Category Archives: Bikes and Parts.

Cultural triangle: Dambulla

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A relatively short hop South from the small sedate town of Sigirya lies the economic centre of Dambulla. It lies on a crossroad that links each part of the country. The town hums with activity.
I cycled around a large food depot off the main road where fresh produce was being transferred from truck to truck.

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A little beyond the main town are the famous Golden Temple caves carved in the rock high above the road. Below is a large golden Buddha, round golden stupa and Buddhist radio station (Rangiri Sri Lanka Radio). I had a chat with a security guard on the gate and then went to find accommodation directly opposite the entrance and detailed in the Lonely Planet guide.

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I was surprised to find that I was the only guest at the hostel which is owned by an elderly widower. Her home was excellent with brightly painted walls and basic but very authentic accommodation. Despite the rustic conditions it was very comfortable and an ideal place to stay. Cheap too! I considered staying a few days and using it as a base to explore the wider region.

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The entrance fee to the caves was 1500 SL rupees (@£7). Reasonable I thought. Before entering the cave complex there is a shoe stand to leave shoes for 20 rupees prior to entering the sacred area.
The caves contained an incredible number of Buddha statues including three huge reclining Buddhas. The artwork including wall paintings is superb. Most of the caves had been one large cave but had been separated over time by artificial walls. The caves date back to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Having uncovered the caves the British created a covered wooden walkway during the 1930s between the caves. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and undoubtedly one of the most important and  best preserved buddhist sites in Sri Lanka.

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I found the whole experience very moving. I sat and ate my lunch by the shoe stand as it began to rain.

Dawes Galaxy

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My first touring bike was a 1986 ten speed Dawes Galaxy. Picked up for a song,  I set about restoring it to its original condition. I was amazed by the quality if its engineering and build.  It  became an excellent teacher and introduction to the joys of ‘classic’ cycle touring. I used that bike to ride across France, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

The Galaxies were solidly built Birmingham assembled bikes. In the late 1980s Dawes moved production out of the UK. With that move their crown as one of the best touring bikes began to slip and was finally lost to the new generation of dedicated touring machines.

 

The Wiki entry:

Dawes Cycles is a British bicycle manufacturer known for its high-quality hand-built bicycles. Dawes produces a full range of bikes including road, mountain bikes and tandems, but is best known for touring bikes, specifically the Galaxy and the Super Galaxy model lines.
Founded in Birmingham, the company is now a significant brand in the UK. It is not related to Dawes USA. Dawes was originally primarily a racing cycle manufacturer, and it was in this guise that the trademark Galaxy first appeared, but since 1971, when it was fitted with wide-ratio gears and Reynolds 531 tubing, the Galaxy was viewed as the benchmark in the English touring bicycle market. Bikes were originally hand-built in Tyseley, near Birmingham, but frames are now manufactured in the Far East and assembled in the UK.

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