Udumalpet to Mettupalayam – In and out of Kerala
We’ve been slowly working our way north, heading for the town of Mettupalayalam – the base station for the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
From Udumalpet, we went west to Palakkad. It wasn’t the most direct route, but we were more excited about riding in Kerala than Tamil Nadu. We were rewarded with a lovely ride to Palakkad – our fastest ever since we started keeping track. 73 km (45 miles) in 3 hours 15 minutes, averaging 19.1 km/hour (including a breakfast stop). This was especially gratifying, after the last few rides (slogs) up to and down from Munnar. On the ride to Udumalpet, I told Dmitry: “I just want to feel like I am not crap at riding bikes.”
Our speed was all the more amazing because I did the the last hour or two with only two gears. My bike started making a funny noise, and we stopped to take a look at the chain. Within 30 seconds (seriously, it was quick), 3 Indian guys had gathered around to also stare at the bike. We are accustomed to crowds (the morning Brompton unfolding show always attracts silent oglers), but as soon as one of them reached his hand into the – moving – chain, we asked them to back off. How is it helpful to put your hand directly into the thing I am trying to observe? Fortunately, the indicator chain just needed to be adjusted and we were able to fix it once we got to the hotel.
From Palakkad, we rode out to the Malampuzha Dam. The area surrounding the Dam has botanical gardens, a “Ropeway” overhead people-mover, and a snake zoo. Most stuff was closed at 9:30 in the morning, and the snake zoo wouldn’t let us park our bikes in their courtyard, so we kept moving along.
Then began our worst ride ever. As soon as we crossed the border from Kerala into Tamil Nadu, our smooth, four-lane, wide-shouldered road dwindled to two-lane, dusty, loud, miserable road with a surface like the moon.We barely squeaked out 12 km/ hour for the 52 km ride. The main redeeming feature of our day? Fast internet once we got to our hotel. On days like these, where we hardly spend any money on food (or anything else), we tend to get a little splurgey on hotels (“splurgey” meaning $25-$30 as opposed to $10).
Despite the terrible road, we were both in great spirits the next day on the way to Mettupalayam, and made the 40 km ride in just over 2 hours. After a quick reconnaissance mission to the train station, we spent the rest of the day cozied up in our hotel with room service and TV.