It was another beautiful day driving. I’d decided that I would try to avoid having to stop in hole-in-the-wall places like Rewa, since I’d seen enough of that for a while. So I planned to go straight to Udaipur, doing 825km with 2 overnight stops. One in Orchha and one in Bundi, both small settlements with well preserved historical Hindi sites. It would mean a little detour of about 50km but it would allow me to mingle a bit with tourists on my stopover locations. A thought I felt comfortable with. Obviously, things went different than expected.

1

I left early again in Khajuraho, trying to make my way to Orchha with leaving enough time after arrival to do some sight-seeing. I was making good time and was aiming to arrive around noon when, 20km before my destination for that day, my rear wheel started wobbling like crazy! From one moment to the other, I’d completely lost both my rear wheel bearings. Again. The rear wheel was completely loose on its axle and I had to stop.

It had happened to me before on this trip, and also when I was still in Nepal. Which is way too many times. During previous fixes I’d noticed that the socket in the wheel in which the bearing should fit tightly was worn out too much. This made the bearing slide in or out the socket easily and left room for some play, the reason why my bearings would snap within a couple of 100 km’s all the time. So it was time for a proper fix; I couldn’t continue on this trip having to replace my bearings on the side of the road every 500km.

The damage was severe, due to the bad roads I’d noticed the wobbling wheel too late so the broken bearings did some damage on the inside of the wheel and the dust caps as well. While being watched by, again, about 15 pairs of curious eyes and helpfully meant but not very helpfully executed attempts to give me a hand of the local population, I managed to do a quick fix with some new bearings and a hammer, hammering the bend parts back into shape. More or less.

There was a city located next to Orchha, called Jhansi. (And I was thinking; Rewa 2.0, here we come.) Orchha was too small to expect a Royal Enfield parts shop in and would possibly even lack a proper mechanic, so I tried to make my way, slowly, to Jhansi to find a Royal Enfield mechaning.

The roadside fix held and, after taking some detours and wrong turns in Jhansi I’d found an official Royal Enfield dealer and workshop with the help of the local people in town. And indeed, Jhansi was about just the same as Rewa. Crowded, hot, dirty and not very tourist friendly. Dammit, not again.

2

I’d explained the situation to them and told them I’d needed a new rear-wheel (which weirded them out completely, why replace a good wheel, the bearing fits?! I’m happy I insisted because it would mean the end of my bearing problems..), new wheel bearings and a new sprocket bearing. Luckily, they told me they were able to fix the bike today, which was a great relief! It would take them about an hour to fix and it was only 1pm in the afternoon by then. Great! I would be able to continue on my way according to plan!

Only, I forgot to take the indian way of doing things into account; it didn’t mean the bike would be fixed in 1 hour. It meant that it would take one hour from when they would start with the bike. And that was a big mystery which no-one seemed to be able to solve.

3

The bike was ready at 6pm, I was bored out of my mind waiting around at this Indian industrial site and it was getting dark. I was in doubt whether or not to set aside my plan of not staying in places like this anytime soon for the sake of time efficiency, or to hear for Orchha nonetheless. I chose the latter.

And it was a good decision! The temperature was dropping a bit, the sunset was amazing and the drive to Orchha took me through a beautiful environment. I arrived when it was completely dark but, although people heavily advise against it, really didn’t mind the driving. Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult and therefore dangerous since Indian traffic tends to drive around at night with either no lights or only high beams, but this little bit of nighttime driving was well worth the experience.

I’d found a okay-ish guest house and met some nice french girls whom I had a great dinner and beers with. The day had ended good and I felt pumped to continue on my way early the next day 🙂 What else could go wrong?

To Bundi!

My alarm went off at 5:30, I was all prepared to start driving before the sun came out to experience another one of those amazing sunrises and to make good time that day. It would be a long drive to Bundi!

I’m not so much the romantic type but these sunsets and sunrises really blew me away. They caused moments of being completely happy with where I was, the adventure I was on and made me completely forget about all the uncertainties of my travels. I loved it!

4

All was going well, I crossed into the first part of Rajasthan and was driving on great quality highways. I’d later heard that these roads were so wide and well build because they were meant to be used by the Indian army in case they had to speed to the Pakistani border when sh*t would hit the fan.

By the time I’d left Jhansi behind me it was getting light and I found myself in a more and more desert like environment, making my way deeper into Rajasthan, fast.

5

After I did about 100km, I had to slow down in a bend and shift down a gear. When picking up speed again, I felt it; the bike was stalling. Please no. No no no no. Please just be a hiccup. It wasn’t a hiccup, the engine quit. For fuck’s sake!

At this time it really quite got to me; so far, most days I’d gotten on the bike had resulted in (major) problems. What could possibly be wrong now?!

I started to get really worked up while the bike lost speed and really had to tell myself; Ok Geert, stay calm. Move to the side of the road. Smoke a cigarette. Then check what the problem is.

So I moved to the side of the road and smoked a cigarette. The problem became clear quite easily; the battery was sizzling and smoking like crazy. It was fried. And I had no spare battery on me. To be continued…