The bear necessities of life

Trip Start Jun 25, 2013
Trip End Dec 25, 2013

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Flag of India  , Orissa,
Thursday, September 19, 2013

I was thinking of the numerous titles I could use for this blog entry as I've been riding over the last couple of days. It's nice to be beside the seaside, heading due south, it's raining cats and dogs, bring me sunshine, always look on the bright side of life etc etc etc.

In the end Mowgli won the day and I'm sure you'll soon realise why.

I left Abishek's place at about 10.30 / 11 and we rode together for the first few kms and I then kicked back into compass and sense of direction mode and was soon back over the hooghly river and heading south. This was the same bridge that Richard and I had used to enter Kolkata so all was good. It was a nice feeling to know that I was once more back on track and heading south.

I made good progress and was soon scooting along national highway 5 and was feeling ever so slightly excited about seeing the sea.  Following discussion with Abishek I'd decided to stick to the highway before making towards the coast. That was my initial 'plan' until the usual Chegwyn style of travelling kicked in once more and I saw an opportunity to turn left and follow my nose thus cutting off a big old corner of my highway route. What a toptastic decision that was (initially) - the road was fantastic and took me through some stunning jungle area. It was humid like you wouldn't believe but I had the biggest smile imaginable - it was a superb ride. As with all good things there's a but! The last time I had done something similar was trying to avoid Tehran but that trip was desert and you could see for miles. 

After a much needed coldish limca I carried on and was amazed to see my perfect road get narrower and narrower and narrower until, before you could say 'quack quack ooops' I was -as usual -off roading but this time in what I could only describe as a forest track. It was an 'amusing' hour or so before I eventually popped out at a forest village and the shock on people's faces was amazing. I didn't stop to take photos unfortunately as it really didn't feel like it would've been appropriate.

I attempted to ask for a general direction to the nearest road and after much discussion with at least 20 participants I  took the majority view and kicked off back into the forest. The directions were spot on -thankfully -but the only problem was the road hadn't been finished. There was a bridge half built and a bit of road either side but nothing else just more forest. I walked to the top of the bridge to try and gain a view and with my trusty compass decided on a South West track I could see. This track lasted for almost 60kms before I finally just popped out midway down highway c5. This road was part of my original 'plan' so seeing as it was -according to the locals- 25kms left or right to the nearest hotel I decided on left as per my chosen direction to the coast.

The town of Baleshwar was my destination and it was getting dark as I approached the outskirts. Unfortunately I got caught at a railway crossing and sat there for almost 20 minutes as the dark thundery clouds started to form around me. As soon as the barrier opened the rain started and if that wasn't bad enough there wasn't even a hotel!

The nearest one (apparently) was a further 10 kms down the road so off I set. After 15kms I realised that this was not going well and the lightening had just started. I saw in the distance a roadside dhaba that on first impressions wasn't that welcoming. I pulled in at 18.40 and had chai in an attempt to warm up. I've had an on and off bout of man flu for the last couple of weeks and as I sat there shivering I tried to work out the next plan. The stickers on my bike (parked inside) helped generate some conversation of sorts and I was soon explaining (as best I could) re my trip. The monsoon deluge continued solidly and the lightening and thunder was superb. A small child in the dhaba was just rocking on a chair with his hands covering his ears - he looked terrified. 

There were some wooden benches in this open shack that i viewed as possible night time accommodation and was just about to enquire when all hell broke loose. A local came running in and was very excited and before you knew it I was all alone. I wandered outside and on this flooded road was yet another serious accident. This is a regular occurence on Indian roads which is I'm sure due (in order to of importance) to a lack of driving standards and road and vehicle condition.

On return to the dhaba it was clear that it would close for the night so I  asked if I could sleep there. An English speaking chap spoke to me briefly before heading off home with his takeaway curry and one of my cards.  After a massala omelette and more tea I took to my wooden bench and popped my ear plugs in. I'm a very lucky chap in that mosquitoes don't like me - they're not the only ones - but even so they  were buzzing in their unique high pitched way. As a result my Touratwat supplied mosquito net came out and I wrapped myself up in it putting my hands in the indicator recesses (I used my bike cover). I started to doze at about 9 pm when I was called by the chap I'd spoken to an hour before. He told me to call him if I had any problems during the night and my onward journey south. After this I was soon asleep. My Rip Van Winkle self woke at 3am to discover everybody had gone but they'd left a small paraffin stove burning next to me - once again, the kindness of strangers.

After a photo to catch the moment and a couple of slaps to the couple of pesky mossies who'd had the audacity to break through my cover I fell back into a deep sleep and only woke up following a gentle tap on my leg. It was 5.30 - the dhaba was open and they needed the bench! After a quick cup of chai I was back out onto the wet road and driving past yesterday's rta carnage. The rain thunder and lightning had clearly gone on all night but I hadn't heard a thing. One person reading this will no doubt recall the time I slept through the tail end of hurricane Icke (USA 2008 in a tent) and awoke to an unhappy camper and lots of property damage ;-)

The mileage on the bike showed I had covered 380 kms.

So this morning i was on the road by 05.45 - the 0 clearly standing for 0 my god that's early.

The clouds were still looking onimous and I soon pulled off the road for an hour to see if the rain would blow over - It didn't.

I carried on until about 10.30 and stopped for tea at another roadside dhaba. They were also superb. A massala omelette three teas an English copy of The Times of India to read and a warm blanket over me. As I left I realised they'd even cleaned my helmet and visor - all this for 90 rupees.  Another example of roadside friendliness. 

During discussion with Abishek the previous evening about mpg / kmpl I remembered i my carburettor adjustment in Leh back in July. During a chai stop (having killed the engine at full throttle) I whipped the plug out. It wasn't too bad but a little lighter in colour than I would've preferred.

Then as luck would have it I saw SK motors a few kms down the road and called in for a required oil change. I was hoping to borrow some kit to strip the carb down at the same time but an excellent mechanic understood what I was attempting to describe and set about the stripping and assessment of the carb. Sure enough a thin bit of wire was inside the main jet and tied off around the screw head. Seeing as I am now at sea level (hoping to see it tomorrow) it's been removed and I'm now back at 'full' power. It'll be interesting to see what happens with the next lot of mileage figures.
I'm now staying in a nice hotel in Cuttack and updating this using their wifi. It's not the best connection but once I've eaten I'll try and upload some photos.

I'm not a fan of this 'adventure motorcycling' label nor do I like silly buzz word titles so how about, in summary, a top couple of days bike riding that's made this scruffy English bloke smile.


The mushroom curry was fab and the cold kingfishers going down swimmingly but the sad news is wifi not good enough to upload my photos - I'll pop some on here when next able.

Ok, I'm off out in search of a nice prickly pear.
Photos uploaded and much quicker when stood on one leg holding computer thingy close to router attached to reception room ceiling, Job done - it's beer time!

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