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Old 01-04-2012, 06:44 AM   #361
Underboning OP
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12/29 Travel Interrupted

After another slow morning of breakfast and working on ride reports, we walked out into the daylight and to lunch. After lunch, our plan was to ride the five miles to Golconda Fort and the Qutb Shahi Tombs on the eastern side of town, but neither of us really felt like fighting the traffic to see more old things. I think we are getting dangerously close to archeological overload. So we retreated to the relative calm and quiet of our room once again, to work on ride reports/blog posts and plan our further journey northward.

Around 4:00 pm we walked approximately 1.5 miles to a recommended internet cafe, only to find that we needed some sort of an account to use their service. Sigh. So we walked 1.5 miles back to our hotel area and found a tiny, grubby hole in the wall internet cafe with bad monitors and sticky keys. However, the connection was fast and only cost 20 cents an hour. We posted ride reports, blog posts, and some pictures to the Smugmug account before researching the tiger parks north of Jabalpur. Bandhavgarh National Park was going to be our next stop, but in searching for accommodations we found out that everything was booked well through the new year. Well, now what? Discouraged, we headed for dinner and talked about the possibilities over mutton kebabs and chicken biryani. Goat, it's not beef, but at least it's not more chicken! We didn't come to any decision at dinner and decided to sleep on it.

0 miles

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Old 01-04-2012, 06:46 AM   #362
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12/30 We Should Have Hit the Road Today

But we didn't. Instead, we spent the morning looking at the India and Nepal guidebooks and mapping out the next month or so. One drawback to having no itinerary is that occasionally, we have to pull one out of our asses. Over the past several days, we've begun looking at and discussing traveling to Nepal and Thailand and find ourselves looking more forward to that than to seeing more of India. We decided to skip the tiger parks in India and instead make time to see Royal Chitwan Park in Nepal. The new plan was to head north to Nagpur and then to Khajuraho to see the temples there. Afterwards, we may stop in Varanasi on our way to Sarnath. Sarnath is one of the four important cities for Buddhist pilgrims, and since the other three are all nearby, we decided to try to visit them all. The other three cities are Bodhgaya and Kushinagar in India and Lumbini in Nepal.

By the time we figured this out it was too late to leave for Nagpur today because it is over three hundred miles away. Instead we had a lunch of street food and then went back to the crappy but fast internet cafe, where we posted the rest of our photos to Smugmug and looked up accommodations for the next several days. I also spent some time on HUBB researching air freight from Kathmandu to Bangkok, Oriental city. (I'll take 80s music for two hundred, Alex) In anticipation of a couple of long rides over the next two days, we packed all our gear tonight and put a couple changes of underwear in our daypacks.

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Old 01-04-2012, 06:50 AM   #363
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12/31 Long Ride to Nagpur/6 Months on the Road

EDIT - The title should read 5 months!

We were out of bed by 6:00 am and on the road by 7:30. Even with a new tube, my front tire is still losing 4-5 psi every day. In anticipation of no lunch stop, we had a big breakfast before leaving. It was not raining when we left, but the sky looked threatening. Tropical storm Thane made landfall yesterday near Pondy and may be heading our way. One advantage to being on the road so early was that traffic was very light. We made it out of the city quickly and onto good, four-lane highway for the first 120 miles. We set our throttles at 45 mph and made good time until the road turned bad. The rest of the trip alternated between good, four-lane and really bad two-lane road.

About 70 miles south of Nagpur, we got stopped at a railroad crossing, and in the 15 minutes we waited, it started raining. When I was planning this trip, one of my goals was for all of our gear to be waterproof. But when we did the final packing in Portland, we found that the Pelicans and Ortliebs didn't hold all of our gear, so we pressed our old daypacks into service. These packs ride between our knees in the step through and are unfortunately, not waterproof. Before we left the US, we discussed buying small drybags to use instead, but we liked the convenience of the daypacks. My solution was a couple of “custom” raincovers from the Hefty bag company. While waiting for the train, we bagged up our daypacks and wondered if we would ever make it to Nagpur. Finally, the crossing gates were lifted and we rode the final 70 miles in the rain.

