Why do the Delhi India rides require waking up at 3 AM?
This time it was for a 4:15 AM meetup at India Gate for the 100 km Independence Day cycle around Delhi. Myself and 14 others started out these dark morning hours with heading up to the Presidential Palace before hitting the crazy street patterns of Delhi.
I’m not sure if I’m going to figure out these roads before I leave in a few years. Even having a map and reviewing it several times still had me getting to India Gate from the wrong direction this morning. At least, I got there and on time to boot.
Riding the roads in the early morning reinforces a few things about Delhi.
In reflection, I should’ve come to India sooner than Laos for elephant viewing. However, I still want to visit again and ride Laos soon.
Post elephant, encounter there wasn’t much interesting to me going on. Therefore, being able to chat with the various riders definitely helped pass the kilometers till reaching our first pit stop in Gurgaon.
After that, we headed out onto the Indian version of near-city countryside. At this point, I know this isn’t Taiwan, but I can’t help be missing it. After hitting 50 kilometers, I still hadn’t seen a major hill or fantastic horizon.
To the east of Gurgaon, I’m told, are the oldest mountains in the world. They’re so old, they’re more like rolling hills that might see 200 or 201 meters during a dust storm. Still, with being on the flats the past week, it was great to have a climb, even a 2%.
By halfway through the climbs, I worked my way up to the front and rode with Michael on his time trial equipped Trek. Eventually, he dropped back and I picked up the pace and didn’t look back.
Around 25 kilometers later, Ishan gives me a call to say that the second pit stop was back in Faridabad. Being in the groove, I kept going.
As I hadn’t been on my own since getting here, the break was a welcome chance to let my thoughts work themselves out till the stomach growled.
A 10-minute stop at a series of road side stalls provided me with sealed bottle water, creme cookies and 20 candies for giving to the local kids. That’s the great haul of the day for only 30 rupees, me feed and plenty of kids smiling.
Once replenished, my pace picked back up to just over 30 kph and eventually realized I missed a turn, but not till 1-2 km later. I decided that with the traffic picking up, getting bounced around by the potholes, getting a headache and feeling tired I wimped out and called Ishan to say I’m pushing on home in Vasant Kunj.
While going past Qutub Minar metro station at around 108 kilometers, I found myself blessed to have missed the turn as I really wanted to be home. The traffic, smog and road conditions were wearing me down.
The last few kilometers home decided they needed to add an adventure through blowing the front tire dramatically via a pothole pinch. Since I was within a 100 meters of the Pocket B&C enclave entrance, I walked on home and grabbed drinks along the way.
Tomorrow when I have some mystical free time, I’ll fix the front and patch the rear tire’s slow leak.
With all said and done, a good ride for meeting up with people from Indian Cyclists, I learned an early morning route to Connaught Place for work, saw the Delhi countryside and reached 111 km putting me over 180 kilometers for the week. All before 9:15 AM.
At the end of the day, riding India is different. I can’t wait for getting into the real countryside, say outside a 50 kilometer radius. I’m finding just for fun Delhi city riding tough to wrap my head around. If it wasn’t for needing to commute, I might consider taking up weight lifting and rowing for my exercise.