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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 108 > RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE

RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE

JASON MILES IS NO STRANGER TO BIKE RACING. BUT HOW WILL HE COPE WITH FOUR DAYS OF RACING THROUGH THE TEA PLANTATIONS OF SRI LANKA? AND JUST HOW MUCH CURRY CAN ONE MAN EAT?

Never in a month of Sundays did I think that I’d be standing, on my own, in the middle of the small coastal town of Negombo in the south of Sri Lanka, in the middle of the night, looking for somewhere that would serve me some kind of food that I wasn’t scared of.

But there I was. Thankfully, my bike had arrived in one piece and I’d been incredibly well looked-after by the Sri Lankan Airlines flight attendants while sprawled out on my business class seat-cumbed-cum-personal-cinema thing. But I might as well have flown to another planet…

Sri Lanka is a large island in the Indian Ocean with India to the north and the Maldives to the south. Up until the early 70s it was known as Ceylon, from the days of British colonial rule, and its recent past has been troubled by a civil war that ended in 2009. Since then the island has been peaceful and visitor numbers have steadily increased. While cricket is by far the most popular sport, there is a Sri Lankan national cycling team (who famously rode along the M74 near Glasgow while they were taking part in the Commonwealth Games a few years ago) who had three members taking part in the race alongside me.

Team JMC, ready to rumble.

The M74 is pretty tame compared to the roads in Sri Lanka, as I was going to discover…

Tuk-tuks – those Piaggio-manufactured, supremely dangerous-looking little taxis buzzed around all over the place while café owners attempted to lure me into their establishments with the promise of as much… er… well, I don’t know really… as I could eat. I was sweating profusely as I walked ever-so-slowly in the 35 plus-degree heat and almost-total humidity. I hadn’t done anything yet and already I felt way out of my depth. All I was trying to do was to get something to eat.

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure: A Dead Good Day Out Pete Scullion follows one of the Lake District’s coffin trails, from graveyard to pub. UK Adventure: Down The Sandstone Way Oli Townsend checks out England’s newest long distance trail. International Adventure: Rumble in the Jungle Jason Miles races across Sri Lanka, fuelled by tea, coffee, and a fear of elephants. Trail Hunter: Through the Bogs of Time Tom Fenton revisits the remote, and rather wet, Doethie Valley. Is it as good as he remembers? Singletrack Room 101 Resident Grumpy Mark presides over your submissions to Room 101. Classic Ride: Avebury, Wiltshire Tom Hutton explores the rolling hills and standing stones, while testing Murphy’s First Law of Mountain Biking. Grouptest: Waterproof Shorts We’ve ground our gussets, soaked our seams, and wet our waistbands in search of shorts to keep our derrières dry. Bike Test: Living the Ti-Life Jason Miles stops stroking and staring at three polished 29er lovelies from J Guillem, Kona and Stanton and takes them out to see whether they ride as well as the look. Through the Grinder An array of goods sprinkled with summer rain, ground in summer mud, and very occasionally exposed to actual direct sunlight. Grinder Bike: Scott Scale 710+ Scott’s plus size hardtail put through mile after mile of testing. International Adventure: Murky Morzine Our Rob heads off on his summer holidays, which prove somewhat damp, but nonetheless fun. International Adventure: Blackburn Rangers Chipps goes riding in the wilderness with the varied characters who will be promoting the Blackburn brand this year.
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