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|Year and Month||June, 2014|
|Number of Days||Three Day Trip|
|Accommodation||Rest house in Geli Oya and Nuwareliya|
|Weather||Sunny, mind thunderstorm|
|Route||Colombo -> Kandy (via A1 road) Nuwareliya -> Hatton (Via A7 road) -> Avisawella -> Colombo|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
The planning for our cycling adventure began early May 2014 and when I suggested to my friend Dhanushka, he was totally in despite not knowing what we were about to experience. We knew it would be a hard ride especially ascending 6000 feet on bicycles. Preparation stage included servicing the bicycles and getting them ready for the long tour.
Dhanushka was from Nugegoda, Colombo and I was from Negombo. We decided to leave from Colombo instead me starting from Negombo and Dhanushka from Colombo. The weekend before our tour I rode 40km to Dhanushka’s place and kept it at his place.
On 19th June, I went to Dhanushka’s place around 5 am and after strapping all our bags we embarked on our 3 day adventure to explore the hill country on 2 mountain bicycles.
By day break we were near the Parliament and pushed on through Kaduwela, Malabe, Biyagama and Weliveriya before joining the A1, Kandy road.
We made sure to drink plenty of water every 20 minutes at least to be properly hydrated and consumed instant energy foods like bananas
Pedaling through the flat section was rather easy and we were able to maintain a good average speed of 15kmph. On the first day of the tour our target was to reach Kandy by dusk and to spend the night in a guest house. Good night sleep is a must after a long rides and usually its recommended to sleep for at least 8 hours.
When we started off it was gloomy , however as we passed Nittambuwa, clouds cleared and temperature started to rise. We had to apply a thick layer of sun screen and drink lot of water.
As we passed Nittambuwa roads started to incline and we had to engage low gears frequently. In some areas, as soon as we climb the inclined section we would quickly engage high gears, so as to go down the sloples very fast and climb the next inclined section without putting much effort. This had put lot of stress on the gear cables in my bicycle and the rear gear cable snapped while flipping the gear ratchet.
I had brought the toold kit and some spares but not extra gear cables. Pushing the bicycle was not an option since were losing lot of time. We had to improvise with the equipment we had and a did a quick fix with few cable ties I had in my tool kit.
This gentle man was so helpful and he replaced the gear cable and did few other adjustments
After passing Mawanella, we were exhausted and we were basically pushing our bicycles upto Kadugannawa Police station
With energy nearly sapped out, we stopped for only a moment infront of the Kadugannawa rock tunnel. After covering our bags with garbage bags we pushed on.
Since day 1 target was to reach Kandy and proceed up A5 road as much as possible, thunder showers pounded Kadugannawa onwards. After Kadugannawa Police station it was a downhill ride and we were relieved to free wheel after pushing the bicycle for nearly 10 km.
After passging Kadugannawa the only worry was to find lodging for the night. We were few km from Kandy city limits and we did not want to go to Kandy city to find a place for the night. From Peradeniya junction Kandy is about 8km and if we were to go to Kandy city we would have to ride another 8 km back to again join the A5 road next day.
Even though we have been to Kandy countless times seeing the Kandy sign board after pedaling for nearly 12 hours was such great delight. Our moral was up and we had this sense of achievement. The moment I pulled out my camera to take a photo, it started to pour again, with no shelter around that place I had to take a quick snap and ride back to the junction.
Since it would take at least an hour to ride 16 km we decided to by pass Kandy city and proceed up A5 road and look out for any lodges along A5 road between Peradeniya and Gampola.
Dhanushka queried about lodges from the tuk tuk drivers and they said there were few between Peradeniya university and Gelioya. With thunder storm and no street lights it was hard to see the winding roads. Some vehicles whizzed pass us. It is usually hard to spot cyclists in such weather condition. We had 2 torches and a bicycle light. Even with all the lights lit up we knew the vehicles will not spot us unless they are close within 20 feet.
In our first attempt, shop owner directed us to a guest house what he considered was under 1km. We rode nearly 2.5km down winding and unpaved roads but couldnt find a single house with light. Since we were wasting time riding down the by-roads Dhanushka suggested we go further up the A5 road and look out for any road side guest houses instead of deviating from the main road.
As we approached Geli-Oya we thought we might not find any places until Gampola. After few kms Dhanushka spotted a sign board which said “Rooms”. When we inquired they told us that it was full and pointed us towards Gampola. We were frustrated and wondered whether we would spend the night on the road.
We had no choice but to pedal further despite the exhaustion. Again we saw similar sign board and we stopped to inquire. As we entered the guest house compound there was a power outage in that area and we were standing in pitch black. We tapped, knocked and screamed but no one was at that guest house. We tried the land phone number but no one answered. The door was unlocked so we knew some was there but wondered why they had kept the gate and door unlocked in a situation like that.
