The sun, still low in the early morning sky flashes through the gaps in the hedgerows as with a song on my lips and a childish joy in my soul I sweep effortlessly through the smooth curves of this most beautiful of descents. I stop and removed my gilet, as with each kilometre of downhill and every minute into the new day the air warms. I check my watch, I have lost 900 metres in a little over 20KMS. The green of the tea plantations is now replaced by the the even more vivid green of rice fields. I ride on, now crossing the undulations of a wide straight road leading south. I enjoy being able to stretch my legs cycling on a smooth rolling highway, and in what seems like just a few moments another twenty kilometres is behind me. I turn west on a small bumpy byway and friendly folks wave from their porches and from the dirt trails leading across parched savannah.
A group of young monks play in the grounds of their temple and I pull over the great them Excited by the arrival of an adventurous stranger on touring on a bicycle they leave their play and grab for their monastic robes so as to be properly dressed to great me. As the monks gown up the robes below in the wind and the bright sun, now high in the sky, lights up the bright orange cloth adding beautiful dashes of colour to the lovely monastery grounds.
Moving along I skirt around the National Park where this new Painted Roads cycling tour will over night in a safari camp. As I cruise along the bank of the lake a wild elephant wanders to the boundary fence, eyeing the passing stranger’s bicycle with the same fascination that this rider admires this huge beast.
In just a few short hours of cycling I have passed from the cool fertile green hills of the high country, with its beautiful colonial architecture and aged tea factories, to the heat and arid land of the low country. Another 60KMS will see me on the coast with its rugged rocky coves and long sandy beaches. Sri Lanka is proving to be every bit as wonderful a cycling destination as I had hoped. Now to polish the route and finalise the tour and we should be good to go next summer.