. I then set off in search of a highly recommended bike shop to try and sort out the major problems I am having with my bike. The cycle through town on a Sunday was beautiful. The calmness and openness of the city streets was something we had not found in India, it was a real surprise to find it in the heart of Mumbai. I dodged through endless games of street cricket, one bowler vs batsman duel merging with the next. It was a beautiful freedom on the bike and I lost my purpose and just started to drift from street to street. Polly back at the hotel was busy catching up with people online and booking hotels for onward travel. I eventually found Firefox Bikes, a company owned by Mercedes Benz. The mechanics were of a very high standard and set about stripping my bike down to the bones. Three hours later I was convinced the problem had been fixed, after all, they had removed a snapped back axel and replaced the gunk filled components. Bike shops have been a big part of our trip and each one always provides memories. This time I met a guy who has set up a Cycle India project aimed at educating kids to look after the environment, a guy who owns a coffee shop in Mumbai (it was as if he was straight from West London with his smooth city bike and Diesel jeans and plimsolls) and a mechanic whose desire for perfection in his work was a joy to watch. Polly joined me grabbing a cab with Felix from our hotel across the city. The three of us popped out for a Mango Lassi (this has to be the best drink in the world) and some ice creams
. We were having a real Sunday, drifting around the city, the 22 hour train journey which we were taking later in the day did not distract us from the wonderful laid backness of Mumbai on a Sunday. Pushed for time I had to ask the guys to stop working on the bike, three of them now were polishing and adjusting and readjusting trying to get it right. Unfortunately on the ride back to the hotel the problem again started (AGGHHH). A quick bite to eat at Universal Café (our newly claimed local) and then it was time to head to the train station. We strapped the bikes on the top of a taxi and crammed in the many panniers. There was time for me to interrupt the street cricket game that was in full flow. I bowled a couple of beauties, the Indian kids were very impressed and I even got a shout of "Good Bowling Man". The taxi set off and we made our way out of the organised city centre to Bandra station which was way out through the slums. Alan and Tricia followed in another taxi. On arriving at the station we quickly realised it was going to be hard work. We had to check the bikes into the Parcel Office separately, a process which involved several forms, many people shouting what to do, sewing sack around the frames of the bike and all of this done with monster mosquitos nibbling away at us. Alan, Tricia and Polly set off in the hope to sit down and have a relaxing meal before the journey whilst I guarded the bikes and fixed puncture 13, which happened just outside the terminal. Unfortunately they ended up getting caught up in terrible traffic and clambering over central reservations before speeding back to the station with a couple of boxes of take away pizza. I had spent the time chatting to the locals and felt quite lucky that I had taken the easy option. We prepared mentally for the train ride ahead. Polly, always fearful of being stranded without food, emptied the local stalls of all there biscuits, crisps and cakes and we took our seats in a very crowded cabin. A couple of hours of stopping and starting it was time to pull out the beds and settle down for the night. The smells wafting through the cabins reminded me of trips to Fratton Park with Dad back in the 80s when 1000 Pompey fans would pee in a concrete urinal at half time. 4 hours down, only 18 to go! And if that guy doesn't stop talking so loudly soon there is going to be trouble!
A visit to the famous Leopolds Bar in Mumbai the night before resulted in Mikey being completely useless at packing up all the gear. Felix, G and Gabriella, a multinational collection (Australia, Malaysia and Italy) from the hotel had been good fun on a night out in this ever buzzing city. I really tried to help Polly out with cramming everything back into the panniers but we soon realised I was better off out of there, I was not complying with the strict rules of Packing Control. Polly sent me off with a list of achievable tasks, absolutely aware that I would probably not achieve any of them. England had self destructed and Australia clinched the third test in The Ashes just to add to my morning grumps. I partially redeemed myself my ordering coffee and buttered toast which put us in a very exciting position, an opportunity to break the seal on the Marmite that Tricia had bought from England. Marmite toast was a slice of heaven and it was the catalyst I needed to make the most of our last day in Mumbai. After a quick shop around Central Station we checked out and organised our transport to the station for later in the day