This was a fantastic day. French toast for breakfast followed by 80 kilometers of riding; most of that downhill. And oh what fantastic downhill it was. The exasperations from the day before truly found grand compensation. And I enjoyed it fully. Surprisingly, the uphill portion of this day was much easier as well. Places where I walked my bike were few and far in between.
The views on the road from Mussoorie to Chinyalisaur are magnificent. The road twists and turns on the slopes of steep hills, covered with tall snowy pines closer to the top and lined by fields and villages on the bottom. Even though there’s plenty of snow still on the hilltops, all creeks that the road crossed were dry. They’re waiting for the summer monsoons to arrive. I imagine that traveling here in autumn, after the rains, when nature is much more lush and green, would be an even more inspiring experience.
But this is no way criticism towards what I saw. The views were magnificent and made for a slow ride. Every little while I was granted a new angle on the landscape that begged to be photographed. Sunshine cleared out the morning haze very quickly and then kept me warm the entire day. The haze didn’t surrender entirely though, as the distant white peaks of true Himalayas were still in its firm grasp, with only the outlines of peaks faintly visible to the naked eye.
The multitude of stops also helped to cool the brakes on the bike, which took a real beating. Traffic was minimal and locals more helpful and friendly than I’d ever seen before in India. On the road here I mostly met children coming home from school or playing cricket, road construction crews, herders with their goats/sheep/buffalo, or simply people hanging around at eateries, going about their everyday gossip. I received the attention of lots of excited schoolchildren down in the valley, all amazed at why would anybody ride a bicycle here. The few teachers I shared words with seemed to wonder the same. Education, farming and roadside shops/eateries seem to be the main economic activities here. Other than construction of course, something that seems to be happening everywhere in India right now.
The locals got very different snapshots of me depending on whether they were on the up- or downhill. I started the day off wearing a hat, a scarf, biking gloves and a soft shell. The downhills were long and fast. Cold wind with little exertion other than braking requires warmer gear. As soon as the road turned up (protip: flat ground does not exist in mountains, it’s all either up or down) the jacket, gloves, hat and scarf got all tucked away, my sleeves rolled up and the sweating could commence. Throughout the climbs and descents my outfit would keep changing for the rest of this trip. The temperature difference from shadows to sunlight, coupled with wind chill, could be astonishing so I got in the habit having long sleeves always in easy reach.
Stopping for the evening I had a revelation. I’d found it. I’d finally found it. A town, where nowhere can you find Sprite, or Coke or even Pepsi. The closest thing you can get, offered to me by a local was… are ready for it? Cauliflower soda. Mwhahahahaaa! Welcome to India. Or more specifically, welcome to Chinyalisaur.
Oh yeah, I also found the Ganges.