Sunday, February 27, 2005


Day 19 cycling: Mt Abu to Gogunda
Distance: 107.75 km (plus 23 km in a jeep)
Ride time: 6:54
Average Speed: 16.24 km/hr
Maximum speed: 45.0 km/hr
Total cycled: 1819 km

Mount Abu is a charming town, with a sense of spaciousness and (relative) quiet, enhanced by the lack of autorickshaws & dogs. Touristy, for both foreign & Indian tourists, in that there are numerous hotels & restaurants, but now is a relatively quiet time of year. While there were quite a few western tourists about, there are no obvious western tourist 'hangouts', so again I found meeting other travellers difficult. A very hilly, treed area, with many old, interesting-looking mansions dotted around. I quite liked Arbuda restaurant - a large place that for some reason isn't listed in the LP guide.

As noted earlier, I had a shirt copied by TRILOK CHAND TAILOR, near the Union Bank of India. They did a pretty good job. I liked their motto: "Be holly - Be yogi".

I headed off, somewhat tentatively in the direction of Udaipur - I felt a slight insecurity for the first time about my bicycle, or more specifically about the tyres/tubes, given the troubles I had the previous day. The tube hadn't deflated overnight, so I figured it was probably OK to head off into the relative unknown. Unknown becaus ethe Lonely Planet Road Atlas is actually not all that accurate, I'm coming to realise. A local map of Rajasthan show roads that the LP doesn't - fairly critical for the ride to Udaipur from Mt Abu. The ride down Mt Abu was fabulous. The scenery was great - at times even reminded me of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, except for the troops of monkeys at various spots down the mountainside. I only hit a maximum of about 40km/hr however, as there were many curves & the road, while being pretty good, did have some hard-to-see bumpy spots.

I took the first left at the bottom of the hill as advised, and headed toward the town of Pindwara, one of two towns on the way to Udaipur that apparently had accommodation. This leg, to Pindwara, was about 80 km from Mt Abu, and comprised both flat & fairly undulating sections. I'd not reckoned on how desolate the road would be, and in the heat quite quickly ran out of water. Coming across a police post in the middle of nowhere I was able, after a halting conversation with the policeman on duty (I think he was; he seemed to be in his underwear), to pump some bore water into my bottle. Being the colour of weak tea, I added a water purifying tablet just in case. The resulting mix tasted awful, and some difficult arithmetic arose between becoming dehydrated & throwing up.

After cycling about 107km, with another 23km to Gogunda, the only other town with accommodation, I was utterly exhausted, and managed to secure a lift in a jeep with 2 blokes. We agreed on Rp 100, but half way there they tried upping this to Rp 200, taking advantage presumably of how buggered & yet grateful I looked (especially as they did all the heavy work of putting the bike on the roof). The silly thing was that I'd already decided I'd give them Rp 150, which is what I ended up giving them.

I stayed in a room attached to the Jai Shree Govind restaurant - not very flash, but like nirvana to me at 6pm, after nearly 9 hours on the road. It was quiet - no early morning traffic & no amplified noise at 6am from local temples.

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