Tour of Nilgiris
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The Tour of Nilgiris (TfN) is an organised Bicycle Tour in India.
Billed as India's Longest Bike Ridethis Tour is organized by professionals who share the vision of the The RideACycle Foundation (RAC-F).
Besides having well trained bike mechanics and volunteers, the Tour spanning 8 days in the month of December also has a full-time doctor, nurse and fully equipped ambulance that will accompany the Riders at all times.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Description
- 3 The Tour
- 4 Charity Riders
- 5 References
The RAC-F encourages cycling – as a form of recreation, sport and as a means to commute to work. It hopes to design fundraisers through cycling for a variety of charities.
The Foundation lobbies for the rights of cyclists and for laws that offer protection to Cyclists through dedicated cycling lanes as well as support for safety regulations. They work with the Government administration to bring about a change aimed at encouraging cycling in our Cities.
Amongst the activities the Foundation plans to undertake are several events like cycle treasure hunts, off road rides for children, dirt track races, and bicycle maintenance workshops.
The Tour of Nilgiris (TfN), India’s first Day Touring Cycle Ride, was born in the December of 2008 as a ride that Rajesh Nair, Ravi Ranjan (Founders of RAC-F) and a few others were planning on Bikeszone to stretch their legs during the holiday season. The event has the twin objectives of promoting bicycling as an activity and spreading awareness about the bio-diversity, flora and fauna of the Nilgiris. It soon grew into something a lot many in a relatively small, eclectic riding community of 2008 wanted to take part in. The community soon got together, chalked out plans, figured out a route and realized they would need a framework to support such a large group of people, got sponsors on board to mitigate costs as well as popularize the Tour and the Cause of popularizing Cycling as a viable and sustainable means of travel. Ever since its first edition, the TfN has stayed true to the Community of Cyclists in India by being a Tour for the Community, Of the Community and By the Community. It has grown in size, stature and visibility.
Deepak Majipatil, a RAC-F Trustee:
“Each year although there's uncertainty over finding enough support and time, but the enthusiasm to get the show on the road grows. And each year the Community surprises itself by the support it provides – there’s always someone who turns up to help with everything that's needed.”
Registrations normally starts in July every year.
'Jack Lee'[who?] screens the entries to make sure that the selection process is fair and fun while still making sure that there is diversity in the participants.
The Tour is run entirely by donations that are paid by the participants who confirm their registrations. These donations are used to buy and provide cycles for poor and underprivileged children in and around the Nilgiris. As part of its resolve to benefit more children and the many under privileged communities in and around the Nilgiris, the most recent edition of TfN, the TfN Ten introduced the ‘Charity Rider’.
TfN strives to be above the cut by being the only Bike tour that attracts Professionals and Amateurs alike. Thorough preparation and lots of pre-Tour checks makes ensures that the Routes for the Tour are scenic and challenging. Several factors are taken into consideration when the routes are prepared.
Ravi Ranjan Kumar, the Co-Founder of RAC-F: “
We need to be in the Nilgiris and the route should be scenic besides Road-bike friendly. We also take care to choose places that can accommodate our huge contingent of Riders and support staff and as a rule try and avoid roads that experience heavy traffic to ensure Rider safety”
The hotels for the Tour are always at the best places at the destinations and are booked by Get Off Your Ass, the Outdoor partner of TfN. Extreme care and year long preparation goes in to make the Tour possible, with 3 SUV’s (with Back Racks) and 5 motorbikes with all emergency supplies available throughout the Tour. Besides this, stationary Support Stations are also stocked with juice, water, food and mats to rest. A bike mechanic and spare performance cycles are provided courtesy its title Sponsor; TI Cycles. A fully equipped Ambulance is also provided courtesy its Medical partner; Himalaya.
This year, as a testament to its appeal, its Riders come from as far as Washington DC to Italy and China to Chennai. The Tour this year will have Mountaineers, Adventurists, Marathoners, Triathletes and Pro Cyclists rubbing shoulders and sharing camaraderie that is rarely seen.
Being an annual event with global appeal, TfN organizes pre-Tour rides and contests which are keenly followed by the Community.
