Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why is BSA-TFN not just another bike tour?


People have often asked 'why is the annual tour of Nilgiris different?'. Isn't is just bunch of super rich bikers pedaling through fairly good roads with rest of the worries taken care of by super efficient team? Isn't MTB-Himachal, or GMC, or the Enduro-3, or numerous private tours on Manali-Leh route much more tough and demanding from the rider. Why then does BSA-TFN claim to be the best and attract the best riders?

My reasoning... You are free to re-interpret at will ;-)

  1. Charity riders: There is lot of effort being put in to make this tour famous and a permanent fixture in Indian Cycling calendar. This means a lot of eyes on this . Why not put the publicity so generated into good use by raising money for some good causes? The causes chosen are not the city based ones which have large PR teams to design and mail mass fliers. Arun D'Silva is riding for  Arohi (www.arohi.org). Among other things,  this NGO is focused on improving living conditions and giving good education for the people in the hills of Uttarakhand. If it strikes a chord with you, please visit the site and help Arun raise funds. Spread the word. There are three more charities which are featured on the main site of BSA-TFN. Please have a look (www.tourofnilgiris.com). More on them later.

  1. The professionalism of the organizing team: When you see the entire operations team - you don’t see any event provisional organizers, no fund raisers, no copywriters or no high profile PR agencies. These are good people  with strong work ethics in their day-jobs. That work-ethic rubs off in what ever they do even outside work. They are meticulous, transparent.  They want to get better year after year. I have seen them brainstorm for hours together to get the minutest detail right for all 8 days of the tour - right from the support station supply, daily menus - breakfast, lunch, high-tea and snacks, sweep timings, support vehicle communications and so on. This week-end saw the volunteers attend a first-aid workshop followed by a bike maintenance work-shop. They have managed to convince BSA to generously send a pack of 5 brand new Montra bikes to help any rider who has a mechanical problem. This definitely shows that the riders and tour itself rests in good hands.

  1. Training of the riders: TFN has become an annual goal for most of the riders. For a couple of them, it could be a serious life goal too. The BSA-TFN challenge on daily -mile is on ever since the registrations opened on 01-June. These guys take cycling and especially TFN way too seriously (http://www.dailymile.com/challenges/3335-tour-of-nilgiris-2011-challenge/leaderboard). No other race/ride in the sub-continent can boast of such hard core preparation.

  1. The Doers: The volunteers are the real guys who make the tour happen. It gets me thinking many times... What's in it for them? They have to sleep late, get up early on all days of the tour. They are forbidden from riding a cycle on the tour even if an opportunity presented itself. They are available almost 24x7 (actually 8), which means they can not lose themselves a serene viewpoint.  So, why do they let themselves through this ordeal? Why is there always a rush to be on the volunteer rooster? I guess, the answer is very personal to each one of them. Some may have a point to prove to themselves (or others). Some may be in it for the learning - there is way too much to learn on a 8-day tour. Some may be in it for the networking opportunity. Some may be booking their spots for TFN 2012. Nevertheless, it is a awesome bunch to hang around.

I think there is a healthy competition among the patrons of all the tours to be the best. It is helping create a wonderful cycling ecosystem in India. RACF (http://rideacycle.org/)  and BSA-TFN will go a long way in proving to the world that India can host a good amateur level 8-day-bicyle-tour. The days to come will only be better.

2 comments:

vasundhara vats said...

I was Volunteer myself in the TFN-2010. And Oh god, it was one of the best times i have every had. The amazing people I met, the friends i made, the superb camaraderie I shared with so many people with a passion for cycling was a mind-blowing experience. Sadly, I will miss it this year, as I am not in the country. But If I would have been there, none could have stopped me from being a volunteer again.
P.S- The beautiful countryside one gets to see, has no parallel. TFn made me decide that once I retire ( its almost 40 years or so for that) I am settling somewhere in the countryside of the Nilgiries.
Best wishes to this years team..Have a great time guys !! :) :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

great start. Had nice experience joining the team for 2 days. will share my experience soon