The previous two days of biking ensured I slept well the night before. Yes, slept well even in the poorly ventilated lodge with a fan that tried its best to keep me awake with its metronomic tuk-tuk. And once again, I struggled to wake up before 6 am.
Once I was up though, I went through the morning tasks quickly. Gobbled down an energy bar and headed off on the bike by 7 am – My starting times were getting later each subsequent day. The route this morning was much smoother and I rode along without much trouble. The descent through the ghats was done the previous day; today I could coast through the forest at an easy pace. It was a bit cloudy as well, and with the birds chirping in the background, and the trees lined up on both sides of the road, I would have gladly taken these conditions everywhere I rode.
The breakfast stop was at Perne, 25 km away from Nellyadi. While I tore bits from the omelette, the man running at the breakfast joint recounted how a gas tanker had skidded on the bend outside and had caught fire a few years ago. Not a good story to tell a cyclist. Actually, not a good story to tell anyone on the road.
After I moved on from Perne, the weather started getting more humid and sunnier as I headed westward. I could see I was getting a deeper tan as well. Reached Mangalore, and bypassed the city to head towards Udupi.
My power combo of energy bars and bananas was working pretty well, so did not need to stop for any meal after breakfast.
Now the stretch from Mangalore to Udupi was a deceptive one. The route has a gentle gradient, nothing that would have you huffing and pushing the pedal. The humid weather and the almost naked terrain though made it tough. It’s not just the physical toll such conditions take. The monotonously sunny landscape throughout also dulled me mentally, mostly because I expected the route to get more scenic once I got closer to the coast. Of course, the highway was not all that close to the shoreline, much to my disappointment.
So just kept my feet on the pedal and continued. Just before Udupi, I caught sight of an elephant ambling ahead on the highway. Pedalled quickly and positioned myself a few meters ahead of the big guy. Pulled out my phone to click a selfie, but had no idea elephants could walk fast as well. The mahout later told me the beast was getting nervy by the sound of the road roller. Handed some chikki and a 10 rupee note to the elephant and went further on my way.
Turned off the highway to head to Udupi. The first sight of Udupi surprised me. I thought it would have been a small quiet town. Rode into a place that seemed like a suburb in Bangalore. A bustling market, a few guest houses and streets agog with the sound of honking motorists. Even 400 km away, this place seemed closer home to Bangalore.
So what do you do when you are in Udupi. Check out a local Udupi restaurant of course. But with a twist. While I love the South Indian breakfast – idli, dosa, utthappam, a South Indian dinner does not cut it for me. Settled for plain old rice and dal fry. Yeah, you read that right.