We made it to Nagpur by around 5:30 pm but could not find Central Avenue. I am finding that my OpenStreetMap maps of India are incomplete for some non-tourist cities. While the map of Nagpur displays many roads, they are all just named, “road.” We knew Central Ave should be near the train station, so we found the train station and then rode around. After about 30 minutes of not finding the hotel area, Re finally called, and with the help of the hotel and some passersby, we made it to the area. We pulled up in front of the hotel Re had called, only to find that they had no motorbike parking there, but we could park at the “Hotel Grand,” located a couple blocks away. We rode to the Hotel Grand and found nothing grand about it. It was down a dark and dingy street in an area where, if there were motorcycle chop shops in Nagpur, this is where they would be. We declined to park at the Hotel Grand and rode back around to Central Ave to look for better prospects. A local tout spotted us perusing the Lonely Planet and directed us to a nearby hotel where they allowed us to park our bikes in their front hallway. The evening was cool enough that we didn't need AC, but we decided to get it anyway to help dry our still damp gear overnight. Bikes secured, we went around the corner for a very excellent thali dinner and then to the local wine shop for a bottle of celebratory whiskey with which to toast the new year. After today's long ride and facing another one tomorrow, we decided around 9:30 pm that it was midnight somewhere, toasted the new year, and went to bed.

340 miles in 9.5 hours. Today was a day full of death. We saw a couple of dead cows, several dead dogs and goats, and three what must have been fatal accidents. In the FIVE months since we began, we have covered 13,800 miles and 18 US states, nipped into 1 Canadian province, rode through 7 African countries, and 6 Indian states. All on 100cc bikes!

Underboning screwed with this post 01-24-2012 at 06:35 AM Reason: Because I can't do simple arithmetic
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:53 AM   #364
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1/1 Ride to Jabalpur

When we were planning this northward trip in Hyderabad, we optimistically scheduled two days for the ride to Khajuraho. But since the distance remaining to Khajuraho was at least as far as yesterday's marathon ride, it would require excellent roads today. We rolled the bikes out of the front hallway just before 7:30 am and into the rainy street in front of the hotel. A rainy day wasn't going to help our cause either. We also left without breakfast today because nothing was open anywhere near the hotel. The traffic leaving the city was very light and allowed us to reach the 4-lane highway quickly.

The first 50 miles or so of the ride found our speedometer needles pointing at the 45 mph mark, and then the highway abruptly ended. We now found ourselves on the absolutely worst road I have ever ridden on. And it was still raining. While we zigged and zagged our way down the road trying to avoid the craters that we could, we had plenty of time to enjoy the teak trees and cool, fall air. We made our way through a twisty, mountainous stretch and soon found ourselves at the end of an Indian-Mexican standoff. Ahead of us on the one and a half lane road was a string of lorries that we, like all good Indian motorbike riders, rode past. After passing between forty and fifty stationary lorries, we came to the source of the problem. Fanned out across the road and deep, muddy shoulders, were three northbound lorries trying to fit through a single-lane wide gated checkpoint. They were facing three southbound trucks arrayed in the same manner, also trying to get through the single-lane wide gate. Three guards with four foot long batons were trying to unfuck the situation. The problem was, apparently, no one could back up because they were blocked by the trucks behind them. After assessing this circlejerk for a few seconds, we took to the muddy shoulder and squeezed our way past. I was glad we had our new, more aggressively treaded rear tires installed, as we “powered” our way through the six-inch deep sticky mud. My biggest fear riding through was losing traction and having to put my feet down in deep, deep mud. There's mud, and then there is Indian mud. Besides cricket, the national pastime in India seems to be relieving yourself in public. In the city, and the small towns, in the country, you cannot ride or walk more than five miles without seeing at least one man or boy peeing. Before coming to India, I had never actually seen anybody poop. Since I've been here, I have seen at least ten people pooping, usually on the side of the road. So it is my presumption that the mud here is at least fifty percent pee and/or poop. Needless to say, I really didn't want to put my boots in it.

