November 30, 2012 – After a bad night’s sleep and early rising before 7am we finally were on the road again – by 11am with our Indian horns well placed on the bikes and a big smile on our faces. Getting out of Gurgaon was really easy, when we had to cross big highways traffic police would just stop all the traffic around us to make sure we could safely reach the other side of the street and as soon as we were a bit outside of the city and the traffic slowed down a bit, it became a piece of cake anyway. To begin with and before I carry on – we had a fabulous first cycling day on the Indian Subcontinent and enjoyed almost every minute of it.
Having cycled about 1.5 hours and only 20km we reached a bird sanctuary at a beautiful lake. We didn’t have to think long about it to decide we would go in and have a look at the lake and birds, it was lunch time anyway so we could combine the break with something to eat. We got a personal guide with binoculars and strolled through the beautiful park watching birds for about 45min but had to move on since we wanted to reach Jhajjar, a city still 35km away.
Johan’s knee was OK but started to hurt a little later but he still wanted to continue – brave as he is! We were the stars of the streets, people were waving at us, greeting us, cars, motorbikes, trucks would just stop next to us, causing a traffic chaos just to look at us or ask for our names, where we came from. Some would just ride with us for kilometers, they just couldn’t believe what we are doing. And there was one journalist starting to interview us and telling us that he would like to organize a press conference for us. We exchanged contact details and carried on. By 3pm we decided to have a short break to give Johan’s knee some rest and sat down in front of a small temple. Not even five minutes later we were surrounded by 39 people looking curiously at us, at the bikes, asking questions about the bikes, taking pictures of us or asking us to take their picture. It was hilarious but we soon wanted to move on since it wasn’t a real relaxing break.
The highway we were riding on was terrific with a wide hard shoulder and not too much traffic. The cycling was much more relaxed than originally expected and we were both very pleased. On top we are riding through plain and flat farmland which makes cycling really easy.
We arrived in Jhajjar by 4.30pm and were a bit in a hurry since we knew it would be dark within the hour. The day before we found a touristic farm on the internet which is showing rural country and village life to people. We thought we could easily pitch out tent on their land. As per the website the farm is 4km outside of Jhajjar. That’s the first time we got misled – the farm was 9km away and about 5km of the roads were just small dirt or sand paths that were really hard to cycle on. When we arrived, we noticed our second mistake, we couldn’t stay there, the farm is only open during the day and even though we tried everything they sent us back to Jhajjar.
At that time we had already cycled 60km, while we thought we would start with an easy day and 50km only. We were quite frustrated knowing we again had to cycle in the dark and on these bad roads. We decided to ask some farmers we saw a few kilometers earlier if we could stay on their land for the night. We had enough food and water with us. The first farmer we asked didn’t speak a word English but directly invited us into his house, which turned out to be a walled stable with a small well and a few cows inside. No way to pitch a tent in there. But luckily a car stopped a few minutes later and five men stepped out to have a smoke with the farmer – all beautifully dressed in their white kurtas and pajamas (we were later told that they were coming from a wedding). One of them spoke a little English so we again told him what we were looking for and the men discussed in Hindi for ages. Johan already got a bit impatient when the English-speaking man approached him and told him to come with him. They disappeared behind the stable but unfortunately this wasn’t a place either where we could stay. BUT: this man had a farm himself, 5km away, and he invited us to come with him. By now it was completely dark and very cold (the night temperatures drop to under 10 degrees Celsius now) and we happily agreed to come with him. We jumped on our bikes and rode as hard as we could on this poor road behind the car to reach his farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. The 5km turned out to be 7.5km but we didn’t bother by then anymore. We had a place to sleep.