Before farewelling my lovely hosts, I had to fix my rear tyre, which had completely flattened overnight due to a slow leak. On removing the wheel I discovered the culprit: a needle-like shard of metal was still stuck in the tyre. Manas and his brother escorted me out of town to say bye (via the spot at which I almost camped to pick up a pannier strap I realised I must have dropped there in the dark last night). Pretty quickly into the ride I realised I was in for a rough day. My body just had no energy and its aches and pains only increased as the day went on. I quickly recognised the tell-tale signs of dehydration. I only made it about 15km before I needed to lie down for a rest. By 3pm I’d only made it halfway to my target of Etawah. I had just stood up from yet another lie down when reality hit. My body simply wasn’t going to go any further today. There was only one thing to do: make camp and rest.
Fortunately, I’d stopped on a section of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway where I could easily get my bike and gear down the freeway’s steep embankment and onto a flat piece of dirt between the road and some rice fields. If I set my tent up against the embankment, it wouldn’t be visible to passing cars. I did so and spent the afternoon lying down sipping water. Some locals tending to goats and crops nearby saw me, but I wasn’t bothered by anyone. Until evening that is. I had a horrible night being harassed by locals. By the third time I was forced to come out of my tent my patience was entirely gone. This was when the police decided to show up. The only English word they seemed to know was ‘crime’ and it was fairly clear they wanted me gone. I felt too sick to consider moving somewhere else even for a second. I feigned non-understanding and stood my ground. Eventually they left.
It wasn’t long before another group of locals came by and started shouting at me. This time I didn’t bother answering or coming out of my tent, hoping they’d simply go away. Instead they decided to throw a rock at my tent. This brought me out in a rush, yelling and swearing. Half of them scattered while I had broken conversation with those bold enough to stay. Soon after they all left, the police returned, this time with backup. By this time it was dark. Again they tried to get me to move. Again I felt so sick I wasn’t interested in cooperating. All I needed was to be left alone so I could rest. While I was being interrogated, several guys kept taking photos of me with their phones. This meant every few seconds my pounded head was attacked with a blinding flash. I told them to stop and they just laughed.
Eventually, the top cop indicated that three locals (gesturing to three old men carrying blankets) were going to spend the night nearby to ensure my safety. I said ‘Ok no problem’ and soon the police were gone. Thinking I would finally be able to rest, I crawled back into my tent and settled down. Unfortunately, my three ‘guards’ decided to sit near the tent and proceed to talk loudly into the night, their incessant conversation only interrupted by those moment they needed to spit out the tobacco they were sucking on. My stomach was worse than ever so every hour or so I had to leave my tent and squat over a hole in the ground.
The thing that made the whole day even worse than it was: it was my birthday.
|Distance ridden today||43.45km|
|Average cycling speed||13.9kph|
|Total distance ridden||17,443km|