Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Riding to Nagpur on New Year's Eve

The plan we decided on was to ride to Khajuraho next, which, according to our GPS, is about 600 miles from Hyderabad and would be doable in two hard days of riding.  We were on our way out of Hyderabad, under gray skies, by 7:30am, after fueling out tummies one last time at the breakfast buffet (mmm idli, upma, their accoutrements, and fruit), in an attempt to beat the morning rush hour traffic.  We made it out of the city and onto the highway (smooth four-lanes) and cruised easily for the first 120 miles or so.  Then the road narrowed and fell apart where it traversed small villages and towns, opening up and smoothing out on the other side. 

The halfway point to Khajuraho was the city of Nagpur, which we hoped to make by late afternoon.  With about 70 miles to go, as we sat at a railroad crossing waiting for a train to appear, the raindrops began to fall.  Yay.  The remaining miles were wet, and by the time we made it to Nagpur, it was well after 5:00 pm and still drizzling.  Once we were in the city, we needed to locate the railway station in order to find the supposedly nearby, Central Avenue, where the hotels we had listed in our book were.  As we neared the railway station, I saw an overhead sign for Central Ave pointing in the direction of the station.  But we drove around and around, never actually finding the road we needed.  It was getting darker, everything was wet, and we were tired.  I finally got out the phone and called one of the hotels listed, hoping to be able to get directions.  With the help of the hotel and some passersby, we made it to the area.  We pulled up in front of the hotel Re had called, only to find that they had no motorbike parking there, but we could park at the “Hotel Grand,” located a couple blocks away.  We rode to the Hotel Grand and found nothing grand about it.  It was down a dark and dingy street in an area where, if there were motorcycle chop shops in Nagpur, this is where they would be.  We declined to park at the Hotel Grand and rode back around to Central Ave to look for better prospects.  A local tout spotted us perusing the Lonely Planet and directed us to a nearby hotel where they allowed us to park our bikes in their front hallway.  The evening was cool enough that we didn't need AC, but we decided to get it anyway to help dry our still damp gear overnight.  Bikes secured, we went around the corner for a very excellent thali dinner and then to the local wine shop for a bottle of celebratory whiskey with which to toast the new year.  After today's long ride and facing another one tomorrow, we decided around 9:30 pm that it was midnight somewhere, toasted the new year, and went to bed.

The ride today was really not a pleasant one.  Even though we covered about 350 miles (the most in a day in India) and the road conditions were great for long stretches, today we saw numerous roadkills.  I suppose it was because the road was smooth that people could drive faster and pay less attention to whatever happened to be wandering across the road ahead, but there were dead cows, water buffaloes, goats, dogs, and small, unidentifiable critters along the roadside.  One cow was especially fresh, and a hungry, stray dog tore at the carcass as we passed.  Ick on many levels. 

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