New trails to pedal through

And at last I woke up before dawn. Not at 5:30 as I had planned, but 3 minutes later. The leader of the ride was supposed to wake me up but his call didn't come. Neither was he reachable. I called one of the other guys up, who, tired of waiting for riders who didn't turn up, was riding alone. Not many apparently realize the value of such beautiful cold mornings. He was doing a regular route, which I wasn't interested in. It had also been a while since I rode with anyone in the group and I wondered how they were doing. Honestly, I was disappointed with how often I had to slow down to wait for my friend to catch up. I would like to build my stamina up for the season. There are loads of places around to visit, which will require us to ride about 350-400km over two days and when we do find riders, I want to be ready for the rides, so slowing down doesn't help my cause.

Abandoning the route that had been chalked out for today's ride we made our way to a few dirt-tracks I had explored in the beginning of October. We took to a few sandy trails through agricultural land until there was no road left. My friend jokingly decided to name a particular point after us. Mist, the harbinger of winter is growing heavier especially during mornings, and the sleepy fields beneath its blanket is quite a sight.

The organizer of the rides decided to join us at last and we had a rather amusing time guiding him. The roads towards the villages are unmarked and often there aren't any discernable landmarks, so we had to improvise. When it seemed like he was pretty close to where we had been waiting, but invisible behind mist, I asked him "Do you see three black cows? If you do, you'll know you are on the right track." At another time, I asked ,"What is the state of the road? Is it more tar than mud or vice-versa?" Unscientific as these questions were, they helped us locate each other before we could continue along a long stretch laid with brick. Now that my friend had a companion, I had the opportunity to speed up, deciding to wait for the duo at intervals while catching up with a click or two of the shutter. The constant rattle from the jutting bricks, though challenging on the fingers, was rather enjoyable (A closer look at the "brick lane" in the photo on the left). I did resort to the very narrow side lane occasionally. It was a bit risky, since a mild loss of a balance and accuracy could result in a 15 feet fall into the fields.

In the end we covered a bit more than 50 km, equally divided between dirt-roads and tar, stopping for some very spicy samosas and tea in between. Today's ride was with a couple of 45 year olds, both regular riders and one an army man. To me, age can hardly justify cynicism. I will concede that though I love riding with like-minded free-spirited riders, I don't need to be riding and exploring in a large group for it to be enjoyable.


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