Cycling in Kerela (Iain)

My wife and I did a four day bike trip through the Kerela countryside. You can find more details here https://www.spiceroads.com/tours/kerala

Kerala is one of the wealthiest parts of India. Its
a serenely beautiful state and a world away from the frenzy of India elsewhere.

That was the marketing blurb. It is quieter than other Indian states but don’t underestimate it. The roads can be busy. The traffic can be scary and the infrastructure can leave a lot to be desired. Don’t expect nice coffee stops!

Day 1 (https://www.strava.com/activities/2080013255)

Our guide picked us up from our hotel. I was worried that we’d be the only people on the tour but, thankfully, another group was doing it too: a mother and two daughters.

They were a lovely family and great company on the tour.

The tour comprised a guide who biked at the front and a driver who drove a van at the back. This was a good setup. It meant we always had access to food and water from the van and if the road did come to a busy crossing he would park the van across it and stop all traffic until we had gone through.

The tour is advertised as being on quiet roads but I estimate there was at least 10% of the ride on busy roads. Indian roads seem scary because traffic undertakes, overtakes and generally ignores all road rules you might be used. I was scared at first but it was OK once I told myself that the traffic was like a river. Everything floats along and as long as I jump in and go with the flow then it will work out fine.

Which worked well. The only hairy moments were when I either hesitated or stopped which you can’t do when floating in a river of cars as it confuses all the other road users.

It seems scary but it sort of works. I’d not recommend it for the feint of heart but I’ve felt more unsafe cycling on some Glasgow streets than in Kerala.

Day 2 (https://www.strava.com/activities/2082213616)

“Today will be hilly….”

Which is not a phrase I want to hear before setting out on a 60KM ride

The guide then added

“…and hot”

Which is the other phrase I don’t like hearing!

It wasn’t actually too hilly. It was like biking in Perthshire. Some good roads, some bad. Some minor hills, some short steep sections but mostly small undulating sections BUT it was hot. Very hot! 37C by lunchtime. So hot that any shop only sold soggy melted chocolate bars.

I was thankful we reached the end after only 50KM. It seems the Indian idea of a KM is less than a UK one as every day the guide would say how far we’d need to cycle and every day we’d finish short of that goal. Thankfully!

Day 3 (https://www.strava.com/activities/2086045301)

Day 3 was a ride to a houseboat. We were all looking forward to this section and thanks to an early start we got to to the boat in time for lunch.

The boat came with a cook and butler. Which sounds fancy but it actually two greasy men who also do the driving, cleaning and all the work on the boat.

It reminded me of the time I took a Megabus to London. One of the ticket option on the bus is to get two seats so you can sleep across them like a double bed. I’d booked this thinking it would be more comfortable and because it was relatively cheap. Only £10 more than a single.

As I relaxed in my double bed/seat a man walked past and said “Ooooh! Look at him. Little lord Fancy and his double seat!”

Well this time he would have been justified saying it as every-time the butler/handyman got me a drink all I could think of was that voice saying ”
Ooooh! Look at him. Little Lord Fancy and his beer” or “ooooh! Look at him. Little Lord Fancy and his dinner”

Day 4 (https://www.strava.com/activities/2086572187)

At the end of the week the guide told me that I reminded him of someone famous.

I was hoping he’d say Ryan Gosling or Brad Pitt but he actually said “Lional Messi!”

I’m 6ft 1″ and Lionel Messi is 5ft 5. I’m 13 stone and Messi is 11 stone. I have a beard so does Messi. This is the only similarity yet he was so convinced by my likeness to the Argentinian superstar he said “We should charge people to meet you. You could sell Autographs and photos!”

Some white people say Africans/Indians/Chinese all look the same. In his case he might think all white people look the same!

I’ll let you make up your own mind about the similarity.

Overall

A great few days biking. I think it’s probaly too hard (due to road conditions and weather) for casual riders but it’s great for slightly adventurous riders.

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