Post the exhausting ride from Sarchu to Leh, I had dropped dead in probably the most comfortable bed on the entire duration of the ride till now. The beauty sleep lasted for about 9 hours with me having skipped dinner… I awoke at 0900 Hrs and was feeling as hungry as a pack of rabid wild dogs who have been not fed since time immemorial… Decided that I needed a cup of tea to get the weary and tired body moving, I called up room service and ordered it.
The time it took for the tea to come was utilized in trying to capture the views which I could get from the window… close but not as wide as an angle I would want… but gotta do with what you have and I go click happy… the finger itches and twitches and snap snap snap goes the camera… How I wish i should have bought the Canon EOS series… but then I realize if I could buy a camera worth 68,000 bucks, I would have been in a different role ;-)
But I don’t dwell on that thought… why wish for something which would be called a waste of money… besides my trusty Olympus has served me well and to think that it can’t do what I want it to do, see some of the photos clicked from it.
Anyways, the tea arrives and I sip it and light a cigarette… The relaxed situation urges me to postpone the ride to Khardung La…. Been riding for 1500 Kms and my a$$ is sore from sitting too long in the saddle… BB is a comfort to ride on but there are limits… With these lazy thoughts, I decide to give up on riding to K-Top and decide to explore the nearby surrounds either on foot or on BB. The Plan of Action set, it was time to get into action.
Wash up… that was the first thing I did. No bath in 4 days and all the dust and grime of the road streaking the face isn’t a pretty sight. A long hot relaxing bath later, I get ready and have something to eat.
Eggs over easy and Toast is what I feel like having and I order that. They don’t make it the way I want… Slightly phlegmy eggwhites and a firm yolk with golden brown bread with butter on top… but food is food and it is gobbled hungrily. Soon its time to kickstart BB and see what Leh has to offer when you want to act like a bug eyed tourist.
BB decides to humor me and starts in one kick… amazing piece of machinery this… she has taken what has been dished out and seems eager for more… but my happiness is shortlived… she sputters and thumps and then decides to stall and die on me. “Now what?” I think…
Not to much of a mechanic, I decide to take her to the the best doctor in town… the dude goes by the name Juma and is sort of a magician when it comes to Enfield Bikes. Lore has it that he keeps his temper on a very short leash and all hell breaks loose if you decide to bargain on the rates he charges… which are determined by how much he likes you.
With this information guiding my behaviour when dealing with him, I start pushing BB to his workshop on the Airport road… little did I know that I would be pushing her for almost 3 kms before I would reach the workshop. Huffing and puffing like the big bad brown wolf of the fairy tales, I approach the first guy I see in the workshop… “Are you Juma?” I ask… “Nahin babu, I just work here, Juma is there in the back.”
I approach Juma warily, afraid of that short fuse and I am pleasantly surprised to see a smiling dude looking at me… and asking me what did I need. Relieved that today must be one of his “good mood” days, I convey what happened to BB in the morning. He says, could be a clogged air filter or a shot spark plug. Relatively simple tasks both, he decides to work on the bike himself.
The cowl cover is opened and the air filter seems to be dripping in oil… looks like I overfilled BB’s oil tank when I topped her up at Sarchu. He queried where did I top her up? Sarchu I reply and then he starts laughing his a$$ off… then he says that many bikers who stop there have this problem… something to do with the low temperatures and high altitude…
Since I am in no mood to figure out fluid dynamics at high altitudes… I ask him to hurry up the work coz I have friends waiting for me back in town… he works at his own pace and finally after about an hour, he pronounces that BB is fit to be ridden again… but before he would sign off, he would like to ride her… OK I say and he has that gleeful look in his eye… guess he has never ridden a bike with forward controls and a straight handlebar… a quick ride later, he comes in, tweaks the tuning and says thanks and takes the money and says “She’s good to go”.
By now, all that pushing and waiting has left me short of breath and tired. Decide to call off the sightseeing thing and head back to the hotel. Guess I should have worked on the physical conditioning a lil before undertaking the ride… but I can’t do anything about that as it’s water under the bridge… besides, I reached Leh, so I should be reasonable fit… with these thoughts, I pick up a bottle of booze, reach the hotel, pour a drink and light up a cigg… thus starts another session of contemplation, ride planning and an eager unstoppable itch to ride to Khardung La tomorrow.