A quick blow by blow account of this years Bliss In The Hills
17 riders flagged off at the start point. We had a good turn out at the start today. Quite a few new faces (apart from the cyclists) came to flag off – A very good portend. Yateesh started about 15 minutes late.
13 of the riders reach Belur well before time. Kavi is the 1st rider to report reaching Belur at around 2:45 AM
Archana Seshagiri reaches Belur control on time but calls it off citing sleeplessness and exhaustion. (around 6 am).A little while later N Kiran Kumar (fitness through travels) also reaches Belur and calls off the ride. Shreyas Gowda reaches Belur on time and continues. Yateesh does not reach Belur on time, decides to continue riding on Mangalore highway.
So we have effectively 14 riders left after the 1st control.
Most riders reach Madikeri Control between 11am to 1 pm. Shreyas Gowda reported later in the day that he had to call off the ride at Madikeri. Suffered from Diarrhea and dehydration , he took refuge in a friends’ house in Madikeri. Arun Mohit called off the ride at Madikeri with a broken bottom bracket. Yateesh later reported that he booked a bus from the nearest town Dharmastala, cycled there and came back to Bangalore. Rider count now down to 12.
Most riders ride and reach Siddapura without event. And continue to Iritty. I keenly watch with interest on the reports from Iritty. Kavi , Shun and Jins report reaching Iritty at around 5:30. With a 2.5 hour buffer they look good to make it in time. Chandru and Putta report from Iritty at around 6:30 pm. With an hour and 40 min buffer to me I figured they would make it to Kalpetta but just about. Ashok, Soma and Prashanth report from Iritty at around 6:50. They looked touch and go to make it to Kalpetta to me. From experience (both as a rider and from past records), I knew the ride would now start getting tricky. Stephen calls the ride of at Iritty citing fever and complete exhaustion. Sayi and Mohan reported last from Iritty , making the Iritty control with little time left. Mentally I discounted these two from the rest of the ride. The active rider count has now come down to 11.
The support vehicle happened to be my Indica. I drove with Ravindra starting from Bangalore at around 12:00 pm. Reached the hotel at around 6 pm. A small glitch of non availability of rooms ( at least from the Hotel caretaker’s words) was resolved when I took the Dormitory and we put up base there. After the riders reported from Iritty, I opined to Ravindra that the 1st rider will turn up after 11, possibly after 11:30 pm. Now , as expected the action happened thick and fast. Prashanth got stuck on the Boys Town climb and called for help at around 10 pm. Given that I wanted to hang around the mid-control I asked him to relax and wait if he had called it off, so that I can focus on the guys who were trying to make it to the end control. Soma called from the top of the climb at 10:30 asking about Prashanth. He then decides to make a break for it. 40 km in mountainous terrain with bad roads looked very touch and go for me in 2.5 hours. Chandru calls in , asking for directions . After a lull I go to sleep asking Ravi to wake me up if a rider turns up. I sleep and at around midnight Kaviarasu turns up, the 1st rider. Now I knew the action would quicken. However the 2nd set of riders , Shun and Jins turn up at 12:50. With the control closing at 01:34, I and Ravi take turns waiting for the riders outside. Putta turns up shortly after 1 am. It looked like he had made a dash to the control, wanting to make it in time. Bravo. Chandru Elango comes 10 minutes after Putta. Apparently they were riding together when Chandru decided to take a break. As the clock ticks I don’t expect anyone else to turn up before the control closes. Somaskanda makes it at 1:31 am (closing time 01:34) I was astounded by his strenght and motivation.
We wait for some more time, no one turns up. We decide to take a nap along with the riders. Jins told me to wake him up at 01:45. I did, but he and his fellow riders wanted to sleep. They end up leaving at around 3:30 or so. So I go back to my sleep. We had ordered sufficient dinner for the riders from the hotel.And got lots of bananas, oranges and bread for the riders. The riders had a chance to refresh, thankfully. The rider count had now come down to 6. Prashanth, Sayi, Mohan , Ashok and Aravind were missing in action at the control. I got a call from Aravind at 3:20 am , letting me know that they were on the final leg to Kalpetta. Three riders Shun, Kavi and Jins now get ready to start riding to Ooty. I go outside on guard duty again. After some confusion i manage to direct them to the resort. I get a call from Prashanth at 4 am. He needed to be picked up , I took my time to set up the carrier and then start off on the rescue mission. As I drive I go past Sayi and Mohan. Finally I get to Prashanth and get him back to the lodge. Once we are there, I see that the other 3 riders have left. We go to sleep after some discussions about the route. We wake up at 9 am in the cool mountain weather. Prashanth requested a drop to Bangalore. Since Sayi had no further plans, I offered to drop him as well. Aravind, Ashok and Mohan wanted to continue riding to Ooty. So we wrap up in the morning and prepare to go home. I hope to drive non stop and reach Bangalore by sunset. Our trip encountered a female elephant crossing the forest ahead of us with her calf. Once we crossed the forest , we get a call from Kavi at around 12:30 pm that he is a victim of a hit and run. He is okay but bike derailleur and the chain was broken. After some deliberation we decide to go to Pykara via Kalahatti. We take a break at the CCD in Masinagudi. By the time we reach him it is around 4:10 pm . We cut his chain, put it on and make the bike a fixed gear and wave him on. Decided to give him additional time in lieu of the hit’n’run and the break forced upon him. We continue back home via Gudalur and the forest. Encounter 2 new sets of elephant + calf, one very close to the road, least worried about motorists. We hear that Putta and Somaskanda have called off the ride. Chandru had gone ahead trying to catch up. Kavi was leading the pack, but after the incident that honour fell upon Shun. We exit the forest at night after 6:30 or so. Shun was the 1st to report reaching Avinashi control. Jins and Chandru barely make it to the Avinashi control. I continue driving towards Bangalore. Tailwinds reported on the Salem highway. Kavi reports reaching Avinashi at 11 pm.
BTW the remaining rider count is now 4 and we now expect all of them to be there at the finish line. We reach Bangalore at around mid night.It takes me 2 hours to drop Ravi, Prashanth and Sayi and I reach home at 2:00 am. AT 2:30 Shun reports having climbed Yercaud. He takes a break there. I go to sleep, exhausted. I learn that Jins and Chandru had also climbed in the wee hours. At around 10 am, Kavi also reached Yercaud top. Shun leaves early and reports climbing Yelagiri at 2:25pm. That was fast. He was now in line to reach Bangalore at midnight. I thought he might reach in the wee hours after catching up on sleep. The other 2 riders reach Yelagiri in the evening. Kavi catches up with them crossing paths on the Yelagiri climb. I was out to visit a relatvie near Marathalli and come back home with my family at 10:00. Shun made it to the end control a little after 11:00 pm . I went home after receiving him, expecting the others to be there around 5 am. I sleep through alarms and wake up at 06:30. Felt a little disgusted thinking that the riders woudl have reached the end control with no one around. Then I see news of them yet to reach Hosur, I go to the end control by 7:30 am and Shreyas was waiting. Then Jins turns up a little after 8 am. And a couple of more folks turn up to greet the riders. Chandru comes in at 08:40 and Kavi at 08:41.
Here are the official results