Clear of the bottleneck, we lurched and bounced our way back down the other side of the hill at no more than 20 mph. And it was still raining. After another twenty miles or so, I spotted a government-run roadside hotel and restaurant and decided it was time for a warm drink. We pulled in and ordered coffee, toast, and fried eggs for brunch. While we waited for our food, we consulted the map and guidebook and decided that our new goal for today was Jabalpur, which is approximately halfway to Khajuraho. The service was not speedy, but the food was good, and forty-five minutes later, we rejoined the “road.” After bouncing along for another ten miles or so, the road suddenly got better and the rain stopped! The rest of the way to Jabalpur, the road alternated between four-lane, buttery goodness, and two lane road that appeared to have been cluster bombed. All the riding in the rain and mud had left our bikes very muddy. At one refueling stop, I wished Re a Happy New Year and asked her how we were going to celebrate. After discussing various options, Re suggested we to something really dirty. Always one for a good time, I asked what she had in mind, and she said, “Wash the bikes.” Awww.

We made it to Jabalpur by around 3:30 pm and were happy to have survived the last five miles into the city. The roads here are chaotic, and Re and I thought that several times people were actively trying to kill us. Even though Jabalpur's streets were not identified in my GPS this time either, we were less lost and found our hotel rather quickly. We decided to skip washing the bikes today and celebrate the New Year indoors in a more festive manner in one of the other ways we discussed. Later that evening, we again took our lives into our hands and walked four blocks through Jabalpur traffic to dinner.

185 miles in 8 hours. What do you call potholes that span the width of the road and are 8”-12” deep?

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Old 01-04-2012, 07:00 AM   #365
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1/2 Ride to Khajuraho

For some reason, the alarm I set in my iPhone for 5:30 this morning did not go off. The return of iOS's previous New Year's alarm problems? Fortunately, Re woke up on her own at about 6:30 am, and sounded an alarm of her own. We rushed around and made it on the road by 7:45 am, showered, but again, without breakfast. The morning was very overcast, but at least it wasn't raining, and again, leaving early allowed us to beat the morning traffic. The six mile or so ride back to the Nh 7 was easy and uneventful, but then we found the Nh 7. The GPS said we'd be on the Nh 7 for about 3.5 miles, and what a 3.5 miles it was. The pavement here was almost unrecognizable, as it was more pothole than asphalt. Some of the potholes were at least a foot deep, and we found ourselves shifting between first and second gears as we climbed in and out of the craters. It took us more than twenty minutes to cover that 3.5 miles.



We eventually turned left onto the Nh 12a and were greeted by a strip of bitumen approximately 1.5 lanes wide that was crumbling at the edges. Khajuraho was looking less and less likely with every mile. The edges of the road were gently potholed, but there was a blissfully smooth line right down the middle. For the first thirty miles or so, we were able to keep our speed between 35 and 40 mph and only had to slow occasionally for broken pavement. Then there was a stretch where the pavement was mostly broken, but the potholes were a gentle 1”-3” deep.



After riding through some beautiful farmland, we found ourselves at the foot of a hilly area, where the road once again, became smooth, and 45 mph was doable. The downside was that it had begun to mist and get foggy. The temperature today wasn't warm to begin with, and the mist and fog made it downright chilly. After several miles, we made it to the top of the hill, where the road turned to shit again. Due to the precipitation, the up to 1 foot deep fissures that ran across the road were now also muddy. From then on it took us several hours of slipping and sliding in the mud and dodging and weaving as many of the bomb holes as we could.



The damp was soaking through our gloves, and cold air was sneaking past our jackets. Eventually, both Re and I began to shiver. While I stopped to fill up my jerrycan with petrol, Re unpacked one of the Ortliebs to find our fleece pullovers. With our fleeces on, we felt better, but it was still a damn cold ride.

The GPS was counting down our time on the Nh 12a, and I found myself praying that the Nh 75 would be a much, much better road. I should know better by now. The roads in India are like a continuing series of boots to the groin. They tease you with the promise of something better, and then, WHAM! Turning onto the Nh 75, we were met with a steep hill so thoroughly coated in mud that I still have no idea whether there was asphalt beneath. As we bounced and jolted our way up the hill into some small town, I felt my steering go funny. The unmistakable feel of a flat front tire. Really, now? I spotted a relatively dry patch of ground in front of somebody's house and pulled into their front yard. I looked down, and sure enough, my front tire was completely flat. This was the brand new, India-made tube that we had installed in Ooty, about a thousand miles ago. While I pulled out the tarp, Re got out the tools, and we got to work.



