Sri Lanka 2019 – Day 1

This morning, in the face of some adverse weather (otherwise known as Storm Ciara), it gave us a rare moment of downtime and made us reflect on “what were we doing this time last year?” only then realising, a whole year had passed since our amazing cycle trip around Sri Lanka.

It was a trip that would take us three weeks and give us a memory bank of life long experiences….this is the journey.

3rd February 2019 – Day1

Colombo to Bopath Ella: 53miles

Elephant count 0

We treated ourselves to a relaxed start to the day with breakfast fit for Kings.  Bikes packed, we soon find ourselves daring to enter the chaos and noise of Colombo City Centre, weaving our way through the Independence Day Military parades, our three-week tour begins.

Not even a mile into our 53mile, 30°c, sweat fest, we encounter our first ‘self-inflicted’ mechanical.  An hour (or so) later, with the help of a couple of You-Tube tutorials, we’re back on the deafening roads of the city, packed full of one-way systems, that our maps fail to highlight.

Two hours later, after being put straight by a friendly store owner, (warning we’d get arrested for cycling the wrong way, down yet another one-way highway), we make it out of the city…. the chaos and noise yet to end.

The city morphs into towns, the kids stare, the adults’ wave and cheer, the auto-rickshaw drivers beep their horns and then beep some more.

Tomorrow (4th Feb) is Independence Day, Sri Lanka are a proud nation and we buy some Sri Lankan Flags and tie them to our bikes.
This presents itself with even more cheers and even more beeping of horns.

We’re making progress, treat ourselves to a couple of stops tasting the delights of the Sri Lankan Coffee, but only have a couple of hours of daylight, so move on.

As we commence the relentless climb into the hills, the distant roar of thunder is a reminder of the weather forecast for the week.  Within minutes the noise of traffic is quickly replaced by the pounding of rain on tin roofs, the roaring thunder and occasional flash of lightening, the roads quickly become rivers, the wind howls and we decide to battle through.
The rain is monsoon like, the dirt, salty sweat and sun screen stings our eyes, the healing scabs from an old injury, literally dissolve and we are soaked.

The rains last nearly an hour and stops as quickly as it started, we soon dry.

As expected we lose daylight and find ourselves riding the dark mountain roads (with no less traffic).
Our hotel is along a narrow road with a relatively steep climb, there are buses approaching in the opposite direction… the road is good for motorcycles, auto-rickshaws and bikes… it’s not good for buses….and its dark…. very dark.
Arriving at our hotel in Bopath Ella, we can’t see the views, but I imagine when the sun rises, it’s going to be spectacular!

A quick kit check before dinner, highlights the monsoon rains were a good test….the Ortlieb waterproof panniers failed (well one set anyway), thankfully our Wild Highlands dry bags worked a treat, salvaging all the clothes in the now non-waterproof panniers, even the sleeping bag (bagged in a Wild Highlands Dry Bag) survived the rains, tied to the outside of the bike…. Happy Days!

Its late, looks like we’re the only guests at the hotel and dinner is pretty much whatever the person cooking, chooses to make, we’re super hungry and they have beer, couldn’t ask for anything more.

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