The cycle ride – Day 6 – The end is nigh, and so is Jaipur

by Adrian on November 25, 2006

Last day. We head back the way we came yesterday – uphill this time, so the 10kms are taken a bit more slowly.  My bike has been properly fixed overnight with a new chain and gear set and I am really enjoying cycling today, it’s probably precisely because I don’t have to do it tomorrow but I actually feel like I could cycle for another week. We are suddenly stopped in our tracks by shouts from behind, as we turn round all I can see is someone lying prone in the road.

 

Apparently Trish and James managed to get their handlebars locked together and both came off and narrowly avoided being run over by a passing tractor which hit James’ front wheel. Trish came off worst and has some nasty scrapes. As we sit and wait for the doctor and the bike doctors children turn up until there is quite a crowd. They are very friendly and not asking for anything, not money, not pens and not even shampoo. Jess and I get some pictures with them that we hope to be able to use for charity purposes. They are quite shy to begin with, but by the time Vaibhav has helped us to translate a few basic questions into Hindi such as ‘What is your name?’ and ‘How old are you?’ and we’ve danced the can can with them and played catch and Jess has put her leg behind her head to entertain them they warm up quite a lot. They love having their picture taken and then seeing it on the back of the digital camera. We must have spent a very relaxed twenty or so minutes with them and it was one of the highlights of the week.

 

In the last village we pass through the road is being repaired so we have to dismount to circumnavigate the roadworks obviously the bus cannot follow our route and has had to go another way round so when Jess’ bike starts to play up she is stuck with it as there are no mechanics and no spares bringing up the rear. I ride it for a while to give her a break and am reminded what a sensible idea it was to bring my comfy seat and suspension post as I don’t think I could cope without it for more than about half an hour. Jiten’s bike has also given up the ghost so he has to ride out the last few kms sitting atop Debu’s jeep. The scenery is quite beautiful, a rocky yet verdant valley.

 

We are met by the hotel owner who says it is only 2kms to the finish so Dave and I race off even thought it’s uphill trying to keep ahead of Matt (who’s obviously letting us!), we cycle as fast as our tired legs and our bikes will allow us but are convinced it’s more like 4km than 2. And it’s not quite the end. We are to regroup and cycle the last 1km (honest) together, and Matt decrees that those who were first have to set off last so as we go up the last hill we are stuck at the back of a congested pack of cyclists, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone is pleased or relieved to have made it to the end and there is time for a few hugs, smiles and photos before the bikes are dismantled and dispatched with the mechanics back to Delhi. We have lunch and are then transferred to Jaipur by coach.

 

We get to spend the afternoon shopping, well actually there’s a choice of sightseeing or shopping, but everyone opts to shop. The centre of Jaipur is as mad as anywhere we’ve been. The streets seem to be even busier and crammed with more vehicles and animals (there were even elephants, though I was very disappointed not to have seen them with my own eyes – others had photographs of them, and no they weren’t photos of postcards), and it seemed almost impossible to cross the road as the endless stream of traffic never stopped.

 

There are so many shops, jewellery shops, gift shops, shops selling saris and fabrics and people outside almost every single one trying to entice you in “just look”…We spent the best part of an hour in one shop haggling over the price of bedspreads, which involved lots of attempts to leave, chai, and the eventual cashing of a travellers cheque. I attempted to buy a salwar kameez from one shop, it didn’t quite fit but they said they could have it altered and ready within the hour. When I went back for it though the alterations were botched and it looked terrible. I had to argue for about 20minutes to get my money back. Meanwhile Jess was still trying to find a present for her son and was running out of time. It came down to a knife, a sword or a bull whip. I outlawed the knife and the sword on the grounds that they were too dangerous for a three year old! And a bull whip’s not? The lesser of the evils I suppose, and Jess couldn’t manage to use it when they showed her how so there’s hope that Jai won’t be able to either.

 

The last evening was lovely and a little tipsy. After dinner we were entertained by some amazing dancers and a fire eater, then Annie and Roohi organised an amusing prize giving for the staff who’d been fantastic all week, with a special prize for Jane for being an inspiration to us all. And Jess and Jane performed a very witty song written by Jess (I don’t know how she found the time). We stayed up chatting and drinking until about two trying not to make too much noise in a drunken making too much noise kind of way but it seemed a shame to break up the party after such an amazing week. Two hours sleep and then, hungover or still drunk we had to get up for the five hour coach journey back to Delhi and our flight home where there are gales apparently, so that’s something to look forward to!

 

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