The first day was a short 15 kilometre trip around New Delhi. This allowed us to iron out some of the inevitable problems which you get when a couple of amateur mechanics, namely Mrs B & myself, are left to open a couple of large boxes full of sub standard metal bits and a couple of odd looking tools and no instructions. It’s all very well getting someone to pack your bikes up for you, but you kind of miss out on knowing where all those strange little bits came from when you are trying to put them back together again. Add to this the joy of doing it in the dark, with dinner waiting for you at the end of it and a rumbling tummy. All things considered it seemed to go relatively smoothly and soon we were left with the simple task of just pumping up our tyres. I had chosen to ignore, of course, the sizeable pile of left over screws and bolts which had materialised with no apparent home - taking the optimistic view that at least the bikes would be lighter for it. I proudly pulled out my new fangled pump, freshly purchased for the trip. A fantastic little gadget that promised to embarrass all other pumps available on the market with its innovative design and ease of use. So impressed was I by the write up on the box I had decided to travel without an emergency backup pump. Sadly, I never found out how good the little pump was because, when I attached the pump to the valve and pulled on the cord (what a surprise - a Mr B purchase not actually following the tried and tested path of conventional wisdom. What can I say? It was a new wonder gadget, which like all wonder gadgets promises far more than they can ever hope to deliver) there was a brief flurry of activity at the business end of the pump, followed by a sad little pfumff noise. The connection for the valve had exploded. I managed to pick up about 95% of it, which gave me a shard of hope that it might actually still work but sadly it was still 100% f ‘ing useless. Such a wonderful design. Mrs B laughs at me with my emergency backup solutions, but every time I go without an emergency backup solution an incredibly unlikely situation seems to develop. This was the first time that I met and started to loath Marvin. He was the only person around who had a pump. I introduced myself and asked if I could borrow it (I did not even mention that I had just destroyed mine). Talk about getting blood out of a stone. It's not like I had asked to borrow something important like an MP3 player (I'm trying to avoid giving Apple any free advertising by mentioning Ipods.....Doh!) . I can't remember if he handed over the pump in the end or not. I suspect not because I don't remember signing for anything in triplicate.
As we rode through the streets of New Delhi it became obvious that this was going to be an experience way beyond anything we had ever come across before. For starters: our bikes shared the roads with the expected cars, lorries and rickshaws as well as cows, camels, goats, chickens, even the occasional elephant and hundreds of weddings (1 aside). Other than requiring the odd tweak to the brakes and gears the bikes seemed fine. Even the bike computer, for once, worked perfectly, registering every cm of the 15.7 kilometres we cycled on the first day. Sadly it would be the last time it would work. When I switched it on on the second day - nada, nothing, not even a little note saying goodbye. How rude is that?
Oh no, Vol 5 and I have only covered day one of the cycling. Don't worry I'll try and abridge the rest...... In the meantime I've included a few more pictures of India for you to ignore. (I'm feeling a bit hurt. I was looking at the usage stats and I noticed a number of hits to the site which lasted for 5 seconds or less. Ouch. Not even enough time to notice how badly the words have been chucked together.)
While not a great quality picture it captures some of the problems that our bus driver had. The most interesting moment was when we were heading full pelt towards three lorries who were so busy overtaking each other as they came over the brow of a hill that they were not that interested in us. Bearing in mind that this was on a two lane road, I'm sure I saw our driver use the tried and trusted "shut his eyes and breath in to make himself thin" technique, to get us through. Personally I didn't see how we missed them because my eyes were clamped shut and I was breathing in like my life depended on it.
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(1) Whenever we were in a city or a town there seemed to be endless weddings taking place. Apparently they can go on for weeks or even months. Every cousin, Uncle, Aunt or person who has ever shared a conversation with any one that knows the bride or groom seems to get an invite. (A sort of Facebook approach to building up your wedding list (2 aside)). All the wedding parties we witnessed had one thing in common, a smiling bride and a very uncomfortable looking groom who did not look happy to be stuck on an elephant and paraded through the streets for all to see. The wedding party would travel through the street accompanied by lights and music all powered by a generator the size of a large car, built from leftover scrap from the 1940's and which seemed to make more noise then the music it was attempting to power. Which is no bad thing since the music tends to be more “Within you, without you” than “A day in the life” (Hint, go listen to Sgt. Peppers if you don’t understand the reference. Of course I mean the Beatles' version not that Bee Gees travesty from the mid 70’s).
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(2) While I did not know everyone who attended my wedding I am assured that Mrs B, myself or at least Mrs B’s parents had met everyone at least once. There was one notable exception to this, being one of Mrs B’s cousins, who brought along what appeared to be a lady of negotiable virtue. Fortunately she had very good legs because we certainly got to see an awful lot of them, thanks to the belt that she was wearing in place of a skirt. The lady in question and her legs have not been seen since, other then the odd appearance on one of those obscure late night channels, that you have to pay “extra for” or so I have been informed by people who watch such things..........
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