Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Day 22 cycling: Ranakpur to Kumbhalgarh
Distance: 53.34 km
Ride time: 4:38 hrs
Average Speed: 12.14 km/hr
Maximum speed: 50.4 km/hr
Total cycled: 2022 km
Total between towns: 1822 km

It took little less than 2 hours to get to the top of the hill out of Ranakpur, where a Hindu temple stands (about 19km from where I stayed). As I left my accommodation and began the day's cycling, a dog suddenly made towards me. Thankfully he didn't bite into me, as I at first feared, but merely began trotting alongside me - and did so for the next 13 km (which shows how fast I was travelling). My next reaction at him follwoing me was an echo of the irritation that I'd developed from the "one pen" kids who followed alongside, but then I figured the dog couldn't have been expecting much of me. I then began to think (cycling does strange things to your psyche) as the hill became steeper & I began to huff & puff a bit harder that "perhaps he knows I'm gonna die up here & he's tagging along for the meal" (I'd seen some dogs ripping into a bull carcase the previous day). He finally disappeared after it started to rain. Fair-weather friend.

Unbelievably, it began to rain really heavily on the way, and I sheltered for a time under a tractor trailer at the invitation of the driver & his colleague. There were even a few hailstones falling for a time. Thankfully it was fairly short lived & I finally made it to Kumbhalgarh, while singing at times "it's raining in Rajasthan ..." . It was an excellent ride, although hard in parts, and I made 2 milestones - the fastest downhill ride of the trip (50.4 km/hr) and breaking the 2000 km mark. It was predominantly a rural area, and I found it to be one of the more interesting rides this trip. There was so little traffic & so few signs of any sort that for some time I thought that I'd taken a wrong turn.

I stayed at Hotel Khumbal Castle, quite close to the fort, which was expensive at Rp 1000 (cheaper accommodation was in the town of Kelwara, down the hill a few kilometers, but I didn't fancy making my way back up the road to see the fort, which I hoped to do straight away). It was comfortable enough, and had a great view out the window. The fort itself was impressive & probably worth the cycle there.

Unfortunately during the night I awoke with "gastrointestinal problems" that I felt precluded me from cycling the final leg back to Udaipur (about 80km) and so I did the unforgiveable, for a cyclist, and hired a jeep to take me & my bicycle back here. It was interesting to muse on the difference between travelling by bicycle & by jeep (and I did enjoy seeing that even it was forced onto the shoulder several times by oncoming buses). Obviously the jeep is much faster, and so serves a purpose if you want to get from A to B quickly. On the other hand, it felt much more insulated from what was happening outside, and no-one waved or said hello (or, it must be said, cried out "one pen"). It was like being in a bubble. You still are on a bicycle, I reckon, but it's a much more slow moving bubble & it's a little easier to stop & look at things that grab your attention.

So, I've bought a bus ticket back to Mumbai, leaving tomorrow at 3pm. Less than a week & I'll be leaving India.

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