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The first edition of Bliss In The Hills was a success , judging from the number of participants and the interest it generated. We had riders from Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Chennai, Tiruppur, Goa, Pune , Mumbai in addition to Bangalore. Or put it better, we had riders from all over India riding this brevet. 40 riders started and 4 finished, which was below our expectations. We did expect a few more to finish on time. In addition to the official finishers, Kaviarasu, Mehul and Sundaram Narayanan from Goa finished the ride but missed intermediate controls.
Thanks to the volunteers Suman and Ravindra from Bangalore , and Karthik and his gang of friends from Tirupur for helping the riders in the manned controls.
Some of the feedback from the riders as well as wannabe riders, as well as the experiences of the organizers have prompted a couple of changes. (The final route will be published once we do a recce in a week or so , but tentatively we have decided to incorporate the following changes)
1) The exit out of Bangalore will be streamlined. You will get out via Sankey Tank,CNR underpass and Yeshwantpur railway station, so the traffic will not be an issue.
2) We plan to change some of the routes in Wayanad. Last year on some stretches there was zero visibility due to fog. While we cannot completely guarantee anything, that particular stretch was through dense forest and the fog , in hindsight was expected. Attribute that to non familiriaty of terrain from the organizers.
3) Of course the distances will change, and there will be some additional sections to compensate for the stretches that have been truncated. This year we had opened up registrations earlier. The current registration format also follows last year. All participants who complete on time will be entitled to a medal and certificate.
A brief description of the route ( If it sounds like some chest thumping or self-back-patting, we humbly beg your pardon, but here goes).The whole idea of the route was to have an Indian version of PBP conducted here, at least in terms of difficulty. In addition to ensuring that our climb starved cyclists go back happy, we also wanted to ensure that we showcase the beauty of the area that the ride goes through. So you actually will have one and all of the following sections
1) Rainforest or rain forest like regions – be prepared for the muggy climate
2) Cooler and more pleasant forests , as you climb towards Ooty
3) Gentle rolling terrain
4) Not so gentle rolling terrain.
5) Coffee estates
6) Tea estates.
7) Long clear stretches of highway for the flat lovers.
8) Spectacular scenery, the best the western ghats have to be offer
The cumulative elevation of the ride should come to more than 15000m (As a comparison, PBP has a combined elevation gain of 11000 m and a 1200 conducted in January by Goa Cycling Club had an elevation of 13000 km). What makes Bliss In The Hills special is that it spans a wide geographical area. The lowest point is about 45m above sea level and the highest will be around 2400 m above sea level.
The brevet is also at the fag end of the monsoon. So the chance of rain is ever present. Last year, it rained the night the brevet was flagged off , and again it rained on day 3 when we were climbing Ooty. It is best to be prepared for heat, cold, some rain, some low visibility and foggy conditions and also a little extra humidity in Kerala.
Here is a brief description of the route. You start from MG Road and head towards Nelamangala. From here you make your way towards Chikmagalur district to the temple town of Belur. From Belur you go towards the Madikeri. Gentle rolling terrain gradually gives way to longer climbs and descents. After traversing across Coorg, you go down the Sahyadri’s to a town called Iritty in Kerala.From here you work your way back up the mountain to the Wayanad Plateau. Kalpetta, in Wayanad will be your 1st control for support, and a recommended spot to get an extended sleep. From here you go via tea estates and climb to Ooty via Gudalur. You can smell the tea as you cycle past tea factories. Once you reach Ooty you go via a superlong downhill to Mettupalayam. From here you have a long highway stretch to reach Salem. From Salem you climb to Yercaud in the eastern Ghats, and then descend via beautiful woods to Kuppanur. From here you head north via a state highway and eventually climb Yelagiri, the last of the designated hills in the route. Finally you make your way to Bangalore via Hosur.
The ride has been named *Bliss In The Hills* to reflect the overdose of serenity as you ride on arguably one of the most scenic routes of South India.