It turns out you can’t polish a turd. Despite having my bike fixed for the umpteenth time, my pedal fell off again just 10km out of Kannur. Miraculously, Hugo found the flying nut on the roadside and we tried our best to screw it back on with my broken spanner to tied us over until we reached a shop with proper tools.
As soon as we crossed the state boarder into Karnataka from Kerala the road began to climb. Hugo had warned me that we had a fairly hefty “mountain” to conquer so I was somewhat mentally prepared but this just went on forever. I spent the entire time trying to grab hold of passing trucks to hitch a lift up. After another failed attempt, I screamed at the top of my voice in rage, I had been pedalling uphill for what felt like a lifetime.
Long out of water, I demolished everything I could find at a local shack up the top. Here, after 80km, we decided to call it a day after reaching a town with accommodation, a luxury I needed after pedalling uphill continuously for over three and a half hours.
I found many similarities between Kerala and Karnataka as I cycled past eateries selling food on banana leaves and the odd tourist hot spot here and there. One thing I found different however, was the selection of delights at the local bakery including our new favourite, egg curry puffs. Needless to say this was was a very “naughty” day and I may have over done it with the “cough” five “cough” pastries.
To counter-act the pastries, ying and yang as they say, I purchased a whole healthy papaya for 20p – bargain! Let’s just say, a papaya doesn’t travel well strapped to a bike in 40c heat. Hugo laughs at the fact every time I ask someone for a toilet, a bin or want to buy something I am met with nothing but rudeness and it only seems to happen to me and I know exactly why it is. Talking of bins, we can’t help but laugh at the reaction of locals when I ask where I can put my rubbish and they point to the floor. It’s a sad reality and an issue India desperately needs to address.
After a day of gradual ups and downs, a killer on the knees, we were just 15km from our daily target and a town likely to have accommodation. Like the last hour of every day, shit went down. I had a puncture in my back wheel and my broken spanner meant we were unable to take it off so we had no other option than to patch. Excellent patching by Hugo and a whole lot of luck I clocked 90km on the bike that day.
We had a bit of a mare trying to find someone who would sell us a spanner as no one spoke a word of English but thankfully I am now equipped with a trusty, albeit rather humungous spanner. Cycling past plenty of palm trees with falling coconuts many of them missing us by centimetres, the scenery changed dramatically as with the weather, with both becoming increasingly drier.
Taking the scenic route, we whizzed past small rural villages with waves from locals and excited children running after us. I have resorted to drinking from village pumps and taps outside local eateries, not just because of the environment but because bottled water was becoming more difficult to find. Touch wood, I have yet to experience this “Delhi belly” everyone goes on about.
Surprisingly I found the rural roads in tiptop condition and the only bad patch was found on a highway where I nearly suffocated from the dust of passers by. I came across absolutely nowhere to stay in the 110km I cycled on our third day to Hampi so we had no other choice but to camp. Finding a place to sleep in India is always eventful for us and camping even more so because there are people EVERYWHERE. Hugo found the perfect spot but there was a shepherd walking his goats and once he had left, a coconut farmer appeared across the road and started speaking to us in broken English.
Eager not to look suspicious, we continued the conversation and unable to shake him off, asked if we could camp on his land. Without too much persuasion he let us secure the tent under the roof of a shack. It was absolutely perfect and the sunset behind the palms, just magnificent. He gave us a coconut to drink and introduced me to an “old coconut” which is used for coconut oil but edible too. I was in love. It was one of the best things I have eaten in India and I’m desperate to find more.
Within half an hour of coconut man leaving, I heard a motorbike pull up. It is too dangerous to stay if people know we are camping, so we were resentfully prepared to pack up in the dark. Thankfully it was just the coconut farmer who had returned with his young son and snacks for us to eat. What a generous kind man. I was sweating like there was no tomorrow in the tent so I rolled over to my side to expose my back to the slight breeze. With two people in a one man tent this position meant my bare bum was up against the net which, resulted in my arse being eaten alive by mosquitoes the entire night. It wasn’t comfortable but we survived and continued on the rural road to Hampi.