Thursday, January 20, 2011

Richard alone Day 2 Jan 17th

Mysore Jan 18

Planned an easy day ride today - to Salem, only 140k away and so slept in.  Breakfasted on a great papaya that I'd bought last night.  Checked the map, and "what the hell!" - changed plans and decided to go the scenic route over the Niligiri Hills through Ooty - the summer capital for the Raj - and on through Mysore to Bangalore.

First went to check Racecourse Road - I did not recognize any houses, but found the Coimbatore Club round the corner where my family were members in the1940's.

  I remember leaving off playing in the nearby coconut groves (long gone) because someone had reported seeing  a python there.

Coimbatore club
A ""forbidden" picture - lists of past preses on wall

I had to sneak photos of the club, 'cos the managert said "no photos" ( I bet they have photos on their website!).  A fabulous reminder of the Raj, with high ceilings and places to lounge. A dark, dark bar, and the pool is long gone.  I imagined my parents with us children there.

Off to Mysore and I took the wrong road.  A 20k diversion, but on some lovely deserted road.  It's cool and pleasant, riding in India is fun.

Back on the main road and traffic and villages and dust and diesel fumes.  No problem to me now.

The foothill of the Nilgiris, and we leave the plain.  Signs:  "The Queen of Hills" "Plastic free" ( I think many locals miss that sign!) The country is greener, the vegetation ever more lush.  The road starts to hairpin.  Really sharp hairpins that only one bus or truck can navigate at a time.The ususal competition to go first.  Honk-Honk, beep-beep.  Motorbikes have to maneouve & squeeze in where they can. Peek past the vehicle in front - nothing coming before the next bend, and a rush to pass starts.  I am really glad for the 500cc in the Enfield which enables quick passes in short distances.

Glimpses of the hazy plane below, spectacular waterfalls off the hills, potholes in the road.  A lot longer, but  much better road than up to Kodai - the low retaining wall between me and the big drop is in a lot better shape.  Watch for the odd uncleared boulder, always alert for suv's with suicide drivers who pass as they enter a blind corner.  Slam on the breaks when a bus stops in my lane to take on a passenger. Climbing, climbing, climbing - everytime I look up the road is still climbing above me.  It's misty. I am cold & stop to put my jacket on. Families of monkeys scavenging on the road.  Then the small towns - Cooner - Wellington - with people, bicycles and Tuk-Tuks.   How on earth did they get the Raj government up here?  Then I get a glimpse of the small guage railway & I remember. I am above the mist.  Tea plantations and I stop to buy what looks like great tea from a roadside stall.

Finally Ooty - I see nothing impresive, so don't bother with photos.  I buy some home made chocolate, email Wendy about my changed route.  It's late - past 3pm so I take off again.  The road is really good - quite wide and a good surface.  I sway through gentle left & right curves.  This must be the stretch that Trek tours suggests cycling up to Ooty.  One place reminds me of Scotland - I sing "these aren't my lands' hills.." People riding real horses.  I think of the Raj.

Then a step drop back to the plains - switchbacks, potholes, suicide drivers, the lot.

At the base of the drop, signs for a Tiger reserve.  Tourist suv's, but no "whities".  I go through a small town & pass more signs for the wildlife park.  No habitations, the scenery is different.  Giant bamboos.  I start filming.  Riding with my right hand on the throttle and the camera in my left hand.  Speed bump.  No problem, I am going slowly.   Then a doozey of a speedbump.  Wow!  My instinct is to slow down, I release the throttle. Stall. The bike is in gear and bumps, and over I go.  Still filming.

Motorcyclists behind stop and help me upright the heavy bike.  Some gas split, but no harm done. The bike is fine and I wave to my helpers as I pass them.

Further down the road, I see the elephant, less than 20' from the roadside.  I stop, engine off. Camera, filming.  An suv stops behind me to watch the elephant .  While sitting, I push the bike back to get a better angle.  He  is maybe 40 feet away.  I think it is a lone bull - no other elephnats around. The elephant snorts, stamps his foot a couple of times and starts coming towards me.  Quick, he's after me.  Start engine, into gear and go.  Where's the camera?  It's Ok, I've still got it.

I stop a bit down the road.  My helpers come by, see the elephant and whizz on.  Another bike stops the other side of the elephant.  An suv cruises by. I'm filming and the elephant starts coming towards me again.  OK.  Bye-bye.  I'm off.

Later I see wild pig, deer and black-faced monkeys. A lot better than Periyar, where we saw not a lot of interest.

Sun is dropping and the light is becoming magical. I go though a second Wildlife park and it is all very beautiful.  No people or habitation, it's like Africa.  It's been a great day.

Something gets in my best eye and hurts.  I'm losing vision and it becomes impossible to ride.  I stop at the park entrance & find a place to stay.  An early night and a fitful rest.  It'll be a big problem if I have only one eye to ride with - lack of vision depth would be enough to get me off the bike.

Mist on the way to Ooty

Buying Tea from roadide shop

Giant bamboo in game reserve

Whizzing by - they helped me right the bike

This elephant is coming for me!

Wild pigs

Struggle to open my eye

Sore eye

Wendy's healed ankle!


  1. hope your eye gets better, doesnt look 2 good in photo. mums ankle looks great, the body is amazing self healer.

    lots of love alex and sheri

  2. funny has named salem as the 2nd worst place to invest in real estate for 2011. 1st place goes to grand junction colorado. In the meantime, in vancouver, somebody bought a tear down for 1 million and sold it for 1.3 10 weeks later (jan 2011)

  3. Eye better? Try trimming the eyebrows......looks like one could blow down and into your eye! Wonderfully exciting blog entry, Richard. You'll be dining out for years to come with these stories. Looking forward to seeing you back here all in one piece!!