The final leg to reach the destination Jaisalmer was tough due to several reasons. For starters the bottom bracket ball bearings were not in good shape although Jodhpur cycle shop mechanics had told me otherwise. The next thing was the distance and the desert terrain.
Starting off early on the 19th Jan, I was nearly struck down by an auto rickshaw near my hotel and after that I reduced my bike speed to a crawl, till I cleared Jodhpur city limits. Traffic in Jodhpur borders on the hazardous levels. About 20 km. beyond Jodhpur, the terrain looks more barren with thorny brambles and bushes, and very few trees. I made a stop around 10 am in a roadside dhaba, and despite repeated reminders was served brunch after an hour. This delay would hit me later on.
The only thing the people in and around the dhaba were interested in was photography, serving food an hour late
I took this lesson to heart, dhabas in Rajasthan will serve food only after 11 am or so. The ride towards Jaislamer took me through some hilly as well as desert terrain. In between I came across a rock mining town called Balesar and had a small stop for some snacks. I found youngsters in and around Balesar to be quite hostile with loads of boos and derisive laughter/comments hurled at me. This didn’t affect me in the least as regular bike touring had given me a thick skin. I made good speed and made it to Dechu, a desert settlement town. Here, I had my bottom bracket outside fitting re-aligned by a local bicycle repair shop. I was hoping that the re-alignment would fall in the ball bearings inside the bracket and I could push the bike up to Jaislamer. My stop for the day was at Shri Naganaray restaurant, about 10-20 km. ahead of Dechu; the restaurant also agreed to accommodate me for the night, at a nominal charge.
Disheveled and tired but happy to have crossed Dechu, at Naganaray restaurant
My target was to cover at least 150 km. but, I felt short by about 20 odd kilometers. The terrain in and around Dechu has some large sand dunes, although most of these are being steadily dug up and then the desert land is being used for farming. I had a good dinner at the restaurant, who also cook up delicious meals at reasonable rates.
20th of Jan, 2019 was a big day as I was going to head for Jaislamer, my destination and I started off early morning at the first light around 7 am. Approaching towards Pokharan I made a bad decision and took a wrong turn down a road headed for another town Barmer. About 15 km. down the road I learned about this and made a turn about, this cost me an additional hour and more. By this time I was getting desperate, because in my calculation I would have to cycle late into the night, to reach Jaisalmer which was a good 120 km. away and it was already about 11 am in the day. To top it all a strong head wind slowed me up right up to Jaisalmer town and then there was the pedal crank issue. The bottom bracket started making grinding noises in between as I pumped up my speed. This was a dead give away that one or more of the ball bearings had been cut bad or even broken up. But, the cranks kept moving albeit slowly. I made several stoppages along the way.
The wrong road to Barmer
It was around 8 pm in the night that I finally entered Jaisalmer and it took me an hour or more to locate my hotel — The Culture, nesting right underneath the famed Jaisalmer fort. The young gentleman who ran the hotel was an ex-biker and was quite interested in my touring habits. This was a refreshing change from most of my countrymen who mostly have low regard for sports touring stuff. The hotel had excellent rooms and I was upgraded to a luxurious room. Even though they had no parking space in their premises for a tour bike, they used to lock it up every night in their reception area for bike safety.
My stay in Jaisalmer was going to be for three nights. The plan was to repair my bike, visit Jaisalmer monuments, and then head for the famous sand dunes towards the border. The bike repair took me almost the full working day. I replaced the ball bearings of the bottom bracket and tried to set the front gear system right again. There were three chain rings at the front and shifting to the largest one had become nearly impossible. Unfortunately, there were no shops in Jaisalmer offering front gear shifters and I had no option but to continue with what I perceived to be a faulty shifter.
Jaisalmer fort area which houses a lot of hotels and restaurants, my hotel was about 100 meters from this spot
The weather in Jaisalmer was fickle with disturbances in the Arabian sea system causing rapid changes here; being close to the India-Pakistan border. It would rain one day and then be cold and dry the next.
The Jaislamer fort itself is worth visiting with stunning city views right at the top of the fort. The other historical landmark is the Gadi Sagar Lake.
Traditional Rajasthani dress photo op in the Gadi Sagar Lake premises, the dresses can be rented for photo ops and can be worn over the normal wear
With Jaisalmer under my belt my next target was Khuri, to view the famous sand dunes of Thar desert, that is coming up next, stay tuned.