Further up the West Coast - Bangladesh + India x 2 - CycleBlaze

December 28, 2010

Further up the West Coast

to Mahe

The Beach Hotel has (like many places here) a 24-hour check-in policy, which means that if you arrive at 5:00 PM -- as I did last night - there's no need to vacate your room until 5:00 PM the following day. So, there's no rush this morning. 

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Men are loading coconuts into piles and are hard at it along the seafront road. 

By the time I do some Internet stuff, go to an ATM, locate an historic mosque, which turns out to be a let-down as it's festooned in canvas and scaffold while it gets renovated, it's 1:00 and half the day has gone. 

People are washing in the ghat adjacent to the mosque and Beach Road is undergoing some serious reconstruction work, making its surface dusty and the best piece to cycle is a foot-wide ribbon on the very edge as this's the smoothest due to the fact that heavy vehicles haven't rutted it. 

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This's where I ride for a few kilometres, fortunately with little else to bother me.

It's the NH 17 again. I try and ride on a side road, but get told it goes nowhere and do a U. It's not long after that I pause for a couple of fresh juice drinks like I had yesterday.

A man says there's another beach road just ahead and there is and it takes me 5 km down to the sand, where the road ends at a resort, where I opt to eat a snack of what the waiter calls tapioca, but which tastes like sweet potato to me. It's a bit dry on its own and the 'gravy' I ordered turns out to be a small dish of curry.

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The commercial, glass-fronted fridge near my table is stacked with cold Kingfisher and Fosters and it's a massive effort not to have one, but it's a fact that there'd be little riding done in this 30-degree heat if I did and this resort is fully booked up for the next few days, so as it's still early I get going and cover some miles. 

It'll have to be route 17.

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It's okay in parts while some sections are narrow and vehicles seem to increase their speed to enhance the danger. 

I decide to ride to Vadakara as the Nelles map makes it look big as it's denoted with a square, not a circle or dot. We'll see as it's not in Lonely Planet. Strange that. 

I Just keep riding, eating up the road and my mind wanders from the monotony.

....I could do with a drink.

That bus driver needs a brain scan.

My speed must be over 25km/hr... Not bad.

The damp yellow top (I washed) is getting smelly in that plastic bag.

Another five or so kilometres to this place-what's-it-called.

I could do with one of those fresh juice drinks.

Keep an eye out.

What's the drumming about? It must be a school parade - I guess.

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Cycle touring vs riding a bike - this is the latter. Yes, I'm touring another country, going form one place to the next, but where's the enjoyment in it for me? I can ride my bike at home... ride to work or the shops. 

It's the little roads that give me a buzz.

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It's getting on and the lodge looks a bit tatty, so I opt to ride through the busy town which is on a slope and head for the beach, but turn back after a kilometre or so down the road as a couple of people have told me there're no guest houses down there.

It's a mystery why there so many antique shops along this small road in the old part of town.

It's back to the tatty lodge, which isn't so bad but the man says they're full and so is the one across the way. Oh dear.

Back on the 17 there's an 'international hotel' a helpful elderly guy tells me, so I find it after a few minutes but they have no non-AC rooms available, according to the suited young receptionist and I don't want to pay for an AC one at 500 rupees extra and reckon they could just turn off the AC, which is hardly required now in late December. However, they don't oblige, so I spite myself by deciding to ride north to Mahe, another 12 km, even though it's almost dark.

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Ten minutes later it's hard to see as the headlights on full-beam dazzle me as vehicles approach, but it was my decision to keep on riding instead of accepting that AC room rate of 1,500 rupees, so I just ride fast with the slipstream of buses and trucks.

Mahe is defined by a narrow part of NH 17 with its buildings flanking it and it's hard to stop as the pavement is narrow and traffic speeds on. 

There's a 'lodge' sign and I make my way to its back entrance, but then spot a sign for a nicer looking place. What luck. It's well hidden. 

They have one room available for 450 and I take it without looking and shower and go eat nearby, then check my email before editing the photos I took today, which doesn't take long as I didn't take very many, what with it being a boring ride mainly on the 17.

Today's ride: 90 km (56 miles)
Total: 2,553 km (1,585 miles)

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