Day 2/4 (Tamia to Pachmarhi): A childhood dream powers my ride to the Queen of Satpura!

20th Aug 2017
Photo of Day 2/4 (Tamia to Pachmarhi): A childhood dream powers my ride to the Queen of Satpura! by Nikhil Kulkarni
Day 2


The schedule for the day involved cycling 82 kms from Tamia to Pachmarhi, the famed hill station of Madhya Pradesh. We were supposed to have our breakfast and leave as early as possible. I was done with my breakfast pretty early but somehow managed to get late to leave and was on the roads only by about 6.45 am.

Local kids welcoming us into Tamia town

Photo of Tamia, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nikhil Kulkarni

Barely had I pedaled and out there on the roads ahead was this motley group of kids and teenagers waving flags of the Tour and M P Tourism and egging us on to enjoy Madhya Pradesh. This welcome was enough to endow a celebrity-like feeling, even if for the time-being and was enough of a booster for the second day.

Metaphorically speaking ;) the roads ahead were pretty straight and as our cue sheet told us there was a decline of about 20 kms ahead, which meant sitting back on the saddle and enjoying the scenic beauty for almost an hour.

Amit Samarth, the first Indian to finish RAAM solo on his first attempt with his kid Ayaan

Photo of Day 2/4 (Tamia to Pachmarhi): A childhood dream powers my ride to the Queen of Satpura! by Nikhil Kulkarni

The morning breeze was pretty cool and with the gradient on the decline, I decided to not paddle and instead gaze around as gravity would do the rest. Therefore despite having started with my room-mates, the Choudhrie brothers, I soon fell back and as was the norm went into my solo mode. I first passed by Ayaan aka Junior Samarth and his mom. It was very heartening to see this little kid peddling along, with his parents guiding him. His vigour and energy levels amazed me and every time I saw him since the day before I was reminded of my kid.

A view of the valley along the twisties

Photo of Day 2/4 (Tamia to Pachmarhi): A childhood dream powers my ride to the Queen of Satpura! by Nikhil Kulkarni

As I rolled along enjoying the twisties on the decline, I next spotted the cyclist photographers happily clicking away. Jyoti, Sneha, Sudarshan, etc. could give the photographers a run for their money solely on their infectious enthusiasm for clicks and selfies! Since the twisties had set my adrenaline pumping, I decided to instead enjoy the high I had started to experience. The solitude in these environs was acting as a catalyst. I therefore decided against stopping and carried on.

Lush greenery all around was the balm the eyes accustomed to urban environs desired

Photo of Day 2/4 (Tamia to Pachmarhi): A childhood dream powers my ride to the Queen of Satpura! by Nikhil Kulkarni

Just as I was getting used to the soothing greenery along the roads, 24 kms had already rolled by and the first SS had arrived. The coolness of the atmosphere and the decline meant that water hadn’t been consumed neither had the energy levels sapped. But then the next SS was 30 kms ahead, so bananas and water topping was the flavour of the moment. Soon enough I was back on my saddle.

Matkuli bound (PC: Veloscope)

Photo of Day 2/4 (Tamia to Pachmarhi): A childhood dream powers my ride to the Queen of Satpura! by Nikhil Kulkarni

The roads ahead were now almost flat except for the occasional decline. The ghats were over and now the roads passed through occasional villages. But what was constant was the green cover. With traffic barely minimal, one just had to sit back and savour the peace and calm the serene environment provided. One tends to zoom through such environs when in motorised vehicles thus failing to appreciate the beauty in its truer sense. However when bicycling, one tends to breathe in and savour the rustic moments on a much fuller scale. That I was riding alone, added to the experience and I might as well say that I was in a meditative zen like state. This stretch was a cyclist’s paradise.

At the second Support Station, Matkuli

Photo of Matkuli, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nikhil Kulkarni

I never realized when I reached Matkuli, the town where the second SS was put up. I took a longish break here and refueled my water bottles and energy. The energy bars were a delight and there had been an interesting shift by all bikers towards them instead of bananas, which is but our staple energy bar! A brief photo-session and I was then off to Pachmarhi after a left.

The second CS was scheduled from the base of the hill Pachmarhi is situated atop, up to the board welcoming us into Pachmarhi town – an uphill of about 20 kms.

