The next section of the onward route was a mix of everything, smooth four lane national highways to terrible unpaved, rock and dust filled patches and some bike issues. The Sheopur ride through valleys and hills had induced a yaw in the rear portion of the bike. It turned out that the stress of the rear load had loosened the nut that binds the front and rear portion of the bike. This was promptly tightened up. One other issue that propped up during the hill rides was that the pedal cranks would become loose.
The Sawai Madhopur – Chaksu route started out well with me taking the state highway, and I saw my first camel cart here. I had started out from Sawai Madhopur, early morning on the 13th Jan, 2019. My aim was to reach Chaksu and stay there overnight moving on the next day.
First camel cart sighting in Rajasthan, on the route to Chaksu
The fields next to the highway were bright yellow with the mustard crop flowering, which was a good sight. I was cruising along but things soon turned southwards with me trying to take a shortcut through inner villages to cut my time to Chaksu. To put it simply, it was a nightmare with hostile crowds, very bad stretches of roads and of course the crank issue. At the end of it all me and my bike were plastered with mud and I was barely managing to keep afloat, emerging from the hell on to the highway about 20 km. from Chaksu. Thankfully, there was a highway hotel and I lodged up there for the night.
Again, I spent a lot of time cleaning and servicing my bike which was clearly battered, but had a good sleep. The next route was Chaksu-Phagi-Dudu and was good all the way except for a bad stretch at the near end of the route. The other option was to go on from Chaksu on to Jaipur and then turn South towards Ajmer. But, having experienced the nightmarish traffic of our big cities, I opted for the other option through Phagi. I found an excellent budget hotel on the Ajmer highway, just on the outskirts of Dudu. Here, I hammered in the loose cotter pins of my pedal cranks but had a nagging doubt that it was really the bottom bracket ball bearings that were going bad; and serviced my bike. The hotel was very helpful and allowed me to take the bike all the way to my first floor room, for security reasons.
Next day, I started off around 7:30 am in the morning, for Ajmer. The highway was four lane but there were thorny brambles all along the road sides. The thorns, I learned later were good enough to puncture even the much thicker heavy truck tires. Straying too close to the roadside resulted in my first rear tire puncture and repairing it took me about 2 hours, mainly because I had to remove all my luggage and re-strap it in. Besides that the run was comfortable.
On the way to Ajmer
Prior to the trip, I had decided to bypass Ajmer and head for Jodhpur, but the bike condition meant that I had to enter the city and hunt for a good bicycle repair shop. The decision was almost a waste of time as far as the repair goes but I did manage to find a good bike shop, to buy gear/brake wires and a plush soft saddle seat, along with a rear axle and a QR skewer; and a quality pair of bike gloves. I had put up in a guest house in Saradhana, about 15 km. from Ajmer. The guest house owner recommended that I visit Pushkar and I did just that, taking a day off on the 15th of Jan for the Pushkar visit.
Pushkar turned out to be a steep hilly climb but it was enjoyable; except the traffic flow through some stretches of the road, which was to put simply — hazardous. The 15 feet wide road through steep hilly climbs has two way traffic flowing through it at high speeds, this includes heavy vehicles.
One can see the hills in the background, through which this road snakes upwards, to reach Pushkar
The Clock Tower in Pushkar, this is the entrance to the town
The town itself is far from the temple town that one expects it to be, it was more like a hippie paradise with the ratio of foreigners to Indians being almost equal. Furthermore,the streets through the ancient temple roads were jam packed with tourists. I had to make a quick getaway, since biking through the narrow streets was impossible.
The way back through Pushkar hills
One bike issue that cropped up during the return leg of Pushkar-Ajmer was the chain falling off from the 7th gear into the the chassis. After a few such mishaps I resorted to yanking the chain free and this I suspect led to the gear freewheel being stressed to the point of being damaged.
Coming up — the Ajmer-Bar-Bilara-Jodhpur section of the Grand Tour, do keep visiting !