The first surprise was to realise that the pain was not in my legs, nor in my back but in my arms, in the wrists to be precise.
We left Berlin on our bikes in the early morning of June 1990, destination India.
When Norbert’s bike broke about 100ks from Istanbul, we did manage to repair it somehow, so we kept going. Fortunately (in hindsight), my gears broke 14ks from Istanbul.
Norbert’s bike was a simple model, but mine was a glorious Koga-Miyata, one of the very first mountain bikes sold in Germany (therefore, in Europe I assume) and the only way to get a new set of Shimano gears was to have them posted from one of the very few shops in Berlin who could have ordered a set.
It could have taken weeks, so we decided to cut our losses, literally camped two days at the Istanbul airport (unable to move or to leave the bikes somewhere to go to a hotel) got back to Berlin, left the bikes and gave ourselves a ticket to Koh Samui (back then an unknown paradise) to recover from the 3,000ks that we did manage to burn after all.
When two months later we landed in Bombay, the first thing that the custom guy told us was not to leave the airport.
People were burning themselves alive in the streets protesting against the new laws prohibiting casts discrimination.
In that taxi ride to the city I thought that I had never been so scared in my life.
Of course the night that our bus to Srinagar was stopped by an angry mob throwing stones (cannot even remember why were they so angry), well that was also pretty scary, although also not the worst in the eight months spent in India.
But this another story.