A couple of days overdue. Things took a turn. A complete 180.
Now, based in Anuradhapura, ~220 km from Colombo. It wasn’t at all what I expected, and at the same time, it’s exactly what I expected.
Before any of this came through, I pictured a house by a lake, and a flat single-lane road right next to it, and we’d wake up in the morning to the sun rising by the lake. Reality: The big lake is about 1 kilometre away, and it’s a worthwhile drive, because there’s nothing else I’ve seen that isn’t the rowing stroke, that’s more beautiful than that horizon. Ancient structures look like play things between the edges of the jagged canopy, and the sun sets between the trees, the stars are out, the moon is shining like it’s high noon taken down a few notches. The stars appear at 6.45ish. Our bath is over, it’s getting dark. A quick drive back, food’s ready. Simple dinner: dhal, rice, coconut sambol. Some eggs for me, please.
It’s a pro-cycling team named Stefanelli. Named borrowed from an Italian club. Here on invitation, and I accepted in a heartbeat.
The guys are great. They are village boys, not used to town life. The narrative is always an ‘in Colombo/here in Anuradhapura’ – always a comparison between village and city life. I’m only just figuring out how they think differently. I’m slowly realising that they don’t think any different to the people in the big city, but that they do think about different things. It’s a strange world to be transplanted into.
After the recovery ride in the morning, I bought some food from a place by the main road, and drove to the Kala Wewa (‘Kala’ reservoir). It’s a man-made reservoir used for irrigating farmland in the area. It’s dried up quite a bit, and the edges are flat and hardened. Perfect for driving. The big trees are surrounded by grass now, grown on the fertile soil. Knee-high in some places, and I found a big tree under which I parked, opened up the rear doors, sat and had lunch.
Every second I spend with them, I’m reminded of how privileged and lucky I am.
The first session here in Anuradhapura was a 5 hour ride to Puttalam and back. 150km.
It was supposed to be 4 hours, and it was murder. I was the last one standing. A good first impression here. Coach was happy, but I need to start wearing my cycling shorts longer than a third of my thigh!! It’s like the underwear with bib shorts thing. It’s just not done.
Second real session: 3 hours down Trinco road. It was me and a boy of 16. I got thrashed. Been wondering why, since I was faster on the first 5-hour ride. The mozzies are really annoying at night, and it’s quite warm. Windows closed today may work.
Tomorrow, long ride #3. Will update over the weekend. Back to Colombo on Sunday, then back again to A’pura, this time next week.
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