Experiences

Bike Packing Trip to Barisal with BDCyclists, Part 1

swim bike run

When you hear the term “Bike Packing Trip”, you think about long rides, harsh days and amazing adventures along the journey. Well, it means a bit different for our community namely BDCyclist, where the average length of bike riding is lesser than the total time spent in the hammocks, in the back of a pickup or some other vehicles! So, when I decided to join the event and showed up for the event briefing, everyone chuckled and was wondering, “What!?! Why Sami is going to such events? He’ll be bored to death.”

The truth was, training for the full distance triathlon and having a full-time job takes a huge toll both mentally and physically, so I needed a downtime and enjoy riding with some amazing fellow cyclists. Besides I had my cycling partner and an eligible bachelor, Fahadul bhai who was also going, hence I knew the ride won’t be so boring for me. Last but not the least, our event took place in Barisal, the southernmost district of the country which I have never visited. The stage was set for an amazing adventure.

The Barisal district is mainly covered with rivers, so we decided to go there by launch (small sized ships). It was the monsoon season; hence we were expecting a muddy but also very scenic bike trip. Our departure was scheduled at 8 pm, so I left the office a bit early to catch the group. On my way, it started heavy rain but as I was in a hurry, decided to ride along. After reaching home, I picked up the backpack and out to collect the mountain bike from Samiul. He was kind enough to lend me his as I didn’t have a MTB.

Some amazing faces, all smiles before the journey begins

Time was ticking and I headed off to Sadarghat, the river port of Dhaka. The traffic is always hectic around Old Dhaka, it’s a bustling part of the city with interesting people, culture and food around. After some hectic riding, reached my destination and met all the trip mates. Along with Fahad bhai, other notable people were Fuad bhai, Najmul bhai, Bappy bhai, Sohel bhai, Niaz bhai etc. who are an integral part of the BDCyclists group.

The launch started on time. Time to anchor the hammocks and start chit chats. The adda went on for hours even though plenty of people booked cabins to sleep through the night. Meanwhile, Fuad bhai made a bet that Sohel bhai won’t be able to stick to the faster riders (i.e. me and Fahad bhai). Sohel bhai was confident that he would make it but everyone was optimistic. We were all eager to see the outcome once we reach Barisal and start riding.

We reached our destination at around 4 am in the morning. It was pretty dark with some light drizzle. We waited for the sun to rise and meantime had some light snack. Soon enough, 19 of us started our journey towards our first day’s destination, Patharghata, which is the southernmost location of the country. The weather was amazing and the roads were picturesque. The only pain in the ass part was carrying a large life jacket in the back without a paneer bag.

I was rolling along in putu putu pace (i.e. very very slow) at the beginning with the group. Team putu putu didn’t disappoint, as they are renowned for going very slow and taking frequent breaks. Soon, me and Fahad bhai got bored and upped the tempo. The group got dropped very soon and both of us were riding at a constant pace.  But wait, there was a shadow in the corner of my eyes. It was Sohel bhai!! He was riding hard to stick with us.

We rode for around 1.5 hours and reached our first checkpoint in Jhalkathi. Our day 1 itinerary was to cover Jhalkathi first, then Pirojpur, Mathbaria and finally reaching in Patharghta. During our short pit stop in Jhalkathi, Sohel bhai caught up. He was hell-bent on winning the bet and on his way with us. Me and Fahad bhai kept the pace around 23-27 kmph. Sohel bhai got dropped again but he never went out of sight for too long. Whenever we had a break, he caught up within 10 minutes or so.

Me. Fahad bhai and Sohel bhai in action

Fahad bhai was tracking our destination on Google maps and he was confident with our route. Well at the end we found out we covered more distance than necessary yet we were far ahead from the rest of the group considering the fact that we took two extra ferry rides! I don’t regret those ferry crossings though, the rivers were in full force during the monsoon and it was a pleasing site. Sohel bhai got dropped during one of our ferry crossings. Me and Fahad bhai were sure that it’s the end of his challenge, till all of a sudden the phone rang and he shouted, “Wait for me at the other side. I’m on an engine boat, will catch you up soon”. We decided to have our breakfast stop there so that he can catch up.

Sohel bhai on his quest to win the bet

We resumed our ride again. The roads were absolutely scenic and we stopped a few times to take pictures. Meanwhile, the bike’s saddle didn’t suit me and it was hurting like crazy. I decided to change bike and Sohel bhai agreed kindly to exchange. The bike was more comfortable than the one I brought with one caveat. Sohel bhai brought a heavy pannier bag which was mounted at the back of the bike. I didn’t mind the weight though as long as the ride was comfortable.

Me and Fahad bhai were riding in harmony and we were set to reach our destination way before time until few minor roadblocks happened. Fahad bhai got severe cramp at one point and we were stuck in heavy rain for more than a couple of hours. Later on, we had an invitation to have lunch at one of our trip mate’s relatives house.

Sohel bhai’s cycle with that huge pannier bag!

The food was great. The most awesome part of traveling is the food. You always find fresh produce. And can’t talk about sweets enough. The best part of the lunch was the Roshgolla. I never ate so many roshgollas as I did in this trip. More on this later.

After a quick lunch, the 3 of us hopped on our bike again to cover the remaining distance. We had about 35 km to cover in 1.5 hours. Despite having a heavy paneer bag at the rear, I pushed on with a brisk pace. The final stretch of roads was pretty broken with strong headwinds. Sohel bhai got dropped again but just like the whole day, he was never far away either. Last 10 km was crazy and we kept pace around 27-30 kmph. Finally, at 7 pm we reached our destination and soon enough Sohel bhai reached. He was absolutely ecstatic that he won the bet.

One beautiful moment to our destination

It was definitely a long day for few of the riders who weren’t used to riding 100+km in a day. Slowly everyone was reaching the hotel one by one. The hotel wasn’t that great and the perk of reaching early was to be able to pick the best possible room and we certainly got that. After freshening up, we had our dinner with ruti, daal, and beef. The day’s riding was surreal with so many landscapes, selfies, people and food. After the dinner, we all had the adda, reflecting on the day’s experiences. With sleep calling, I couldn’t keep my eyes open for long. So, I broke away from the adda and went to bed.

Click here to read on what happened in the next day. If you like this post, please like, share and subscribe to my blog to find all the latest updates. Follow me on Instagram or on FaceBook with the username @TryAthleteLife. Thanks for reading.

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