Rose's Freewheeling Adventure
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One year on and the hair is longer, the legs are longer but the seat and helmet still fit so time to get on the road again! This time Rose will be crossing India from the Bay of Bengal to the beaches of Goa. 'India holidays bike!' says Rose so let's go!
Following on from Rose's first adventure aboard the Windrush (see below), her next trip is to cross Cambodia by bicycle!
Meet Rose Harvest, born in February 2010. Follow this blog and find out about her adventures!
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Sorry for the massively long text but here goes:
After the long distances between suitable lodgings in Cambodia last year, we decided to carry camping gear to prevent having to do long days on the bikes trying to reach the next town. In India we needn't have worried, with settlements not more than 15km apart, and we only truly camped on the beach in Goa for a couple of nights when we had finished the journey - and this was through choice rather than necessity. We found no evidence of anyone else camping on our trip even in Goa, but everyone has been so friendly wild-camps would have been possible. We have seen collections of tent-dwellers, but they seem to be more impoverished people on the edges of villages.Despite going against some advice and using our own modern mountain bikes with hard-to-fix front suspension and hydraulic disk brakes front and back, we didn't carry many spares and relied on the good condition of the bikes and the relative shortness of the tour to minimise breakdowns. The disk brakes came into their own on the fully laden descent of the Western Ghats and the suspension made the sometimes poor roads and tracks more comfortable. Our luck held and the worst problem we had was one puncture on Kate's Kona.For carrying the four panniers, we use a Blackburn rear rack each which fits the Topeak baby seat, and matching Axiom front racks to fit front suspension and disk brakes. This meant we could swap things round according to how we felt, but in the end Jon had Rose and the front panniers as far as Hampi and then we swapped for the western section. It seemed a balanced load, although more wind resistance with the seat so felt a little harder work. I must say I enjoyed using a front basket, so useful for sunscreen, Rose's removed shoes, camera, emergency toilet roll etc. I bought it from a bicycle shop early on in the journey and it's certainly been worth the Rps210 (£3) we paid for it. Apart from the basket and the front racks, we tried to use the things we already have rather than buying new.Rose's pop-up bed was again one of the most indispensable items we carried and the peace of mind that she was safe, sound and mosquito-proof during some of the worst nights' accommodation was invaluable. We never used her cloth high chair this time even though it was a top item last year, as a year older she preferred normal chairs. Pro biotic supplements, factor 50+ sunblock, antibacterial wipes and child-friendly insect repellent and malaria tablets have all contributed to keep her trouble free so far.Clothes-wise we opted to bring waterproof jackets and a fleece each and they are still at the bottom of our panniers unused. Additional to these we restricted ourselves to two pairs of shorts or trousers each and three tops, basically cycling clothes for three days. We brought a small amount of detergent and hand washed when necessary. In terms of wearing appropriate clothing, I (Kate) ended up wearing my long-sleeved shirt every day for modesty, but my cycling leggings did show my lower legs which were regularly stared at; we were stared at anyway though so I hope I didn't offend anybody too much. If I were to come again I would bring some prettier clothes to be photographed in.For finding our way we had used a 1 : 1.500,000 Nelles map of south India and google maps on our Nokia N8's. Google maps with the phone's GPS showed much more detail and as the reception of our Indian sim card was generally good this was very useful getting in and out of the towns and cities.A late addition to our kit was a PowerMonkey solar charger and battery but the availability of power and the good battery life of our phones and lumix camera meant we didn't really use it. Our JBL battery speakers were a real (and heavy) luxury but we had a nice day peddling along quiet country roads to the sounds of Bollywood theme tunes given by an enthusiastic teenager we met, and we have used them here on the beach at the end of the trip.The cycle computers have been useful, for distances, speeds, and temperatures, as well as impressing the locals, although google maps probably winds out for reliability and the satellite view was really informative. Crossing the last section of the Western Ghats, and especially the last day along the Goan coast, it would have been nice to have an altimeter although the hills are probably worse in my mind and it all gets a bit geeky. Incidentally the total distance came to 992km.In preparing for this trip, we found it really useful to read other adventure cycling blogs and peoples' recommended kit lists. We would encourage anyone considering a long-distance cycle through India to get in touch with any questions at all, especially travelling with babies, and we can give you lots more detail.Right, back to these Long Island Ice Teas we are sipping, with our feet in the sand and the sound of the ocean just metres away, stars twinkling above.
19th Feb 2012, 15:28
| tags:adventure cycling,india,cycle touring,gear list,kit list,babies,traveling,long distance cycling with children,camping,cycle luggage,pannierscomments (9)
17th Feb 2012, 14:38
The only thing west of us now is ocean and as our bikes don't work well on water we will just hang out here until our flight home later in the month. We have cycled 30km south of our journey's end and settled at the north end of Agonda beach. On our short but hilly ride down the coast we passed the only other long distance cyclists we have seen. Firstly a couple from Barnsley in Yorkshire and then a solo rider from Germany with unusual luggage. Once we have got our breath back we will post a couple more times giving some facts and figures for anyone else out there who is considering a similar trip in India.
