Colin is in red italics again
Last night's sleep was particularly poor due to the apparently never ending supply of mosquitoes. Before we went to bed, we killed at least 40 mosquitoes between us, and yet, somewhere in the room, there must have been a tiny, mosquito clown car, because they just kept coming. Since the room only came with a wool blanket and it certainly wasn't that cold, we slept inside our silk sleepsacks, and I tried in vain all night to keep my head inside the sleepsack.
We hit the road by 8:30 for the hundred or so miles left to Ooty. The first 10 miles or so were through the extended urban area. About 6 miles into the ride, the law of averages and bad drivers caught up with Re. While riding through a commercial area, I passed an autorickshaw parked on the left side of the road and saw in my peripheral vision another motorbike rider shooting blindly out of a side street into oncoming traffic, as is pretty standard here. Unfortunately the oncoming traffic was Re. No, nononononononononono. I glanced in my rearview mirror in time to see Re T-bone this fine gentleman. She was able to get on the brakes momentarily, and fortunately we weren't traveling fast at the time, but she did center punch the other bike. When I spun around, I saw both bikes in the road and a group of people helping both riders up. When I reached the scene, Re and her bike were upright, and Re was fine, just pissed. The assembled crowd helped us get her bike to the side of the road, so the now backing up traffic could go. Apparently the other rider decided not to stick around for the ass-kicking Re was ready to dole out, as he had left the scene. Amazingly, a quick once over of Re's bike revealed no new damage!
This is the first real collision I've been involved in, with car or bike, in twenty some years. When I saw the guy pull into the road, stop, and I swear, smile at me, I had nowhere to go, with traffic on both sides. I hit both brakes as hard and fast as I could and tried my best to stop in time, but no such luck. I know that every action is met with an equal and opposite reaction, and based on the lack of damage to either party or equipment involved, I must have slowed down a lot. When I hit him, we must have been perpendicular to each other, and all I felt was a reverberating BROING! through my front tire and and then my wrists before the bike fell over on the left side. I yelled to the guy to see if he was okay, and he was still smiling weakly as some people helped him move his bike. I was seriously shaken and peeved that on this day, the day I had determined would be the day that I stayed “in the moment” throughout my ride, I would now spend worrying about whether he was okay, I would be okay, the bike was okay, and what would happen around the next bend. I have a lot of trouble trying to clear my brain of all the noise (figurative and literal), and my current goal is to increase the length of time that I can NOT think about the past, the future, and random garbage that does nothing but clutter my head to more than a nanosecond. The universe did seem to be conspiring against me, as maybe fifteen minutes later, I almost ran into another motorbike when the rider pulled out from the side of the road and tried to move to the right in front of me without signaling. Aaarrrfggghh!
From its time on its side, Re's bike had flooded and took a bit to start, but we were back underway. The roads today were under construction and will eventually be four-lane highway, but for now, they are stretches of paved road connected by dirt and rock. In one particularly bad pothole that I missed avoiding, I re-bent my rear brake lever all the way back to the footpeg again and also dinged the corner of my chain case to the point where it was dragging on the chain. After fixing the chain case (the rear brake lever will have to wait) we again continued towards Ooty. As we rode, large mountains appeared through the haze and got closer and closer, until we reached them. The final thirty-five miles to Ooty was a serpentine road that rose from 1600 feet to 7500 feet. Unfortunately, Ooty is a popular place to visit, and so this thirty-five miles was a near-continuous conga line of slow buses and trucks. We joined our Indian two-wheeled brethren in making blind, stupid overtaking manoeuvers, until I nearly paid the price. On one steep section, I very optimistically tried to overtake a bus and made it about halfway alongside, when a line of small trucks came around the corner towards me. Unable to complete the pass, I attempted to slow down and get in behind the bus, but was unable to before the trucks arrived. The roads here are very narrow and I found my left mirror scraping on the side of the bus while two of the trucks clipped my right mirror as they passed. Considering that our mirrors only extend about an inch beyond our handlebars, that was really way too #!@$!' close. Part of the problem is that the bikes are not enjoying the altitude and are running very poorly, and the other part is that there is a dumbass riding this bike.
We eventually made it to Ooty (alive) and found the YWCA (whoever would have thought!), where we are staying overnight. The novel thing about Ooty is the temperature. When we arrived around 1:30 pm, it was only about 70 degrees. After unpacking the bikes and getting situated, we walked into town for a late lunch at a restaurant that serves meat other than chicken. I dined on some lovely lamb sheesh kebabs while Re had the tandoori chicken. After picking up some snacks for later, we made our way back to the room and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and being thankful to still be alive.