BSA-TFN 2010: Day 3- “Yenna Rascala…Climb It”!

Amrish: The climber of the Day! (Credit: Neeta Shankar @

Sir Issac Newton is not the best friend of bikers anywhere in the world, for no biker likes to fight the Sir Issac Newton’s biggest discovery- The Gravity! But then on the very date (18th Dec) America had abolished Slavery back in the year 1865, our 100 riders of BSA-TFN 2010 subjected themselves to the slavery of fighting Earth’s gravity and was it just a coincident that the total climb of the day was exactly 1865 meters? Just like the appalling custom of slavery was defeated, our riders pulled out every ounce of character and strength from their faculty to defeat gravity and reached Ooty, the crown jewel of Nilgiris. That was BSA-TFN 2010’s Day 3 – A day of heroics.

The start of the day was measured and composed as opposed to the pacy starts in the last few days. All the riders knew it would be 90 km of uphill biking to Ooty and therefore conservation was prime on their minds for sure.

Paul and Ravi Ranjan in lead as the riders enter the enchanting forests

The route soon entered the bio-diverse Madhumalai National Park.  For the sake of riders’ safety the volunteers batched them in such a way that no rider was far from the vigilance of any support vehicle. Soon enough, the reason became pretty apparent of why such caution was observed. One could see many birds, peacocks and monkeys on the route but then Arun spotted a leopard and many other riders also saw the magnificent creature.  Many riders spotted elephants and then they saw the Niligiri Bison. It was a huge animal, declared Vinay Pydah.

When in forests, you see animals. Here are the riders with an elephant in the backdrop.

Travelling through the forest, the group clumped into riders of different paces. Out in the front was again Ravi Ranjan, reaffirming why he is considered such a great rider, followed by Paul. Roopak was also not far behind. Soon enough the pack descended into Gudalur, the base of the climb for Ooty.

At Gudalur the ride took an optional diversion. A few riders took a small detour and travelled to the Vidyodaya Tribal School. Charity Rider Sudarshan Krishnamutrhy led the pack of ten odd BSA-TFN riders that included Sameer, Mayank, Jagannath Raju, Supreet, Anjana, Navin, Vishnu, Prem and Shankar. These riders cycled some 2 km with the local school kids to reach the Tribal school. There these riders were welcomed by a huge gathering with tribal songs and dances. The riders were gifted a handmade bracelet by the kids. It was a great experience and the riders moved with a warm glow of affection. This was BSA-TFN’s resolve to get resources to the local community at its best! It is an uphill climb to have a just society but BSA-TFN is not giving up!

Dont give up. True for all causes- riding uphill or making a difference in the society

Meanwhile the cycling bunch reached the 1st Support Station. By now the lead group had Ravi and Paul and they were 5 minutes ahead of anyone behind them- a big margin in climbing! With Roopak close to their heels it looked like business as usual on the lead pack story. However, there was one great surprise package waiting to explode into action that would not only reverse the trend but would set the Nilgiri tracks on fire. Amrish Kapoor was mounting a charge from the pack of middle paced riders. He works for Yahoo as a Front-End Lead and he had exactly that in mind – to lead from the front! The guy was on fire and he kept knocking the gradients with his relentless pedaling. An upset was well and truly on cards….

Push - push - push....thats the way this bloke bikes (Credit: Neeta Shankar @

On the other side of the ride were the “Leisure Pleasure” riders- an exact ante-thesis of climb quick and reach early philosophy. These were the guys who want to ride to explore the beautiful country side on their bikes. Just like on olden days the explorers went in packs, these guys also made their happy hunting pack. Yogesh Rao, Vishnu Raned and Manju Mysore, Pramod and Anand Almal formed a great group. They more or less ignored the Support Stations and stopped at each tea joint. “The shop next sells excellent cardamom tea, 5 km ahead is a tea joint famous for honey tea and we must stop for those plum cakes….” Looked like these folks were on a Tea tasting mission.  Manju declared TFN is “Taste of Nilgiris”.

Yeah please click me, I need this to tell stories to my great grand children. Leisure Riders had a field day.

The markings on the road lifted the spirits of the riders. This one says, you reach a support station in 2 km. Loved them all through the route.

Meanwhile the climb was living upto its reputation. The surroundings were magical with tall eucalyptus trees flanking the roads. The magnificent tea gardens would make a magical appearance through the slowly lifting fog. One could smell the fresh mountain air and listen to bird calls while you huffed and puffed up the climb.

the beautiful views in the climb. you need these for motivating yourself for such an arduous job

amazing fog covered route. the fog would set in and lift periodically. made for some spectacular sights.

breathtaking view of the lake. check out the color scheme in play here. blue sky, green trees, clear water. just superb!

"the world is a stage and we are riders", check out the grand spotlight cast on the route by the sun.

The villagers were pretty amazed at this sudden onslaught of so many riders. The site of people in colorful gears in the great hilly backdrops made heads swoon. The incoming vehicles would have peering heads on all the windows and mostly they cheered the riders. Everyone understands that climbing a hill on a bike is not an easy task. However, your luck always ends somewhere and it happened with Shyam  when a rogue trucker came just too close to see what gear ratio he was riding in- almost trampling him. Quick thinking and fast reactions meant that Shyam bailed out of the bike but his knee bore the brunt. He had to pull out of the climb. He was fine but rued a missed climb.

