Grand Tour — Return Leg

The return leg kicked off on the 26th of Jan, 2019, from Jaisalmer. The route was originally planned to be the same as the onward leg but due to family commitments, I decided to take the shorter one back.

Return Leg

I kept an low average speed because my fastest gear in the front was effectively out of service.

IMG_8418The road back, about 30 km. on from Jaisalmer

Cycled on till 7:30 pm stopping at a roadside ashram about 30 km. short of Dechu. They provided frugal food, a cot and many layers of warm mattresses for me, at a nominal charge.

IMG_8425My bike at a roadside ashram about 130 km. on from Jaisalmer

Started off early morning around 7:30 am and had zipped past Balesar around 2 pm., a good night’s rest had given me some energy.

About 40 km. from Jodhpur, near a town called Agolai, I was hailed by a motorbike rider. He was quite polite and we struck it off. It turned out that he was mobiker fan and helped me change my chain at a local shop and then paid for my tea too !! Thanks Rakesh. The discussion with him and the locals lasted some time, it was getting late so I decided to lodge in a roadside motel about 10 km. further up.

Would also like to point out that throughout the onward as well as the return leg, I was given thumbs up signals and encouraging horn hoots from ‘motorbike’ bikers , including one outright clapping ovation by bikers standing at the roadside. Thanks guys.

Arrived at Jodhpur on the 28th Jan. and spent the whole day working on my bike, replacing the front shifter with a new one, and also a new rear tire/tube, purchased from the local market. The gears were all functional , but the ‘new’ tire tube it turned out had a manufacturing defect resulting in a very slow leakage. Decided to move on with the tube since the leakage was discovered at the time of departure on the 29th of Jan, morning.

The leaking tube was finally replaced at a nice dhaba about 20 km. from Bilara, on the way to Ajmer, where I had decided to hole up for the night. Departed again on the 30th Jan morning and paid a visit to my ‘Vote of Thanks’ buddies on the way back. Stopped about 20 km. short of Ajmer at a dhaba for the night and then departed for Dudu on the way to Jaipur, next morn, the 31st Jan, 2019.

IMG_8445Departure time at the dhaba near Bilara, on the way to Ajmer

IMG_8452Rajasthan’s favorite food, dal-bati, lunch time about 50 km. from Dudu

Arrived early around 4:30 pm at Dudu, which has some very fine budget hotels run by the Kumawat community, I lodged up at one, on the opposite side of the road. The room was simply magnificent for the amount I paid for it. Was more like a 5 star suite, except that the bathroom was clean but not that attractive.

Started off for Jaipur on the 1st Feb, 2019. The ride was enjoyable till around 40 km. from Jaipur, when the traffic became too intense to concentrate on anything else. I lodged up in a good hotel described in my blog ‘Vote of Thanks’. Jaipur city traffic is the usual chaos, with cyclists being the worst off. I stayed in Jaipur for two nights taking off on the 3rd Jan. morning for Bharatpur. Cycled till 7:00 pm. finally lodging in a roadside hotel at Balaji Mod. The next morning, 4th Jan, brought out a very foggy front and visibility was limited to about 20 feet. Waited till 8 am. and then decided to take off from the hotel.

IMG_8483About to leave for Bharatpur, 8 am., from the hotel, at Balaji Mod

The ride to Bharatpur was ok. The fog had dissipated by 11 am., and as it became warmer, it was the usual stripping down the jackets tying them to the front handlebar.

IMG_8487Around 11 am, on the way to Bharatpur

Bharatpur is a congested town and I took up lodging in a good budget hotel in the middle of the town. R M B Hotel at Bharatpur is recommended if you can wade through the congested streets of Bharatpur. The rooms were huge and the staff was quite helpful. I had booked two nights at Bharatpur. The major attraction at Bharatpur is the bird sanctuary and Keoladeo National Park. There is a fort in the town, it’s structure has mostly vanished but there is a good fort museum for history aficionados.

The bird sanctuary is situated just outside the town with most major deluxe hotels situated near by. The bird sanctuary is simply stunning and a goldmine for birders. The only way to visit is on pedal rickshaws, bicycles or golf cart like battery operated cars seating about 4 people. Motor vehicles are not allowed inside.

I visited the sanctuary early morning on my bike and then after that spent the rest of the day stripping down my bike to prepare it for bus carriage. I had booked a seat on a bus that would take me non-stop to Kanpur. The ride was scheduled for 12:30 am 6th Jan, 2019 but the bus turned up at 1:30 am, at a point about 5 km. away from the scheduled stop, on the Bharatpur bypass to Agra. I learned later that this was the usual practice at Bharatpur. Those booking online would be informed about a pick up point and then would learn at the 11th hour about the actual one, some missing their buses too. Thankfully, I caught the bus and my bike was crammed into the huge boot and spending the rest of the night worrying about damages, reached Kanpur on the same day at 8:30 am. Thankfully except for the paint job, it looks OK, but I really haven’t checked it yet, it was however good enough to cycle back to my residence and then into my store workshop. That was it for this Grand Tour !

Carrying bikes on buses here can be a bad idea, because the top/boot carriages of buses are usually crammed with lots of stuff and there is constant retrieval/dumping of goods in carriages. There is a very good possibility of some kind of damage. Do it only if there is no way out, as a last resort. Folding bikes may be the answer to this issue but they may not be sturdy enough for repeated long hauls ?

Next blog is on Bharatpur bird sanctuary, do keep visiting !!

P.S.: Will be posting vids of this Grand Tour trip on my you tube channel, for those interested. Posting them here is slowing down access speeds so am avoiding posting too many vids. Will give info on this later.

 

 

 

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