A Challenging Day Ends Beautifully

Day 23 (25th February 2020) From Rewa to Rewa – 2,300 km completed (2,200 km left)

I had a taste of proper exhaustion today. I guess it was probably after I pushed myself yesterday and I didn’t sleep well last night. So today was tough and its always a sign that things aren’t well when I keep looking at my watch to see how far there is to go. I felt like I was looking at my watch for most of today.

I was very glad to reach 100 km today

Reaching half way mark on dangerous roads

Clearly the good news is that I’ve now passed the half way mark which is fantastic so now I’m at 2,300 km and it was another day of a loop. In fact we seemed to go all over the place and I’m not quite sure where we ended up in the end. That makes it difficult as well and some of the roads were really dangerous. The traffic was fast with lorries overtaking on relatively narrow roads so I wanted Mehedev to drive really close to protect me.

2,300 km completed and it was a long day

Sachin and I went on an adventure

This morning Sachin and I set off on our own to do a 25 km loop before coming back to the hotel before breakfast. We set off without the cars and it was a real adventure. First of all, I’ve seen a lot of slums in India but the one we saw today didn’t compare with any of the others. In fact I have visited Dharavi which is in Mumbai and it’s one of the biggest slums in Asia. It was actually used for the film, Slumdog Millionaire.

Footage of the slum as I’m cycling by

Thinking of becoming vegetarian

Later on in our travels that morning, Sachin and I discovered some other families that were living on the side of the road and they seemed very excited. The reason for their excitement was that one of these giant boar/pig animals that live wild in the cities of India had according to them, died of some disease. It looked like it had been run over to me but they insisted that it had died of disease. We took the decision of not taking a photograph to save you the pain of looking at this animal. From what we could tell they had cut it open to allow its guts to come out and then they were burning all of the hair off the back of it with rubber. They were then going to cut it into pieces and sell it. I’ve been thinking of becoming a vegetarian along with Deb and that thought came to mind as it was not a pretty sight.

Hair/raw material for a brush that came from the dead

pig/boar

A photo of a pig/boar

Abdul and the man in his underpants

We took lunch after 70 km and I was really ready to collapse at that stage. At this stop Abdul started speaking to somebody who was about to have a bath and he was there in his underpants. He was telling this gentleman about the work of the Loomba Foundation and the cycling for widows project. I’m going to recommend to Lord Loomba that Abdul is adopted as an ambassador for the Loomba Foundation as he finds any opportunity to brief people about the cause. Quite what the man in the underpants was thinking I’m not sure as all he really wanted to do was have his bath.

Abdul the ambassador

Reminding myself what the human body can do

The last 30 km today after lunch were a real slog and so it was good to finish. I have to remind myself that when I did the 30 marathons things were really tough around the half way mark. I remember wanting to give up last time. As Ed my youngest son would say, I have to just remember what the human body can do. I need to dig deep and remember that the bad days will pass.

A physio break

4,300 km or 4,500 km?

The other slightly shocking news was that I suddenly had a thought that I needed to double check the date of arrival by looking at our Cycle for Widows brochure. It says I’m setting off on the 3rd of February and arriving on the 16th March. I thought that doesn’t seem right and when you work it out it’s only 43 days. So the current plan has me arriving in Srinagar on day 43 which would be 4,300 km and that clearly isn’t right. Therefore the first thing I did this morning was to message the team asking if I had misunderstood something. Sadly they all agreed that there had been a mix up. When HV Kumar, who originally organised the trip planned it, I think he included all of February which is 29 days and then added the 16 days of March, adding up to 45. We set off on 3rd of February of course so now we need to build in a couple of further days. This means I’m going to arrive on Wednesday 18th March rather than Monday the 16th March. That has an impact on my remaining days in India as I was keen to spend at least two days in Mumbai before I fly home just to get over the cycling. So my plan now is to fly home on Monday rather than on Saturday. Lord Loomba and the Loomba Foundation will now be organising a reception for me in Srinagar on Thursday 19th March rather than Tuesday 17th March.

Beautiful

From a trickle to a real waterfall

Ever since we saw the waterfall on Day 15, or the lack of a waterfall I should say, we haven’t heard the last of it from Abdul. He was unhappy about the physical effort of going to see what he described as some trickle of water as we had to walk 444 steps down to and 444 steps back up. So it was a real treat today to be told that just 300 yards from where we had lunch there was an interesting waterfall. I have to say my expectations were rock bottom as I think everyone else’s were but we had been told by the guy in the restaurant that it was worth seeing. Anyway so we went over and it was absolutely magnificent as it was a truly spectacular waterfall.