Almost every Rider would agree that to prepare for the Tour, the participant must spend more hours on the saddle, riding long distances to build up endurance and stamina and learning how to balance fun while riding. Though there is no formal training that the Riders would require, TfN helps plan and organize pre Tour Rides which are announced online TfN forums for the benefit of its Participants. These Pre Tour Rides are conducted by volunteers and Riders themselves who receive logistics and other help from TfN and RAC-F.
As a complimentary offer, Riders can also take part in a Bike Clinic where highly qualified technicians from BSA (TI Cycles) thoroughly service your bike.
TfN also provides every rider with a Rider Docket and a Rider ID for the Tour. The Rider Docket will contain important information about the routes, directions to follow to reach the destination, GPS readings and gradients and other any precautions and tips that a Rider will need on the Tour.
The TfN which spans across 8 days in keeping with the times has an Official Photographer and Blogger who travel with the Riders to make sure every moment is captured and available online.
The Tour of Nilgiris, in order to facilitate maximum participation from Professionals with a love of cycling, is conducted in the 3rd week of December of every year. The Tour kicks off with a Pre Tour Briefing at a Lounge Café/Restaurant where Riders get to meet each other and are given Rider IDs and Dockets as well as general instructions to be followed during the Tour. The Tour begins early from a common point early on the first day with an Official from the State Government flagging off the Tour. Support Staff man Support Stations and also provide logistics support to Riders. Lunch is either served at the destination or at the Support Stations. The Tour normally sees Riders traversing a distance of 100 – 140 km a day and has a ‘No Ride/Rest Day’ in between. Routes are explained in detail every morning before the start of the ride to the Riders, by the Tour Director. To ensure smooth and hassle free transportation of Baggage to and from a destination, the Tour also has a Luggage Carrier that transports the luggage of the Rider to the next destination. In case a Rider is unable to complete the ride in a day for any reason, he/she can load his/her bike in a ‘Sweep Truck’ that will transport him/her to the next Support Station or the destination. Besides riding between destinations, TfN also organizes micro rides / local loops within a city/town as well as visiting tourist destinations in that destination. The Tour ends at Bangalore, where Riders reach in a specially chartered bus that transports both the Riders and their cycles. A Post TfN Party sees the Riders uniting again to celebrate and relive the Tour.
Nilgiris Tour of Nilgiris, 2008 (Nilgiris TfN 08)
At the first edition of the Tour, the TfN 08 has 40 Riders with 4 women. The Supermarket chain Nilgiris was the title and main Sponsor of this Tour where it successfully marketed its various ready to eat food to the Riders. Wildcraft, which was the associate Sponsor introduced its adventure gear on this Tour. The TfN also had Radio Indigo as its Media Partner and Manipal Hospital as its Medical Partner.
Being a unique concept, the TfN encourages Riders from all walks of life to be a part of the Tour. In its first year, TfN saw 40 Riders cycling 901 km through Bangalore >> Mysore >> Madikere >> Sultanbattery >> Ooty >> Mysore and back to Bangalore in 7 days.
Being the first edition, the Tour was self supported by the Riders themselves, who carried important spares for any unforeseen emergencies.
BSA Tour of Nilgiris, 2009 (BSA TfN 09)
BSA (TI Cycles and the Manufacturer of the BSA Brand of cycles) was the main and title sponsor for the TfN 09.
The BSA TfN 09 was flagged off on the 15th of December, 2009 from the Koramangala Indoor Stadium, Bangalore by Goolihatti Shekhar, Minister of Sports, Government of Karnataka, saw 70 Cyclists and 30 Support Crew cycle to Mysore, Hassan, Madikeri, Irupu, Sultanbattery, Ooty and back to Bangalore on the 23rd of December. This edition of the Tour had 70 Riders (including 12 Women) with 20 volunteers who supported the Riders throughout the Tour. The total distance covered was 901 km.
With Eco-friendliness being one of the key elements of the Tour, the official bicycle for the TfN '09 was the Indian Bamboo Bike, a prototype designed by Vijay Sharma, a Designer from the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology.
Official TfN Key chains, Fleece Jackets and Certificates were sent to all Riders who participated in the Tour. A coffee table picture book was also released commemorating the TfN 09.
