TFN 2011 was a let down. It stopped just short of building a bridge across the Indian Ocean. It did everything else to define the term impossible. The tour threw all it had - heat, grime, terrain, dust, rain, and distance - at the 80 riders who dared to take on the Nilgiris. And the 80 riders prevailed. In a test of endurance, will and sheer grit, riders from all over India and other habitable regions of the planet came together to script a journey that etched its mark as the most liberating and fulfilling experience ever.
Spread over 8 days and 803 kms, TFN 2011 kicked off from upscale Bangalore, moving to sleepy Mysore and historic Hassan on Days 1 and 2, onward to scenic Madikeri on Day 3, and crossing the border over to Kerala on Day 4 to reach Kannur, the largest city in the North Malabar. Day 5 was a rest day, to offer much-needed succor to aching legs and creaking gear trains. The second leg of the tour saw riders resuming their quest for manhood (and womanhood), hitting Sultan Bathery in picturesque Wayanad, chilly Ooty and the village of Kodanad in Ernakulam on Days 6, 7 and 8 respectively. The ascent was a mind-boggling 9000 meters - no mean feat, considering that thats 152 meters higher than Mt. Everest!
True to its DNA, the TFN edition of 2011 unfolded with unbridled alacrity like a well-oiled MTB. The sponsors provided the crucial framework for this luminary event. Steered by the organizers and title sponsors BSA, the event rolled into action on the shoulders of the support team who wheeled the vision of the sponsors and organizers into a greased machine humming along noiselessly. The medical support team, virtually the brakes and spanners of the setup, provided the safety net and repair mechanism. All this erupted into one mad dash for the ribbon riding on the exuberance and spirit of the riders who were literally the gears and pedals of the event.
Frame and handle : The Organizers and Sponsors
Image: Flagoff at Manekshaw Parade Grounds
The BSA Tour of Nilgiris 2011 was sponsored by title sponsors BSA, the Healthcare Partners Himalaya and Sita Bhateja Super Specialty Hospital, Magazine Partner Outlook Traveller, Design Partner netbrahma, Print Partner printo, Mobile Wireless Internet Partner LeapSky, Prize Sponsor DiveIndia, MyTVS and Excelfore.
Ramanashree Brunton was the venue of the pre-tour briefing - the only chance for the sponsors to see the riders still in one piece! BSA introduced the Montra - their indigenously designed all-carbon new bicycle brand. Five spanking new Montras accompanied the riders on the tour, longing to be test-ridden. Excelfore provided one-touch-SOS GPS devices which could be used by riders to contact a 30-member call center manned by MyTVS which alerted the nearest Support Vehicle. All in a matter of minutes.
Wheels and chain assembly: The Support Team
That the Support Team lent the term 'support' a whole new meaning is probably an understatement. 20-hour days starting at 4 a.m., marking roads like their lives depended on it, handling surges at support stations, anticipating crises, organizing spare tubes out of thin air, fixing pedals, lensing at crazy angles, and marathon blogging were some of the insane things done by entirely sane people to make the event an eventuality.
Sridhar Pabbisetty and Deepak Majipatil from RACF, Tour Director Francis Santosh Lobo, Race Director Vasu Mishra and their army of men like Badrinath V Sastry, Parameshwar Raju, Abhilash Mohan, Karthik Sridhar, Adarsh Kasyap, Adarsh Shetkar, Shahzeb Rafi, Deep Sehmbi, Purushotham Raju, Rakesh Basavaiah and Praveen to name a few, and Kiran Kumar Raju who was in-charge of route marking each day did a fantastic job.
Image: Fab team of Volunteers
The official photographers Chenthil Mohan, Aditya Phadye along with their support; Anand CJ and his team at Creative Chisel, all took on the challenging task of capturing the amazing beauty of the terrain and blending it with the spirit of tour. The official blogger Prashanth Kota, Srinath Nelavai from LeapSky Wireless and rider Rishi's father Mr. Shailendra Goyal also wielded cameras to capture the beauty of Nilgiris and the riders in action.
Brakes and Spanners: The Medical Support Team
Image: Dr. Arvind at work
The medical support team of Physio Dhanajeyan of Spectrum Physio and team at Sita Bhateja Hospitals did an awesome job of taking care of the riders and their niggles and crash injuries. Dr. Arvind, who was himself riding on the tour, was a savior on two wheels tending to crash victims.Image: Rider Velo after being patched upHe even administered stitches to rider Vineeth with his cycling helmet on and the surgical gloves replacing his cycling gloves.
Gears and pedals: The Riders
Image: Youngest rider Rishi Goyal
Riders streamed in for the tour from all nooks and crannies of India. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Pune, and even the Andamans had young hearts that craved the thrill of the Nilgiris yet one more time. Rishi Goyal from Ahmedabad made his mark as the youngest rider on tour. Vicki Nicholson, Meera Velankar and Shruthi Saha made sure that the fairer sex didn't go unrepresented, with Vicki even placing 7th overall at the end of the tour - no mean Image: Gliding to Madikeriaccomplishment given the star-studded men's lineup. Giving the tour its international stripes were Mark Hemhauser from Maryland, USA, and Richard Joyce and Mark Ellison from the UK.
Podium finishes were brought up by Rajesh Nair, Mark Anderson and Jeff Schmidt in the overall category. In the gender categories, Vicki Nicholson grabbed the honors in the women's section while Rajesh Nair topped the men's group.
Lowdown courtesy: Hemanth Gorur
My Life Chronicles (Chronicling Partner)