A Ride in India

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The Chhattisgarh ride. To get into Chhattisgarh we land in Hyderabad and ride up to Warangal on the first day. We then have to go SE for a day to get over the Godavari River. We stop in Konta, Malkangiri and Jeypore. Then in Dantowara, Basur and Jagdelpur. Heading north we arrive at a junction just west of Raipur (the state capital) but then swing west to Maharashtra and Nagpur from where we depart. This 2007 tour through Chhattisgarh involved encounters with both Naxalites and police but I won’t discuss either of them here. Not one westerner was sighted in the 1,600km. One puncture on the two bikes. A very remote, poor and tribal part of India.

Cotton picker on the road to Warangal.

Its getting a bit late and the animals are being brought back in. We still have a 40km forest to ride through.

The main road is straight ahead but we want to go to Konta. It would have been easy to not notice on this sign that we need to go left.

For a few days we are in western Orrisa. This is a fish trap.

Woodgetters. These women don’t just stroll. They jog. And today we saw one of them jogging whilst also breastfeeding.

This is a load of leaves. They will be going to a big market, probably some distance away. They are used with beetle nut, a stimulant that men and women chew. It makes their mouths red and causes them to spit out red saliva. All a bit gross but what an impressive load!

An animist roadside totem top. One of the world’s largest tribal populations lives in the forests of Chhattisgarh, where they follow a religion that blends animism and witchcraft with the worship of multiple gods.

Arranging a boat ride. It is already a 120km day and if we can’t pull this off it will be 170km. The rivers become massive in the wet season and would just be too expensive to build enough bridges over them. In the wet season this would be impassable.

Chhattisgarh family with corn.

Women bringing leaves in from the forest.

So many bikes have only pedal spindles, the rubber having fallen off. I have started carrying pedals and when I see one of these I do a very quick free service and in one minute depart leaving the bike with brand new pedals and the locals scratching their heads saying “what just happened”. I did three bikes today.

This is the largest number of people I have seen on a single rickshaw. I can see 11 but there might be as many as 20.

The road is rough but there are lots of local cyclists. They have their own tracks on either side and it is quite easy to travel at 25-30kph on these perfect bike tracks. On the road you’d be doing less than 20.

The bridges of Maharashtra. Surely someone has made a coffee table book of them. They are beautiful. Today a woman washing clothes flashed her boobs as I rode past. We all laughed.

Departing Nagpur. Yesterday was a rest day allowing time to score cardboard and wrap the bikes after they had the front wheels, saddles, pedals and handlebars taken off. This remote and not-modern part of India pulls at my heart as I take off.

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