Monday, September 14, 2015

Nalanda - 14.9.15

Day 8 cycling: POLONNARUWA to NALANDA:

Ride details (from Garmin):
Distance: 81.25km; ODOMETER: 446km; Moving Time: 6:13; Elapsed Time: 8:18; Avg Speed: 9.8km/hr; Avg Moving Speed: 13.1km/hr; Max Speed:; Total Ascent: 618m; Total Descent: 381m; Max Elevation: 293m; Calories: 2,534 C; Avg Temperature: 32.7 °C; Max Temperature:  38.0 °C

I'm currently lying on my bed in Room 105 at the Hotel Country Side in Nalanda,  somewhere along the A9 between Naula and Kandy, awaiting my pre-ordered evening meal at 7pm. I was fortunate to find this place - well strictly,  it found me when a chap in a restaurant waylaid me and offered a room. I'd nearly given up hope of finding anything. .. He wanted 6000Rs but agreed to 3300Rs including tax; the whole place looks fairly flash, and this room's not bad (although the massive lizard that just ran up the wall scared the daylights out of me. I hope it keeps to itself).
I arrived at Naula having cycled south for some while  and then west for hours and hours - over 8 gruelling hours - from Polonnaruwa. I decided,  against the advice of the guest house owner, to cycle a little off the beaten track. From the Leesha Tourist Home I headed south on the Kalahagala Road beside a big lake (Parakrama Samudra) and then cut though the southern end of the Angammedilla National Park before heading west on some obscure roads to the B112 or Elahera Road and then on to Naula on the A9, north of Kandy.

Surprisingly, given I've got the Garmin 800,  access to Google maps and an actual paper map of Sri Lanka, I became lost! (the trouble started when the Garmin told me I needed to make a U-turn, which made no sense to me at all). I eventually got back on track by asking for directions. It was a very challenging ride today,  and the challenging factors were: strong winds; highly variable road surfaces, including gravel, badly degraded bitumen, uncycleable (?) rocky sections, and sections of road being readied for resurfacing; some steep gradients (up to 10% in places) & the heat. I guess the other factor was me... I felt I ran out of gas at the 55km mark & I wasn't sure I could go much further (but somehow managed another 26km).

There were some positive aspects to today - riding along obscure roads can be fun, and the scenery was pleasant along the way (much of it was alongside the lake, and also followed a river or rivers). Contrary to my usual practice,  I took a lunch stop at a small husband-and-wife-run place about 25km before Naula. He cooked up a very tasty fried rice and she made a thirst-quenching cup of tea.

The ride to Kandy tomorrow appears to be about 50km.

 rough section of road near Angammedilla National Park

Lunch stop

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