It’s cold in Srinagar (Kashmir)

When I got up this morning it was about 13 degrees in Rewa. For some reason I decided to click on the weather in Srinagar and the temperature was one degree. I really can’t help but think that I was unprepared for this. It seems a massive oversight on my part a combination of bad weather and its gonna be icy and very hilly. Part of Sachin pushing me yesterday was to make sure that I’m going to be fit enough to climb the mountains when we get to Kashmir.

I don’t think this one is very practical

I was in the ‘red’ zone today

Ed has just taken a look at my heart rate from my Garmin stats. I’m not sure whether it was working properly but if it was it certainly indicates that its consistent with my exhaustion and needing to really dig deep and push. Normally I cycle between zones 1 and 2 and just occasionally going into zone 3 or part of zone 3, and today my heart seems to have been in zone 5 for quite a bit of the day so that doesn’t bode well. Here’s a link to the zones as provided by Garmin and zone 5 is described as: ‘Perceived exertion: Sprinting pace, unsustainable for long period of time, labored breathing’.

I slept next to a shed and woke up feeling cold, which is another sign the weather is turning as I head north.

Big hearts versus small hearts

Lunch today was in a resort, which looked quite nice and there was lots of land around so it looked perfect for sleeping. The manager or the guy who was serving us told us to order some food and we could discuss sleeping after. Once we’d eaten he just said nope you can’t sleep here and we were all pretty upset about it. Pawan had a nice phrase for it. He said in the poor small dhabas (roadside cafe/restaurant) their hearts were big and in the richer bigger places their hearts are small. That seems to be right actually and we’ve seen other examples of that too.

A beautiful (dead) jackal

As I was cycling along today, there were plenty of dogs that had met their ends on the roads. I cycled past one going quite fast and thought that’s not a dog, what can it be? Anyway when I caught up with Sachin I said I’m pretty sure that the animal back there is not a dog, can you please go and photograph it as I think it might be a jackal? When he came back with the photograph there it was, a bushy beautiful jackal with a short tail and it just looked gorgeous. In fact when I did the return loop I cycled back past it so I got off my bike to look at it and its such a beautiful animal.

A picture of the countryside today

Baba is garam today

I’m a bit grumpy today. I remember when I did the marathons that I was referred to as ‘baba’ and they would sometimes say ‘baba’ is ‘garam’. ‘Garam’ means red which is the equivalent to saying ‘baba’ is angry or they will say ‘baba’ is grumpy or ‘baba is tired’. So I’m seriously unhappy as I’ve got no hot water so I’m just storming around my room. As usual I go to Sachin to rescue me and he calls the guy up from reception to explain. Sachin is told that he has to turn on the geyser in his bedroom for the hot water to work in my bedroom. That is why I didn’t have hot water because my geyser was switched on but his wasn’t. India is a country in which you need to be patient.

Sachin, bless him, has worked out that I was about to snap, and magic’d up a bucket of hot water from somewhere. I’m now about to go to have my favourite bucket and mug shower so he’s been a life saver as usual.

The team!

Nice meal and a little treat too

We went out and had a very a nice meal this evening. Sachin was very sweet as he ordered something nice for me. He let me have some butterscotch ice cream at the end as a celebration for reaching the half way mark. He stood up and gave me a big clap and round of applause. He shook my hand too so that was nice.

After my shave

A bit of pampering goes a long way

I went to the barber to be clean shaven and it was a nice feeling. One more of life’s small pleasures on this otherwise challenging project. Mahadev is going to give me an Indian head massage with oil this evening as a well done for reaching the half way mark. The whole team have been very kind and I’m very grateful.

Just when you think life can get no better Pawan and Mahadev managed to find me some Listerine (mouth wash) from a pharmacist. I love to use Listerine after I’ve cleaned my teeth. So my day had its challenges but has ended beautifully.

That’s all for today.

Chris

PS My song recommendations are still flooding in and that’s wonderful. I think my ‘great hits’ are now up to over 170.

Why I’m cycling across India

Unfortunately, many widows in India are very badly treated when they lose their husbands. As well as facing verbal and physical abuse, rape and the threat of being evicted from their homes, they often have no income whatsoever after their husband dies. 

This is where the Loomba Foundation comes in. Through their empowerment programmes, the charity provides skills training and other support to help widows become self-sufficient so that they can support themselves and their families. 

I’d like to ask for your support I am already more than half way towards raising $450,000 – I’d love it if you could help me smash my target. Your support would mean the world to me and would help to change the lives of thousands of widows and their families. 

If you are in India, you can make a donation here: 

Ketto (India)

If you are in the UK or elsewhere in the world, you can make a donation here:  

JustGiving

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