. We took our first snacks break in Lamja and got carried away with the KitKats. Back on the road, we were both saying how we were getting bored when suddenly we came across a body! It was laying half on the verge and half in the road. From the waist up it was actually in the road and the soiled clothing meant that it was very well camouflaged against the dusty surface, so much so that we didn't spot it until we were right on top of it. We were naturally both quite scared, what do we do about a dead body? We stopped and watched a couple of huge trucks narrowly miss decapitating the body. Pols told me to go and sort it out! I dumped the bike and made my way back down the hill. I looked over the old boy and shouted to try and stir him, much to my relief he moved and on offering him a bottle of water, he sat up. He made no sense but looked pretty out of it. I suggested that lying with your head in the road was not a good idea and told him to move. When we left him he was sat upright, we could not work out why so many people had driven past him, indeed a couple of motorbikes stopped to ask if we were OK because I had leant my bike down. On we went through more hot, gruelling, sweaty miles. At the junction to Ranagiri we found a lovely place to have lunch. A family of pigs on the neighbouring table were giving the waiters a really hard time so we made sure the restaurant staff knew how much we enjoyed our time there. We had a wonderful paneer butter masala curry (curry for lunch is now standard)
. The waiter said that we would be fine to get accommodation in the next town so we set off optimistic even though it was another 19 miles. The ride there was wonderful, downhill to a river and then flat roads winding between the hills. At one point we were flagged down by a very excited family who had passed us in their jeep. They completely unloaded to line up with us and insist on a photo. They did not ask any questions about what we were doing or infact have anything else to say, they just wanted a photo! Later down the road we stopped briefly to check out something on the bike, the next time I looked up there were about 20 school boys gathered around. I confused them by making some funny noises, and they thought they understood English! We stopped with more bike trouble and made a quick call home to Geared Bikes in Chichester. Pete said that I probably need a whole new transmission, a big problem and maybe something we can sort out in Mumbai. Until then I will have to nurse the continuous slipping of the chain every time I put any downward pressure on the pedals. Typical that Polly’s Ridgeback which she has had for four years continues to run problem free and it is the new bike which causes us trouble. As the miles counted down towards the town we became more excited/nervous about where we would stay tonight. You know pretty quickly whether or not it is a goer, this was certainly not. No where to stay and mad people everywhere, a dry river bed filled with rubbish and stray dogs confirming that this was yet another hole
. Our map suggested nothing better for 35 miles, here we go again. We then found a highway stopover offering rooms but on closer inspection (not even sheets on the mattress) we cycled on. Stopping at one place which clearly usually rented rooms by the hour, the owner kindly told us there was a better place a few kilometres away. Lucky he had because the lodge was advertised and named in Hindi and we probably wouldn’t have known what it was if he hadn’t told us. The rooms were very cheap and really clean so we snapped one up. We wandered down the road to a drive through restaurant where they greeted us with great excitement and waited on us with amazing care all night. We had to sign their visitors book as we left and all 15 of the staff crowded round to watch us do it. I love places like that.
The excitement of reaching Mumbai is really building the closer we get. India has been unbelievably tough on the cycling front and now we are only 4 days away from reaching the end of the road in this fascinating but nuts country. We did not hang around this morning, the worst room we have stayed in yet did not look any better in the early light so we woke and packed up the bikes very quickly. There were a few crazy men down stairs to add the strangeness of this place, we just pedalled off laughing at the ridiculous situation we had found ourselves in last night. Rajapur is one place that will definitely not make it into any guidebooks. We thought that once we got back on the main highway to Mumbai we would be cruising along each day, not the case. It is absolutely not a highway, more of a country road. The Konkan Hills are really slowing us down, most of this morning was spent going up and down big hills through towns full of crazy people. When you stop in a village where every single person is staring at you, it is plainly obvious that you have once again strayed off the tourist route