– ODO- 8596 – 8701km
– Location- Forest outside Singarapettai, India
– Weather- 20-32 degrees
This morning I left Bangalore early with the sun. The traffic had yet to build but I still had the early morning busses to contend with as I retraced my steps down the highway towards Hosur. The industrial suburb I stayed in the night before arriving in Bangalore two week prior.
I’m heading to Auroville. An alternative community built beside Pondicherry of which I know little. After the next couple of days of cycling, I’m part of an introductory weekend that should shed some light on the finer details of its history.
The highways towards Pondicherry and smooth and downhill on average so I’m coving a good distance. The real work starts when I leave Auroville, with 4500km still to ride before my visa expires in just over two months.
For some reason today I’ve been thinking about the Duke of Edinburgh expeditions I did as part of the Air Cadet Force from the age of 13 to 18. There are some clear links between those days and my current adventure. I remember a day in particular where one small path choice early in the day lead the entire group into a completely parallel valley to the one we were supposed to be in. The staff must have been losing their shit. We missed our checkpoints and were totally out of contact on the radios we carried. We didn’t realise the mistake until very late in the day and with no GPS we had no way to reconcile what happened.
Our radio cracked to life late in the afternoon. A staff member had climbed a nearby peak to get a signal. When we met the staff we were so demoralised. We had to climb the ridge with all of our heavy kit then descend to the minibus and drive in the dusk the easy km’s we were supposed to have travelled hours earlier. On top of all of that, we didn’t know that this mistake would make our expedition void for the Duke of Edinburgh award. We cooked, ate and put up the tents on near silence.