cycling in nilgiris

Discovering Kerala on Two Wheels by Preeti Tak

Our friend from Jaipur, Preeti Tak, writes about her experience of a short tour in the Western Ghats of Kerala. And she shares some fantabulous photos from her ride. Check it out and plan your next ride to Kerala!

More than a year into riding and you get to know your inclinations. Be it fitness, racing, endurance, brevets or climbs. The latter has been my calling. The first year of being a Covid Era rider, was all about speed and miles, but once I started enjoying the hill segments of my city Jaipur, it has been a constant love for the views and serenity that comes with it.

I did a 6-day tour of Kerala with a Hyderabad based touring group. The tour had 15 riders riding through 500 km and 6000 metres of elevation gain.

Look Waterfall!

For the love and convenience of riding my own bike, I carried my cycle by Indigo Airlines which charges Rs. 1200/- for the handling if it is in the limit of baggage allowance. (Read: Transporting Your Bicycle in India by Flight)

Landing at the Coimbatore airport, the group of 15 riders including 2 females reached Udmalaipet, Tamil Nadu in a 2-hour bus journey. Which was the starting point of the tour. In the evening bikes were assembled and we did a test ride of 30 km to a nearby dam.

The Two Ladies of the Group!

The Ride

Day 1 of the tour had us heading to the beautiful spice hill station, Munnar. The route was around 80 km long starting from the Annamalai forest reserve in Tamil Nadu to the Chinnar forest reserve of Kerala and up to 55 km of climbing to the Munnar top. The beauty of Munnar is mesmerizing, which is an understatement!

Riding along the rainforests, watching the magnificent butterflies fluttering all over, listening to the music of gurgling waterfalls. All of it combined makes for an experience I will cherish forever.

Hairpins Land!

I was caught in a heavy downpour at just the beginning of the descent and had my team worried. Once I assured them that I was experienced with rain rides in the hills, only then they relaxed. I did enjoy my speedy descent on the way to my hotel.

Day 2 of the ride had us taking it light. Thinking it was a recovery between two long climbing rides. The route planners had other ideas. It was a day of extremes with vertical dropping descents and short steep climbs of 12% gradient.

It was all about pedalling in the lowest gears and keeping the mind off the climbs by controlling your breathing pattern. Staying occupied with the surrounding views and not looking too far ahead into the climb, helped me complete the ride.

With paths like that!

The 3rd day of the ride was a 100 km climb and rolling hills from Rajakkad to Thekkady of Idukki district of Kerala. Which is also famous for the Periyar National Park. With these climbs come beautiful views. Enjoyed the views of Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu and Kerala border from the top at Chathurangapara. The place also has windmills because of the strong winds there.

We had a rest day after that. The 4th riding day we rode across from Thekkady to the Vagamon Hill station with the beautiful green views of tea and coffee plantations.

Mararikulam Beach

The 5th day we had a challenging roll down of 17 km on a bad potholed, gravel scattered road. Riding at a controlled speed with a few stops intermittently, to relieve the extreme pressure on the palms does help. Back to the flats and city roads had us all speeding for the finale of the tour with touchdown at the Mararikulam Beach.

I have been to Kerala few times before, but I can say for sure, that on these humble two wheels, I fell in love with it like never before.

Wow Factor!
Preeti enjoyed clicking pictures as much as she enjoyed pedalling her bike…
Stop to enjoy the view. Also notice the gear ratios being employed on the bikes!
A considerable amount of climbing to be done!

Text: Preeti Tak
Photos: Preeti Tak & Pavan Kumar Reddy

Also read, these travel tales of West Coast Fiesta by Chidambram and Cycling in The Nilgiris

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