Thursday, September 17, 2015

Nuwara Eliya - 17.9.15

Day 10 cycling: KANDY to NUWARA ELIYA

Ride details (from Garmin):
Distance: 76.58km; ODOMETER: 570km; Moving Time: 7:23; Elapsed Time: 9:30; Avg Speed: 8.1km/hr; Avg Moving Speed: 10.4km/hr; Max Speed:; Total Ascent: 1,797m; Total Descent: 438m; Max Elevation: 2,009m; Calories: 3,700 C; Avg Temperature: 20.3 °C; Max Temperature:  29.0 °C

Today was one hell of a ride but I made it to Nuwara Eliya - the "highest town in Sri Lanka" - at an altitude of 1889m, similar in height to Falls Creek and Mt Hotham;  a climb of nearly 1400m from Kandy. I decided to leave Kandy after 2 nights; I'd figured on 3 nights there but the weather was a deciding factor. There were thunderstorms yesterday,  on the 16th, and more predicted for tomorrow but today's forecast suggested 'showers' so leaving today seemed smart.

The Freedom Lodge where I stayed in Kandy was OK, and the communal meals were a good opportunity to chat to other travellers. I visited the Tooth Temple, the Alut Maligawa, Sri Dalada Museum, the Audience Hall, and the World Buddhism Museum. Afterwards I had a very pleasant snack at the Olde Empire Cafe and then returned to my accommodation
as the heavy rain precluded doing much else. 

It was difficult to know which way to head as there were at least 4 options - in the end I decided to just take the A5 highway all the way, in the absence of any relevant information. My reasoning was that if I got stuck on the way, there'd likely be some  accommodation; the road was likely to be in fairly good condition; there'd probably be a good shoulder to ride on; and there'd be more likelihood of finding shelter from the rain.

It was raining reasonably heavily just before I left, but it didn't resume for quite some time. The traffic out of Kandy was atrocious - stopping and starting - and the first 8km took me about 40mins. It was fairly flat for the first 20km, until Gampola when it began to rise up, and it was around 5 to 6%, with the occasional 8 or 9%, for most of the way. 

It rained quite heavily a number of times and while usually I could find some form of shelter when needed e.g under shop awnings, bus shelters, etc., I had to use my umbrella a couple of times when I couldn't find any.

Despite being drenched with a combination of mist, rain and sweat, and feeling at times that I could go no further,  it was a pretty good ride. Fantastic scenery, numerous waterfalls, tea plantations and reservoirs, and Ramboda Falls was impressive. I also cycled through Ramboda Tunnel, which was a bit scary given the unpredictability of other drivers at times. I also encountered 2 German cyclists heading downhill and we stopped and compared notes, as cyclists do.
As I ascended higher, truck drivers and others began to honk their horns and give a 'thumbs up', which was cheering. Many of them I'm sure thought I was nuts. Many magnificent gumtrees dotted the countryside, and there are many to be seen around Nuwara Eliya as well. I reckon Australia and Sri Lanka could do a deal - a monkey-koala exchange;  both I'm sure would thrive in their new environments andenrichen both.

I finally arrived here sometime around 5pm. I hadn't booked any accommodation and the first 3 places I tried had no vacancies (or was it perhaps my soggy presentation, with bicycle and panniers,  also soggy). I eventually got a room next door to one of the places recommended in the guidebook - Park View Inn - for 3000Rp. It's not great and has a slightly damp, musty smell about it, and there's no way any of my clothing will dry here. No meals or anything available such as a snack or drink. So I headed in to town for an evening meal at one of the placesk recommended in the guidebook - the De Silva Food Centre. Not much chop I'm afraid.
Time to rest.

the lake at Kandy

on the way to Nuwara Eliya

beginning to wonder if this cycling is such a good idea...

Welcome to Nuwara Eliya

Profile of ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya


Anonymous said...

HI David
Sounds like you are having a real adventure.

Accreditation finished yesterday and the organisation received a glowing report from the surveyors. Felt on a bit of a high late yesterday. Seems we are not so bad after all in comparison with most places.

Jan, Tom's EA, also finished yesterday so there was a nice afternoon tea for her after the surveyors left.

Take care. Watch that crazy traffic!
Louise B

david w said...

I get more worried cycling in parts of Melbourne than I do here. So far, no accidents or even near-misses (well maybe one: a bloke on the side of the road swinging a large pipe around nearly sideswiped me..)

007bike said...

Hi David,
Sounds like you are having lots of adventures and tough rides. Good work soldiering on in the rain. The scenery looks great in some of those photos! :)
Stay safe

david w said...

thanks Sophie, it's certainly been tough at times and I've pined at times for just a road bike and no luggage. I hope to update the entire blog at some point with more photos and graphs of the various elevations encountered. cheers, David