Author Topic: CYCLING SIGHTS  (Read 4006 times)


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« on: December 15, 2014, 10:01:39 AM »

We are a Kiwi couple, Rhys and Dink, aged 56 and 63. Keen cyclists but have never done long distances before let alone in tropical heat. This trip could be a very bad idea, however last year we took our bikes to Rio and Buenos Aires for two weeks and had such a great trip we decided to try a bit more distance this time. We are both riding full suspension cross country bikes, so hoping to get off the beaten track as much as possible. We have done a small amount of training but nothing extreme... 27km max. Anyway here we go with fingers crossed!!!

As usual, departures with us always seem pretty frantic. Very hard to keep a bike under 20kg. Off to Bangkok and then two nights and 4.30 am start to catch flight to Colombo. Except Rhys stuffed up and set the alarm for 3.30 am.

From Colombo Airport to Giriulla Long day. Average speed 13.1 kph

After an early start in Bangkok, uneventful flight to Colombo on Air Asia.... we paid for everything. Once landed and about to disembark we saw our bike bags being thrown from a few metres away onto to airport luggage trolley....slight consternation as to how our bikes will look out of their bags. We had decided on the plane to start cycling from the airport. Managed to store our bike bags at the airport. Reassembling the bikes was a bit of a mission as the derailleurs and chain had got quite twisted....managed to do this in the departures custom area...outside I imagined a huge crowd. Headed off in the noon day heat. Easy biking... narrow roads… but everyone toots to warn that they are approaching.

Dink rides first to set the pace and also she gets to live if I get taken out! Bit scary with the occasional on coming bus doing a triple overtake and heading towards you at great speed. Riding through very tropical lands, coconuts palms, beautiful open areas of rice paddies interspersed with swathes of tropical bush. Everyone waves and toots from the passing vehicles....

It is common to see bodyless arms moving frantically from tuk-tuks as they pass by... Today a tuk-tuk slowed down enough to pass over some weird fruit I hadn't seen before. Many houses and pedestrians everywhere. Some wave and those that don't look kind of bewildered.

From Girigulla to Dambulla Great day. An incredible 92.65 km

Up early. 6.30! No easy task for me as many would know. Checked out with the manager. He seemed to worry about every little thing. On the road at 7 am. Cool and a slight breeze. We didn't t intend to come so far, but Dink was keen so pushed on all the way to Dambulla. Dambulla is famous among both Buddhist and Hindu communities... Even the Fijian Indians at Patea Area School were excitingly asking dink if she was going to the Caves at Dambulla. Many would recognise them from the famous photos taken of many golden reclining Buddhas. There are five caves. Surprisingly not very tired after such a distance… Mozzies out in force...I got bitten a few times....Dink made me read the chapter on Malaria, dengue fever etc. I will be more vigilant from now on I think!!!!

From Dambulla to Sigiriya Easy day after yesterday

Leisurely start to the day. Firstly to the Golden Temple through the insane morning. traffic. Caves atop huge rocky outcrop... many steps to enlightenment! Rhys dropped his camera, panicked, but found and returned. Major crisis avoided.

On the road again after 2ks Juicez sign dropped in for amazing juice and buffalo curd now the next best thing to mangoes... Short leafy ride to Sigiriya a small village once the seat of mighty empire. It is a full moon poya day. We wondered why everybody was offering us orange drinks along the way. Even more waves today... Sigiriya is famous for a very tall rock that comes out of nowhere and a king took refuge there. I climbed to the top...Dink wandered around the base.

From Sigiriya to Kandy Unexpected long day

Dink in control. Got me out of bed at 6 am. On the road by 6.30. Good time to start as it was very cool. We had to backtrack to Dambulla, then all uphill but gradually for next 50km... oh and there was a slight headwind! Many breaks along the way.

