Here we are talking about the 5th Edition of the Tour of Nilgiris. We never knew we would have a 2nd or 3rd let alone 5th!
A little introduction is still needed. The year was 2008. A few friends got together in the festive month of December and decided to combine their passion for cycling with a mission. That mission was to conquer the famed blue mountains of South India - the Nilgiris - on their bicycles. When word of their plans spread, a few more cyclists joined in. And then a few more.
By December that year, nearly sixty riders got on their bicycles and set forth. They rode together, amidst the peaks and foothills, with passion and camaraderie. Thus was born the Tour of Nilgiris or the TfN as it is popularly known. Since that start, the event has continued to gain momentum among India's cycling enthusiasts, making it a leading annual event in the country's cycling calendar, attracting cyclists from every corner of India and abroad. So far over 250 cyclists have participated in the event since 2008.
Today, the TFN has become one of the largest and most loved bike tours in India. Its riders get some of the most astounding terrain in South India on which to test their endurance, temperament and physical and mental limits. And over the years the tour has grown from strength to strength attracting more cyclists from different parts of the globe.
Since the inception of the Tour of Nilgiris in 2008, the cycling community across the country has been consistently growing and many events have sprung up. And we love this growth of events - it's an opportunity for all of us to try different aspects of cycling. There is also a slew of single day rides that put a cyclist's skills to test, but the Tour of Nilgiris remains the only multi-day road cycling tour in the nation that attracts the highest calibre of cycling talent. The tour spans nearly a thousand kilometres, through the three wildlife sanctuaries of Bandipur in Karnataka, Wayanad in Kerala and Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu. These green and clean mountains, with their spectacular scenery and varied flora and fauna - they contain some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet, with hundreds of species found nowhere else - often make cyclists embrace their beauty, turning it into a memory to be cherished. At other times, it turns into a life-changing experience for the cyclists, presenting them with tough challenges; even for the most accomplished bikers.
This year we are back with the 5th edition of the Tour of Nilgiris and once again it promises to be an event that will surpass everyone's imagination. With ever-increasing cycling enthusiasts coming in, we too seek and embrace new challenges and frontiers. TFN 2011 brought new exciting elements to an already successful tour. Of course the 900km challenge through curves and speedways and undulating tough terrain was continued. Apart from that, the last edition featured competitive time trial sections throughout various stages, which pushed cyclists to display their craft and grit. It was well accepted by the community and was a profound success.
While an average day's ride at TFN ranges between 100 and 180kms, this year again we plan to have competitive sections on certain climbs and flat courses almost everyday. The competitive distance will not be longer than 25-40km on any day, and they have to be ridden individually. The rest of the day's ride will be non-competitive and can be ridden at one's own pace or with others while indulging in the beauty of the landscape. The format will require the cyclist to be intelligent and strategic about their rides and work with other cyclists to ensure a good position and endure the conditions. They will need to be on top of their game on the competitive sections as well as on the non-competitive sections to succeed. The participating cyclists will be provided with their individual times on a leader-board at the end of the day and their cumulative timings will recorded as the tour progresses.
In 2011 we introduced a Blue jersey for the leader of the tour. This year we will also introduce an individual day winner's jersey that can be worn by the cyclist the next day.
In 2011 we upgraded the overall comfort of the TFN cyclists in terms of food and accommodation so they could be well conditioned and fresh day after day to stand up to these new challenges. We heard from the cyclists that everyone left the tour satisfied. We will continue with the same standards in 2012 as well.
In keeping with our tradition of adding new features to the tour, this year we are opening additional slots for a nominal fee to already existing 70 cyclists who want to be part of the tour but wish to take care of their own logistics. In the coming weeks we will provide more details on this.
So get set! Mount your saddles and start riding... you will soon be riding your way up the Nilgiris. Registrations open on June 1, 2012.
The Tour of Nilgiris is organised by Ride a Cycle Foundation. RACF is committed to popularising cycling for commuting, leisure and as an agent of social change. Please see http://rideacycle.org/ for details of the activities pursued, and the impact RACF has been having on the improvement in image and infrastructure associated with cycling.
Photo Credits - Chenthil Mohan for TfN.