DAY TWENTY THREE… 40.58 miles (65.30 km)
6.30am Our chai and poha (breakfast) have arrived. It is cold this morning. I can’t believe it. Fleece and jacket are on to try and stay warm. This is ridiculous !
Our cycle ride began well. It was flat and slightly downhill to Sadri. We drank chai there, huddled round a little fire by the chai stall and then set off again along a lovely rural road.
Just before Desuri, we hit major road works. The tarmac of our road had been removed, apparently all the way to Jojawar (a long way). Cycling on this unsurfaced road was very unpleasant. It was jolty and there were massive dust clouds from passing vehicles.
We persisted for a long way until we found an alternative route. This involved a massive climb of 400 metre through Kumbhalgarh Wildlife sanctuary. Obviously, this ride would have been great, but now it was really hot (1pm) and I had no wish to steam up a huge hill in the heat of the day. We took a pick-up truck to the top of the hill and then resumed our ride.
Horrors again. More road deconstruction here too. All the way to our destination, Deogarh. We cycled on. Huge clouds of dust from lorries for 5 kms until we reached the “short cut” (off the National Highway) turn to Deogarh. At last we found a quiet tiny road, albeit with massive potholes but most of the surface was still on it. We stopped to rest, only 6km from Deogarh when we were apprehended by police, in their plain clothes car. They told us NOT to proceed down the road to Deogarh, and to go back to the National Highway (where the road deconstruction was).
This was a massive detour of 15kms. No way. We didn’t want to do that. However, we were then told that we would be attacked by bandits and killed and robbed if we went down the little country road. This was not music to our ears. The police left and we sat pondering.
Some minutes later, they returned to reiterate their point. Bandits were on the road. Dangerous. Go back. Tim and I were a bit surprised. Really? Bandits? He went off to chat to some locals who reassured us that it was not a problem, the “bandit” thing was old (“purana”) history from decades ago. It would be fine. Not sure who to believe, we hung around, trying to work out what to do.
Then a man on a motorbike, going our way offered to escort us. This seemed like a good idea. No one is going to attack a local guy are they? We pedalled like the wind after the motorbike escort anxious not to be left as bandit fodder, and arrived in Deogarh a bit puffed, but safe.
Our accommodation for the night was a lovely palace. Obviously on the tourist route, as we encountered a whole party of Brits. We managed, with a prolonged negotiation to get a deal which included a nice meal here in the evening too.