|On a gorgeous bluff over a beach in Devgarh – locals only come here
I heard a crack.
I’d just come down a long descent on bumpy torn up roads and hit the bottom with the next climb starting almost immediately again in front of me. Uh-oh. Cracking sounds are bad. What rattled off this time?
Stop the bike. Seat bag is on. Nothing obvious is off, broken or loose. Rear light is still attached. Fork is OK (my big fear on these roads is damaging my carbon fiber fork- which would be not only dangerous but possibly a trip ender). Everything seems OK.
So I start the next long climb and get most of the way up and look down to check my computer … gone. Drat.
I turn around and head back down the hill (a really long steep hill, of course) and search the area where I think it may have fallen- no luck. So I chug back up the hill to play catch up and check in with our sweep (the staff member who rides at the back of the pack to “sweep” in the stragglers and make sure no-one is having trouble) and then work to catch up with someone who has a computer so I can make it to the next town.
The bike computer is pretty important for our navigation. Basically our navigation is based on three sets of tools:
- A set of written directions that are posted on a white board every night which I hand-copy down, put in a zip lock bag and use binder clips to attach it to my camera bag on the stem. The directions look something like this:
· At .6 Kilometers, right at Traffic circle
· At 9.5 Kilometers, Left at T intersection (ask for town of Devgarh)
· At 22.5 K straight through 4-way intersection at tuk tuk stand
So losing the computer, which also has the odometer, is a problem because you don’t know where you are on the ride to look for the turns. Copying it by hand is a pain, but it does make you really think about the route which is good.
2) One of the staff goes through early morning and flag turns with orange tape
This has been really useful –once we figured out how to spot the tape and understand the system of the flagging (on the same side of the road as the turn, before and after.) Another challenge with the tape is the kids would take it down – we would spot it worn as belts and headbands or in a lot of little pieces in a lot of little hands. So you can’t count on the tape, though they are now hanging it higher and in less tempting smaller strips and it’s surviving more reliably.
3) 3) If in doubt ask… and then ask again … and make sure you ask in the right way
The town names help when we have to ask locals for directions. There is a big difference in potential answers though depending on how you ask. If I say politely “Namaste. Devgarh ?” and point in a direction, chances are I’ll get a very friendly and agreeable nod – regardless if the town of Devgarh is down that road or not. If I just say Devgarh and shrug without leading the question, chances are better I’ll get pointed down the road in the right direction. Especially if I’ve asked a tuk tuk, bus or truck driver who know the roads.
BUT, always better to do a back-up ask to make sure there is agreement, ESPECIALLY if you get a response that includes that Indian sideways head bob which can basically mean yes, no or I don’t know. If it’s not clear then you can risk a turn on the best four out of five answers or resort to the map or GPS to try and figure it out. Luckily I haven’t gotten lost yet or had to pull out the map or hire a tuk tuk driver to lead me to my destination (a pretty good option in a city, actually)
There is a type of liberation riding without a computer telling you how far you’ve gone, time on the bike, speed, average speed, calories burned and everything else they can do. I have several biking friends who refuse to use a computer because they find themselves too obsessed with the numbers and not appreciating the ride for the joy of riding.
But for me, I’ll be visiting another bike shop in Goa to replace this computer – and possibly the water bottle cage mount that broke earlier this week – again due to rattling down these rough roads. The computer is not a big loss – I brought a cheap one knowing the chances were high it could be destroyed. And hey – another chance to peruse a bike shop in India is always entertaining