Allepey to Fort Cochin – Our First Peloton
We shared the ferry to Alleppey (aka Allapuzha – seriously, these place names!) with a French cycle tourist. Jean-Philippe (Jipé) is the first cycle tourist that we’ve met so far in India and we spent a few hours on the boat exchanging stories from the road. Jipé works as a trekking guide in France and likes to travel abroad during the cold months. Whereas we bring our own folding bikes, Jipé has his own way of traveling light: Not bring a bike at all. After flying into Chennai, he looked around the bike shops and purchased a decent road bike. Once he’s done touring, hell sell it on and return to France with just his two bags. Clever.
Since we were all planning to go to Fort Cochin the following day, we agreed to ride together. Dmitry and I have been bike touring for three months now, but this was the first time that we rode with anyone else (if you don’t count the little kids that frequently ride alongside us for a few minutes at a time). We’ve developed our patterns and routines, and were interested to see whether these would be impacted by having a new friend along. Will we go at the same pace? Who’s going to lead? Or, as Dmitry said: “Will he know to stop for coconuts?”
It was an unmitigated success. The coast road to Fort Cochin was probably the best we’ve been on – so little traffic that we were actually able to ride three abreast at times. The quiet road gave us a chance to chat, stops for tea and biscuits were mutually agreed upon, and Jipé amused us with his preposterously loud bike horn (“140dB equivalent sound of a jet engine greater 4 times louder than nearest competitor”). It was also a great chance to have someone take photos of us on our bikes together, and for us to return the favor. Sadly though, there were no coconuts to stop for.
Fort Cochin (or just Cochin, or maybe Kochi) is the most “charming” town we’ve visited thus far. There are lots of lovely restaurants and cafes, a quiet place along the water to have beers, and a Jewish quarter (that does not seem to have any Jews).
Unfortunately, Fort Cochin also has some of the hottest, most unbearably humid weather we have experienced thus far. Two days was all I could take – I needed to head for cooler climes.