So we conquered Mount Abu on Day 1 and it is Day 2 (Strava) at Tour of Aravallis on 2nd September 2016. I wake up even before the wake-up call today and soon get ready and pack bags, which again need to be deposited in support vehicle so that they can reach our next hotel. I borrow chain lubricant from my roommate Mayank and go and apply some to my chain. It was necessary after all that washing yesterday. I briefly think about the day ahead and realise that I just need to eat and ride all day today and then sleep and repeat the whole thing again tomorrow. I feel like a professional racer and think that I can get used to this lifestyle 🙂
As soon as we leave rooms with bags, we notice that it’s raining and visibility is really poor due to thick fog, but I choose to focus on the immediate task on hand, which was to have a hearty breakfast. I eat as much as I can and then come into lobby. We are told to stay put till organisers assess the riding conditions. After sometime organisers rightly decide that descending down the Mt. Abu would be dangerous due to low visibility and rains, so our ride would be started from the base of the Mt. Abu instead. Our bikes are loaded onto truck and we board our bus. Jonty Rhodes, ex- South African cricketer and greatest fielder, world has ever seen was going to ride with us on this day in capacity of brand ambassador of Montra, tour’s title sponsor.
Drive down the mountain proved to be equally tough for me as mid-way I started feeling nauseous due to all those bends and turns. Bus didn’t have any windows, which would have allowed me to do my business if it came to that. Sheriyar and Jonty were immersed in some conversation on the seats on other side of the aisle. Everybody else looked calm and I didn’t know what to do. My mind started racing to find some solution. I needed a vomit-bag, but there was none. Soon I realise that I had my saddle bag and helmet on my lap and my saddle bag contained a small plastic bag with cards and some cash. I reach for it and soon empty all it’s content on the vacant seat next to me and grab the bag in my hand and start breathing deeply and try to control it just a little longer. I look out the window and realise that we are almost at the base. Maybe a few more turns now. I was right and soon bus is at the base and my motion-sickness subsides. I put coins, cash back where they belonged. At the dhaba at base, where our bikes had already reached and were waiting for us, I was welcomed with one real yummy Lassi and I started feeling a lot better.
I top-up the air in my tires and we line up for the start of day 2. It’s 10 AM, instead of scheduled 7 AM start and we are flagged off by Anuj. Today was different and as soon as we were flagged off, a lead bunch of riders was formed and they were riding together in a peloton really fast. I tried to go after them and was trailing them for first few KMs, but gradually I slipped away and couldn’t catch up with them. Devang came from behind once again and started riding with me. I soon realised, he was not as tired as me and was riding at better speeds than mine. I had to let him go ahead and he too slowly slipped away.
I decided to just ride comfortably from then on and enjoy the scenic route and it was indeed the most beautiful day of the tour with breath-taking landscapes, meadows, greenery, tunnels and what not. After sometime I reached the starting point for the Competitive Segment of the day, which was 24 KMs long. After resting and refuelling for sometime, I decided to go for the segment. It was a lumpy road and at times, you were not sure if you are climbing or descending. I tried my best for about 10 KMs but then fatigue caught up and I became slow and only accelerated when there was a descent. Just when I thought, there is some 5-7 KMs of segment still remaining, I notice a huge crowd on both side of the highway. Thought of some accident, possibly involving one of our fellow riders did cross my mind, but as I reached near the crowd, I realised that it was actually the end of the segment and I slowed down to a halt. I again misjudged my segment and also I really didn’t come charging up till the finish. Anyways I was done with the segment and realised that huge crowd was actually to see us cyclists.
After everyone was through with the segment, we were offered packed lunch. After lunch me and Devang again started together for onward journey, but again he gradually slipped ahead. I was really tired and didn’t want to work hard, so I kept on riding at slower pace. After riding for sometime, We turned left from highway to take road for Ranakpur, our destination for today. As soon as we turned left, route became really beautiful. I never expected Rajasthan to be so beautiful, green and full of little water-bodies along the route. I also noticed that in these parts of the country even women were greeting you, when you passed by, by saying hello. This is not something which you experience in other parts of India. May be Rajasthan gets lots of foreign tourists and people here are used to saying hello to them. Kids also said hello and kept on saying hello, bye-bye even after I responded back. I enjoyed it most of the time, but at times, some kids were pretty annoying as well. They will say hello and when I will reply, then will start asking for some money. At times kids will just obstruct the road ahead and want you to stop to chat with them, they even threw small stones at some of the riders.
We encountered some light rain and drizzle enroute but it was all fun. You can’t be really sad when you are in the midst of such beauty. As we neared towards the end of the day, we went through some crazy and scary descents. Toughest descending I have ever done in my life. We were descending at 50+ speed and negotiating some real tricky turns as well. My rear break gave up and even after I left the lever, it will remain stuck to the rim and I had to press the lever in opposite direction to remove it from rim. This went on for some 10-12 KMs and finally we were closing in to our destination for the day – The Mana Hotel but we were greeted with some real bad patch of road for last few KMs. Slowly I made through these last few KMs and finished a very exciting Day 2.