On our recent bicycling trip through Sri Lanka, we were concerned about one leg of the trip that would take us from Jaffna in the far north to Mannar along a route that had been heavily damaged during the civil war. All the online research we did indicated that this route was still a mud-bogged construction zone, and that there were no accommodations we could use to break up that leg of the journey, which would mean a day's ride of 120km.
So we girded ourselves, and left our guesthouse in Jaffna at 6:30AM, gliding out of town on the main A9 highway before turning south on the much sketchier A32 to Mannar. We knew the causeway over Jaffna lagoon had been newly reconstructed but were prepared for it to end on a bumpy, unsurfaced track near the town of Pooneryn.
Sure enough, the pavement did quit as predicted - but then began again just another 3km down the road! From that point south, another 90km, we were cycling with a stiff tailwind on absolutely virgin pavement, too new even to have the centerline painted. When we encountered road crews working on along the shoulders they told us that just the week before the highway had been only roadbase, gravel and crushed rock - a serious deterrent to forward progress.
We were so stoked to encounter these conditions we were constantly trading the "thumbs-up" sign with the roadworkers along the way, and stopped for a photo or two with our "heroes". Needless to say, we arrived in Mannar far ahead of schedule with plenty of time to search for decent accommodations and find a great place for dinner!
Points of interest
From here you might talk a fisherman into taking you out to view Adam's Bridge, the mythical link between India and Sri Lanka