DAY TWENTY FIVE… 54.99 miles (88.55 km)
8.05am... Morning chai by a lake. It doesn’t ever take long before we are noticed and people pull up to stare. Already a few motorbikes are here.
Yesterday, at our breakfast stop most of a school seemed to be crowded round us, staring and giggling, asking the usual questions and a few extra phrases of English, having practised them with their friends. Boys were grouped separately from girls; girls, more demure, restrained, boys; cheeky, laughing, touching our bikes.
Our ride today was quite hassley. Whenever we stopped, crowds gathered with the inevitable selfie requests. We have taken to trying to find places to stop where no one will see us.
Towards the end of what had been a pleasant and fairly easy ride, we hit a section of road which had been turned into sandy gravel by road deconstruction projects. An absolute nightmare on a bike. Imagine trying to ride as a lorry is coming towards you, and behind you a car is hooting. One car, in a desperate attempt to get me to stop and have a ‘selfie’, cut me up in such a way that I almost fell off my bike. It’s all quite annoying and tiring.
8.20pm…. We are staying in a basic hotel in Jahazpur. It’s a small town and the hotel is right out of it (a good thing). When we found it via Tim’s Google Maps, it did not look like a hotel at all. No sign. Everything shut up. However, we managed to rouse the boys inside and were shown to a room. It’s 1,500 Rs but we agreed 1,000 Rs, with an added 100Rs for a simple meal. The owner, a Jain, who is weirdly making money in the beedi trade, was moderately accepting of our room cost negotiations. The ‘cost’ to us is frequent chats, where we are invited into ‘the office’ where we sit, are offered water and tea, and then chat about something. We learn we are his ‘special guests’. What this means exactly is unclear.
Our meal was delicious. A dhal, rice , veg and roti. More and more food was brought out for us. He tries to press another roti on me…. ‘just one more’ . (I wasn’t eating them anyway.). After this, as if we hadn’t had enough sugar for a lifetime, he brings jaggery as a treat. Pure sugar, literally.
At the start of the day, with good roads, we can put a lot of miles behind us quickly. Today we had good roads, mostly. Just a few road deconstruction areas with horrid slippery mud, making cycling impossibly treacherous. In fact one man on a motorbike, came crashing off, his wife too, just as we had dismounted our bikes as we thought it too dangerous. Why people need to spray the mud roads with water, making it all so much more slippery, defeats me.