Saturday, 7 March 2015

4/5 March - Kotagiri to Masinagudi

Rest Day in Kotagiri

Wed 04 March was a rest day, I had been cold for most of the night and in the morning went and asked for the extra blanket that was offered when I arrived. What a difference 2,000 m altitude makes - .....from naked under a fan down on the plain to swaddled in blankets up here. I spent the day fiddling with photos and memory issues as I caught up with blog.......and drank lots of tea.

My personal cook, as I'm the only guest here.

.......and this is cook's daughter. The Tamils appear to be darker skinned than the Keralans.

My hill-top abode. The weather looks great but in the afternoons there are thunderstorms

OK, I just liked the colour, these were drying out the back of the house. 

This was over the door to my room and I just looked up and spotted it before I opened the door. I'm  really a wimp when it comes to big spiders.

Thur 5th March -  Kotagiri to Masinagudi

Day's run: 59 km  
Total: 629 km
Start:  07:30
Saddle Time:   05:53
Total Climb:    1,282 m
Total Descent: 2,343 m
Average: 10.9 kph 

Today was a truly epic day, visually and physically. I was up at dawn and looking for an easy run and early arrival in a place called Masinagudi,  which is a base for big game and tiger spotting and is a dead cert for finding accommodation. I had heard of the 39 hairpin descent from Ooty, so how hard could it be?

I set off in brilliant sunshine, a  perfect 22 deg descending into lush valleys full of bright colour. The road was a bit rough but I was in no hurry. After a couple of hours I realised I was not on the 39 hairpin road but on some very minor back road that visited every village at the bottom of every valley in the area. I'm falling out of love with the Pocket Earth routeing algorithm - I make a mental note to tick the 'avoid hills' box

Perfect weather - and Portugal-looking scenery

The school rush - in a tiny village. Every school kid wheres an ID tag........and can speak English.

Grinding it out in 'granny gear'  up the unexpected climbs. Sadly,  I lose my hat later in the day, left in a tea-shop, and the strong sun burns into my face......damn! It was a leaving present when I retired from the real world nearly 10 years ago and we had been to lots of sunny places together. Double damn!!

I ask for water refill in a village and this lad scampers off to his house and comes back 5 minutes later with my bottle..... of hot water. Hot water is served with meals here. Again, the very severe Victorian pose for photos. When I am out of sight I pop a sterilising tablet in.......yuk! Chlorine!

This is the village mobile  knife-sharpener, with his portable grinding wheel driven by a bicycle wheel. He walked up the steep village street calling out for trade as I ground my way up behind him calling for strength.

I wade (literally) into a tea plantation to parley with the pickers - getting my legs well scratched by the bushes.

They offer me tea, presumably from their tiffin flask, but I reluctantly decline, we've both got work to do.

This girls sister had a bad headache. As I rummaged around in my bar bag they gathered around expectantly..........and were a tad disappointed when I triumphantly produced a paracetamol tablet.

The dirt poor live in these mud huts, but I would still say preferable than living in a fetid city slum. The kids playing in the dirt look at me as if I have just landed from outer space.

I muse about obesity in the UK and how it is linked to poverty, the inability to afford nutritious food. Poppycock! There are no fat poor Indians, only fat rich Indians. I'm not talking about down and outs in the UK but those on benefits. It's far easier to munch junk food in front of the TV than go and peel some carrots sand potatoes. and physical exercise is still free isn't it? There, I've said it........and ready to take the flak.

There was a road here but it has been buried here by mud-slides. Thunderstorms are threatening and I worry about ending up in a quagmire of mud. This is more like being on a mountain-bike ride!

I do get drenched by a heavy downpour on top of a hill, with lightning cracking off all around. The rain is not at all warm at this altitude. I find shelter in a partly built house and change into dry clothing.

Post -deluge I descend, -20% gradient in places and through some hair-raising hairpins, stopping every 500m to let my wheel rims cool off. They are too hot to touch and I'm worried about blowing my tyres out. There is a branch across my road. Yes, the road is closed and they won't let me through. I am NOT going back up that hill!
The woman pleads my case with the foreman and eventually I am waved through. Relief!

Dairy me, this is a rough old bit of road for cycling isn't it? Sure is, but at least I'm still moooving

Now I'm entering the nature reserve with all it's delights. I've had the bad wig comments already (thank you Mr Jordan).

 I stop about 5 km short of Masinagudi when I spot some half-decent accommodation. First job on arrival is get my dhobi done and strung out somewhere to dry. I eat a mediocre supper of dal and chapatis in an empty restaurant. There is no wifi, not even a phone signal here........which does give a certain sense of freedom.

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