15th Feb 2012, 04:32
After a good breakfast and thinking we had a short-ish day, we set off a bit later than normal along the main road looking for the turning towards Agonda. At the junction we were faced with a road blocked by hundreds of dusty trucks, bumper to bumper and queuing to get in and out. They made a line as far as the eye could see, in both directions; disaster, there was no alternative route! We took our planned road, thinking at least we could make a detour in about 4km even if it lengthened our ride. This stretch was horrible, and it was a full 2km before there was a break in the traffic opposite, all of it trucks. Congestion was so bad they were forced to stop, while others tried to jump the queue and crossed onto our side. The red dust was everywhere and we could barely see at times. We felt sorry for the only other cyclist, selling ice creams to the standing traffic.
We were very glad to reach the junction and stop off for a desperately needed cold drink at Dabal village store. We spent some time talking to Ganapati Velgugikar, who informed us that the Verdant mining company were extracting low-grade iron ore in biblical proportions at Sanvordem quarry. An estimated 18,000 trucks carry the ore along existing roads, devastating the landscape and health of local people. He complained of bribery and corruption by Vedant Mining and local government to allow this to happen.
From this junction we were able to leave the trucks and dust behind for a while, and although it took us through leafy winding roads it was hilly and tiring. We passed through the busy traffic-choked suburbs of Ponda before a stretch on the highway to Margao, almost at the beach at last.
On and on we rode, getting closer but always a few kilometers away...we had given up on reaching Palolem so were heading for Colva beach, hoping at least for a stretch of sand and a swim. We were passing lots of tourists, in bikinis and not much more... Eventually we got the sand, and it was a bit of a disappointment to end up in a sandy car park with boys trying to sell us ice-cream. You couldn't see the sand for loungers and umbrellas.
We quickly turned round and headed further along the beach, and thankfully were rewarded with a long wide strip of sand. At last, we're here!
The sea and sand had an instant calming effect on our dirty and tired party and we washing the dust and dirt away in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. Later we watched the sun set and toasted the success of our adventure with a glass of locally brewed Kingfisher before pitching the tent on the beach and being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the sea.
12th Feb 2012, 15:02
We had only intended to complete around 40km this day due to the hills, but the early start got us to 45km by noon. We opted to push on and make the following day's riding easier. After another 20km we pulled over for refreshments and met Malic, a motoring journalist who was testing a new engine in what he described as the 'Indian mule'. Malic kindly bought us fresh lime sodas and we chatted about the many things we had in common. Malic confirmed that the next section of our route was mainly downhill, so feeling refreshed we set off again. After a few km the forest fell away to reveal magnificent mountain views and a spectacular 15km down hill road zigzaging through the hills to the boarder of Goa below. We were going too quick to stop for a photo though and we didn't fancy going back for it! We checked into a resort spa at the border with 90km under our belts - over twice the planned distance! We just had time for a night time swim before a good meal and early night. The extra distance had put us within one day's ride of our goal, the Arabian Sea at Goa, and we went to sleep looking forward to a celebratory swim in the sea at the end of the day and the end of our journey.
However, the last day was not quite the day we expected...
Ps. Coffee cups added to last post Viv!
12th Feb 2012, 10:09
After a rest full day in Dandeli we got up at dawn to =use the coolness of the morning to tackle what we expected to be the hilliest day of our trip so far. The route took us through the national park forest again and our expectations were correct!. We made a stop at one of the only villages located next to the Supa dam and were inpressed with their coffee cups.
11th Feb 2012, 03:01
After a good nights sleep in our clean, quiet and spacious room we set off for the town of Dandeli in the national park bordering the Western Ghats. We took the State Highway 46 thinking it would be a good surface but how wrong we were. Long stretches of the route were over completely worn out tarmac compacted sand and gravel which made for slow and uncomfortable riding. How Rose managed to sleep is beyond us. The trees and plants took on the same road colours they were so coated in dust. We stopped for lunch at a strange out of town bar where groups of men drank heavily inside curtained off booths. The last of the days 89km were through dense forest with lots of monkeys but no tigers. Kate has reminded me that it was also the hilliest day so far and her top speed was 47.2mph (down hill)
9th Feb 2012, 14:41
We left Badami without breakfast, wanting to take advantage of the best part of the day and knowing we'd be making lots of stops along the way. Rose was very interested in the calf munching away behind a tea stop, it's ears stick out more than daddy's!
Using small roads is nice for the changing landscape and small villages, although surfaces vary. Thankfully most of the roads have been good smooth tarmac, so we made good progress and reached our destination town of Nargund at lunchtime. A wind farm on the ridge as we approached made us think of Jack, currently building wind turbines in Peru. www.justalotofhotair.blogspot.com
As we crossed one of the many bridges we spotted the curious sight of several white cows being washed in the river. As we peddled on we discovered the owners were a community of travelers. We stopped and said hello and Rose posed for their cameras.
The restful afternoon was unfortunately not to be, as we found ourselves in the worst hotel to date. It was disgustingly dirty but the mosquitoes loved it, perhaps because it overlooked the public urinal below...The tent was pitched again and we were on the bikes by 7:30am the next morning.
A beautiful, peaceful, cool start to the day was our reward for starting early, with lots of friendly food and drink stops. People are very curious here, and generally respectful of the bikes although we have to check the gear positions every time we set off!
We had another good day's ride and reached Hubli in time for lunch, a big city with luxury hotels, hooray!
8th Feb 2012, 14:06