Wishful Riding – The last Chapter (Manali – Bilaspur – Delhi)

After loitering in Manali for a day, gathered my stuff, had breakfast, paid the bill and moved on… Home beckons.

The ride from Manali to Pandoh in itself was beautiful, invigourating and refreshing.  Not having to bother too much about timelines today meant that I would be able to enjoy the scenic beauty as often as I wanted to and could muck about wasting time in enjoying the simple pleasures of life… dipping my feet in the chilly waters of Beas.

Riding along the Beas reminded me of my earlier foray in this territory with a couple of friends (mentioned here).  That was one hell of an experience.  Lessons learnt from that ride sure came in handy on this ride of epic proportions.

Anyways, lets not dwell on the past.  Its now and the present which count and that is where one should be.  Looking forward and moving on.  After relaxing a bit on the banks of Beas, I decide to up anchor and leave.  Leaving such idyllic settings can be a heart rending experience but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  with a heavy heart, I bid adieu to the river banks, straddle BB and start her.  Thump Thump Thump and off I go.  Since I was planning to stay over in Bilaspur, and not too much of riding to do today,  I was riding slow and easy.  No need rushing past the beautiful scenery and the amazing landscape.  Pretty soon, I am the tunnel and I go booming inside.  Natural Airconditoning at work here ladies & gentlemen… effective enough to send shivers down the spine.

Exiting the tunnel, I ride and pretty soon I can see the reservoir of the Pandoh Dam.  The water a turquise green shade, and the sun peeking out of the cloud cover causes a magical apparition of me being transported to Eden… A blaring horn jolts me back to reality.  Was about to become roadkill… the local bus drivers can be a real pain and spoil the entire trip you were on with their wayward and rash driving.  This was the second brush with these jerks on this trip.  Both experiences left me mightily pissed and wondering how do people bear with their driving and general behaviour?

These thoughts clog the mind and I decide I need to stop to clear the head and pull over after spotting a dhaba.  I order tea and pretty soon I am engrossed in my thoughts.  The owner came up and started talking… asking the usual questions… “Kahaan se aa rahey ho?” “kahaan jaa rahey ho?” (Where are you coming from? and Where are you headed?) and the killer and ever present statement on everyone’s mind “Agar Leh jana tha toh gaadi pe chalna tha… Motorcycle pe kitni problems hoti hain” (If you had to do the Leh trip, you should have done it on a 4 wheeler.  Motorcycles are troublesome machines)

I answer all of his questions and then give him a piece of my mind… “Bhai shab, gaadi pe toh har koi aira-gaira-nathu-khaira kar sakta hai yeh trip, par agar apney aap ko kuch saabit karna hai toh Motorcycle se badhiya koi cheez nahin… Aur agar ek bhoot sawaar ho to yeh pagalpan ek aur pehlu jod deta hai iss safar mein” (Dude, any Tom Dick or harry can do this trip on a 4 Wheeler, if you want to prove something to yourself, you have to do it on a motorcycle.  and if one is crazy enough then it adds another point of view to the entire jouney and one’s life)

 But I guess I was beating my head against a wall… when I see the owner walking away with a shake of his head… most likely muttering “Yeh ladka toh pagal hai… iski buddhi bhrasht ho gayi hai” (This guy is crazy and his brains are gone to the pits)

This attitude is not new… I have seen this everywhere… and I am not bothered.  I finish my tea, pay up and leave.  Crossing the Pandoh dam and riding on towards Mandi.  I take a detour to catch up with a friend and after a brief catch up session, I start riding towards Bilaspur.  Nothing much to write home about on these roads… the usual traffic of tourist vehicles transporting people to Manali and back.  Soon I cross the Kol Dam and then the roads took a turn for the bad as I stated nearing the cement factory in Barmana. 

