I just watched the sunset over dammed lake behind Badra Dam from a balcony of my cabin at the River Tern Jungle Lodge.
Some critter is chirping. The light is going from pink-red to gold-grey. I expect to have to retreat inside to Deet up any minute now. It’s a peaceful end to a long –but lovely – riding day.
Longer than it needed to be due to missing a turn and heading several kilometers east when we should have been heading south. Crap. My first time lost.
I was with Eva and Ana-Greta and we took a lovely road through rice paddies and ended up at a surprise T intersection. Hmmm … not on the directions. So we ask some locals for the direction to the next big town we needed to go … consistent answers say go straight on. We have an entire village navigation committee assisting us … and are even invited for tea. Such lovely helpful folks. But … they haven’t seen other cyclists. Bad sign. But when I pull out the map and consult, Eva and I determine it’s likely we are here so continuing makes sense. Or if we are where we think we are we can still get there…
So we keep going and reach the next town. Ask for directions … that local navigation committee is convening … and I hear hssssss from Ana-Greta’s tire goes flat. OK – so we’ll be here a while. They change the tire, I consult with the committee. I get written directions – someone can write English. I figure out we aren’t anywhere near where we thought we were … alrighty. It will be a long day then. I get a couple of maps drawn for me. Lots of advice. Lots of questions. What’s your name? Where are you from? Where are you going? We are asked these dozens of times a day biking through this area – by people who flag us down, motorbikes who pull up and chat while we ride, and yelled out from the side of the road.
I demonstrate all the gadgets on my bike while they finish changing the tire … the computer, gears are a big attention getter here since I have 27 on my bike and they have 1. Brakes. Light. Eventually we ride on.
We hit the first bigger town in route and seek out food and water… not sure we’ll find the lunch truck and not really sure how far it is to the next big city as estimatesgiven ranged from 30 to 70 km. More advice. More help. More questions and crowds.
(Breaking now to apply the Deet … India has sneaky mosquitos BTW. No uncouth buzzing around your ears … they go the silent but deadly approach and never hear them or feel them bite. Nasty.)
Keep peddling and keep asking as we go … Calligari? And hearing an answering grunt and arm swing pointing down the road. We make it to Calligari and see Henry –the owner of Tour d’Afrique – cycling through an intersection. We’re back on track – and only 100 meters from the lunch truck which is miraculously still there and packing up. Damn we’re good. I thought they’d be long gone since it took us so long to get there due to the flat, really bad, beat-yourself-to-a-pulp roads and frequent navigation stops. But apparently the correct route had bad roads too so everyone was getting in slowly.
We managed to get bananas and peanut butter and some special treat sweet cake from the back and Eva and I headed off. 25km more of bike-bouncing, bone-rattling roads without respite…. Gads, that is unspeakably exhausting. I used to joke on ride days further north that I was ready to go out for my morning beating on the bike … this ride was upwards of 80km of pounding.
|Rice paddy and egrets – wonderful bird life in India, especially around the water
But when you could look around rather than focusing on the road it was gorgeous. Wetlands, rice paddies and, as we approached the dam and wildlife preserve beautiful forest covered hills.
Getting lost is a little nerve wracking. But it also actually made the day more interesting and fun- literally more of an adventure. Being beaten up and lost –and then found was much better than merely focusing on the bad roads.
Being able to manage locating yourself and getting back where you need to be is a good confidence builder, too.