We were heading to Matale which turned out to be the foulest town. Sri Lankan towns are often softened by wonderful big trees. Matale had none. I let Dink set the pace and make the calls whether to carry on or not. So it was on to Kandy... the owner at our last lodge in Sigiriya had recommended a route to Kandy and it was great.... no traffic, slight uphill... I had expected the last bit to be quite hilly, we were getting real tired, so we're ecstatic when it was all flat for the last 15km. Arrived at 5pm. 95.77km, average a slow11.8kph, and 831.5 calories used! My computer somehow works that out. Checked into the Queens Hotel, the big old British hotel in the centre of Kandy. Fell into the pool and some beverages fell into us.

Kandy: Rest day

Bikes said they had had enough and happy to be chained to a downpipe in the hotel car park. This morning we did a few touristy things. Visited the Temple of the Relic Tooth. Crowds of Buddhists arrive with all sorts of offerings for the tooth. All a little bit strange for us heathens to take it. Quick trip to the British Cemetery. I love visiting cemeteries in these places.

Kandy to Haputale: Day of cheating and heroic acts.

Today we took the train. Because of our short stay in Sri Lanka we are missing out the serious hill climbing. As we were pulling out of the new station, what did I see was that our bikes were still on the platform. So stupidly (maybe) I jumped off the train as it was picking up speed. I hit the pavement and got a bit grazed but nothing too serious. The stationmaster managed to get Dink off the train at the next station. We travelled through beautiful tea plantations

Around Haputale Cycling through the beautiful tea plantations

On the way down we had a tour of one of Sir Thomas Lipton’s tea factories built in 1890. The processing of tea hasn't changed really in over 100 years, so the factories are like working museums. In the afternoon we biked out to Addisham, a tea planter’s huge Arts and Craft house.

From Haputale to Embilipitya Long hot day with a bit of cheating!

Wonderful downhill for 41km. Legs got tired of being in the same position, oh dear. At Wellawaya we were on the hot, flat southern plains. Reasonable progress until we had to turn off after 35 km and head east. Hotter and a headwind, very slow going.

I knew we would still be on the road at nightfall. Some Sri Lankans had stopped at a small fruit stall. I asked them if they could take us next 30km. It was great cheating. We passed about 12 elephants on the road side. Our new friends had bought lots food for the elephants. Fascinating. We got dropped off at the turnoff and it was a 12km ride further on to our hotel where we fell into the pool.

Embilipitiya to Tangalle Elephant Safari and orphanage visit

We managed to spot two herds of elephants in family groups. No males at this time of year apparently. Mothers and babies.

On the way back we visited an elephant orphanage. Quick swim and on the bikes again.... But great surprise the going was very easy with good shoulders.... newly tarmaced roads in SL seem to have wonderful shoulders for all the cows, water buffalo, people and bikes that wander along them all day. Also the roads had big trees at the side so a bit of shade.

From Tangalle to Unawatuna Very hot and slow and sore backsides

We both imagined we were being eaten alive by Mozzies despite being under a mozzie net. It was true, I woke with a very fat eye. Ride today was quite slow and difficult but beautiful riding beside the beaches. Very sore backsides today for whatever reason... Dink says no, however I think maybe our bike shorts need a clean!

From Unawatuna to Galle Rest day and catch up with friends

There was an enormous storm last night, crashing of corrugated iron, loud bangs.

In the morning I expected to see total demolition, however there only seemed to be a coconut tree down in the bay, but several locals did tell us that their gardens had been wrecked. Leisurely breakfast before the long long day of 8km to Galle. Managed to fit in a quick walk around old Galle...

From Galle to Colombo airport No heroic acts needed

Up early to catch the train out of Galle to Colombo. Bikes went on okay this time. Two and a half hour train journey to Colombo was great as we followed the coast all the way. Entertainment was provided on the train by an assortment of drum players, food sellers etc. From Colombo Fort Station, we pedalled towards the airport.

We are already talking of our next biking trip!


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Best Regards
M.  S.