Day 18 cycling: Junagadh to Rajkot
Distance: 105.44 km
Ride time: 6:11
Average Speed: 17.33 km/hr
Maximum speed: 28.7 km/hr
Total cycled: 1697 km
Total between towns: 1512 km
The road surface was, on the whole, good, but the wind & traffic conspired to make it awkward. The last 30 km was a dual-lane divided highway. Interestingly, while I was still hobbling around, struggling to walk after my punishing hike up Girnar Hill & back, I had no difficulties with cycling - different muscles I guess.
I've now cycled a similar distance to my journey through South India in 2000 & for as many days. The main difference this time is that I've had no bike trouble whatsoever - in fact, I've only pumped some more air into the tyres once. In 2000, I incurred numerous flats, due to thorns, and my rear tyre had begun to perish. It was a little hotter then, and it rained several times. I have a mountain bike this time rather than my hybrid cycle (the worst of both worlds?), mainly because a 26" wheel is more convenient in India than a 700cc one, in terms of possible replacements, and I think it's a little more robust, as are the tyres.
The reactions from other travellers on hearing that you're cycling in India tend to be:
(i) they tell you you're mad (i.e dismiss you)
(ii) tell you about someone they know who's doing something even more extreme (eg "well, a bloke I know is walking cross India...") (i.e top you)
(iii) put themselves down (i.e "you're really seeing India ...")
Sometimes people enquire about the experience...
In Rajkot I stayed at the Hotel RR Palace. It was a bit of a drag that they didn't seem to provide breakfast and so I had to trek off to find somewhere to eat. I guess I've become spoilt. From the front desk of the Hotel RR, I rang the travel agent that people in Junagadh had suggested, to get a bus to Mt Abu (it's with great embarrassment that I write this, as it challenges my own purist notion of being a cyclist. Still, it's much too far to cycle in the available time - I want to be there in the next few days). The person who answered said there was a bus at 10.30pm that night - I was pleased, & said I wanted a ticket. Ah, but it's cancelled, they told me. Well, how about tomorrow night? "Cancelled also" The next night? "Cancelled" ... Oh no! They suggested another place, and I rang it. Yes, they had a bus leaving at 7.30pm (yippee!), but it only went to Abu Road, about 27km short of Mount Abu. They asked me the number of where I was staying. I began "221 ..". they said "321..?". I said "no, 221...". They said "231..?". I said "no, 2214...". They said "2213 ..?" I said "FUCK!!!". I think I must have been a little keyed up. At this point the hotel guy took over & gave the number. I went for a walk.
I didn't much like Rajkot, and was glad to leave, which I did at 7.30pm that evening.