Day 2 Thattekkad to Munnar 63km (with a 1500m climb)

Well done to everyone it was a gruelling day. I hope you all enjoyed the shower.

This  morning began with a 6am breakfast, and we were away by 6.45 to avoid the heat of the day, although it already felt like 30 degrees and the humidity was high so even breathing made you sweat. We were a pungent soggy group by the end of the ride.

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This was our toughest day of the challenge and when Colin, our tour leader, showed us the elevation profile of what looked like a 45 degree 63k long slope I don’t think anyone was looking forward to it. As we gathered to start there was a frantic filling of water bottles, application of suncream, and much nervous giggling before a series of unusual warm up stretches were led by Ashley Brown and Mitch Hunt.

Colin said helpfully ‘keep it slow and steady, if you can’t talk just drop a gear’. He obviously has a lot more gears on his bike than me as I wasn’t chatting, and I had run out of gears on the first hill.

The ride is punctuated by single words of warning to each other, pothole, car, motorbike, truck, goat, cow, dog, the odd groan and plenty of curses. This is a strange new language that we all seem communicate in happily.

Everyone we pass smiles, waves and says "Hi", the kids hold out their hands to high five, the women wear beautiful colourful saris and the men look cool in dhotis. The children are all adorable and so excited to see us, we were a highlight for many as they waved from their school buses. We are made to feel very welcome.

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Our route is exotic we see spices, banana trees, papaya, peppers, turmeric, and much more. There are lots of elegant dragonflies and butterflies, strange bird calls, scary giant spiders and millipedes as big as pencils.

The main roads are chaotic, huge lorries cars, motorbikes tuk-tuks etc head towards each other at high speed, horns blaring, overtaking our group and anything else in the way. This is a 'game of chicken' and one will suddenly brake and give way. Keeping your nerve on the road on a flimsy bike takes guts.

We are still getting used to our bikes and Shelley Hurrell was one rider to avoid as she practiced drinking from her water bottle and riding at the same time, wobbling from side to side she tried to take out anyone close by. Guy Bolam and Mike Gregoriou were more confident in their bike skills and both discovered that cycling through big puddles isn’t fun when there is a hidden pothole over 2 feet deep.

The reality hits when we begin the big climb. The burning thighs and lungs, aching shoulders, and plenty of chafing were what we all feared. Dave Ridley was felled like a giant tree with cramp. Everyone sweated, and it was difficult to drink enough to replenish was what draining out of our pores. The hills were relentless and kept on going up and up and up.

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The sun is fierce and sun cream is vital. Cliff Gray reapplied his special 'hypo allergenic sun cream with mother of pearl extract' at  lunchtime and needed some help with his back,

Our final slog to the top was finally over and everyone was relieved to get off their saddles and rest. It was an amazing day in conditions that we cannot train for at home so everyone was pushed to their limit. You should all feel proud of what you achieved.

 

Sue Colson

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