We spent four more days on the road to get to Abu Road, south of the Thar Desert and a mountainous area. We cycled on busy national highways and quiet national highways, on small and quiet roads, on small and busy roads, on sand roads, on mini roads consisting of just one lane, on very good roads and on very bad bumpy and pot-holed patchwork roads. The bad roads slowed us down tremendously and after having spent a full morning on such roads Johan angrily asked ‘why the heck don’t they do anything about these roads?’. You have to know that we were cycling on a state highway. His wish came true: we spent all afternoon cycling through road works and wished we were still riding on bumpy roads. We had to wear our surgical mask to not breathe in all the dust risen by the passing traffic. It was such a nightmare that by 4 pm we decided to make a detour to be able to breathe normally and move on again!
While we were still cycling through the desert, the scenery continuously changed and became greener, less arid and more cultivated. They even grow mustard in the desert!!! We also rode around rocky hills that mounted around us, a very beautiful scenery, especially as the roads continued to be flat. On the third day we finally rode into a hilly area and the going would have still been easy if it wasn’t for the headwinds we faced all day long. We are not very lucky with the winds here, we only face headwinds, whatever direction we are cycling. And I am again not exaggerating. Each time we look forward to tailwinds the next day the wind has changed direction and we face headwinds again. What doesn’t kill us just makes us stronger, right?
Our goal that day was to get as close to Mount Abu as possible, but when we asked for directions we were told that we actually had to cycle all around the mountain, as the road on our map was only accessible by walkers. What a disappointment at first, but a delight at last as the landscape was absolutely stunning, gorgeous, beautiful and paradise-like. The vegetation changed dramatically with now palm trees, bamboo and other huge and to us unknown trees along the roads. At times it became almost Mediterranean with bushes like Bougainvilleas and Oleanders. We got as close as 25km before Abu Road (which is a small town at the bottom of the mountain) and slept at a village temple.
Mount Abu is a holiday resort at an altitude of approximately 1,200m, the mountain itself is more than 1,700m high and the peak is accessible by road. We decided to look for accommodation at Abu Road to be able to climb the mountain without luggage. Which was a great decision, cycling has never been easier even though we had to climb at total of 40km. It took us three hours to get to Mount Abu where we had lunch and did some ‘people-watching’ as the resort is highly frequented by Indians of the surrounding provinces. The town itself is an agglomeration of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants and reminded me of Austrian skiing resorts. Johan started dreaming about Schnitzel and other wonderful European food again (I couldn’t this time, I just got over the vomiting the previous day).
After lunch we continued climbing for about 1.5 hours the far tougher part with very steep and narrow roads and were grateful again for having done this trip without luggage. We very much enjoyed this trip and were very proud having ‘conquered’ this mountain of over 1,700 m – the first time ever on our bicycles. And even more thrilling was the downhill ride of more than 40km without any pedaling. That day we spent almost seven hours on the bike and reached our sleeping place only after dark.
From Abu Road we continued our journey on the motorway to Udaipur, a two-day journey of about 160 km. You might think we have become completely insane by now riding on a motorway, but Indian motorways don’t compare to any western motorways. Everybody is using it: bicycles, children walking to or from school, merchants, cows, goats, sheep and there are even zebra crossings. Admittedly this motorway wasn’t really busy and people would just sit around on the hard shoulder chatting or just watching the traffic. And there were ghost drivers as well and nobody cared about them which proves once again that everything is possible in India. Hare Krishna!
We climbed again to over 900 m facing headwinds but enjoyed the views and looked very much forward to reach Udaipur, the most romantic city Rajasthan’s, if not even India’s, which still needs to be proved.