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First days on the road

Waiting to catch the ferry from the Gate of India in Mumbai.

So, four days pedalling from Mumbai has brought us to a small village called Velneshwara where we are having a rest day. Hard to know exactly how many miles we have covered, but we are about 120 miles from our starting point as the crow flies. The coast south of Mumbai is mostly small towns and small roads often running along or close to the coast. We caught a ferry across the bay through a thick haze amidst a small forest of laid up oil rigs. Deposited at Mandawa, we set off pedalling optimistically in the late morning heat. Traffic was a concern, but this proved relatively light and pedestrian in pace so not as threatening as feared. What did rapidly become challenging was being beeped at continuously by every passing and oncoming car, truck and motorbike. The motorbikes which proliferte were particularly insistent, often beeping three times as they passed us individually. It was hard to work out whether they were just alerting us to their presence lest we suddenly divert right in to the middle of the road or as a tactic to encourage us to give way. But as we were tucked in close to the verge it and there was little oncoming traffic we decided this was just a form of "greeting"! We'd noticed the horn usage in Mumbai where traffic was obviously heavy but hadn't anticipated in a very rural setting. Happily as we travelled further it ihas become a little less prevalent.

Day one was a good introduction to our subsequent days with roads in varying states of repair, changing without any particular reason from very smooth and quiet to almost rubble and pot holes. Each section could be a few hundred metres to a flew kilometres. When the sections were rough it was very hard going on the bones and the bikes. Slowing right down, trying to weave around the ruts and ridges and find a smoother route, often crisscrossing the whole carriageway. Jarring bumps up through the handlebars and seat post punishing the wheels and bearings. Slow on the uphills and even slower on the downhills braking hard to keep the speed right down to reduce the impact. Having pedalled hard to get up a slope or hill , especially if was rough it felt very cheated to have to work almost harder on the descent to brake to less than a walking pace. This was our experience for much of the first three days and required a lot of attention on road itself to avoid a random hole or speed bump of which there are many to catch the unwary. Trying to watch the scenery rapidly becomes a hazardous pastime.

When it was possible to look at it, the scenery was changeable. Scrubby fields of thin brown grass, small shrubby trees, patchworks of swampy land all made up the first couple of days. Every once in a while we would pass through a greener lusher section of coconut palms, tended gardens and denser undergrowth.

John sand Ken pausing for a drink on a bridge over a river. Keeping an eye out for aquatic life.


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