What the Hill!

It was decided at 8PM the previous night to do a ride the next day. The route chosen was on my mind for a long time. Ilaveezhapoonjira. The one place in Kerala that gets maximum lightning strikes per sq km. Totally hills.

George was all set for the ride and the 160km target ride excited Sudeep to join up as well. Well, George had to come, because between the three of us, we had a single pair of headlights. My history of loosing stuff that SHOULD not be lost under any circumstance continued with me loosing the bike headlight.

The ride started at 445 AM as usual my legs were fresh was was churning out mile after mile and we met up Scudmaster at Irumpanam Junction. The uneventful ride continued towards Muvattupuzha until a wrong read off the map made us take a right instead of a left and after 25 kilometers of starting the ride; we ended up at a map that said 13 kilometers to Cochin. After gorging down tea and some snacks from a shop there and totally missing Samor and Louis who passed us, waved at us, honked and blinked their lights we started back. We were that hungry.

Then we started towards Muvattupuzha. Again.

Picking up speeds and leading the pack had become a habit for me and I was always concentrating on improving my average speed. This gave me a lot more resting time as well.

The climate was am-az-ing.  It was getting heated up as the day progressed, but getting out of the city had its natural and super pleasant impact. The heat was not unbearable like in the city.

We had tree cover on the sides. Reaching Muvattupuzha and a well deserved breakfast of Idli and Chik Pea was refreshing and as usual the shop next door had the National Drink of Bikers :  Lime Soda with Salt and  Sugar.

The road lead on toward Thodupuzha and it was brilliant. Straight rolling hills, pleasant weather and hitting consistently awesome speeds made the journey fast and easy. We hit another bloody awesome shop which gave us some bloody brilliant Apple Juice and equally good NBD (National Bikers Drink ). There was a bit of confusing turns to get to Ilaveezhappoonjira but rather than depending on tech we decided to ask people and they were super helpful. We followed a river up and to our increasing confusion each slope up followed with a slope down. We were not hitting the dead upward slopes we were dreading. It was surprising.

Then we found a lake on the side of the road. It was HUGE. We decided to offroad out into a bit of forest-like area between the road and the lake. We had to scare of a few cows to get there, but the view was magnificent.

We started again and that particular road was special, we could see atleast one house of a doctor every 200 meters. I think that would be the most Doctor-Dense area in Kerala if we taken them per sq km.

Another couple of dozen kilometers in, after water refill and another round of NBD, we arrived.

The mother of all hills. Look up at it and be intimidated.  For a rider with just about 5 months of experience it was hell on earth. But as usual I decided to try it first. The first stop was just about 500 meters up. Exhausted, drained and totally fucked up. I had stopped in front of the gates of a house. I did not even realize that until the dog inside started barking.

The bike was on 1×1 and I was sure I would not be able to make up to the next “flat” on 1×1 from that point. Put the bike on the stand, turned the gear to 2×3 stood up on the pedal and raced up. I ‘think’ I heard some cheering from inside the house when I went up. I was actually screaming out loud. Then I made about one km up with that adrenaline. And I realized the high altitude is actually getting me hyper ventilated, breath became like a high-pressure piston action, tears started out. Stopped on the next flat and laid down on the ground, then I see Scudmaster and George riding up, equally exhausted. Thoughts about returning from that point came in our heads, but decided we are not stopping till we reach the top. Bloody Hell, I started again.  I can’t recollect whether I started biking or pushing, it can be either.

After sometime I decided to pedal again and did about another 1.5km of the hill. Totally drained up and all done. Then we run into Francis who rides with CBC and lives there in those hills and tells us that he has made this ride like a hundred times! We were intimidated and a little bit afraid. We stopped up a bit more up the hill and decided that we will either go up in some motorized vehicle or start heading back. We waited for an auto and that is when he came by. A rick driver who had already seen us flashing by in Thodupuzha. He stopped he wanted to help us get to the top. But he said auto wont make it with all the bikes. He called up 4 Jeep drivers before he got one guy to come up and pick us up! The driver came up and helped us get our bikes in his Commander Jeep. Two in the back and one in the middle.

