This is the last ride! I’m finally coming home. I will have a story to tell my kids and grandkids. I will be the legend in my own story. I just need to stay focussed and pedal my way without getting the tyres damaged. That’s all that is needed.
It was the Sinhala and Tamil New Year – and I had the honour of being a guest at Paramee’s house. Once I show you the breakfast table – you will know exactly what I mean. Paramee even packed me lunch to have on the way. I love this guy – I really wish him and his family nothing but the best.
The night before, I was adjusting the tyres, repairing the damaged ones, making sure the margin for error is at its lowest. So there I went, along the Galle Road witnessing beautiful beaches and people celebrating New Year. I realized for the New Year, Colombo is a ghost town, but Down South and everywhere else is full of people. So I wasn’t alone at all. Whenever I stopped to pump air or fix the tyres, people would often stop by and offer a helping hand. It’s these small acts of kindness that makes me realize that there is hope for this place.
I came to Galle – the place I couldn’t come the previous day because of the heavy showers. One of my campus juniors – Viranga Dias was there for me with his brother with some food! God I love these people. He told me to stay at the Galle Railway station the day before because my Facebook profile was all about me cycling around the country! I had 115 km remaining. Could I make it to Colombo or should I rest another day?
Galle Road is very narrow and you are competing for that small space along with everyone else. You need to be careful with intercity buses. I passed coastal towns such as Hikkaduwa which have more tourists than Sri Lankans! This reminded me of Arugambay – however, I feel the beach has lost its value because every Tom, Dick and Harry goes there. Cycling alone can be quite frustrating – and you need a lot of patience. I came up with a schedule – I will take a 10 min rest after every 40 min of cycling.
I must have been very lucky from this point on; there wasn’t a single puncture on the way. The roads were smooth and I could feel the bike gliding over the road. When I reached the Kalutara Bodhiya I knew I didn’t have to stay an extra night. This was a place where I have cycled with Saroj and I knew there was only 50 km to my home at this point. You can do this Fadil! You can do this!
It was getting dark, but the roads were lit because people were visiting families or going to the temple. In Moratuwa, people were outside their homes, playing cards, lighting up crackers. I didn’t feel bored at all. When I reached Rathmalana, I took the road from the Maliban Factory. This was the shortest route to home. I gain speed when I go through familiar roads. When I am down to 10 km of cycling I have my celebratory break. I bought two cans of Redbull from a supermarket which was luckily open at that time. The ride back home was sweet! I reached my lane and I can see my parents waiting outside for me. The sailor is finally back from sea. I don’t care whether anyone will know about this story, or whether I will be famous because of it – all I know is I did it, against all odds and I did something which I always wanted to do. I have never felt this much of gratitude to the people, my country, Mother Nature and the Almighty for keeping me safe, giving me an experience that no ordinary person will ever see and making sure I would reach home in one piece.