family to support.


Jamie Anderson sharing his approach to biking.

This is what I took away from the talk – if I have to get serious about biking, I need a power meter, a heart-rate monitor and an indoor trainer.

You can watch his TED talk here [9].

Day 6: Ooty to Palakkad [10]
Day 4: Rest day at Ooty [11]