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Diary of the World Record: Day43

  • By Vin Cox

21st Mar.  121.2 miles cycled.

Almost got in a fight with three guys on a motorbike who hassled me in Friozabad – whole town was mad, but they were worse.  It’s Sunday and there was a fair near town. I think they were drunk and coming down from the excitement of the fair.  It was also 42C! [Cooked their brains maybe?]

Anyway, Agra was quiet and the fort looked lovely, bridge over the river was interesting (see video)!

Tail winds and heavy slow traffic on smooth roads made it a fast and productive day.

Met a nice lawyer running a restaurant and also met a bloke who’s ridden 90,000km so far in 4yr world tour.  We had dinner and swapped stories.

121.2mi @ 14mph

My health had returned!  With it came happiness, much improved progress, and a new phase of my journey through India.  I crossed the state border out of Rajasthan just before Agra and entered Uttar Pradesh.  Uttar Pradesh is massive:  If it were a separate country, it would be the fifth most populated country on Earth.  I turned right, and headed South East joining National Highway 2 for the next 800 miles to Calcutta/Kolkata.

Uttar Pradesh is very poor:  It has more than three times as many people than the UK, but an economy one fortieth of the size.  Average income in the state is less than £1 (UK Pound) a day.  I’d been warned that the lack of cash meant products such as soft drinks would be rare at roadside stores.  Almost every meal would be dhal (curry) and roti (bread) from here on washed down with dubious local water.

Meeting another cycle tourist was surprisingly comforting – I felt he was family although he was from Slovakia. The hotel told me his room number, so just knocked on his door.  We met up a short while later to have dinner together and compare notes.  Brilliantly, he was traveling west and I was going east, so we could tell each other what lay ahead.  His main warning to me was that the town of Varanasi ought to be avoided and known as “VeryNasty”.  I filled him in on what I knew of his route ahead, and he told me of his plans to head for South Africa over the next few months to see the 2010 Football World Cup.

It had been a massive challenge to persuade the hotel staff to let me take my bike to my room, but I had succeeded.  My new friend left the dinner table as soon as I told him this, to bring his bike in from the street.  It was a nice hotel, catering for domestic and international travellers on a budget.  They had en suit toilets built for sitting on or squatting on to suit all guest behaviours:

A special toilet ready for sitting or squatting on.

A special toilet ready for sitting or squatting on.

My new brother in cycle-touring was cruising through India slipstreaming behind trucks.  100 miles could be finished each day by lunch in their slipstreams, but I was worried for his safety, and personally couldn’t stand the noise, filth, and lack of adventure of doing that all the way.

The day was visually impressive and diverse, so as I had improving health and morale I filmed a lot.  The following edit gives another perspective and shows some moments I’ve not mentioned in text:

That was my diary from precisely four years ago.  I’m writing up each day on it’s fourth anniversary as a motivation to get this long overdue task done.  These days I’m to be found spending my working days at a brewery, my leisure time cycling, and my family time with my wife and baby daughter.  I hope this entertains, informs, or motivates you.