Pedalling the 3-peaks – A tale of grit and fitness

It is said that our dreams await us on the other side of grit. The refusal to give up and the determination to persevere bring our dreams alive. Add to this the camaraderie of Kalypso’s guides, their superior fitness-levels, and their quest for adventure and the beautifully laid-out 3-peaks route which is also one of the most challenging routes and you have the perfect cocktail of a thrilling adventure.

Why the 3-peaks?

At Kalypso, we pride ourselves on our attitude towards adventure. Not for us rash, irresponsible forays into the unknown. Our adventure tours are all well-researched and planned as far as routes, safety practices, weather and ecological issues are concerned. But beyond that adventure is in our hearts. Our search for newer and more eco-friendly avenues for adventure is an ongoing one. 3-peaks cycling tour is the result of just such a search. The tough route, the scenic landscapes, minimal carbon footprints, the hectic schedule all contribute to making this a unique and exhilarating experience.

3-peaks challenge – the route

4 days of tour, about 650kms of roads that came in all types –flat, undulating, steep climbs and descents, narrow, tarred, muddy-stretches and the vagaries of weather – all met with equanimity of spirit. This group of cyclists with varying levels of skill and experience – a couple of rookies, and some with mid-level expertise too in their midst, were led by the experts who had done it all before.

Flagged off from Kochi on the 1st of July 2019, the group of 10 set out first to Suryanelli near Munnar – a distance of 152kms and one which boggles the mind by starting at sea level and ending at an altitude of 5103ft. After braving the city traffic in the morning to reach the hills with its clean, crisp air and serene greenery was an energising tonic for our cyclists. A night of deep sleep later, they set out again, this time to Kodaikanal in the neighbouring state 164kms away and at a height of 6725ft. All along, the roads were tough and unpredictable, but the breath-taking sights beyond egged them on, they said. The tea and spice plantations, the green that seems to never end, the wet, slick roads all combine to create an atmosphere of magic. The next day saw them pedal off to Valparai at a distance of 170kms and a descent of 3937ft. The waterfalls that take one by surprise with their sudden appearance, the blue outline of the mountains in the distance merging with the azure sky and the ever present winding roads – evocative memories captured by smart-phones and human brains! The fourth and last day of the tour saw the group make their way back to Kochi from Valparai – a distance of 167kms. Followed by rivers and reservoirs, cycling past lush forests and plantations, our unwavering team finally arrived at Kochi to a warm welcome.

Kalypso guides and a few tales

This was not intended as a competition. There were no prizes, no winners. But the sheer nature of the event, the scope, the naturally competitive spirit of the boys and their innate love for adventure made them all set targets and achieve them. The wayside stops for a hot cup of chai or refreshing lemonade and a spicy snack, the banter and the impromptu races on deserted roads merely added to the spirit of the ride.

At journey’s end

Not all completed the ride. Some had to stop riding somewhere along the way. But that instead of diminishing the tour, only serves to underline its spirit of resilience. For they will be back the next time. Kalypso believes in the endeavour. From the hours of preparation to the actual start and then on the ride itself, the hard work, responsibility and love for nature on display drives us on in our pursuit of adventure with a responsible soul.

Three Peaks Challenge India 2018


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.