Bicycle POV

As nervous as I was about cycling on Indian roads (lanes, paths, cliffs), there was no doubt in my mind that it would be better than driving, being driven, riding a motorcycle, or walking. The first two imply a car, and anything wide enough to hold 4 people is too wide. Either the roads (lanes, etc) barely accommodate the vehicle or the middle of the road is being used as a passing lane and the stress is simply more than I want to deal with. We do still take cabs now and then. We went the motorcycle route last time. It was great in some ways. Fairly efficient travel in any direction we wanted to go – low fuel consumption, nimble enough for narrow paths and well-slung enough for rough surfaces, fast enough for a couple cyclists. The Royal Enfield Bullet 350 is a lovely machine, too, with a comfortable and, ahem, stimulating growl. On the other hand, there was fuel to buy. James was the driver, which irritated me and stressed him. And while easy enough to maneuver, there’s a whole nother level of nimble that could improve the experience of moving about on these roads. Walking? It’s the only way to see every bit of a new neighborhood. It’s the only way to get every photo. And it’s the only way to have random conversations. Every other form of transportation moves too fast. On the other hand, we did so much walking between our arrival and getting the bicycles that I wore out a pair of shoes and my body thought I should give it a rest. Cycling, though. Wow. It’s good exercise, swift enough to put most of the city within our reach, and talk about nimble – we can ride almost anywhere we want and we[…]

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The After Surgery Special

I (James) knew after I sold the Bullet in 2009 that I was never going to buy another vehicle to drive in Indian traffic ever again… …but that didn’t mean we were sentanced to being chauffeured around South India in cars and auto-rickshaws. It just meant we were going to have to go back to our comfort zone is all. Between my rather intense surgeries we did some searches and found a couple of bike shops online, epic-walked our little asses off, and ultimately found a cool bike shop that had exactly what we needed. Well…kind of. Our new bikes are both upright (Wedge-style) mountain bikes which are hard on our (not so young anymore) backs and necks and unlike pretty much everything else here in Hindustan, they were fucking expensive! Of course, we had to go see the new Star Wars movie because it’s the one English-language film playing right now and…well, it’s Star Wars! With the new bikes, downtown Trivandrum (nee Thiruvananthapuram) isn’t so far away. Only about 10km. Gulp. Let’s do it! And of course, we couldn’t stick to the main roads. They’re busy and freaky, so we were all about getting clever and using neighborhood roads. What we didn’t figure on was that the neighborhood roads are very much “back road” quality, where they’re not “country lane” or “field path” quality. In other words, rough, rutted dirt showing the stony bones of this granite and marble part of the continent. Also, it hadn’t been clear how much the main roads followed (or had created) gentle grades. The back roads were steep, both up and down like a yoyo belonging to a kid with ADHD. The ruts and watersheds made the downhills torturous to navigate, so you could go up a bad-ass hill and get no real[…]

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