After conquering Mount Abu on Day 1 and witnessing mesmerizing Rajasthan on Day 2, It’s 3rd September 2016, the final riding day (Strava) of Tour of Aravallis. As soon as I wake up, I realize that I don’t need to pack bags today as we are going to spend the night in the same hotel. Relieved, I get ready and get downstairs to help me with another delicious and sumptuous breakfast, after that I go and inspect my bike to ensure for another grueling day ahead. I inspect tires for unfriendlies and actually find and remove a little piece of glass from rear tire.
Soon we line up to the start line, one final time and with lots of clapping and cheering, we are flagged off. Today we ride till very famous Kumbhalgarh fort (second largest wall after great wall of China, NO! I AM NOT KIDDING), turn back and come back to our hotel via the same route. It meant riding that 7 KMs. of bad road twice on the same day, which I really hated. But the toughest part of today’s day was the competitive segment, it was nothing but the scary and turning descending portion of the road towards the end of Day 2, only this time we need to climb our way up that section. It proved to be the toughest day at the tour for me. I was first to be flagged off today on the segment but as soon as I hit up the first climb, I realised my legs were not up for any climbing today. I tried going out of the saddle, but couldn’t do it. I kept searching for one more lower gear on my 11-25 cassette, but it was not there. I had to shamefully get off the bike and walk till I reach the top of the climb. With several categorised climbs strewn across this 16KM segment, this walk of shame continued. I saw everybody passing me one by one. Most were struggling today, but not as much as me it seems. Finally I made it to the finish of the segment in some 1.5 hours, whereas guys like Karthik and Mayank did that in little over 40 mins. I have a long way to go before I match up with them 🙁
As soon as I finished the segment, I requested the technician accompanying us to fix my rear brake, I didn’t want to run out of braking capacity while returning and descending this treacherous road again. He quickly fixes my brake, while I take in some electrolytes and food. I adjust my Heart Rate chest belt as it was slipping and then me and Devang again start together. And again he slowly disappears ahead. I kept on riding and enjoying the roads passing through small villages. Sheriyar, Rudra, Madhu and Ryan soon join me, they didn’t seem to be in any hurry today and wanted to make the most of the last day of the tour. They stopped frequently to take pictures and take in the sights, this beautiful place had to offer.
We encountered some more steep climbs en route (which I obviously walked on) and some real fast descents. Kids from villages kept trying to sell us various fruits they picked from trees and wanted us to stop. One of them pushed a stick in Madhu’s wheel and he crashed. All bruised up but without any serious injury thankfully, he got up and continued riding. Finally we reached the Kumbhalgarh fort, where we were offered packed lunch by the organisers. Having lunch on top of the boundary wall of the fort was really a different feeling. We posed for a group photo after lunch and started our return journey. Soon I came across a fellow rider who has crashed after descending very fast, thankfully his helmet saved him and he also walked away without any serious injury.
I could now sense the end of this beautiful tour, we just need to go through those crazy descends and last few KMs of bad roads before we reach the finish at our hotel. Me and CP decide to ride together for the remaining portion so that we can help each other in case of any mishap. Decision proves to be a wise one, as CP gets a flat tire a few KMs ahead. I stop with him and he borrows my tool to open his tire, soon Anuj gets there in a support car and quickly fixes the flat for him and we are off again. We reach the finish line soon. We retire to our rooms, wash ourselves, eat some of the energy/protein bars and then get ready for the award ceremony and tour success party.
At the award ceremony – Karthik, Mayank, Rudra were declared winners in open category, Marko, Dr. Naresh, Chandan Purohit were winners in Veterans category and Eva won the women’s category. However everybody else got a finisher’s medal as well. After the awards music started and drinks flowed and I heard that party continued till early morning, but I was tired so I retired early to my room.
Next day we woke up a little late, got ready, had breakfast and left in our bus. We stopped at the famous Jain Temple and then proceeded towards Ahmedabad. I have been to a few cycling races/events, but this was for sure the best event I have been to. What’s quite impressive is that this was the first edition of the tour, so they haven’t had chance to perfect it through multiple iterations. Also entire tour was organised and managed by the volunteers of the Cyclone Cycling Club and not by a professional event organisation company. However attention to the details and perfect execution was evident throughout the tour. We all were provided tour jerseys customised with our names, nutrition and all the support throughout, route map for our top tubes (yup, felt like a real pro to have those), stay at great hotels, comfortable and safe transport, friendly and ever-present volunteers. I am sure they can only improve from here on and I hope that Tour of Aravallis becomes a must do event on list of every rider from India (and even abroad) very soon.
You can read the official tour report here, see official photographs here and read a cute poetic description of the tour by fellow rider Marco here. And this finally concludes my TOA posts. I am eagerly waiting for the second edition of Tour of Aravallis.