Having spent some time in the colony of this factory, I realize the drastic changes which have happened.  Rampant commercialization of the roads with shops left right and some even trying to come in the centre as well.  This stretch is the one where you would want to careful while riding or driving… if you end up in a situation, things can get pretty ugly pretty fast.  I ride through and hit the bend, leaving the cacophony of shops and trucks… but the trucks have become a constant companion now… the road from Barmana to Bilaspur are dotted with RMC (Ready Mix Concrete) laden trucks transporting them to the plains and beyond… about 20 kms of hellish riding sees me entering the Bilaspur town… a hotel is quickly located on the highway and I check in.  No more riding to be done today.  I am where I was supposed to be.

Order some grub and switch on the TV… some music and some alcohol later, orde food and gobble it up… not wanting this night to end for that would mean the end of the ride as I would be headed back to Delhi.  However much we humans may want to control time, it eventually ends up controlling us… twirling our puny little lives around its fingers and making us do the jig on its tune…

I try to do the same and fail… miserably I must add, for the night came and then the next thing I remember is the dawn of a new day…  Time to get ready and start riding again… Take an early morning ride to avoid any hassles on the road from kiratpur to Chandigarh… that piece of tarmac can be hell if one is caught up in the regular traffic of the road with its many buses, trucks and tractors and local two wheeler riders.

I hit Chandigarh at 0800 Hrs and its just 4-5 hours of easy riding which would see me in Delhi… comfortably ensconced in my room, nursing a bad hangover brought on by long distance motorcycle riding… as I start the last leg of my journey, I bump into a bunch of some riders from Delhi, who were doing their ritual pilgrimage to Leh… incidently, they were also on the return to Delhi and the dreary life style which waited all of us.

Decided that we would ride together, we made good time till we reached Ambala… and then the gaggle of bikers broke… some wanted to stay over at the haryana Tourism’s Kingfisher Resort and some wanted to push on towards Delhi… I decided to let them decided what they want to do and I started riding back towards Delhi… 200 kms away.  One halt at Karna Lake Complex for the ever favorite paranthas and tea later, I wa almost on the home stretch… 127 kms more and I would be home.  The rest of the ride was as uneventful as watching a tree grow… the usual shitty traffic, heat, dust and bad roads…

Managed to reach home by 1700 Hrs…  Time to park BB for some time… till I iron out the kinks in my back and reminisce about the good times I have had on this tour…

 

 

12 Comments

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Dude – This whole series would now become a collector’s material. I have been on this route only once and I could follow you right from the tunnel to that cement factory to pandoh to kiratpur to….

    Your recent stories are also more vivid, expressive and touch the moment-to-moment things, keep driving safe.

  • Kudos. Story is really encouraging. I read about same kind of road trip in Outlook Traveller and people travelled through car.

    But this interests more and planning could be easier for the people want to take similar trip.

    -Upanshu

  • bikerdude says:

    Nandan, thanks for the encouraging words… as for the writings becoming collector’s material… hmm… dunno about that… Will let the people decide on that. I wrote what it would be like if one travels on this route… experience what I wish to experience and then decide for themselves. Yeah the recent ones were more of a figment of imagination… coz there was nothing much to write about… Manali would be Manali with its horde of tourists and locals and the usual crazy traffic and crowd issues… ditto for the roads on the way back… to keep it interesting for the readers, I had to work hard on it and include live examples of what poeple think of Bikers and their choice of vehicles… :-) But I enjoyed every minute spent in penning the words.

    Upanshu, covering this route in a car is difficult as well… hard to control 4 wheels and a shit load of dead weight when it slews left and right… but the power and torque of the big engine block are very welcome… these are things which make or break the journey…

    As for these travelogs helping in planning such tours/trips, all you have to do is mail me…

    In my honest opinion, doing this journey on 2 wheels is the only way to experience Himalayas and the wonders it offers to the people who dare to venture out there… and my ever favourite lines..

