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Archive for the ‘TFN’ Category

The Tour Of Nilgiris Coffee Table Book & more …

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I’ve been out of the mumbo jumbo mode for a while now, at least on the blog. This post is, therefore, an exception and is not limited to 55 words. It would be purely coincidental and totally unintentional if this post happens to respect the 55 Fiction diktat.

As you know I moved to Mumbai in February this year and life, since then, has taken a 360 degree turn. This turn is definitely not the Wrong Turn but having said that, it is strewn with its own bunch of roller coasters. Mumbai, for one, didn’t turn out as expected. Talk of setting the expectations right! I was so gung-ho about moving here that I even started a category called Maximum City where I post anecdotes woven around life in Mumbai. Seeing the dismal number of 55s there, you can imagine life hasn’t turned out the way I wanted it to be. That never is the case, by the way.

Anyways, if you recall, yours truly was the Official Blogger for the BSA Tour Of Nilgiris 2009. Post the tour, PeeVee, the Official Photographer and I got together to create a Tour Of Nilgiris Coffee Table Book.

Tour Of Nilgiris 2009 Coffee Table Book

Travel writing is something I’ve been wanting to pursue for a while now. Hoping that this creative piece is a step in the right direction. The book is not available at retail outlets. It is self published and can be made available on order. The initial lot that was pre-ordered has been delivered to the TFN gang. There has been interest from pockets outside TFN as well, which means we are going for a re-print. In case you fancy owning one, let me know.

Reviews have mostly been alright. Some calling it a work of art whereas some not liking it much. I cherish the journey more than reaching the destination and thus, I enjoyed every bit of co-creating my first book!

Did I mention anything more the the TFN Coffee Table Book here? Well, I have flight to catch in a few hours from now. I’m off to South Africa on business for a few weeks.

Yea I see you saying FIFA but sorry to disappoint, I’m not a soccer fan. Nonetheless, the fever is on and I believe it’ll rub off on me as well, to some extent at least. Maybe I’ll do a few 55s on this theme. What say?

Written by Sangfroid

June 12, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Muki – No Salt Only Pepper

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Muki - CEO, Pepper Square (Design Partner)

Years to go before he gets a salt-and-pepper-beard or does he already have it but likes to keep in under wraps. Well, I’ve no clue. All I know is that the CEO of Pepper Square, Muki, as he likes to be called is one helluva bundle of energy. Chucking his hectic schedule at work, Muki made sure he was there to cheer-on the BSA TFN riders on the last 3 days of the tour.

I, of course, had to ask – Why the BSA Tour Of Nilgiris?

It seems that Pepper Square does three sponsorships each year and that the Tour Of Nilgiris is one which is fixed for the future. It promotes the spirit of adventure and it is bold, just like his company, which turned 7 recently. Their other two endeavors for the year are a not-for-profit organization called Kote Foundation which helps entrepreneurs in small towns within Karnataka and Swabhimaan, aimed at uplifting the girl child in India.

It would be wrong to say that the riders and the support crew make the tour. Without the endorsement of Partners and Sponsors, the tour would not have fructified.
And I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to each one of them.

It was a pleasure to be associated with each one of you.
The BSA TFN team hopes to work again with you, with stronger support and higher budgets!

Written by Sangfroid

December 30, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Bhaskar Rao Saarr

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Bhaskar Rao, IPS, Transport Commissioner

I’m anti-gravity. I’m not in the lead pack. The leaner guys are there!

joked Bhaskar Rao, at one of the Support Stations, on Day 7, en route Ooty.
Although late, his was the most high-profile entry into the participants list of the BSA Tour Of Nilgiris. Hell! It wasn’t late. It was timely. After all, he did cycle for the entire tour.

It goes unsaid that it was a pleasure to have him on board – more for the riders than the organizers.

Upon arrival at a Support Station on one of the days, Malvika Jain announced –

I got married on the tour!

She proudly displayed the garland around her neck much to the amazement of the fellow riders. Anyone who rode with Bhaskar Rao received a hearty welcome in the manner of a bouquet, garland or the likes, where ever there was a Police check-post. Thanks to his clout, the BSA TFN riders got to places they might not have imagined. Riding atop the Gorur Dam, visiting the Mysore Palace after 7PM are just some examples.

On a serious note, I hope he’ll be back for the next edition of the tour. I don’t mind being garlanded, but it would be great to ride along. I’m sure all BSA TFN riders echo the feeling.

Written by Sangfroid

December 29, 2009 at 9:06 am

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The Tusker Scare

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Resemblance to any elephant living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional (Doodle Courtesy: MJ)

Day 8, the last day, on the BSA Tour Of Nilgiris 2009 had riders entering the Bandipur National Park from Tamil Nadu, after having descended the Kalhatti Ghats. Spotting an elephant or two in this park is not a rarity and I was disappointed to not have seen the giant myself. At the MC Resort I understood that the privilege was reserved for a bunch of riders on the BSA TFN, not the blogger or the photographer.

While Siva Sai N, Arvind Bhateja and Ashish Bhardwaj were riding together inside the park, it was Ashish who spotted the beast first and screamed –

Stop! Elephant!

Siva, who was riding ahead, then spotted an elephant crossing the road. Siva froze. At this moment, the elephant stopped too and stared at Siva. He(Siva) dropped the bike and ran into the bamboos, towards one end of the road.

