After twenty minutes of searching, we settled on a guest house near the train station and parked our bikes for the last time on our trans-India journey.
It took us exactly ten weeks to cover that distance. From the Golden Temple of Amritsar, through the desert state of Rajasthan, sprinting through industrial Gugarat to frenetic Mumbai, then along the coastal hills of laid-back Goa, and finally into the highlands of the Western Ghats before descending to the Kerelan backwaters, we saw a tremendous amount of India in those ten weeks.
Though I have traveled extensively over the years, this has been a journey unlike any other. I’m sure that it will take a long, long time before I am able to unravel the full impact of all I have experienced in India.
For me, Trivandrum has been a goal rather than just a place on a map. To accomplish something truly remarkable…to ride a bike across exotic India, to travel on my own power, to do something that few would ever consider, that is what Trivandrum has represented for me.
For twenty years I have dreamed of coming to India, but I always seemed to lack the time or the money to actually get on a plane and go. Ironically, some very difficult circumstances in the last year inadvertently created this opportunity, but because of the encouragement of those close to me I was able to see past these setbacks and seize the chance to come.
Beata, as always, has been amazing in her support, taking care of a business that definitely does not run itself, as well as seeing to our wonderful doggies, Zeke and Taz.
None of this could have happened, though, without my great friend and traveling companion, Rick. Rick is a mountain of energy and athleticism, with a quick wit but also a remarkable insight and resourcefulness. Though I struggle sometimes to know whether he is talking to me or himself, traveling with Rick is never dull.
Several years back, when Rick was amidst his round-the-world bike tour, I was able to contribute substantially to his finances in his time of need.
Back then he said to me, “Jarv, I just can’t accept more from you…I know I will never be able to pay you back.”
I had known Rick for many years and knew his words were true, so instead I asked for something else in return, “Dude, I don’t expect money. What I need is help me getting into shape…I can’t seem to do it on my own…all these years of nothing but work have taken their toll and I need help to somehow reverse that.”
Rick never forgot that conversation, though on many occasions these last couple of years I wish he had. He inspired me to take up biking again and in the process helped me to lose a bit of weight and commit myself to regular exercise.
As I was struggling over the massive mountains between Mumbai and Goa, I realized that I still have a long way to go to be in great shape. But I did actually climb those hills, and not only did I make it to the top, I made it all the way down to Trivandrum.
In addition to whipping me into shape, it was Rick who also readied me as a bicycle tourist. Every aspect of my preparation–from my Surly Long-Haul Trucker to my clothing to my pocket knife–has his stamp on it. I retained firm control over our camera gear, however
After India, I feel capable of bike touring anywhere in the world and have started to dream of a ride from Tallinn, Estonia to Istanbul, Turkey. But for now—with our bikes boxed up and shipped home—I’m going to be content to enjoy a couple of days of beach time here in Varkola and indulge in a little self-congratulations.