Winding roads through the ghats, which give way to breathtaking stretches of forest, abundant foliage, and one of the steepest inclines in the world—the notorious Kalhatti Climb. This is what awaits a cyclist who dares to embark upon the Tour of the Nilgiris.
Organized by the Ride a Cycle Foundation, the Tour of the Nilgiris is an annual event which covers more than 1000 kilometres and an elevation of close to 14,000 metres over the course of a week, taking cyclists through the forests of Bandipur, Mudumalai, and Wayanad.
December 10, 2017, marked the tenth edition of the tour and featured stretches of rough terrain.
On average, 100 kilometres were covered every day, across green mountains, magical landscapes, and bumpy roads, but that was not all.
To really push the endurance, temperament, physical and mental limits of those on the ride, organisers included time trials, sections where cyclists would compete against each other to see who could finish extremely strenuous portions of the trip in the least amount of time. Starting in Bangalore, the Nilgiris are covered across three states—Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala.
It wasn’t just fun and games, however. Cyclists came face-to-face with Kalhatti Climb, otherwise known as Killer Kalhatti, one of the steepest inclines in the world. A twelve-kilometer stretch that even motor vehicles find difficult to overcome, was one of the most energy-draining portions of the tour.
Among the 128 participants from over eight countries, were well-known cyclists, including Indian mountain biking champion, Kiran Kumar Raju. Some cyclists even rode for non-profit organisations!
While it is designed to test the limit of cyclists by pushing their physical and mental stamina, participants found that not only did they feel a sense of achievement, but they also developed lasting relationships, and came to realise the real beauty of the Blue Mountains.
In a testimonial written in The Hindu, Sakthiprakash, who embarked on the tour, confesses, “It was about taking me to the next level as a cyclist. But the routes we rode through in the Nilgiris were a total surprise. I didn’t know that places with such beauty existed so close to home.”
For the cycle enthusiast, the Tour of the Nilgiris promises to be an experience of nature, but above all, a monumental challenge! Do you have what it takes?