 

Surprise! It was this person’s house I had stopped infront of, had the dog bark at me and had his kids cheer when I pedaled up. He had also seen us. Then the journey up began. It was like a ride up a landslide!  Literally it was jumping between stones to stones. It was surprising to see people live up there. But gods forbid, some angels do live up there. We went till th point the jeep would climb, it was another 2.5 kilometers of trek to reach the “actual” Ilaveezhapoonjira and the bikes wont be getting anywhere there. Then we got the warning from the Jeep driver, this is the area in Kerala which has the maximum lightning strikes per any given area. If there is any sign of rain, scoot!

It was already starting to rain, the clouds were rushing in, we decided it is time we head back. We pushed the bikes a  bit down and got on. I was the most concerned person because I had totally slick tyres. There was nothing that would stand in the way of a puncture! But then there was an MTB with us and like all MTBasterds it was home for him.

 

 

I am in Heaven. I am an MTBasterd!

Fucking perfect home! Scudmaster was doing circles around us. He would even go ahead and bike back to the two Cross bike riders.  I was the last one climbing down, drawing lines and safely getting my bike down without much stone strikes etc. I see George standing on the road. I was like shit! Puncture. Then he tells me he did a spidey. The extreme downhill angle made his bike tip over. He had to jump over the handles and roll away.

I was a bit used to this scenario, when I tried getting the Bergamont off some super steep slopes, I automatically stood up and put my weight BEHIND the seats, keeping my center of mass behind the middle of the bike, keeping the backside from lifting up.  Then we rode down again and got to a restaurant where we decided to lunch up. Even though there was no road, there were some super Jackie Chan fans up there.  The TV was showing Drunken Master. Then the comparatively “roadful” road started we could pull in speeds. Even then Scudmaster had the best time of his life, his MTB was made for this. Flying down hill! I heard a scream from behind “Dude, get out of the way! I got no brakes” and ScudMaster flashed by. And I was looking for tyre marks all the way down, even asked a couple of people if they saw one biker up ahead. They had.

Then the “landslide road” was done. I was hitting full brakes and going at super speeds. I see Scudmaster waiting for us. I was ecstatic! Screaming. Then we waited for George. He came down Iced.  Then we started on the good road downhills, it was one of the best and sharpest downhills ever!

I stopped in between an awesome downhill to get down at the Jeep Drivers house and say thanks. Then got on the bike, and over took George. I could see his hands on the rod. White. Gripping the brakes like his life depended on it. Funny thing is it did. I was  holding my front brakes all the way and adjusting the speed solely with  pressure on and off the back brake. Even on full front brakes I was going down at an average speed of about 26kmph. It was scary, exciting and awesome! Finally the climb was done. Reached the main road and boy was it a down hill. Then the normal ride started but we were so pumped that the speeds were consistent, rest stops were non existent and we reach Thodupuzha in no time.

Then we went to have the best Mango Shake I had had in a long time. Two of them.  We rode to Muvattupuzha and the climate was  super pleasant with a light cooling drizzle.

Then we had some drama.  I forgot at some point that after a rest stop, Scudmaster was ahead of me. I made a short stop to relieve my bladders  and I did not see either of them, I waited. George apparently had seen me peeing and went ahead. I did not. So I kept on waiting  randomly. Only to find the blinking red light of Georghe’s Fuji at Puthenkurish. They were waiting for me. Then the ride was in full darkness. I had no headlights and the road up was messy, super uphills. But I made it, ahead and was looking down on the road with starlight. (there was no moon ). Came down to Carnival near Infopark. Met with Preethi and Anisha. And there concluded a super magnificent ride.

And oh yeah, the rest of the 2 kilometers to my house, we did in full rain J A fitting end I must say.  Boo Yeah.