Later we tried the mobile number and a guy answered. He asked us to wait for few minutes and came across the street/ We told him that we were coming from Colombo and planned to go to Nuwareliya. He felt sorry us and gave a room for 1300 rupees, which was reasonable. After having a quick dinner in a restaurant next to the guest house we kept the alarm at 6 am and slept .
Waking up on day 2 was the hardest thing, whole body was aching and we had to pop some pain killers as soon as we woke up. After getting ready we started our day 2 of the adventure. We expected a flat road to start off but from the guest house we had to pedal uphill.
After 1km in we were super hungry and we had nothing but water in the morning. Food in a local restaurant was heavenly and we were ready to face whatever the mountain was going to throw at us on the second day.
After taking the left turn from Gampola, you have to make up your mind to face the one of the steepest and hardest mountain roads in Srilanka. There are few flat and downhill sections to keep you motivated but the uphills will zap all that if you are not positive about what you are about to do.
We are amateur cyclists and the place we come from there are few, rather no hilly areas. Anyone would agree that riding 100km on a flat road is easier that doing a 25km uphill ride.
Golden rules in cycling are:
- Consume enough fluids to keep you hydrated and do it before you feel thirsty. If you wait to get thirsty, you are already too late
- Keep steady and comfortable pace and intake instant energy foods which have readily available sugars, minerals etc. You’ll feel fuzzy and light headed when you run out of glycogen and that is something you don’t want to happen.
During one of out break session strong gust nearly sent Dhanushka’s bicycle off the edge. The fall slightly damaged the rear gears and we had to adjust the jog wheel before pedaling again.
After passing the Ramoba falls we were exicited to see the Ramboda road tunnel. 225m tunnel is the logest road tunnel in Srilanka. We have gone through it numerous times on motorcycle and vehicles but cycling through it was some what special.
Time was around 6pm and after riding for nearly 10 hours uphill even walking became an impossible task.
With poor visibility and rain we decided to call it a day and find a guest house for the night. After passing the 56th mile post we saw a guest house by the road. After negotiating the charged we quickly went to the nearest food joint, had a kottu and got back in the freezing weather.
Next day was the final day in our adventure. We had to ride back to Colombo no matter what. Waking up on the third day was not as bad the second day, we had terrible muscle ach, but since we knew we were about to conquer Nuwareliya we were all hyped up to leave as early as possible.
The gentleman in the guest house offered hot cup of coffee in that cold morning. He was shocked and amused to hear that we rode all the way from Colombo. He bid us goodbye and assured that after we pass the Nuwareliya sign board the mist will clear up.
Nearly after leaving the guest house we reached the Nuwareliya town. The official RDA sign board was few feet from this one so we pedaled another 100 feet before celebrating our victory.
We saw a restaurant opposite the “Nuwareliya sign board” and we could not proceed further without having the breakfast
We were soon greeted by some customers in the restaurant and they all inquired about where we came from and where we were headed. After having a little chat we headed to the Nuwareliya town.
Weather cleared up as we approached the town and we stopped at the Nuwareliya Cargills to buy water bottles, pain killers and cough syrup.
We planned to take A7 towards Colombo via Hatton and Avissawella. Since it was going to be a downhill ride we were expecting a quick descend.
From Nuwareliya, Avissawella was 117km and Colombo was about 55km from there.
Part of the A7 road was still under construction and we had to go through mud and gravel. Since we were descending this was not an issue but we had to apply the brakes through out to keep control. The roads were slippery and taking the hands off the brakes even for a moment will take you downhill so fast that you will go out of control.
On and off we had to go close to the edge of the cliff to let the construction vehicles to pass. Some drivers would wave at us and we would wave back. Some would even slow down to let us creep through small gaps.
Dhanushka’s bicycle dint have mudguards and it was quite fun to ride through mud. We swapped bicycles on and off and both of us were soaked in mud.
After passing Nanuoya we were back on tarmac. There were few inclines and we were enjoying the landscape while freewheeling.
Dhanushka’s bicycle had disc brakes and more effective than my ones. My hands started to ache after pulling the lever hard for few kilometers at a stretch. Swapping bicycles became a routine every 20 minutes. When we got closed to Ginegathena, Dhanushka inspected the brake shoes and much to our surprise they were melted for the excess heat.
With more downhill distance to cover we could not afford to cover the downhill in slow speed. While passing the Ginigathhena town we managed to stop by a hardware shop and get 4 brake shoes for my bicycle. We quickly changed all 4 worn out shoes and back on the road doing an average 20kmph.
By 6.30pm we reached Kitulgala and we pushed on. We kept a target of 10 km before every stop and water break. At times we would cover more than 15km without stopping. After reaching Karawanella junction where A7 road meets the Kegalle road we took a 15 min break.
From Karawanlla to Avissawella, we nearly road nonstop and we stopped at a Pharmacy in Avisawella to reload out pain killer supply.
After Avissawella we were very much exhausted but tried hard to keep the speed above 15kmph. We took more than 5 hours to pedal from Avissawella to Colombo and by 1.30 am we reached Nugegoda.