This past week or so has been a series of minor mishaps, (I’m saving major ones for later!). Just when I’m bopping along wondering why I ever thought this ride might be challenging the National highway suddenly breaks up completely causing traffic to grind to a halt. Trucks crawl along at only a few kms an hour trying to dodge the craters in the road, so manouvering the FN around them and the roadworks becomes even more tricky than usual. Despite only carrying what I need, which includes spare fuel & tyres, the bike is sorely overloaded. The stress this creates tends to break things and the list of broken parts is growing.
When I caught up with Lynne in Jodphur my first stop had to be an engineering shop to get the spokes fitted – a tricky job which required removing the back end. Of course I had my share of helpers who all claimed to know the best way to make this happen despite never working on a machine like this before. I’d like to just take the bike and myself off to some place quiet where I can work in peace but this hasn’t happened yet and probably never will. Better to accept that everyone has good intentions and just want to help. While I had the opportunity I got an upholsterer to fashion a padded seat and while it isn’t flash and certainly doesn’t fit the period of the bike, it will make riding a little more comfortable.
Having a few days to wash the pannier bags, all the gear and give myself a good scrub really makes a difference to how I feel when I set off again. I stock up with oil, tighten and check everything, then I’m set. Rakesh at Devi Bhawan Guest House pointed me in the right direction when I needed assistance and made the stay in Jodphur extra special. Once everything was sorted and all the sore bits were back to normal, it was time to head north to Bikaner on what I’d been assured was a great road, apart from a bit of sand. Well, it might have started out that way but before long I was wrestling to keep the bike upright.
Then the pannier bag straps broke and the bags fell, causing the bike to tip over. This broke the mirror and bent the crank pedal. A 15″ crescent spanner isn’t something I carry and didn’t imagine one would be easy to find as most garages only have a few very basic tools. Tired and feeling the effects of a tough day I crawled into a truck stop to the amazement of onlookers. I guess it must look a lot like someone from Mars landing in Mahajan. To my surprise, a guy in a mechanical workshop about 1 km further on had a Stilson and the crank pedal was soon back in shape and a new Indian mirror replaces my one until I can get some new glass fitted.
Highlights on this section have been getting a haircut and a shave in the middle of nowhere, the manager of Tata Trucks giving me a room to sleep next door to his workshop, enjoying a great meal of stuffed tomatoes, dhal & chappatis, and a coke for only 125 rupees (about 25c) and as usual, the friendliness of everyone. On the downside, the road for a good part of today’s journey has been crap. Dropping the bike is a pain and I’m pissed the Dry Rider gear bags didn’t hold up, but in all fairness, they are under a lot of stress and probably carrying more than the recommended 5 kgs each. I can’t afford not to carry gas even though they add so much weight.
I’ve been told I have about 15 kms of rough road still to do then it will be highway again – fingers crossed nothing got lost in the translation and I can look forward to a few days of relative comfort before I reach Amritsar and the Pakistan border! My authorization number arrived by email this week so I can pick up my Iranian visa in Lahore. That sure is a relief as I didn’t want to have to consider the alternatives.
Thomas, Geert, his dad, Jacques & RC Motorparts in Europe have all been incredibly generous by helping arrange tyres & tubes for me. I can’t wait to meet to give them a heartfelt thank you in person. Thank you too to everyone who comments on the blog – it’s heartening to know so many are enjoying the experience with me.