Please read day 1 report here.
I was in Neverland… land of dreams! I was cycling through terrain that looked like Machu Pichu. Just then the alarm rang. 5 am. Duh.. all that was a dream? Time to wake up!
Quickly, Yoann, Sharath and I got ready and were raring to go! Day 2 of CAM rides have always been fun for me. 6.15 am, said the clock. We walked to the parking lot and picked our cycles… though getting them out took quite a bit of time.
We quickly had a cup of tea, had a look at the map for the day and off we went. Cycling! All of us. More thana 35 riders!!!
Kalpetta (0 Km) -> Vythiri (12 Km) -> Chundale (19Km) -> Meppadi (30 Km) -> Soojipaara (45Km)
It was a peaceful misty morning that made our ride a pleasant one. I rode with Vishy, Sathish, Yoann and a few others.
I even took a few single handed snaps without stopping… like the ones below. Not a good idea with a heavy DSLR in one hand and the handlebar in other. This was one of those rides when I took quite a few snaps. Also, I now am more comfortable carrying a heavy DSLR with me on a ride. I just sling it on my shoulders. But I think a compact camera will help more to get those simple shots. The DSLR can help when the route is really scenic.
Most of us rode fast and reached the breakfast point at Vythiri pretty quickly. IVC for breakfast and then tea. We were now ready to tackle the rest of the day.
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The next point was Chundale and we had to lookout for a church where we had to turn right. It was mostly uphill and it made a good warm up ride. Upto Chundale, the ride was usual stuff on a road with quite a lot of traffic.All that changed after I crossed Chundale. Lovely teascapes, rolling mountains, trees all around and complimented well by the early morning breeze! Riding was so much fun here!
All along we had people staring at us as if we had landed from Mars. The fascination for a multi-geared cycle is still very much there in many parts of the country. More so with kids, but with elderly folk too. Adding to it was my jazzy white jersy and a skin tight ‘chaddi’.
By the time we reached Meppadi, we were pretty thirsty and a lime soda helped us a bit. My Malayalam proved to be helpful here as I was among the very few of us 35 riders who could speak a bit of it. The energy drink that Harsha handed out to me (is that called oris?) was pretty good too.
Downhill and uphill. Again. And again. And fresh air. Silence except for the calls of birds. Red whiskered bulbuls and common mynas thronged the place. The sun seemed to have a fight with the trees and their shadows to show its head. We had a ball of a time riding there!
I stopped at a few places to click a few snaps, but they were not to my liking as it was well past 10 and the sun was a bit harsh. I told myself to return on another day pretty early in the morning and get a few good clicks. Or maybe get those GND and CNP filters soon.
As I rode along the tea estates, I realized how much these tea estates have changed the landscape. I am not a fan of tea-scapes, no matter how beautiful they are. Having grown up in Ooty, I have actual developed a distaste for tea estates. Too much of anything is bad. It certainly applies to these tea estates that cover every inch of land. Some of them really look good for the camera like the one on the right here, but am not sure how good they are for the environment.
That discussion is OT (out of topic) anyways!
We reached Soochipara after a steep downhill descent and a sudden abrupt ascent towards the left. Many of the riders missed this, just went ahead fast and had to ride all the way back.. uphill… cursing their luck!
The last 2 Km’s of Soochipara were tough. Uphill. Steep. Very steep!
But I did it. Without getting off the saddle! I just kept telling myself to not even think of dismounting. The last 200 metres were very steep.. I went onto grannies 1×1. Finally, when I reached the top, I was relieved! Sathish, Vishwas and a few others had already reached there.
Sathish and I went to the water fall. The hike was long. 2 Km I would guess. But not as tough as Meenmutty.
Once there, we couldn’t resist the water and jumped in right away. Those 45 minutes beneath the falling water was heavenly pleasure. Place was limited if you wanted to be right beneath the falling water, but then since we had gone early, Sathish and I were able to spend quite a bit of time there. Just lying there. Getting the body massaged for free! Like I already said, little pleasures of life like these are unmatched!!!
One sore point there was…. the toilet! Though the Kerala tourism dept charged 20 bucks for adults and 25 for the camera, they had failed to even build a basic toilet. A tarpaulin sheet wrapped across 4 posts made a makeshift toilet. Common for all. And it had holes in it. The door was made of another sheet that had more holes on it. Not a good thing to discover once you are inside there. Especially when you could hear few girls trying to figure out where the sole toilet in the freaking whole place was…. eeeks!! I just discovered what a bad idea it was to have not gone through some sort of singing class during my childhood days!! Thought of taking a picture of the place.. but quickly decided against it as I would have easily qualified for a Freudian psychotic disease had I done it.
I am sure that many of the riders cursed their excessive butter milk / lime soda drinking binge when they discovered the toilet. I only hope the tourism dept takes care of it… soon.
By 2.30, we left Soochipara and started for Sulthan Bathery. Lunch was arranged at Kalpaka hotel. I had 3 parottas and dal fry. Then, we resumed our journey back to Bangalore.There was so much of traffic on the way back that I thought we would be stuck there forever. But somehow things improved and we scurried home. But before we did that, we managed to spot an old friend of ours. Elephas Maximus!
We didn’t stop for dinner. By around 11.00 we were in Hockey stadium again. I quickly assembled my bike, bid good bye to riders and rode back home.
I was tired, but not down. 2 days very well spent. Thank you Harsha, Vikrant, Anees, Manohar, Mohan and other volunteers!
And thank you Yoann, Saurabh, Sharath, Vishy, Sathish, Arijit and others for riding with me and being excellent companions!
Its going to be a long time (3 months) before I ride my bicycle again and I will surely miss it. I am traveling to US on work. Maybe, I will rent out a cycle there and ride there! Praying!
PS: More pictures from the ride here.
Read Anand’s version of the trip here.