Today I rode only about 42km. Walking around Mussoorie would cover the missing 200m. It was my first day of proper climbing and possibly the worst I’ll have – I ascended from Dehradun (400m asl) to Mussoorie (2000m asl). You can do the math. Basically I used 2 gears for the entire day. One of them was ‘walking’. Jokes aside, there is a limit to the steepness of a climb, where for me it becomes more useful to walk the bike, rather than ride it. The speed difference is minimal and it takes more effort, but I get to rest my bum and use different muscles for a change. The latter is quite useful when you’re in the saddle 8-10 hours a day.
Looking back, Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, is a surprisingly pleasant city. You have your regular Indian sights – small shops, dust, crazy traffic – but it also has a lot of greenery, lots of modern buildings and in general looks noticeably wealthier than anything I saw in Uttar Pradesh. The people also were a lot friendlier here. Setting off in the morning I noticed that the bike chain was acting up. I’m used to doing repairs and maintenance on my own bike myself but I’ve yet to have issues with chains that cannot be fixed with lubrication. So this was a first. Fortunately the small-shop mechanics here are ever-skilled. It took only a minute for the jolly chap to inspect it. Then he gave a gentle tap to two links and the problem was fixed. No payment required. Fantastic.
The road up to Mussoorie was heavy with traffic. Lots of locals were taking advantage of the sunny Saturday for some R&R with a view. And even though it was hazy, this was still so much more inspiring than the flats I’d been riding for the last few days. The sunset was very hazy though. On one side I could barely make out the snow covered peaks of the Himalayas in the distance. On the other, the orange glowing ball of the Sun slowly become more and more squished flat until it disappeared behind the horizon. Also, up here I reached snow. At the top of the hill in Mussoorie I reached snow. And setting off next morning I was greeted by this: