As we cycled off it began to pour with rain, and we only got round the first corner before we had to stop and fix Mikey's brakes again
. We then had 10 miles slow uphill until we found a tiny village where a young boy took us to his father’s shed in which there was an air machine and we could sort both of our back tires which were pretty flat. The roads had seriously deteriorated by this point, and in the rain – not fun. We were both pretty demoralised by being freezing cold, soaked, covered in filth splashed up from the road. (yes – human faeces – SO grim). Somewhere near Pachelor, Mikey got puncture 4 and so more time soaked by the road fixing it and then having to cycle with a partially inflated tyre. The uphill was really taking its toll so when we came to the village Perumel had marked as 37k downhill to the plains we were pretty pleased. 10 minutes into it both of our brakes failed and the downhill became a nightmare. Stopping to readjust them every 20 minutes and not daring to get up any kind of speed meant that Mikey’s hands were covered in cuts from the wire and my muscles pulled from hanging on. We eventually reached the bottom of the mountain – Oodenchatrem 6 hours after we had left Goodwill. It was lucky we had been fed so well as we had no small change and could buy no food during that time. Seeing the sign for the last hairpin bend 14/14 and the big town was fantastic. We had really had enough of the mountains. Whilst people had been very kind, there had also been some very strange people and some hanging around with big scythes, which I’m sure were for plants, but disconcerting none-the-less. At LAST when we reached the bottom it stopped raining and we stuffed our faces in a bakery then limped the last 19 miles to Palani on our seriously ruined bikes. Back on the flat the locals driving raged out of control again and we were forced to cycle on the hard shoulder which many people had been using as a toilet. Arriving in Palani, the hotel recommend by Goodwill treasurer was lovely – They only had a family room, and it cost 3x what we normally pay, but 57miles and 8 hours of ridiculous exercise meant that it was perfect. Also, we normally only pay 8 pounds so 24 is not too bad!) Our balcony overlooked Palani Temple, a huge one on a hill and we could watch the pilgrims climbing until late at night.
Woke up to yet more rain, feeling really sad to be leaving after such a short time. Sandrun brought us a feast to set us off properly on the bikes. As well as Dosa, Idlies and some tiny delicious pancakes he had brought scrambled eggs which he put inside sweet bread to make sandwiches and stuck them together with honey –actually a very good combination. Perumel then came and brought the older boys to carry the luggage. It had stopped raining luckily as he was not at ALL happy about us leaving in the rain, and would have made us stay. He was really worried about us and insisted we ring as soon as we arrive at Palani. The entire school staff and children came out to say goodbye and check out the bikes. Already we could see familiar faces, especially those cheeky little monkeys from 1st Standard and boisterous boys from the 3rd. There is no way we are leaving it another 9 years before going again, Thandigudi is such a special place and a fantastic and rewarding way to see India.