We rode to Madikeri from Mangalore, taking two days to cover the 85 miles. The second day–from Sulya to Madikeri–started out with more of the rolling hills that we had on day one. But after about 15 miles we came to a big roadblock and things changed dramatically.
First, most traffic was prohibited from entering. We went through no problem, as did some motos and a handful of local cars and buses. For the most part, though, it was the first really rural, quiet road of our journey, which was quite nice.
Second, the climbing began in earnest. We climbed a little over 3000 feet in 20 miles. For me, this was the biggest climb I had ever done on a bike and we did it in pretty hot conditions.
Finally, from the roadblock on, the road condition was terrible. The whole stretch was under construction, Indian style, which means that in about ten years there should be some notable progress. Meanwhile there is more dirt than asphalt and there are some hair-raising dropoffs and cliffs.
Madikeri itself is not terribly interesting, but the area around it is a big coffee and spice producing region. The day after leaving Madikeri we had a lot of rolling hills again, then the biggest, best, most enjoyable downhill I have ever enjoyed on a bike.
This downhill was between Virajpet and Iritty. We knew we were going to lose some altitude as we returned to the coast, but we had no idea that it was going to all come at once and that it was going to happen on a road that was recently rebuilt and was in amazing condition.
Once again the road was restricted for some reason and we were practically alone on a ten-mile stretch that dropped nearly 3000 feet through a windy, shady river canyon. It was fantastic!! It made all the pain of the two previous days totally worthwhile. It was so good that when we got to the bottom we were tempted to find a bus to take us back up for another round.