    “4 Wheels move your Body, 2 move your Soul” – Anonymous

    They convey what motorcycling means to me…

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Dude – I am sure you must have read ‘Zen and art of motorcycle maintenance”. Its a philosophical book and I found it real real hard to finish but I would suggest that if you haven’t had a chance to read then do read the initial chapters. He says the same things :)

  • bikerdude says:

    nandan, I never could find the time, inclination or the patience to read that book… when it comes to reading, I prefer the racy, thrilling and finger nibbling edge of the seat kinda books… Self Help and Gyan Waali books are not my cuppa tea…

    But coming from you, I think I’ll definitely give it a go.

  • 4 Wheels move your Body, 2 move your Soul – Anonymous

    Agree, I can just dream now for long 2 wheeler trips and can take only 5 KM trip with a family of 4 :)

  • bikerdude says:

    Upanshu, it never is too late… all you need is the determination and the support of your family to do these trips. The wishful riding series is going to be converted into a real experience… Come August 15, am leaving for this tour… Lemme know if you are interested.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Manish,

    On the outset I am extremely happy that you are planning to turn the wishful riding series into a reality. Good luck and God bless you.

    So, this enthralling series which kept us engrossed for few weeks comes to an end. I don’t know if you heard about a book called “Chandra Kanta ” written by Devaki Nandan Khatri. It was originally written in 4 parts (each book of over 250 pages). The readers became so much attached to Chandra Kanta that the author had to churn out another 24 parts to cover “Chandra Kanta Santati” – detailing her children. Still not satisfied, the readers persisted him to write further and then he wrote “Bhootnath” in 28 parts.

    So, be careful Dude. When you come back, we are going to demand what the readers of CK wanted.

    Incidentally, your series reminded me of an old episode.

    It was the year 1967. I was at Patiala on a visit to my sister. On that morning, we heard someone climbing the stairs, singing a song and clapping in a particular manner. My sister said “looks like Veer coming up !!”.

    “Yes. it’s Veer only. Pranam Bahanji” said Veer entering the dining room.

    He had recently bought a new Lambretta scooter, visited my house at Delhi and when told about my trip to Patiala, he kiched the scooter, stayed overnight at Ambala and early morning he was with us.

    Now started the real thing. We reached Chandigarh to meet a friend, had lunch and suddenly Veer said “let’s go to Shimla”. With no proper clothing and no previous experience of driving in the hills, it looked like a stupid proposition.

    Veer was adamant and we started for Shimla, stayed overnight at the Railways Rest House, visited Kufri, Wildflower Hall, Jakhu and next afternoon started for Delhi. The roads those days were not friendly and honestly during the descent, we were almost shitting in our pents.

    What would have happened after return to Delhi, you can jolly well imagine. The vehicle was put off the road by Veer’s parents and it took me some courage visiting his home.

    Have a great time.

  • manish khamesra says:

    So the epic has come to end.

    Ram uncle what a beautiful comment and you very well summarized the feelings we had about the wishful riding. Manish be ready to write more and more about your trips. We are so eager to read them :)

    We are waiting for your return from the trip and will now like to see the bautiful photographs that will definitely very well complement the beautiful writing style you have :)

    Very beautifully written.

  • bikerdude says:

    Ram Sir, Firstly, apologies for not responding earlier… was busy preparing for the ride… Thanks for the comment… the lambretta incident reminded me of the Dev Anand movie where he ended up going to Shimla on his Lamby….

    I am in the process of posting the travelog for the ride… Its not a fulfillment of the ishful riding series… the reasons for which you ould come to kno when you read it.

    Manish, the epic has ended but that was the wishful epic… the reality was completely different… the latest post will be up tonight… With snaps of course….

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Good to see James Bond back into action.

    Yes, the movie you mentioned was “Tere Ghar Ke Saamne” and the popular number filmed in Shimla was “Tu Kahan is nashilee raat mein”. Your comment did make me nostalgic about those good old days.

    I shall eagerly await your new post.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Manish,

    We will wait for the real journey and to me it seems that the reality was even more beautiful than the wishful journey.

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