• City: Kanpur

    Day 17: Kota to Kasba Thana

    A kilometre after starting my ride I caught up with another cyclist. He was riding from Kota and going to his village, Baran, 40 km beyond.

    We started chatting and my plans starting heading towards the drain. First stopping for breakfast at dhaba only to eat biscuits. Dhabas in Rajasthan just don’t start with breakfast. You get food much later in the day.

    The going was slow as I rode at the pace of this cyclist from Kota. It got even slower, as we pedalled along.

    With the Kota cyclist

    He was riding on my right, and a motorcycle rear ended him. He was riding next to me and then suddenly he was flying in the air. I waited there for an ambulance to collect the injured and then deposited his cycle at a nearby dhaba before heading on.

    I lost a lot of precious time in the bargain and reaching Madhya Pradesh seemed unlikely. But I was just glad that no serious injuries happened in that crash.

    The heat, crash and barren landscape started taking a toll on me mentally. I was quite down.

    Right then I saw a milestone showing Kanpur. The first one I had seen from the day I started from Aldona. With the scent of home near, I got my first shot of adrenaline.

    The first Kanpur signboard…

    Which was followed by another shot, when a couple of my school friends did a video call on WhatsApp. I chatted with them while cycling, showing off the land I was traversing. The place started looking better already.

    Just then I got another call, this time from my cyclist friend who I met on the first day of this trip, Waman. As I chatted with him, I realised the landscape had not just changed because of my improved mental state. But it had physically changed.

    The place looked more like the Konkan Maharashtra I had left behind, rather than arid Rajasthan.

    Golden Harvest…

    Near a place called Shahbad, the road descended for 4 km. A proper green ghat section. It was an oasis in the middle of the desert.

    The road was fun to ride on. Traffic was light, the downside of which was almost zero dhabas.

    The ghat section…

    No people to stop and eat, means no people to sell.

    As I neared the MP border, I recalled all the warnings of dacoits I had heard of that area. The darkness of the night enveloped the land as I rode through worried.

    Out of that inky blackness two big black snarling dogs came charging at me. Fortunately, this wasn’t the first time in my cycling life that dogs tried to intimidate me. I got off my bike, rested it on the ground and ran towards the dogs yelling. Confused, the dogs tucked their tails between their legs and went scurrying back to the tiny temple from whence they had come.

    No pahad in sight!

    The dogs were the last bit of humanity I saw for quite a distance. Eventually finding a dhaba for dinner. The dhaba owner refused to let me ride ahead. He wasn’t afraid of dacoits attacking me on that lonely highway, but leopards.

    Just 10 km before the Madhya Pradesh border I stopped for the night. Scared of leopards and non-existent dacoits…

    But even scarier than the leopard was the movie being played at the dhaba. A Bollywood flick starring, Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty. Such a horrendous movie is difficult to make, but Bollywood manages to outdo itself every single time!

    It was SUN day!

    You can see the full route on Strava