Sri Lanka in the Drit, with a GPS

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SwellsRides, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    Hi, I'm Swells Rides. You might remember me from such posts as “Riding Sri Lanka on a Royal Enfield. Well shortly after retuning from that trip and sharing my photos and write ups with other riders and fellow Hashers, there was enough interest to put together another trip. This time we decided to do it by the roads less traveled, so the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Enfield</st1:place></st1:City> was not the ideal bike, and left at home. We decided to rent trail bikes, use Olivier’s GPS and stay off the main roads as much as possible. Over a few beers we worked out a very basic game plan. Our entire plan revolved around meeting Steve’s Girlfriend and Olivier’s Wife in Polonnaruwa. Other than that, we at the mercy of the GPS and the weather.
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    We left <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Colombo</st1:place></st1:City> on the October Poya day. (Poya days fall on each full moon. On these days, which are national holidays in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sri Lanka</st1:place></st1:country-region>, devout Buddhists visit temple, fast and abstain from luxury and entertainment.) Michel arranged a vehicle to pick us up at our respective houses and drove us to Negombo. We rented the motorcycles from Negombo Bike Tours, www.negombo-motorcycle-tours.com There were 2 Honda Baja XR250, 1 Honda XR250, and a lone Yamaha XT 400. Michel had already expressed interest in the XT, Olivier and I claimed the 2 Baja’s and Steve was left with the XR, cause he was at the store shopping rather than laying claim to a bike. We started right away with wiring Olivier’s bike for the GPS. During inspection Michel found that the tank, and all the plastic pieces were only held on with a hope and a prayer, and apearently neaiter were doing a good job. The mechanic arrived and took the bike away, and didn’t return for an hour. After a bit of smoke and a few sparks we realized hard wiring the GPS was not going to work on the Baja, so we just stocked up AA’s and called it a day.

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    #1
  2. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    After we strapped the bags down, signed the paperwork we were finally on the road. Our first stop was a gas station. We all fueled up and were off again.:ricky

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    #2
  3. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    We were all excited to get off road and really get the adventure started. We quickly realized that the GPS and the map that was downloaded were just a little out of sync. So we would turn down what we thought was the correct trail and we would end up looking like the shinners doing circles in a parade. We got quite good at it, and could all turn simultaneously on the narrowest trails with out incident. The locals all thought we were crazy. We would end up trying every road, trail and foot path in sight before moving along and finding the right way. I think we did more miles this way, then we did on the right trail.

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  4. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    On one wrong road, we decided to stop for a bit and take in some water and snacks while we tried to figure out where we were. We were looking for some ancient ruins that according to the guide book were suppose to be around there somewhere. During our break a couple of local girls came to investigate what these 4 white guys on 2 wheeled machines were doing parked in front of her house. They were very friendly, we chatted until we exhausted their limited vocabulary and they even offered us some papaya and some fruit whose name sounded like umbrella. There were several jokes made about local girls offering their “Ripe Fruit” to the foreigners that show up out of nowhere, but we quickly stopped joking and moved along when there was shouting from what we assumed was her father from the direction of the house.

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  5. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    After eating her offered fruit and a few more shrinners circles, we found the correct trail, but no ruins and off we went. Little did any of us, with the exception of the guy with the GPS realize we were headed toward a river, with no bridge in sight. The river was deep and wide, we were not sure what we were going to do, as the nearest bridge was about 50k away. After walking down to the waters edge we found a sad looking barge. We were a little skeptical, but the owner of the barge and his son showed up and seemed confident we could do it if we did one bike at a time. So it was show time!!:yikes

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    #5
  6. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    Somehow the tired little barge held and we were able to get all four riders, all four bikes over to the other side with minimal damage.

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    #6
  7. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    I say minimal because it didn’t go off with out a hitch. Olivier went first, and loaded and unloaded his bike with no problems. While unloading my bike, the barge separated from the land and a gap opened up between the land and barge, I had one leg on land and another on the float, the bike was running and had the front tire on land and the rear on the float. Bad things were about to happen, so I relied on the mantra that has got me this far in life, “When in doubt, punch it out.” So, I gassed it, dumped the clutch and it shot on to land and fell over, while I very ungracefully landed feet first, waist deep in the river.
    At least the bike and my kit stayed dry. Michel came over with his bike next.

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    #7
  8. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p> </o:p>
    After getting the bikes over, and unloaded, you still had to get them through a deep sloppy mud bog, with no running start them up a slippery hill, and none of us even know if there was a way to continue after all of this. So with Olivier and I on the far side, ready to help push Michel and the XT with bald tires through the mud bog and up the hill, Michel set upon his mission. Apparently he subscribed to the same school of thought as I and was not shy with the throttle in the mud, and covered poor Olivier with mud.

    The other small issue was the XR didn’t want to start after its barge trip, so we had to push it off the barge, through the mud bog and up the hill to where we could push start it. Did I mention it’s bloody hot in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sri Lanka</st1:place></st1:country-region>?

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    #8
  9. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p> </o:p>
    The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful compared to that little part of the adventure. We push started the XR, found our way out of the paddy field and on the more solid ground. We ran into a couple of railroad tracks, and a few other wrong turns until we came across a huge rock sticking out of the earth. It has a name, that I can't remember, and there is a story of a young madien who legend has it, jumped to her death for a reason, I yet again can't remember, but think it has to do with forbiden love, or some such thing. (gues I shouldn't quit my day job and become a tour guide just yet:D )

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    #9
  10. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    It just popped up out of nowhere. From there we made our way to the town of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Yapahuwa</st1:place></st1:City>, where we were hoping to find a dive to stay in for the night. The only thing listed in the guide book was an ayurveda spa (touchy, feely, herb and oil treatment BS), and none of us were very excited about that prospect. Luckily we found a little hotel and even though it was Poya day, we talked them into finding us a couple of cold beers to wash the days trail down with. They served good food, and the rooms were not too bad, even if the roof did leak on me in the middle of the night. It was a great day of riding and only the beginning! See you tomorrow to report on day 2!!

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    #10
  11. SwellsRides

    SwellsRides Been here awhile

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    The hotel manager even rides. Olivier had his beer while sitting on the managers bike. Good Night! Hope to have more tales for you tomorrow.:freaky

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    #11
  12. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Excellent!! This is the first report from Sri Lanka that I can ever recall seeing here!! Looks great.. thanks for the pics and comments... :thumb

    more more more :lurk
    #12
  13. griffin738

    griffin738 type b

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    YES! Nice work man. Great day one report. Looking forward to reading about day two!

    :clap:clap:clap:clap:clap

    It's good to learn that mine isn't the only GPS that keeps secrets.

    Oh, and this part was my favorite!


    #13
  14. repo

    repo no mans land

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    Griffin told me to come post here and cheer you on....so....

    Looks like a good start! :clap
    #14
  15. Chanderjeet

    Chanderjeet IndiYeah !!

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    Great report, Neighbour :)
    #15
  16. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    :thumb

    Look out Paul, this one has legs!

    Jim :brow
    #16
  17. Salt Lick

    Salt Lick Weissbiermann

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    This is awesome stuff! :lurk
    #17
  18. eap

    eap El Adventurero Solitario Supporter

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    :lurk
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  19. Indochine

    Indochine 'Bikes are OK, but . . .

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    Me too . . . :lurk
    #19
  20. AnneBr

    AnneBr n00b

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    so any more?


    I just got back from Sri Lanka 2 days ago. We hired bikes for a day from the same guy in Negombo.

    Did you have a map or just the GPS? We just bought a basic map and only went wrong once.:D We covered about 150kms at a guess, over 6 hrs riding.
    #20