Saturday 17th November (Vizag to Tuni) I felt a bit down when I awoke, not really excited by the prospect of a day on the road. I’m definitely struggling a bit with cycling motivation. But the prospect of a day at the beach resort without a beach wasn’t enticing either, especially at around 2100 rupees. So I showered, packed, had a large breakfast and checked out. Three kilometres brought me back to NH5. I was still about 10 km north of Vizag proper but the road was busy. It led past the zoo, with trees and foliage on either side of the road and there was certainly something going on. Families, dressed up, were grouped along the roadside, making some sort of shrine and leaving offerings. There were fireworks. Clearly, today has some religious significance but I haven’t found out what online :(
As I got closer to the centre of town, the traffic increased and progress was slow. Then I had my first traffic accident; a scooter just kept merging closer and closer to me but I had nowhere to go and the scooter hit me, I dropped the bike and hit the road in front of a bus! Fortunately, the traffic was slow and the bus stopped easily. I shouted some angry Anglo-Saxon and the scooter driver looked round and, either oblivious or indifferent, continued on his way. That was probably the right decision for him (and for me, indirectly, because a punch to his nose might have caused me more problems). Two young Indians picked up my bike, I picked up my handlebar bag which had flown off in the crash, and I was back on my way with only a scraped knee.
Half an hour later came accident number two. Going round a motorcyclist who had stopped for a chat, I didn’t notice an auto-rickshaw crossing the traffic until too late. I tried to brake but hit the side of the rickshaw quite hard. I’m not exactly sure what happened, whether I went over or round the handlebars, but I hit the road again, harder this time. Again, a couple of Indians righted my bike, I got to my feet, and wobbled off. Now I have a slightly buckled front wheel. I stopped when the traffic thinned and checked my cameras; they seem to be OK. Maybe I should have stayed at the beach today!
After 40 or so kilometres, I left the urban sprawl of Vizag behind and finally found some countryside. And pretty it was, too. Things seem greener, there were large trees shading parts of the road, there were hills to the west, and an increase in the number of palm trees. And the surface continued to be excellent.
I had worried that one day might not be enough rest but I felt strong. Which is good, because my late and altogether too exciting start had put me behind schedule and it didn’t look like I’d make it to Tuni. But with great roads and fresh legs, I managed to pull into Tuni just as the sun was setting.
I’m quite lucky; there is a reasonable lodge with a reasonably priced room on the ground floor so I have my bike in the room. I’ve trued the wheel somewhat – it didn’t look too bad but tomorrow will tell. I’ve just had a nice but simple dinner at a nice but simple vegetarian restaurant close to the lodge. There is north and south Indian food on the menu; those eating south Indian get a large banana leaf instead of a plate. And it looks like a lot of the south Indian fare was all you can eat.
Day 22 Today: 114.1 km, Avs: 17.1 kph, Time: 6 hr 40 min, To date: 1875 km.
Sunday 18th November (Tuni to Rajahmundry) I think I’m getting over the blahs that descended on me in Puri. This morning, back to the restaurant from last night for a breakfast of masala dosai, I felt relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere in this fairly rudimentary but fun restaurant. I must be ready to embrace India again :)
A pleasant ride out to the highway (facilitated by a look at Google Maps before leaving my hotel) was easy to follow. After waiting for a train to pass, I was soon back on my route, under overcast skies for a change.
I came across an accident that looked quite recent. The truck in the field was facing into the traffic and there was another truck on the other side of the dual carriageway that looked, at best, extremely badly parked. I couldn’t figure out how two trucks with a significant median between two double lanes could have caused such an accident.
It was not such a good day in terms of scenery: less fields and more buildings along the side of the road. I noticed that this makes a huge difference to how I enjoy the ride – it is work where it is built up, a pleasure where it is unspoilt fields. This route down the east coast is more on major highways, and has more urban sprawl. But all the other roads seem to lead up into the hills and there is no obvious alternative route to take. But at least I getting to clock up some distance, and without any punctures!
I began to tire a little in the afternoon. The skies had cleared and I was happy to reach Rajahmundry. A rest day is called for, I think. Two on, one off might be the best way to pace myself while the availability of accommodation allows.
There was evidence of crop damage due to recent rains. A creek had burst its banks and damaged a portion of a paddy field.
Day 23 Today: 103.1 km, Avs: 16.1 kph, Time: 6hr 24min, To date: 1978 km
Monday 19th November A rest day in Rajahmundry. Went for a walk in the afternoon but it felt really hot so it didn’t last very long. Had a shave for 20 Rs. Did some course work. I think I should explain here that the amount of work I have to do on this course is not at all excessive, but viewing the video lectures is a time-consuming and frustrating process. A few seconds of lecture and then up to a minute of waiting for data to download with my 2g prepaid package for my USB modem. A 40 minute video can take five hours to view. I will have to see about getting a 3g prepaid package at my next stop at a place of reasonable size.