ByÂ Dickie Saluja:
These coal carriers transport produce from illegal mines to nearby town markets.
The present lot that you see started their day at 3:00AM and reached Ranchi at 8:30am on August 21, 2011.
The routine is; ride to the coal washer(y), fill and mount the sacks; push/ride a 45-55 km stretch across hills; sell; ride back; time and weather permitting do another trip!!
There are severe uphill winding stretches. They eat en route.
I have seen them ride the downhill sections very skillfully. But it is shattering to see them push the load uphill. Each individual has to push his own load, there’s no team work.
In August 2001, while doing a Ranchi-rajrappa (70K one way) day ride on Hero ranger, I encountered a convoy of these coal carriers on my way back (which was their way up to the town). It was after doing the difficult climbs. That was the groups’ second trip of the day. We shared our food. I ate more than these people!! One person sang songs and others joined in occasionally. After merrymaking, it was business as usual. It was a hot and humid day.
Their unladen reinforced bikes weigh over 40kgs. Tare load is upwards of 400kgs!!
The images have been captured using a Blackberry phone.