As we started working, a crowd appeared. We eventually had at least twenty-five spectators ranging in age from six to sixty. The front wheel was completely encrusted in mud, but we dismounted it and removed the tube. While we were removing the tube, the problem became obvious. Once I unscrewed the nuts from the valve stem, the valve stem immediately cocked at a 45 degree angle. The tube (and tire) had rotated on the rim and had ripped the valve stem halfway out of the tube. Well there's your problem. We reinstalled the good, used tube we removed in Ooty, and with the help of a friendly local, we reinstalled the front wheel on the bike. After answering some pantomimed questions about the bikes and our gear and taking a few photos of our new best friends, we said Happy New Year and headed north again.

The rest of the way to Khajuraho, the road alternated between pretty good and “oh my god, can you still call it a road if more than 75 percent of it is potholes or dirt?” The other highlight of the day was that both Re and then I were hit by buses. While riding down one stretch of bumpy road, Re felt a looming presence behind her and then her bike suddenly lurched forward. She turned to find a gigantic, yellow bus that had just rear-ended her. She and the bike suffered no damage, and Re kept the bike on two wheels (thanks again, Nandi!). My incident occurred less than fifteen minutes later, when an oncoming bus unexpectedly moved into my lane, and I found myself sandwiched between the bus and a crowd of pedestrians. My mirror scraped half the length of the bus, and just as I cleared the end of the bus, it brushed my handlebar and gave me a big wobble. Again, no damage to me or the bike. But that pair of underpants is gonna need some extra scrubbing.

At nearly 5:30 pm, we turned off the main road for the final six miles to Khajuraho, and found ourselves on a four-lane, divided, well paved road. Where has this road been for the last two hundred miles?!? approximately three miles outside of town, we got stopped at another train crossing. As the sun sank lower in the sky, we waited, and waited while the train pulled across the intersection, disgorged a man and a chair, and then slowly returned from whence it came. We stopped at a hotel on the near side of town and found it to our liking. After unpacking the bikes and warming up a bit, we went out for a rather disappointing dinner, doubly disappointing since it was our only meal of the day.

210 miles in 10.5 hours. 20 mph average- a new low for this trip.

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Old 01-04-2012, 09:51 AM   #366
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nice updates!!
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:27 AM   #367
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Wow your New Years sounded...fun. Glad you guys are doing well, and despite all the issues what an adventure!! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this report.
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:32 PM   #368
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In the six months since we began, we have covered 13,800 miles and 18 US states, nipped into 1 Canadian province, rode through 7 African countries, and 6 Indian states. All on 100cc bikes!

Wow that's amazing. Great going guy's. Thanks for the entertainment!
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:47 PM   #369
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again, great ride and great reading.
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Old 01-05-2012, 07:07 PM   #370
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Thumb Finally caught up

I have so enjoyed your adventures and have learned so much through your trials and joy
Thank you
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Old 01-05-2012, 09:57 PM   #371
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Great update guys
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:49 AM   #372
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More! We want more!
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Old 01-06-2012, 01:23 PM   #373
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When you go to Chitwan, I would highly recommend a 2 or 3 day jungle trek (not a jeep ride). We saw plenty of wildlfe, and the guides are well informed. We stayed in Sarahau at a nice place about a mile west of town towards the elephant training centre. I can't remember the name (jungle lodge or something?), but there is a large dugout canoe/boat at the front entrance (on the river side of the road). We paid 400r/night. The coords of the place are (34, 34' 57.29"N)(84,29'02.73"E). Hope you enjoy Chitwan.
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Old 01-06-2012, 02:42 PM   #374
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If you find a piar of glasses at chitwan they are mine, lost them giving an elephant a bath
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:36 AM   #375
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I just read this RR from the beginning over the last couple of evenings and I have enjoyed every minute of it! Keep up the good work. I'm glad that you guys didn't give up during the shipping fiasco in Tanzania, and doubly glad to hear your health has been better of late.
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