BSA-TFN 2010: Day 7- The Ride Rajnikant Would Fail to Do

There will be days when things would be easy and it would be all about smiles and sunshine. There would be days it will be tough but there will be inspiration around to keep you cheerful and focused. But a real rider and a winner is one who does not need anything. You throw a daunting uphill, uninspiring vistas, road surface that acts like landmines, heat, humidity, lackadaisical traffic, exhaustion, fatigue- whatever you got and the rider would utter nothing but produce another pedal stroke towards the goal! Day 7 of BSA-TFN 2010 belonged to the hero cult as it brought out the best of the riders’ character.

The morning air was fresh and nippy. As the riders gathered around Santosh, you could sense a palpable tension in the mega-herd of 100 strong riders. This is supposed to be a killer day. It would be hot and humid, it would be long and hard, it would have long back breaking ascents and extremely steep descents and above all the tarmac at many places would have been obliterated by nature. And all this would continue for only 140 km from Kalpetta to Gonnikoppal!

Riders lined up to start the Day 7 of BSA-TFN 2010

Naturally, in a day like this you need some guardian angels looking after you and sure enough one of our eclectic riders, Bernard Randall, showed up at the start line with a Santa mask on his face- as if all one wants the Santa to deliver was an easy ride!

Santa bring us lots of downhills and good roads please.....

Santosh: The guy who takes the support job to a perfectionists level. Hugely respected.

So, the day’s start was pretty much as everyday’s. The riders gathered around Santosh who tells what to expect en-route and the riding conditions plus the safety instructions. Santosh is a hugely popular figure and he always has the last word before the ride begins. The riders roared into laughter as Santosh said “and beware of the craters on the road”. Finally, after the daily briefing, the riders rolled out of the resort. Check out the procession in the following video.

The first 30 km of the ride was through nice Kerala village backdrops. The thing that amazes everyone about Kerala is that how it is a continuous succession of villages all along. Rider easily rolled through this part and it looked to be a relaxed day.

The Army Connection: YVR Vijay

BSA-TFN 2010 had 10 women riders....way to go girls!

Ride on Pritish.....BTW his surname is not Nandy!

Then a mad downhill greeted the riders. It was super duper steep and unlike the Ooty downhill which had an excellent tarmac, this one was bad roads. Loose gravels and sand beckoned the riders on a steep incline. There was no scope for an express descent and one had to be extremely careful to negotiate the perils. All the riders passed the long downhill without any hiccups. T was not so lucky for a trucker whose vehicle fell some 100 feet off the road in the same downhill a few minutes before the riders passed.

“It was the steepest and scariest downhill of my life” declared Prem Sagar and many riders echoed the same sentiment. Well done guys!

Downhill all the way....

The route was through the picturesque Waynad tea estates and the views were as usual stunning. One could see the green tea shrubs all along the mountain faces and the riders had great views. The riders found it a great opportunity to relax and pose for their facebook profiles and get themselves captured on camera with their new found friends.

Captured through the lens of the Official Photographer of BSA-TFN 2010, Neeta Shankar (Credit: Neeta Shankar @ http://www.neetashankar.com)

Beautiful views of the tea estate as you go downhill (Credit: Neeta Shankar @ http://www.neetashankar.com)

yeah pose for it guys, now that you are friends!

Soon after the downhill, the 1st support station came up. The support guys who provide the much needed relief to the riders start their day at 4 am. They split up in group of 4, each group in charge of each support station on the route. They load the provisions, the paraphernalia for erecting temporary structure, water and medical equipment and head out before dawn. By the time the riders sail into the support stations, the unit is fully ready to cater to the riders’ needs. Impressive, isn’t it?

Near Support Station 1 (Credit: Neeta Shankar @ http://www.neetashankar.com)

Support Station: Time for some stretching (Credit: Neeta Shankar @ http://www.neetashankar.com)

And some yoga may be.....

Post the Support Station, the tables were turned in a jiffy.  By now the riders had crossed the Boys’ Town and a massive climb began towards the Makoot forest. To make the things worse for the riders, the mid day sun was out full blast.

