It was a gorgeous start to Day 3 at Purple Palms Resort and Spa in Coorg. Surrounded by a
beautifully landscaped gardens on all sides, it was the perfect place to spend a day experiencing
Coorgi hospitality. As the fog began to lift, the riders were ready, fresh from a good night’s rest and
hot breakfast, amidst the greens you could see riders in their bright lycra suits bobbing around,
checking their bikes amidst jolly chatter with each other.
By 6.45am, riders were ready to head out, but not before a customary briefing from Satish, the tour
director followed by Sridhar Pabbisetty announcing winners of the competitive section from the day
before. From the womens and mens categories, Katja-Lill Jensen and Nils Eigil Bradtberg scored the
winning jerseys yet again, while Kris Guns and Paul Stuart Wright bagged the jersey in the Mens
Masters and Mens Veterans category.
We had a special flag off today, we celebrated Francis Lobo’s birthday, along with his wife and son
Erka who joined us for the first leg of the tour. Francis was a rider at the 2016 TfN and now plays a
vital role in organising the tour each year.
With the sweet and lingering taste of butterscotch cake, the riders were off for the 145kms they had
to conquer today. After a short bumpy stretch, we entered a beautiful zone of coffee and pepper
plantations, winding roads, gentle elevations and the perfect cool weather to pedal along. SS1 was
right in the middle of the Toobenkolly Estate in Coorg. Hydration check, physio consult, snacking on
some yum chikki followed by some chatter – that was the theme at the first support station today.
Riders enjoyed the rest of the route all the way out of the estate towards the lunch stop. Lunch is a
simple yet fresh affair on all days on the tour – curd rise, a mixed veggie curry, rotis, lots of lemon
juice and a hint of mint and lots of chaas. You could see riders and organisers calmly enjoying this
simple meal and then zoning out in a corner – some stretching, practising yoga or catching up on a
quick snooze before heading out again.
But that’s not all, the highlight of today was the famous unniyappam stall nestled right in the centre
of the Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary. Sweet, fried, lightly spiced dumplings of rice, accompanied with
a glass of piping hot and sweet black tea. That was fuel enough for the riders to head on to the next
leg of their ride through the forest and onwards to the competitive section for today.
Riders who chose to participate in the 12.6 km competitive section were super charged, even after
having ridden almost 120kms for the day. You could see their spirits soar as they zipped across the
distance, peddling hard with all that was left in them for the day. And the reward was to reach the
end point of the day, just 5kms ahead at the Great Jubilee Hotel in Sultan Bathery, Wayanad.
The volunteers did it again by being their super organised, enthusiastic self. While all the bikers led
the way for riders at the flag off and patrolled the route throughout, the marking team had some
funny messages along the route, especially a goofy smiley to indicate the much awaited Unniyappam
stop. Eshwar from the Emergency Response team and TD Satish discussed potential hot spots for the
day and allocated indicators accordingly. Alexi made sure to offer his encouragement to every rider
along the way, waving them on and egging them forward. It was funny to listen in to Ashok Kumar
instructing the riders before the CS in pure pilot style – about the route during the cs, possible
elephant or deer spottings they may encounter, etc! You just have to hear him speak and I’m sure
All in all, today has been a long day for all riders, organisers and volunteers and everyone is just
happy to be resting in their rooms. With just a few punctures, today has been an injury-free,
beautiful day at the epic Indian tour.