BSA Tour of Nilgiris, 2010 (BSA TfN Ten)
The BSA Tour of Nilgiris 2010, popularly known as the BSA TfN Ten, will have 100 Riders, an increase of 60% since its maiden year, has seen a huge surge of support and the Foundation has had people, both within and out of the Cycling Community, pitch in at every juncture to plan, organize and execute the third edition of India's most popular non competitive Biking Tour. Coming from around the World and India, the TfN Ten has seen its Riders tackle terrain that is as diverse as themselves.
In its most recent edition, the Riders will pedal 1000 km starting from Bangalore, going through the Nilgiris (also known as the Blue Mountains) and covering 3 of the Southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. On 15 Dec, TfN Ten will start from Bangalore >> Kollegal >> Bandipur >> Gudalur >> Ooty (with an optional local loop in Ooty on the Rest Day) and thereafter to Devarsholai >> Devala >> Kalpetta >> Wayannad >> Kalpetta >> Manathavady >> Boys Town >> Iritty >> Gonikoppa >> Siddapura >> KRS >> Mysore and back to Bangalore by a chartered bus.
The BSA TfN Ten was the first edition to have the ‘Charity Rider’ slot where Riders rode for Charity. The Proceeds was used for the benefit of five NGO that work for the benefit of tribal and underprivileged people in and around the Nilgiris’.
BSA Tour of Nilgiris, 2011 (BSA TfN 11)
BSA Tour of Nilgiris 2011 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 km, 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 that's 152 meters higher than Mt. Everest!
The BSA Tour of Nilgiris 2011 was sponsored by title sponsors BSA TI Cycles, the Healthcare Partners Himalaya 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.
The fourth edition and will feature 70 riders, covering a distance of 860 kms across Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and reaching high-altitude terrain at a maximum of 2240 metres.
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 meanaccomplishment 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.
Montra Tour of Nilgiris, 2013 (MONTRA TfN 13)
Montra Tour of Nilgiris 2013 with its biggest contingent yet, will involve 103 cyclists covering a distance of around 800+ kms across Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Starting from Bangalore, cyclists will pedal through Mysore, Ooty, Sultan Bathery, Madikeri and finish the tour by coming back to Mysore.
Highlight of MONTRA TFN 2013 is the ‘King of the Mountains’ climb to Kalahatty from Masinagudi to Ooty. The climb to Kalahatty is considered a ‘Hors categorie’; something that is beyond categorization – in simple French cycling terms, one of the toughest climbs possible! The Kalahatty climb gains 1200mts of elevation in about 12kms giving an average elevation gain of around 10% with a few stretches going up to 15% or more of gradient.
Its a special year this year at Montra TfN 13 because Pramod & Rakesh from Satoli, Uttarakand; two young talented youth from Aarohi (an NGO supported by TfN) are joining the tour. They will be riding MONTRA TfN 2013 this year taking the challenge and exploring cycling as a serious move to entering the sport as a professional opportunity.
This multi-day cycling tour attracts the best of cycling talent from all over the world. Total riders – 103 Riders from outside India – 15% Women riders – 12% Rest of India (outside Karnataka) – 60%
The sponsors of Montra TfN2013 are: Montra, Himalaya, Moevenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore, Bhartiya City, MuddyBoots, Heinrich, Volkswagen Motorsport India, Solverminds/TVS, Sita Bhateja Speciality Hospital, Spectrum Physio Centre, Widget Factory, Oakley, Procycle, BreakAway Sports, Outlook Traveller, Crank, Karcher, Cycle Precision, Justa Hotels, ProPR
With poorly developed infrastructure in and around Nilgiris, the Western Ghats in South India, and other Tribal Hilly regions of India, thousands of Tribals and Natives travel tough terrains and vast distances to reach their schools and workplaces. RAC-F is committed to enabling the Tribals and Natives in these and other mountainous regions to reach their schools and colleges and get to their workplaces by providing them with free cycles. The beneficiaries for these cycles will be identified through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working for tribal empowerment.
For the BSA TfN 2010, RAC-F has selected 5 Non-Governmental Organizations, after a process of due diligence. Five slots have been reserved for Riders who wish to ride in BSA TfN 2010 and raise funds for these Partner NGO. These riders will be called “Charity Riders”. The funds raised will provide 10 cycles each to tribal children and youth in the program areas of the Partner NGO. Additionally, one tribal youth nominated by each NGO, will be trained in the different aspects of cycle maintenance and provided a full toolkit that will ensure that each of the cycles donated will have a long life.