2010-09-05 25 82
- Felix Dance - by mountain bike.
I'd just arrived in Varanasi after having biked 640 kms from Kathmandu over the last seven days and was enjoying a nice cool Kingfisher beer in celebration of my achievement while watching the Ganges flow beneath me from my hotel balcony. Two days previously I went online to discover two accessible geohashes in the next two days - one 17 kms from the city of Azamgarh - where I was heading the next day (yesterday), and the other 15 kms from Varnasi, for today.
Well, I don't need to tell you how I felt after riding 110 kms through the sweltering summer heat of Northern India in Azamgarh - it was 4pm and a 40 km further ride was just beyond me. Frankly, today I expected the same deal.
But sitting on the balcony watching the pilgrims hurl themselves into the putrid Ganges while a fly found its doom inside my beer bottle I thought, hey, what the hell - let's do it.
Donning a new layer of suncream and stripping my bike of its unnecessarily heavy panniers I entered the fray of Varanasi traffic, getting myself so lost I found myself wading through a small-chain-ring deep puddle over poorly paved cobble-stones desperately asking directions for the highway - yet another mapless geohash.
Eventually, at the point of giving up and returning home (my GPS arrow was pointing backwards for the road I was on) I found the freeway. And what a freeway! A divided dual carriageway affair with four deep groves denoting the extreme heaviness of all the trucks that use it. With only 8 kms to go I hurtled down it thanks to a newly discovered tailwind, straight towards the hash. Interestingly, on the way I encounted a group of Hindu ascetics literally (yes, I really mean literally) crawling from Calcutta to Delhi on their stomachs. I considered taking a photo, but it was too dangerous to stop.
Finally taking a small farm road towards the hash 1.5 kms away I allowed myself to get seriously lost, wandering the fields, riding around brick factories and generally confusing the hell out of anyone I encountered (as usual), until, crashing through an unsuspecting village, I got within 150m of the hash. Traipsing through mud was required for the final sprint, delirious with the scent of success. I allowed my bike to have a cool break beneath a shady tree while I tromped off to get to the point and take lots of photos. The looks of the local farmers could only be interpreted as wondering whose daughter was about to elope with a mysterious westerner.
Geohash completed, I cyclo-trekked back to the road, via being asked to photograph everyone who saw me (results attached), drinking some essential local water that is sure to give me giardia, crossing back over the rail tracks (everywhere in India is next to a railway), and having a celebratory lemon juice at a local stall (this harsh Indian summer weather is unreasonably hot - I'm Australian, I know what I'm talking about here). The quaint but vastly inconvenient cobble-stones on my return were the final straw for my back.
I think this might be the first geohash in India - for a nation of a billion people they're not really pulling their weight.
Here is my stupid route, shown on Google Maps in all its splendour.
Estimated total ride: 42 kms
Time of hash: 16:05
Total time for geohash: about 3.5 hours.
| Felix Dance earned the Land geohash achievement
| Felix Dance earned the Bicycle geohash achievement
|Felix Dance earned the Virgin Graticule Achievement|
| Felix Dance earned the Ambassador achievement