I started on to my CS after Yash, the star rider and also the winner of the previous day’s jersey. As I started on to the climb, I conditioned myself into thinking that I was within a sniffing distance of (74 seconds ;) and of ) winning “the OAKLEY” – an accessory which I dreamt about possessing ever since I was in the 5th grade. My study room back then had this poster of the Kiwi opener Nathan Astle sporting his Oakley and somehow this name and its classy style had stuck on to me ever since.

As a commuter who cursed the climb to my workplace every day, all of a sudden I was now thankful for the endurance the everyday grind had developed within me. I don’t know if it was the Oakley sub-consciously egging me or I was not tiring, but I was now a man possessed on the climb as I started loving it rather than loathing it. I overtook quite some bikers as I was determined not to take a single halt in this entire climb, even humming some numbers especially Abba, to pump me up when I felt a sense of slowing down.

On the Competitive Segment leading to Pachmarhi (PC: Veloscope)

Photo of Day 2/4 (Tamia to Pachmarhi): A childhood dream powers my ride to the Queen of Satpura! by Nikhil Kulkarni

Somewhere around 15 kms into the climb I wanted to stop to have a go at the energy bars but dropped the idea since tearing open the wrappers was a big task for me and I didn’t want it to be the causative factor between me and the Oakley :D So, well I continued nevertheless!

Into the last 2 kms of the CS the Working Elements guys started trailing me for clicking pictures. The climb was now a bit steep and I was slowing down, but with these guys tailing me, I now started feeling like Chris Froome on the Alps with his support team behind him. Add to it I was already donning a (tanned) yellow jersey of TdS ;) This was enough for a renewed vigour and a harder push at the pedals. The climb was soon over and the last few meters were actually a sprint to the end point.

The board announcing arrival into Pachmarhi - the Queen of Satpura

Photo of Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nikhil Kulkarni

Overall, it had been a lovely climb and I was happy with my effort. As I caught up on my breath, I met up with Sachin and Yash who had just reached there and were cooling their heels as well. The staff at Hotel Highlands meanwhile went into the welcome mode as panting riders started streaming in.

Rooms allotted well in advance and with the lunch ready as well, I got refuelled for the remainder part of the day pretty soon. The organisers of the Tour had planned a trip to Bee Fall, a tourist spot made famous by the Liril ad shot here decades ago. While a handful of riders decided to rest for the day, the majority were up and eager to trek. Our bus which trailed us with our luggage since yesterday was used to drop us some point near the fall, after which we trekked almost 3 kms to the fall.

Bee Fall, Pachmarhi

Photo of Bee Fall, Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nikhil Kulkarni

The gushing of water could be heard from some point away but the magnanimity was visible only on nearing. A couple of my mates from the tour had already reached the base of the fall. This was sufficient enough to egg us and the remainder of us snaked our way up to the base as well. The thrill of having the cascading waters on to our bodies was enough to make us forget about cycling momentarily.

A brief time under the waters and then began the upward trek. Since it started getting tiring everyone opted for a Maruti Gypsy to ferry us until our dropping point.

Birthday celebrations

Photo of Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh, India by Nikhil Kulkarni

In the evening there was a surprise party thrown in for Anil sir by the organisers since it was his 50th birthday. Post the merriment there was a talk by Amit Samarth on his rookie attempt at finishing RAAM solo which in itself was inspiring. This was followed by an introduction of the organizers and specially of the crew members who were but the backbone of the Tour. Everyone had well defined roles marked out and there was nothing but adulation by all for them. Post their introduction all the bikers took turns at introducing ourselves.

The introduction done it was then left to Sachin to announce the standings of the day’s CS. As expected Yash and Aarthi won their respective segments. I was once again the first runner up with Amit finishing first despite the huge amounts of weights he was carrying on himself as a part of his training regimen. Ameer Khan was the second runner up. I was lucky to get an opportunity to share the stage with Amit as he and myself were handed over the winner’s jersey for the day.

An evening with Jallosh

Photo of Day 2/4 (Tamia to Pachmarhi): A childhood dream powers my ride to the Queen of Satpura! by Nikhil Kulkarni

The standings in my category had been shuffled and Dr Ghughe, the leader in CS, the previous day was not in the top three. My mind started racing over the cumulative standings as Jallosh, the band took over for the rest of the evening. The day was finishing on a good note and well, happiness would be an under stated emotion for what I was feeling!

This post has been originally published by me on my blog EnvironmentFootprints. But nevertheless I would be sharing my experience of the entire Tour here as well. Keep watching this space to know how Day 3 of the Tour De Satpura unfolded for me.

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