Monday, 17 May 2010

What the hell am I doing in India? - Genesis of the Commonwealth Challenge Part 2

The story continues where the last blog left off, Glasgow airport.....

Heartbreak had led me to Glasgow airport, impulsiveness had resulted in a flight being booked to India and lack of preparation had sent me straight back home again.

I didn't have a Indian visa, why did I need one? I was sure I didn't. This can be explained by my hours and hours of planning that I put into this trip. Basically ten days before the start of this trip I found out I had five weeks worth of holidays that had to be taken . So I looked out for cheap flights somewhere in the world. Delhi just by chance happened to be the start location, the Himalayas the end goal. EASY! Planning done. I am sure that is how all Himalayan adventurers do it isn't it!? Ah well apparently not no, no visa meant no flight for me.

Four days later I arrived in Delhi. Though Pinny (aka my bike) hadn't arrived she was a little lost. As for Delhi I must say I was not that impressed by the place. Very dirty, very polluted, crappy buildings everywhere. I went on a crappy tour to see a bit more of the place. The tour tried to show me the difference between "old" Delhi and "new" Delhi. To the untrained eye it both looks the same, dirty and run down. Not much here for the tourist I thought.

In hindsight I do believe I was first off badly jet lagged in Delhi and secondly not in the right frame of mind to go and explore the place. To be honest for the three days that I had there I spent the majority of the time in the hotel room. So I am not really sure that I got to experience the place properly. So when I arrive there for the Delhi 2010 games I think I will be able to give a better evaluation of the city.

So Pinny arrived a day later, phew. That relief wasn't felt for long though. After I started to sort her for the road I realized that Emirates had beat her up pretty bad. Cheers. The rear wheel was in a bad state so I had to try and sort it out. Not being that good at fixing mechanical problems I successfully made it worse. I should have just left it, so the only solution I had was to disconnect the rear brakes. Good start.

It was now time to start the ride to EBC and the first stop would be Agra the home of the Taj Mahal over 130 miles away. When I went to bed to get some sleep I must say I was feeling a bit nervous about the challenge ahead. Every local I had spoke to said I must be crazy for trying to cycle to Agra. "The roads are too dangerous and full of drunk drivers". This was the normal comment and didn't fill me with confidence.

When it was 1.30a.m I just decided to get ready and go and then I was off. Next stop Agra. It was dark, of course but the roads were completely dead. Just I had planned, problem was I wasn't really sure where I was heading. But two random locals on a motor bike solved that problem and gave me an escort to the road I was looking for. It did come at a cost though, I had to stand and pose for pictures with him and a few of his friends? This would happen a lot as it turned out!

Nine hours later i had cover 132 miles and had made it to Agra. Now you are probably wondering how I managed to do 132 miles in nine hours. Now i'm not going to lie it was not all down to my effort. Even though I did cycle every mile of the route, I did have some help. I formed a team with the local truck drivers and what a team we were! They would drive along at an average of 22 miles an hour and I would sit in their slip stream. Amazing. The highlight was slip streaming at an average of 28 miles an hour for nearly an hour. Brilliant.

Before I knew it I had made it to Agra. No drunk drivers had hit me, though the driving style was really starting to do my head in! There is only so much horn beeping you can take after a night of cycling with no sleep. So just before cycle rage took full grip I found the hotel. Checked out the amazing view of the Taj Mahal from the roof and went to bed. Success.

The next day I would start the journey to Nepal with my hand drawn map. Should be easy...

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