Lossar Checkpost – Chandrataal – Rothang pass – Manali
Kaza 6:00 A.M: This was the fourth day of continuous riding, still looking for more adventure, more water crossings, more off-roading and more fun. Started two hours ahead of the team, me and the mechanic as my pillion. From Kaza we had to make a detour of 12 kms to reach this place, the Key monastery, I just wanted a ride there and to see the place from outside and the views from the top. Beautiful was the place with some green fields in between those rugged mountains and valley slopes. Spent few minutes and started again our ride which I do not know that time that this ride is never gonna end. No one to look back and wait for, was just cruising into the distant unseen miles. Passed few trucks of some movie and camera crew who were up there in the mountains for a film shoot. Around 15 kms passed them and I see two small black objects moving slow on the road. When getting closer I could realize they were two bikes, but couldn’t get why they were riding so slow speed event for those mountains. God, they were two guys on Bajaj discover 125 cc with huge saddle bags. They were all smiles when I waved them a salute for the statement they made, ‘Its about the man sometimes and not the machine’
We then reached the Lossar check post and Serchu café to make the bike entries. A police station with 5 stationed men and a small café next to it which is the only place where you can find some breakfast in that stretch. There was another Enfield bullet group of 20 bikers, this was mostly of foreigners both men and women riders along with three follow trucks, mechanics and a doctor. The roads ahead were getting worse (good for us and looking for more) compared to the stretches came across till now. There was a Y junction in between those open roads in between the mountains where I could see a lone short fat rider on a bullet and with a black Harley jackets. Slowed down as he was waving had, oops wait it was a lady saying in a soft sad voice ‘Ah, I don’t know which way to go’, She was from the same bullet group saw during the breakfast. Felt so sorry for her that her group left her behind and moved on. Suggested her to follow us till she could join her group on the way. She was slow indeed, but appreciate the courage of riding heavy Enfield in that roads. Her team was waiting for her at the Kunzum pass.
Reached the board which says Chandratal lake – 12 kms to the right, again a detour this time the riding was haywire as I have to check the lake and reach back before 12:00 p.m. to the sign board when my team would wait for me. Thanks to the walkie talkie with 40 km range I was carrying which was the only means of communication. Came to know that we have to trek 2 kms to reach the lake in between the valleys. No walking as usual and sat on the top itself talking to the mechanic and enjoying the views. Beautiful lake of glacial water in between the hills. Aman was telling me about the life of mechanics and drivers in that region, how they wait for our holidays so that they get some business and what all they do in the colder months when there are no travelers. He talked about this haunted place in the Gata loops, the Bayees mod, where a truck driver died of thirst after surviving for 7 days and now that everyone passing by place a water bottle near his grave. We talked about the stones all over that place placed in piles properly with bigger stones at the bottom and smaller one on the top for the peace of the dead buried there. Could see some cyclists at the lake, don’t know whether they cycled all the way or got the bicycles in a truck and riding there.
Came back to the same signboard and buzzed the team on the walkie talkie for which they responded giving a relief that they were within 40 kms of reach. Was lying on the rocks and waiting and here I see a guy with long hair on a fz and a guy on his Enfield doing good speed and stopped over there. There was a small issue with fz which we sorted and they moved on. We had our share of breakdown too for the clutch wire breakage, front mudguard coming off, and battery metal cover falling off, all due to extreme off-roading. I never knew that time they will become my best riding buddies for the remaining stretch. However I remember that I have seen the long haired guy, Karthik (an artist) near Kaza fuel station and the Enfield rider, Varun (an operations manager) at the same Spiti inn at Kaza. Next stop for lunch we interacted again and this time with few guys with Israel. Few questions from them, I still remember ‘Why three of you are speaking in English when your all Indians, ‘ Why do you eat with your hands’. Replied them with a thing told by a waiter in Selvi Mess, Salem. “Sir, even hand has its own taste’ LOL. From now on I had the best ride with three of us ripping in those rocks and water crossings along with the mechanic. In fact there were no roads, but just huge open spaces of gravel, where you need to make your own roads. Loved every bit of the ride and the camaraderie which bikes have among them though the meet is just few hours or minutes back. We moved on stopping for pics, knowing each other and small talks. The fz bike was good and steady while off-roading and doing equal speeds along with the bullets.
We were just crossing the Rothang pass, when we could see the danger coming in fast and quick. It was the fog, which completely blinds with visibility of two to three meters. Lot of horses on the road side and the snow, a place to be. Could reach the hill top of leh manali road, all four of us, where it was dark and need blinkers to ride. Any miscalculation and slide you will be off the track thousand meters deep in the valleys. We were going slowly and steady when a car comes close by and the person inside says ‘Sir, I am with family and not much familiar with the roads, can we follow you.’ Since then till we have reached the car of Vivek with the family and a small kid were behind us. Very cordial and thankful were they that they offered to ride along till Ambala along and even book a hotel for the night.
Varun had to go to Delhi as he has to report office on Saturday, I don’t have much to do in Manali so want to travel back. Tow Riders Same Destination And No Plan. Lets do it whatever we decided to continue the ride from Manali till a place when we will be exhausted enroute Delhi. Reached the mechanic shop in Manali, returned my bike, put the luggage on Varun’s bike with the bungee chords help. Bid adieu to my team, Aman the mechanic, Madan the driver and the riding buddy Karthik and set on a hitchhike for 540 kms from Manali to Delhi. We were riding and riding and though not much tired we wanted to give a break. Time was passing, it was around 1:00 and no hotels were available as it was Dussera season. Luckily found one and requested to sleep for two hours for the night. Slept around 1:30 p.m. and in no time the alarm rings at 3:30 a.m. with still 500 kms to cover to reach Delhi.
End of day 4 and Continuation to day 5