It’s now been 16 days since John commenced the challenge, a week earlier than planned due to the deteriorating roads and weather conditions.
His planned practice run soon became the real deal and he felt as though he was off to a bad start, having to spend the whole of his second day hanging around Manali whilst his bike was serviced and his permit to go through the Rhotang Pass was issued. By day 3 he was champing at the bit to hit the road and make up some lost time as he made his way to the very first corner of India – the mighty Khardungla.
The riding has been some of the toughest he’s ever experienced with extreme weather, crazy traffic, road conditions more in keeping with extreme off road and then to polish it off, the bike brown down too.
After pushing it for half a mile he was fortunate to receive some local assistance and got it going again, so that he could finally get out of the mountains and make his way back to Chandigarh. The roads are still abysmal but conscious of losing time with the break down, he pushed hard and made it back to Chandigarh within the first week.
It was a great sense of achievement and just what he needed to push me forward onto the next stage of the challenge, corner number 2 – Tezu.
With his kit all changed he set off bright and early to start the approach toward the 2nd corner. As he was leaving Chandigarh he noticed he discovered he’d lost contact with the outside world. He was stuck in Chandigarh unable to find his way out! Apparently Vodafone thought he’d been to Pakistan…that’s how close to the border he was.
Technology issues have plagued him throughout the journey so far. As he made his way through the bottleneck of Bangladesh and Nepal, into Assam, the monsoons and loss of maps were taking their toll. He was feeling extremely isolated and totally lost, with just gut instinct and the last remnants of faith to guide him towards Tezu.
There are no road signs or road numbers of any kind. By the 13th August he was desperate to get the 2nd corner completed so he rode for over 19 hours and finally reached the 2nd corner. Despite feeling utterly exhausted, this was a psychological boost for him as he knew he had now completed the two toughest corners.
The attitude of people toward him has been amazing, with some people looking at him as though he were a two headed alien and not a word of English spoken. But, then he has also stopped for refreshment or shelter and had young fellas with a smattering of English requesting to have a selfie taken with him.
He isn’t out of the woods yet as he continues to face unbelievable challenges from the weather and road conditions. There is carnage everywhere, with tankers rolled on the side of the road and accidents appearing around most corners. It’s like a game of chicken at times.
He’s clocked up some serious mileage now and by close of riding today he should make his 3rd corner – Kanyakumari. Sadly he’s been advised to avoid Kerala as he moves up the West coast towards his final stretch.
Here’s the headline from yesterday’s Washington Post:
More rains likely in India's Kerala as flood death toll jumps. Over two million people have been forced to move into relief camps and more than 300 people have died as rain continues to fall in India's southern Kerala state.
To keep up to date with John’s journey you can follow him on FB, Instagram or visit his website www.jcridesagain.com
All we can do is show our support by pushing that target figure past the $10,000 mark.