It was sooo cool and cosy. I had no body, no limbs. There was only a fuzzy sense of existence, like I was floating on water. But shouldn’t it be a little darker outside?
8 o’clock! 8 bloody o’ clock!!
Yercaud was going to flambé us to hell today.
I had been very conservative on the descent the preceding day, my skills having rusted on account of not being within 10 kilometres of a hill since the July of 2015. I started today’ s descent to Kupanoor the same way, in Scaredy Cat Mode, through a narrow forest-covered road flanked by a valley on the left and a sheer, green wall of rock on the right. The corners were tight and technical, the grades a lot steeper than the day before. One glance at the left was enough to tell me what one small mistake might cost.
“Wow! That’s a long way down!”
After following Lee for about four kilometres, something clicked.
The world moved in slow motion as a deathly calm stole over me. All I saw, felt and heard were the road, the road and the road. No conscious thought was necessary as my body settled into the rhythm of the corners, as if I had been doing it for years.
I had gained thirty metres.
I could no longer see any of the others, and no sir, I was not going to wait. The thrill of hurtling down that slender, sun-drenched pass had gone straight to my head.
“Sage Mode: Unlocked!”
Kupanoor was incredibly beautiful and bore an uncanny resemblance to the inside of the hot-air oven in my lab.
“Whoa! We’re climbing THAT?”
I was a little scared, to be honest, especially given my record as a climber. But I’d fired a maha-dialogue at a lady friend, a few days ago, about how cyclists are tough as nails and tenacious as lobsters; and it was partly that and rule 5 combined and the mere fact that that hill was one hardcore *insert swearword* that made me hit it hard. I’m a badass. Period.
“Two hours of agony, a lifetime of bragging rights!” was my motto that day.
It was beyond agony. There was the heat and the pitiless sun that made me feel like I had second degree burns all over my body, there was the dehydration that made my mouth go dry in minutes, there was the boiling water in my bottles that did nothing to soothe my parched throat. There was the solitude that crushed my morale to a squelchy, gooey pulp. And then there were the worst of them all, the gradients that brought back, in a murky brown rush, all the excruciating memories of the 170 kg leg-presses at the gym. That crawl, up the tortuous grey slopes of that wild mountain, taught me new meanings of the word ‘pain’.
Here’s my ride data on Strava. I’d planned to do it at SST again, but my heart rate simply refused to go up!
Follow this link for an account of what we did on Day 1. This trip was a total success, as I surmised from the hand-clasp Sourav gave me and by the looks of how excited Leander was. Ankit took a wrong turn and had a lot more fun riding away at top-speed from a drunken man who wanted to test-ride his bike and, later, from a bull that I think wanted to test-ride HIM.
I felt a little sad while descending towards Salem for our bus back home, but I could not have asked for a better start to my holidays.
I’ll return to the hill someday when it’s a little cooler. And not just for riding. It’d be great to stroll down the road, find the spots where the views are the most magnificent, and just sit there quietly. There’s Heaven right there in all its resplendent glory. 🙂