February, 2017

On a mountain trail

The article was originally
published in The Hindu

Written by Madhuvanti S. Krishnan

It was his birthday gift…the challenge of the Tour of Nilgiris. Siddarth Varma, was the youngest participant and he weathered the endurance race like a pro.

Nineteen-year-old Siddharth Varma participated in the Tour of Nilgiris — India’s very own endurance cycling event, not too different from the iconic Tour de France. He was the youngest participant of the event this year, and he completed the challenge successfully.

Tour of Nilgiris’ (TFN) takes place every year in December and participants have to cover 900 km across three states. This tour is a gruelling cycling challenge, covering —Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka — on cycle in a week and on an average 160 kilometres in a day.

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Varma says that the TFN was his 19th birthday gift. “It has been the best gift of my life so far. My father introduced me to the tour. Now that I have completed it, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment as the path wasn’t easy. It tested my mental strength to a large extent,” he says.

Siddharth, a resident of Gurgaon and s a student at Delhi’s Ashoka University has nurtured an interest in adventure sports and martial arts. He heads his own mixed martial arts club at the university and teaches students survival skills. “Sports teaches us a lot about life. We need to take back all we can get from it.”

Perseverance pays

Though Varma had never participated in a cycling challenge before, he admitted that it had been considerably easy for him to prepare for TFN. He started his preparation about two months before the event and cycled about 70-160 km. every weekend to increase his stamina.

The hardest part of the TFN for Siddharth was the ‘Killer Kalhatti’ section, an eight kilometre uphill ride on a steep slope in the Nilgiris. It was so difficult that he was frustrated. This gave him the much-needed drive to overcome the challenge and conquer the section. He recalls how, “No part of the TFN is easy. Even the downhill ride tests the patience of a cyclist, because if you go too fast, you could end up injuring yourself.”

Despite the hurdles, Varma found the experience, fulfilling. “TFN helped me calm my body and mind. It taught me patience and endurance. I learnt to interact with different people and I made new friends. The main thing that I learnt was to never give up,” he says.

Siddharth encourages youngsters to go outdoors and exercise for a while. He believes that it gives peace to the body and the mind.

 

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