Also unfortunate was one of the most jovial and friendly riders of 2010 pack, Darshan Rathode. He picked up a knee injury and a bad shoulder sprain and had to quit. He was examined by Dr. Mahesh who is associated with Manipal Hospital, Bangalore. The ambulance that accompanies the BSA-TFN 2010 riders is a fully functional state of the art medical unit with emergency medical and trauma care equipments ready at all times. Darshan had an instantaneous ultrasound of his knee and was advised rest. Having a skilled doctor and a well equipped ambulance calms most nerves. Well, you all buy health insurance policies for the peace of minds, don’t you?

Darshan getting an ultrasound on the spot in the ambulance. Now that is what tour management is!

By the second Support Station, the lead pack’s composition had changed. Amrish Kapoor had pulled out some extra ounces of energy and inspiration to overhaul everyone on the climb. He had erased the 5 minute deficit in some 15 km of climbing and was now the leader of the climbers! Paul, Roopak and Ravi Ranjan completed the lead pack. In fact Amrish went on like a diesel locomotive right till YWCA Guest House Ooty and completed the climb in 4 hours and 45 minutes!

Rishi Nair, the 9 year old kid was, meanwhile, still climbing strong. He and his mother Rossana made the maximum heads turn. It was a great sight and it looked that a true champion is in the making.

The pair that inspired everyone

Despite the continuous 5% gradient of the climb, the good humored climb continued. Ameet asked for sunscreen in a Support Station only to be reminded by his fellow rider that support stations are not supposed to keep “beauty products”. Amit Mukherjee, a professor in IIT Kanpur threw an impromptu party to his fellow climbers. What was in the menu? Freshly plucked raw carrots and radishes. Mind you, you did not need the circuit design of the “Virus Inverter” to qualify for the free food (throwback to the 3 idiots’ dialogue between the professor and his students at the marriage function).

The climb’s intensity petered off after Nadavattam and it was all rolling hills till the final stop of the day at YWCA Guest House at Ooty. Everyone looked pleased and pumped up after completing the toughest day of the tour.

A pleased rider at the end of the climb- Bernard Randall. Check out the chain!

Just have a look at the day’s stats for fathoming the climb’s intensity.


Ooty Climb Profile

Yes, climbing a hill is a tough ask and Amrish was the mountain goat of the day and others also were heroic but to me, two efforts were serious stand outs. One was Boni Gopalan’s effort of climbing to Ooty in a single speed bike. It is extremely tough to do so with a non-geared bike and Boni showed that it is not about the bike. The other was Nitish’s effort of climbing the whole way with a severely twisted ankle. When you climb, a small boil feels like ulceration and to climb with a twisted ankle showed that it is not about the body.

So, what is climbing about if it is not about the bike and the body? It is about the mind. It is the never say die attitude. It is the will to succeed- the desire to make it happen. The BSA-TFN 2010 riders showed that today and boy wasn’t it awesome?

Time to flaunt and pose for I have climbed to Ooty!

Tomorrow would be a rest day and the mood in the camp is light. Therefore I thought to end at a lighter note. So, what could the title for this blog be? Victory of Will? Great Climb? Naah….it is not corporate meeting room naming stuff. I am in Tamilnadu, land of amazing Tamil Movies and I immediately thought of SRK’s flick Om Shanti Om’s spoofy Tamil dialogue “yenna rascala, mind it” (mind it you rascal) and changed a bit of it to suit what all these guys must have said to themselves when their head, knee, ankle, muscles hurt in the climb – “Yenna Rascala…Climb It”

-Manasij Ganguli


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11 Responses to “BSA-TFN 2010: Day 3- “Yenna Rascala…Climb It”!”

  1. Hari Haran V Says:

    Your Words of Flight embraces the TFN-2010 with Good humor and candid briefing of the days events. Rocks!!!

  2. Ashish Bhatia Says:

    Simply Amazing.. Hats off to everyone riding, and a superb pen down by Manasij.. It’s easy to capture a moment in pictures but putting a moment in words is not always easy.. but for you Manasij it seems that you carry a pen with a camera… !!! just awesome..

  3. Varun Says:

    Riders are awesome are so are you! I know how much it takes to ride with them and keep track of everything that happened during the day and then put it on a blog post. Great going Manasij!

  4. Shahid Khan Says:

    First of all congratulations to all the riders for conquering OOty…slow or fast doesn’t matter – you did it! I would also like to applaud for Neeta for taking such beautiful pictures which help in building the story and Manasij you are a great writer, I have been following you all the 3 days…you have a great sense of capturing the different moments and helping us feel we are right there. Great work Neeta & Manasij -let the shutter clicking and pen rolling. Keep it up!

  5. modi Says:

    nice report!! amazing to hear a rider climbing on a single speed and another conquering the hills with a twisted ankle.

  6. Chandan GN Says:

    I hope I can make it next year and also hope registration fee will reduce 🙂

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