Despite knowing that I would be riding from nothing to nearly 2,000m, I expected to cruise effortlessly from Mandi to the hills of Dharamsala. Perhaps that having cycled to Ladakh, I thought that everything from now on would be effortless. I thought wrong and fortunately so, for if that day ever comes, I will know that it is time to move on to a new calling.
I battled over ever more green-covered mountains, separated by beautiful, clear rivers embedded with smooth, pale stones. The almost constant climbing culminated in one final 10km two-hour push from the typically busy Indian market town of Dharamsala to the slightly less busy, colourful, Tibetan market town of McCleod Ganj, the home of the XIV Dalai Lama and Tibet’s government-in-exile. A further couple of kilometres and I arrived absolutely exhausted in Bhagsu, a small though very touristic village with wonderful views over the expansive Kangra Valley. If Kasol is ‘Little Jerusalem,’ then Bhagsu us surely ‘Little Tel Aviv,’ for menus are provided in Hebrew and packs of Israelis gather and converse in their highly exclusive language. Such an environment unfortunately detracts from the multicultural ‘travelers’ feel of a place, but with a little effort, or a lot if one has 50kg worth of bicycle and gear, respite could be found up a rocky staircase leading to Upper Bhagsu. It was here that I checked in to a cosy guesthouse with a verandah that took full advantage of its hillside locale and met a group of like-minded travelers whose company I enjoyed over the next week and a half, spent reading, writing, socialising and yogaing.
Having heard nothing but good things, I had decided to jump on the global yoga bandwagon and enrolled in one of many course in the area. They say that a yoga teacher must fit their pupil like a glove, I felt like I was wearing toddlers mittens. My utterly terrible teacher seemed more interested in showing off his upside down and feet behind the head postures that providing me with some sort basis in the ancient practise upon which I could progressively build. Each day, I would enter the shack that was the yoga hall, creak and bend myself into 1001 postures and leave having learnt not a damn thing. And each day I would become more and more tense while carrying out an activity where relaxation is essential. So agitated did I become that I fantasised about putting my teacher into a ball posture and throwing him down the rocky staircase to see how far he rolled……………..or how many bones he broke.
I was extremely relieved when the course was complete and needless to say, I have not practiced anything except hammock yoga and bicycle yoga since.