Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.
A week back, my good friend, Srini was looking for someone to replace him in the Tour of Tamil Nadu as he is keeping himself busy with the ‘clean-up’ work in Chennai. The following day, as I was riding to my office, it suddenly stuck me ‘Why not me?’ Within the next 24 hours, most of the formalities were ironed out and I see myself participating in the Tour of Tamil Nadu.
My first experience in the Tour of Tamil Nadu was during the inaugural edition in 2010. The enthusiastic organising team of ‘Vaz’ Vasanth, Rajaram, Venky, Suresh, Magesh, and many others ensured that the tour was memorable and set the tone for the next 4 editions. The Tour was also getting popular forcing them to introduce “process” to select riders. Personally, it was difficult to join them in subsequent years due to participation on ‘Shahid’s Ultra‘ every year.
The present edition of the Tour, starting tomorrow, goes through the northern part of Tamil Nadu and covers some interesting places. Even if there are places I have visited before, there are some routes that I haven’t explored. A quick snapshot of the places is given below:
Vellore – I have fond memories of living there between 1987 and 1992 and claim to have witnessed the River Palar in full flow. I revisited the place in 2009 and could recollect some of the places where I grew up. Often referred to as the city of 7 wonders – River without water (Palar, which may have water now due to the recent rains; Temple without God; Fort without King; Hospital without Doctors (reference to CMC); Women without beauty (apologies in advance!); Hill without trees and police without power (reference to Police training college). Of course, there are multiple variants of the above theory.
Yelagiri – My first visit to Yelagiri was in 1992 as a part of the school trip and gave my earliest memory of being on a boat. I had cycled up the hill once in 2009 during my first visit to Sittlingi (more about it later).
Yercaud – In the first edition of ToT, I had to give up the ascend of Yercaud. Later, in 2102, I managed to ride up to the top during one of the TCC weekend rides. The loop road in Yercaud is one of my all time favourite routes for running and we even managed to make an event out of it as the Servarayan Ultra.
Kolli Hills – Krishnakumar Rangachari a.k.a. KRESIDENT conducts his annual ‘Val Vil Ori’ ultramarathon on these beautiful hills. I was there for the inaugural edition in April 2014.
Thuraiyur – This trip must take me to the town for the first time.
Karumandurai – Karumandurai is located very close to Sittlingi, a village that I frequent as a part of my volunteering work with ASHA for education. It is the home of Thulir, an educational resource centre for students from underprivileged backgrounds and well known for Tribal Health Initiative, a renowned hospital. You can read more about my visits to Thulir here – http://www.ashanet.org/projects/project-view.php?p=967 While Sittlingi is located in the valley, Karumandurai is located on the top of the hill and there are no direct roads connecting them. In April 2015, I had cycled all the way to Sittlingi from my home and on second day, I rode up to Karumandurai on the dirt road (actually a stream that has gone dry). Should the Tour organisers permit, I may chalk my route through Sittlingi.
Polur – I will be visiting Polur for the first time even if I have heard about it many times.
Srini had originally planned to use the tour as a part of his fund raising efforts for Haji Public School, a village school up in the Kashmir mountains. Taking his mantle on the tour, I would like to dedicate this ride for his efforts and seek the assistance of readers to help him. You can read more about it here – https://milaap.org/campaigns/forHPSkids
I will try to update on the tour and post a detailed blog after the tour.