Climb the VAL ( Valparai) ; Route: Pollachi – Valparai

Start point: Pollachi – End Point : Valparai (Town Center)

Total Distance : 67 Km ; Total Elevation Gain : 2524 m ; Max Elevation : 1470 m above sea level
Traffic : General traffic, mixed, 2 way, lots of blind turns, Caution, Mostly smooth roads with rocks and debris on the edges.

Route Map :
The GPS trace is a little messed up but, I guess the elevation profile should be a good indicator.

   This route is an entry point into the beautiful & the evergreen forests of Western Ghats starts in the town of Pollachi and ends in the hill town of Valparai passing through many local attractions like Aliyar Dam, Loam’s View Point, Anaimalai Wildlife Sanctuary, quite a few waterfalls and going through the hills beautiful tea estates. Another note worthy feature of the route are the 40 hairpin bends the route has, each sapping up your energy & testing your resolve to beat gravity. The route starts like a very gradual rolling terrain with elevation differences between 270m & 310m this sweet spot lasts around 25km from Pollachi and this is the sprint zone, if one is trying for any sort of time record and also this portion of the road is quite smooth and wide as of 01 May 2014 ( the day I rode this route). At 25 km you enter the Anaimalai Wildlife Sanctuary with a check post at the entrance the people there are more amused by cyclists than suspicious.

A visual relief from the scorching sun

   This is where you hit the base of your pain cave from where either you can chicken out and turn around or drill deep into #Rule 5 ( Harden the Fuck up ). Starting from the check post is a gradual climb until you hit the 1/40 hairpin bends, from where it just gets tougher… :D. The sight of the label on the first hairpin is enough to send shivers down some riders and Strava has categorized the segment (till hairpin bend 28) HC (Hors catégorie), essentially meaning it is beyond the toughest of categories, because of the length of the climb whole 30kms of it. On this segment all I can say is stay seated and keep grinding while you count each hairpin bend pass giving you a dose of endorphin with each turn you take. It is almost a 30 km segment of unforgiving winding climbs. As a mark of your achievement at bend 28 / 40 on the left side of the bend is a small tea shop, a sign that you have done well & your bottom bracket is proud of you, you climb just two more short bends and you reach the apex of the route, from here on get on your drop bars hold your brakes tight, shift to the highest gear & enjoy the view, while keeping on eye on the road of course till you reach Valparai. After the 30/40 hairpin you are technically inside the hill range & the temperatures cool off drastically and the breeze on your face make you realize how worth while all the pain on the other side of the mountain was.

Winding all the way up you  & the roads

Winding all the way up, you
& the roads

   If your are among the few lucky ones, you might encounter some wild goats, lots of monkeys (don’t keep your bananas or food in your jersey pockets) or other animals. You might enjoy the view on your way down or on a cloudy day but otherwise it’s too hot from the rocks, the sun and the dam at the bottom doesn’t help much with almost no breeze it just feels stuffy and hot.

   There are two TASMAC’s there (State Government operated liquor shops) and I guess you don’t have too many options on beer there, although a little apprehensive, I tried Kolt premium & was not bad even when not chilled.. 😉 .

Bike used for the ride : Gaint Defy 1 with Shimano RS81C24 wheels
Date Ridden : 01 May 2014


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