After a month-long preparation, 14 Kalypso challengers were flagged off from the heart of Kochi on 10th June. Cycling off before sunrise in the light drizzle and low visibility, it was an exhilarating start. Later as the sun came out, they had to weave in and around peak hour traffic. Once the team reached the foothills, they pedaled through the area that receives the highest rainfall in South India, and stopped at Neriamangalam Bridge, from where they could look down at the rainforests below and also spot the mighty hills that called to the challengers. The gushing waters of the Periyar below were a sign of the continuous rainfall at the hilltops. Zipping up their rain jackets, the challengers started their uphill ride making use of all the technical knowledge they had gained over the years about the art of cycling. The spectacular waterfalls and lush greenery of the rainforests encouraged the tiring minds to continue pedaling.
A quick lunch at Adimali behind them, they continued their challenging climb up the Ghats finding their way through the narrow roads, speeding vehicles, chilly drizzles and frosty winds. By evening the group reached the summit, Munnar at 5000ft from sea level. As they touched their first peak, a warm cup of tea fresh from the tea gardens was waiting for them. They continued their cycling through the stunning tea gardens until they reached the campsite at Suryanelli. After some hot soup, the team got busy in getting the cycles ready for next day. Considering the bad weather and the challenges ahead, the senior team decided only the fittest six would continue with the challenge.
Early morning stretching exercises and a re-inspection of their cycles meant the team was well set for the second-day expedition, following a healthy breakfast. The initial trail was through cardamom reserve forests and the winding downhill roads of Tamil Nadu. After having overcome the slippery tarmac and sharp turns down the hills, the team enjoyed the 3-hours of cycling through the plains along the Western Ghats, passing the busy towns of Cumbum and Theni. The terrain changed suddenly after they cycled 90 km as they had started climbing up the second peak. The team found the ascent more challenging, as they had to navigate their route through the narrow roads, often having to give way to the huge trucks carrying tea leaves to the factories. A sudden downpour meant the team had to take a break in the nearby village, recounting their experiences with the excited kids who had gathered around them. The challengers reached Perumalmalai before dark and stayed there overnight. After a quick de-brief, they were fast asleep with a sense of achievement.
The next day the men started early to pedal 170km to reach the final peak of the challenge. Cycling down Palani went pretty fast with pleasant weather and less traffic in the early hours of the day. With tired legs from continuous cycling, they then faced an unexpected challenge – high winds on the Pollachi-Valparai highway. The team was exhausted by the time they reached the lunch point at Sungam after having had to cycle against the heavy winds. They then looked to reach the third mighty peak 3 hours prior to sunset pedaling another 55 km.
The unwavering four decided to challenge the peak. The determined group started cycling the 40 hairpins overcoming the heavy rains and low visibility. The cyclists pedaled through the Indira Gandhi National Park where the freezing winds chilled their grip on the handlebars. They crossed their deadline and made it to Valparai to complete the 3 peaks challenge.
As part of team Kalypso, we feel proud of our cyclists who completed South India’s toughest 3 peaks challenge in just 3 days, covering a distance of 460 kilometers. This will be a great motivation for cycling enthusiasts and could be made an annual event for the cycling community.