05 July 2013

The Yelagiri Control

This is the story of a ride that got botched, at least partially. Long story, and sorry, no photos either.

For the 2012-13 season of the IISc Randonneurs we had created a new route - the 400km long "Fourteen Poets" ride to Yelagiri and back. One of the biggest problems was that the route required a manned control at Yelagiri base to ensure that riders took the correct route. We decided on keeping this an 'information' control - there was a regular control at the top of Yelagiri anyway. The proposed was at 190km as per the cue sheet which meant that the fastest riders would be there at or just before dawn. This was by design, since we designed the route so as to have even the fast riders start climbing only in daylight. This unfortunately meant that the volunteers would need to get there before that - inclusive of error margins. As per the original plan the volunteers would start out with the riders at 2200h on Friday, and breakaway at Krishnagiri, getting a ~45km / 2 hour lead over the riders.

Kalpesh and I had volunteered to man the control, and we decided to start early (1700h instead of 2200h). By sunset we were across the border past Attibele. It was a fantastic experience, riding with the setting sun right behind us. After lots of timepass at the Mc Donalds at Shoolagiri we reached Krishnagiri just after midnight. The town was asleep, so we went to the bus stand. For an hour or so we kept ourselves busy with some tea, biscuits and chips, but then boredom set in. Staying awake was quite painful. The uncomfortable metal chairs, the cold and hordes of mosquitoes started taking their toll as we waited for the first riders to report crossing the Karimangalam control. The first call came nearly at 0300. Two hours later, we reached the control and set ourselves up. The first riders came in just after sunrise.

For the next 6 hours we sat at the control, next to a petrol station. Kalpesh rode to the top, but such feats were beyond me. By the time we closed the control it was nearly 1300h, I was mentally drained. After lunch I told Kalpesh there was no way I could get myself to ride back, so we went to Vaniyambadi and got a bus to Bangalore.

Moral of the story:
  • When designing brevet routes think of where volunteers are needed and how they will get there, and how long the control stays open. For example, a control at Yelagiri stays open from 0400h - 1200h; thats 8 hours!
  • Riding to a control can sometimes be harder than just riding a brevet - there's no option to drop out. Never take it lightly.

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