Was planning for this Himalayan ride since three years now. One reason or the other it did not happen. Glad that I will be making it now.
Bangalore 3:30 P.M, 29-09-2104: Flew to Chandigarh in a very bumpy flight maybe cause of the bad weather. Cab was waiting at the airport in which I had to make it to Shimla by night (120kms). Ordered for a Biryani en route but it wasn’t one when I got my order, the biryani remembered me the first sight of bisebella bath in Karnataka. A friend named it bisebilla biryani 😉 Punjab, Haryana and then into Himachal on NH 22, though the weather was getting colder was on full alert beside the cab driver cause of his roller coaster riding. Old man in hid 50s, his driving is similar to my car video games. Checked into Hotel fairmount, Shimla at 10:30. Checked my dakota, sorry docomo net connectivity and watsup which were still alive by then.
Start of Day 1
Shimla 5:00 A.M: All excited for the ride as I had 228 kms in the Ghats at above 10,000 ft (equals around 66kms on highways) from Shimla to Sangla. Need to cover the distance solo and reach my team who were waiting in Sangla. Alarm rings at 5:00 a.m, got ready in no time, took the key for the rented EFI 500 cc classic from the reception and there I am, all set. Oops, wait a min.. Bike doesn’t start, tried the electric start, kick, tried pushing down the hills, nothing worked. Changed the sparkplug after a call with the mechanic, and then I start again at 7:30 a.m
Riding that cold morning on twisted roads with the scenic views on both the sides was an experience in itself. River Sutlej and its blue waters can be seen from the roadside on the entire stretch. Had some nice aloo paratha with makkan (butter) and a hot tea, which they usually serve in glasses the size of 300 ml. Meantime the follow truck and the mechanic started back from Sangla and reached Rampur (120 kms from shimla) to reach me midway and for any assistance if needed. Maybe the teams riding experience in that stretch made it feel them that it will be difficult for me to ride alone for the complete distance. Roads were pakka till I crossed Rampur, and the I stopped to click some pics at a curve when two guys were waving at me. Ah, here there are the follow truck driver, Madan and the mechanic Aman, who later became my riding buddies.
It was around 11:30 a,m and we start again this time with the two guys briefing me about riding in the Ghats. Sirji ‘ always honk on the curves and overtake only on the right, I could sense their concern. I said ok and I remember I saw them again at lunch point Tapri, where I had to wait for half an hour for the truck to reach. I guess the guys got to know that riders from Bangalore are not far behind anyone when it come to Ghats or for that matter any off roading. There is only one small dhaba in tapri where we had some rice, roti, potato curry, etc for rs 60 each. It was around 1:00 p.m and we need to cover 70 more kms for the day.
Hereafter begins the real ride, where we get the feel of what off roading is all about. No roads literally and many places roads were washed away due to the rains. I was standing and off roading for half of the distance literally. Covered around only 30 kms in an hour, though I was ripping and testing the limits of the RE machine in 2nd and 3rd gears. Reached a check point from where the road narrows down and only on vehicle can pass at one time. The cops allowed me to pass but not the truck, which will be allowed after two hours once all vehicles from the opp direction cross the check point. Sometime riders get a lot of attention cause of the heavy riding gears, the machines thumps, switched off headlights and all.. The checkpoint was one such place where few even clicked pics with me. In fact they don’t know that inside the gears is a rider who is also shit scared equally like them that what next breakdown or water crossing is lying ahead.
Crossed the karcham dam and reached the night halt point, kinner camps by 4:30. Happy to see the team there with Joydeep, Manju, Swaroopa and Sruthi. The truck reached only by 7:30, when they got back proper taunts that they are too slow for the Ghats. They took it seriously in fact which I could see in Aman,s riding next day. LOL. We both maintained 60/70 kph in those Ghats.
Kinner Camps and Sangla: Dumped my backpack, helmet and guards in the tent and set off for a so called evening walk (but for me it was more than a trek) to a village nearby and banjara camps. Kinner camps is set in between the hills in a valley with the sounds of wind and water streams all over that place. As we walk to the village we had to pass across lots of apple trees and yes a small girl there offered us two apples each. That’s the season for apples April/may the flowers blossom and in oct end the apples are ready to get exported. Met two girls at the banjara camps when we all went on a tea invite. One from England and one from Germany conversed a bit in the language I know and then checked the pronunciation of the words with letter R in German, which were tricky for me. Chatted for a while and we head back to our camps, where the campfire was awaiting on that cold night.
Ouch, I just realized that I forget to pack my woolen wear and sweaters. But thanks a group around the campfire was so boring that I could not take the poor jokes and the sad dukhbari songs for more than an hour. Had some good food. Though was told that we might have to survive with scarce food in the Himalayas, we could manage proper and very good food in most of the places. End of a hectic day and rested in my tent, along with the hot water pack at my feet to keep me warm all night.
End of Day 1