Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sri Lanka Pilgrimage with Baba Velo - Day 2

The morning dawned way too quickly for my liking.    Being used to waking up at 9:30 or so, three consecutive days of early morning rising were beginning to weigh on me.   Mohan, as usual, was up and ready with a cheerful smile on his face while Baba Velo was outside, bustling around.

A quick breakfast of omelette and toast later, we loaded up the car and drove for 5 min to our starting point for the ride.

Mohan, Raj and me

My legs were a little tired after yesterday's long ride, and so I was happy that the initial 9-10km were done at a relatively easy pace.

After 10km, as the legs loosened up, the speed started to increase and we were rolling along at a brisk 32-34kph.  

My plan, based on Raj's advice the previous evening, was to attack the hills by shifting UP, and not worry about blowing up or saving myself for the end.  I did this on a few rides but on some extended climbs, went too far into the red and had to ease back, and then cycle like mad to bridge the gap to Raj and Mohan.

Of course, this would tire me out and I'd get gapped again on the next set of climbs.    So finally, at one point, I decided to draft a pickup back to those guys.   Barreling along at 42-43kph, I figured I'd continue past them for a kilometer or so and then ease up and recover, so that I could stay with them when they caught up.   So when the vehicle brought me alongside the others, I kept going for a while before pulling off.   As the next car passed me - going noticeably faster than the one I had been drafting - I noticed to my abject horror two cyclists firmly in its tow, whizzing by me.   So much for my rest.

The next 20-30 min were a game of chase and draft.   At one point, Raj and I were both sprinting up a hill, off the saddle, trying to close up to a tempo.   Raj later grabbed an auto with a see-through rear window and stayed with it for a long while.   I lost the wheel of the vehicle behind it and then sprinted like mad to catch the next one (which had Mohan on its tail), and was unable to do so, resulting in me blowing up in a spectacular fashion.

Drilling it!

All in all, great fun!

Then, in a tribute to That Other Forum, we stopped at the 50km mark for some coconut water.    A couple of coconuts later, we were off.   On the first hill, I had to stop as my rear brake's bolt was loose and the calipers were rubbing against the rims.   Took me 2-3 tries to fix it, which resulting me losing about 3-4 min to Raj and Mohan, and then another 2-3 minutes on the road, before I caught up to where they were waiting for me.  

We started off again together, but now my legs were dead - I had burned too many matches pushing up the hills and sprinting to catch the wheels of various vehicles.     I started to get hungry and got another pro-style handup of bananas from Chaminda, our support car driver.   But it was too little, too late.

I had neglected to eat regularly on this ride and even yesterday, after the 160km ride, I had less than my normal food (unused as I was to Sri Lankan curry and a rice-based diet).   So I was starting to bonk.   The bananas helped stave off a complete crash, but my HR was 135 (barely above recovery) and I was finding it hard-pressed to go faster.    All I could think about was eating - when I started having visions of leaping off my bike and ripping Mohan's calves off with my teeth and eating them, and this vision actually made me hungrier, I decided that it was time to get off the bike and refuel.

So pack it in I did at the 81km mark.  Chaminda was nice enough to get me 3 sausage rolls, all of which I inhaled in a hurry, ignoring the fact that I normally find hot dog sausages dis-fucking-gusting.    Then it was my turn to do a pro-style bottle handup to Raj, who, as usual, was turning the screws in the last 10km of the ride.   He had gapped Mohan, who - for the first time ever - was showing signs of vulnerability, with his head down and a grimace... yes, a genooo-ine grimace, on his face.   I imagine it must have been like this when Indurain cracked in 1996!

A short while later, both of them were done for the day as well, and we hopped in the car and drove to the hotel.   I was tempted to get out and finish my 100km as well, but then decided not to - I had followed my plan for the day:  to push on the climbs and not worry about saving myself, and second, I had learned a good lesson about my nutrition.   So despite the less-than-ideal end to the ride, it was still one where I got better (both physically and in terms of learning my limits).

After a shower and 10 minutes of Zabriskie treatment for my boys, we drove to Raj's favorite surf resort, where, after lunch, Raj and Mohan went off to surf while I lay on a beach chair with a book (couldnt get my hand wet due to the stitches).

Raj and Mohan, off surfing

Me, resting

The lunch was quite light, so by the time evening arrived, we were all starving and stuffed our guts in a royal fashion at the Welligama Bay Resort, before heading off to a well-deserved rest.  


  1. Haha.. another excellent report! The vision of your feasting on Mohan's calves and the two guys giving it back to you with drafting behind a faster car had me in splits! Loved it, Gauds! Waiting for the next. :)

  2. LOL at the calves and can totally relate since even stones start looking good to eat when the wall has been hit. I swear there have been long rides on which I've stared hungrily at dogs being walked on the bike path.