The tusker crossed the road, stopped again and once more, stared at Siva. He(Siva) ran to his bike and zoomed past. Upon seeing this, the elephant started running too, fortunately in the opposite direction.

Post this adventure, there have been serious efforts in order to determine the sex of the elephant and understand the reason for its attraction towards Siva.

Anand Iyer, a rider on the tour says – After back breaking research I have come to the conclusion that the Elephant that attacked Siva was male.

Eye witness Arvind Bhateja refutes this claim saying – I do believe that the elephant that attacked Siva was not the one that Anand is hallucinating about. Siva’s elephant was obviously female

Meanwhile other riders are devising strategies to well-equip riders in order to survive any such elephant scare in the future editions of the tour.
Manish Bhatnagar, I’m sure, is a trained bartender. Here’s his recipe, to be served at a Support Station just before entering Bandipur

  • 60ml Siva’s Regal
  • 1 packet Electral
  • Top with soda

He says this mix is guaranteed to make one bike faster than any chasing elephant. Or not feel anything if s/he catches up with the rider.

I’ll let the riders continue to fill up the Elephants’ Diaries. And, for the time being, due to lack of ingredients for Siva’s Regal, I’ll gulp down some Chivas Regal, on the rocks .

Written by Sangfroid

December 28, 2009 at 11:35 pm

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The Spirited BSA TFN’er

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Rider turned Support Crew. That's the spirit!

If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on – says the legendary Lance Armstrong.

Falls and bruises, sprains and aches are constant companions for a cyclist. Although uninvited, they are regular visitors. Some are ignorable whereas some might catch you unawares.

When Navin Mathew, a rider on the BSA Tour Of Nilgiris had a nasty fall on Day 3 riding from Hassan towards Madikeri, he reckoned it wasn’t serious. Closer examination by the Doctor on call, Dr. Renu revealed that he had gotten a hairline fracture on his left wrist. He could not ride further.

I caught up with Navin on one of the days on the tour and asked him how he felt about the whole situation and why he stayed back. He said –

I’ve been elevated to the level of support guys! Doing the BSA TFN was on my bucket list and I was determined to do the tour no matter what. Being unable to ride was a setback but I still wanted to get to know the people and experience the tour. I was not going to let the injury stand in my way. I have unfinished business and will be coming back to the tour …

Now, I would have labeled such enthusiasm as plain craziness but then to be on the BSA TFN, you’ve got to have a crazy corner in your mind. If that wasn’t enough, in order to keep the adrenalin pumping, Navin did a 10k walk along with Dr Renu, one fine day on the tour.

Written by Sangfroid

December 27, 2009 at 9:03 am

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Riding (is) in our ‘Jeans’

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In their Genes (Jas, Manish, Sameer, Sudhir)


On Day 8, the last day, of the BSA Tour Of Nilgiris, the distance to ride wasn’t much. A late start to the day was on the cards owing to the morning mist and fog at Ooty. And everyone was looking forward to make it to Bandipur pronto. At the pre-ride briefing, while most riders were in their proper riding gear, I spotted an uncanny bunch in their denims. I assumed that they’d change just in time for the ride.

However, when I spotted the group again somewhere in Bandipur National Park, I asked Sameer ShisodiaWhy the denim?
He elucidated it quite well –
a. shorter ride
b. colder day
c. needed to change later anyhow
d. wtf, some change

But I’m sure they must have worn the padded shorts. I mean, they should have … right? Well, no more assumptions from my side. Let us hear it from them.
I’ve understood that if riding is in one’s genes, what is least bothersome, is the jeans. What say?

Written by Sangfroid

December 27, 2009 at 7:13 am

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Unity In Diversity

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In the foreground, on the left is a Church. Hidden amongst trees, stands a Mosque in the far right.

Day 4 on the BSA Tour Of Nilgiris was slated to be the toughest. The degree of toughness, however, remained to be seen. As the day progressed, the terrain took its toll on the riders. They took longer breaks than usual, especially the road bikers. Unlike most days, riders were sparse on the road. I’d ride for kilometers before spotting one, which meant I finally managed some self-time on the BSA TFN. I rode at leisure too allowing myself to soak in the surroundings. Somewhere between Bhagamandala and Napoklu, I rode past the above landscape and the mind began drawing parallels.

I mean, India is diverse. We all know that, but the magnitude of diversity within the BSA TFN gang was huge too. And I began to contemplate on the same.

  • The oldest rider Peter Clarence-Smith is aged 55 whereas the youngest one, Sowmya Raju is about 21.
  • The costliest bike on the tour was Rajesh Nair’s Pinarello Paris worth 4.5lacs. On the other hand, Bibhushan rode a modest 7k Fomas road bike for some part of the tour.
  • There was a marked difference in the amount of training that riders did for the tour. There were veterans like Muthu Kumar who’ve done many cycling tours in the US. Newbies like Gayathri Chablani rode too.
  • Professional diversity was at its best. The traditional doctors and engineers were of course there. Besides, a bunch of entrepreneurs, a professional photographer, an IPS officer and people from other myriad backgrounds made for an eclectic mix.
  • Apart from Indian nationals, there was also an Israeli gentleman and a US national amongst the riders.
  • The group comprised of 10 women too.

What brought such diverse individuals together was their passion for cycling and a dream to live an experience that only the BSA Tour Of Nilgiris could have provided. As I conjured up these thoughts, I smiled. It felt great to be in such august company.

Written by Sangfroid

December 26, 2009 at 2:38 pm

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