And then the climb began- 15 km of pure close in bare knuckle fight with the gravity! The day time temperature soared to 37 degrees Celsius and the climb was on a steady 5-6% gradient. Only solace, the tarmac was of good quality. The hot sun made the climb an unbelievable suffer fest. Unlike the massive Ooty climb, the scenery was not great in this climb and it was a pure test of the riders’ will against the tugging gravity. It was a slow painful climb and every rider suffered through it. But, no one gave in. No pull outs, no retirements! Everyone climbed to the top of the massive 800 meter climb.

Climb starts on good roads

and it continues for 15 km! The organizers were right, this was a TFN of the climbers

gravity vs determination

Fight...fight...fight....Never give up!

Heat was the major killer in the ride and soon after the uphill, the surface quality turned shocking. It was rutted, potholed and completely un-ridable but the riders were still not throwing in the towel. Interesting tid-bid events kept happening to make it an interesting ride.

Shreyas, one of the speed daemons, was flagged down by another rider of similar kind Sunil Menon, who apparently wanted some plain water and before Shreyas could bat an eyelid Sunil had emptied the bottle down his throat! Rohitash was seen begging for water from passing by vehicles. All the guys who had cut down on carrying excess bottles to save on climbing dead weight suffered as they started to run out of water before the support station. By the way, everyone was not thristing for water. Ankur chased a motorbiker with beers for a drink but the bad roads made it a futile effort. He made amends at the day end though! Amit Mukherjee had unbelievable 4 flats during the day taking his overall tour count to 8. He is surely the “Flat Champion” of the BSA TFN 2010.

Finally the riders reached the Support Station 4, the last one of the day. Soon after 5 pm the sweep truck swung into action collecting riders on the way. It is a sad thing for any rider to get swept. Pramod looked absolutely shattered at the end of the day. “This was the first time I got swept” he said shaking his head. Namit Nagia was equally dejected. “Had it been less hot or the road would have been wee better, I would have been a finisher”.

Ride, walk, crawl, roll but finish anyhow..... thats pure spirit

Heat- no problem. Climb- no problem. All is possible in company of friends

The day’s ride had two major heroic acts. Jagannath Raju or Juggy, the oldest rider of the event at 61, had a fall and it was suspected that he had a hairline fracture on his little finger. But Juggy chose to ignore it and continued to ride and finished strong! Navin Thangiah, an ultra marathon runner who was riding initially with Sudarshan and Anjana was caught up by the sweeper truck at 6 pm. It was already dark and he was asked to give up. He refused and said that if he is swept, he would run the last 10 km. Finally Deepak and Santosh rode their motorbikes ahead of him and Navin finished the tour in pitch darkness.

Jagannath Raju: The oldest and one of the most inspirational riders of the tour- rode with a hairline fracture in his finger. Inspired enough?

Overall, it was a day which was universally accepted as the toughest day of the tour by the riders. Sarvanan, who was involved in a photo finish with Amrish today said “This was no ride, this was punishment”. But then there had to be a day which would bring out the real hero out of each of the riders. Day 7 did that for it was an incredibly tough day and even Rajnikant would fail to do this ride!

The mood in the camp is upbeat as tomorrow is the last day of the ride of BSA-TFN 2010. It would be a short day but would be high on emotions and camaraderie.  Alas all good things come to an end.

-Manasij Ganguli

manasij.ganguli@gmail.com

An unusual place to rest. Make most of all opportunities and finish strong!

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3 Responses to “BSA-TFN 2010: Day 7- The Ride Rajnikant Would Fail to Do”

  1. Mark Says:

    The climb was mostly shaded, which helped a lot. I felt it was harder than the Ooty climb, coming at km 97, and after so much bad road, whereas we finished Ooty day at 80km.

  2. r.venkatachalam@gmail.com Says:

    Why drag Rajini’s name in this? Curious…

  3. camping gear Says:

    I absolutely adore reading your blog posts, the variety of writing is smashing.T

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