After a long hiatus of non-activity, the Luci-Fers, my motorcycle club, decided to go out for a ride… and to break the tradition of riding in Himachal, the destination was decided as Mukteshwar in Uttaranchal.
My previous experiences in Uttaranchal on a car were not very good so I was a little wary of riding on those roads.
The D-day decided and the riders were all in… but then as lady luck would have it, Karan decided not to join us due to his personal commitments. And then Nikhil decided to drop out due to his commitments, followed by Shoaib and Sumit… all in all, out of the 8, only 4 were there at the designated spot to roll towards Mukteshwar.
Since Swapnil’s bike had had a piston replacement, we were limited to a maximum speed of 50 KPH. However, we did not feel tied down at such low speeds as the roads were not conducive for speeding with single lane highway with two way traffic meeting us most of the way.
Day 1 (Delhi – Mukteshwar)
We started our journey at 0600 and barely rolled for about a kilometer that we were lashed with rain, which stayed with us through out, till we reached Mukteshwar. However, we were prepared for such an eventuality and we donned the rain suits on and we started rolling towards Mukteshwar.
After a brief stop at a gas station to tank up, we started rolling towards Noida and were greeted with stares and envious looks from the people on the roads. The traffic was getting worse by the minute and when we reached the Akshardham crossing, Pravin and Karma had already zoomed off and had vanished in the thickening traffic. We finally managed to catch up with them on the road to Indirapuram, where they had stopped to take off the tops of the rain gear as they were feeling hot in them. A smoke break later, we started rolling and managed to cross the border which was lined with trucks getting out of the hellhole and going wherever they were supposed to be headed.
While two of the bikes were zooming off, Swapnil was feeling a little tied down because of the speed limit put on his bike, but he loves his bike too much and was riding in a disciplined way not exceeding the 50KPH mark on the entire journey. With the rains lashing us like no body’s business, the going was slow and whenever we found a dry patch of road, it was time to enjoy it, which had become a luxury.
Our first official stopover was for a cup of tea and a cigarette, which was on a way side tea stall, after this brief halt, we moved on and arrived in Gajraula, where we stopped for a bite to eat as we were all feeling a little hungry.
After a couple of yummy parathas and a cup of tea, we moved on, arriving at the Hapur by-pass, which is a access controlled road with toll barriers, but being on a motorcycle means free access and we moved on without stopping on the barriers. The roads were smooth and the weather was nice and we stopped for a photo-shoot of the riders and the road and the surroundings.
After this photo – op, we moved further on that piece of wonderful tarmac and wanted to rip but since we all wanted to stay together as the roads were new and the way unknown and the new piston, we decided to stick together and ride at 50KPH.
We made slow progress and crossed Rampur, where we got our bikes fixed. The Black Beauty had a problem with its rear indicators, which were working when they felt like it and The Bitch got a new tail light and Pravin got a shave, and we moved on… towards heaven… Post Rampur, we crossed Moradabad through the by-pass and then all hell broke loose… bad roads (difficult to call that stretch a road as it was more of potholes than tarmac) bad traffic… Somehow, managed to cross Bilaspur & Rudrapur without any incident (breakdown/accident) and managed to reach the road heading towards Haldwani. Again, a single lane highway with two-way traffic greeted us, but thankfully the road was pretty well maintained, though not a dream to ride on, it was far better than the stretch we had crossed to reach there.
Since it was getting to be 1500 Hrs and without much food in our bellies, we decided to stop at a place run by a sweet couple, and the hubby was also an enthusiastic biker, though he had never ridden a Royal Enfield before… We had some snacks along with tea and it was then that the lady saw Swapnil’s guitar and requested him to play something. Willy obliged her by playing “Yeh hai meri Kahani..” from the movie Zinda and we all sang along with him. After this rejuvenating experience, we decided to head out and bid farewell to the couple with plans to drop in while going back.
We moved on from there and passed through Sanjay Van, a road made in the jungle, locally known as TADA road due to the numerous instances of violence (highway robbery, murder etc), which occur here. Managed to cross this beautiful road and reached Pant Nagar Industrial Area, from where we moved on towards Haldwani. It was here that The Bitch’s decomp cable went kaput. We decided to have it repaired at a local mechanic’s place as we were not sure of the location of the RE Dealer who would fix it. However, while buying the munchies and mixers for our drinks, we were told that being a Saturday, the market would be closed and we would be lucky to find someone who would be willing to work on the bike. After asking for directions for Bhimtal, we moved on and managed to reach there by about 6 in the evening. Being in the hills, we did not realize that the sun sets here pretty quickly and by the time we managed to cross the Tal, it was already twilight. We pushed on towards Mukteshwar with the rains lashing us unmercifully, feeling cold and tired; we finally pulled in at the parking lot of Red Roofs Cottages in Sargakhet at about 2130 Hrs.
As soon as we alighted from our steeds, the hotel staff began scurrying around making our rooms ready and we settled down our wet soggy bottoms and ordered the much-needed dinner. But before we had our dinner, we had to thaw out some and to do that, we broke out the booze and enjoyed a much-needed and well deserved drink.
Post our dinner, we settled down but could not sleep and then Swapnil broke out his guitar and we listened to some melodious music and then we all entered La-La Land.
Day 2 (Mukteshwar)
The next day dawned and we woke up at about 0900 Hrs after a night of restful sleep and loads of snoring, to the incessant rain, which had continued to pour since last night. We ordered our breakfast and generally lazed around with me clicking some photographs of the flora in and around the hotel.
The rain finally ceased at about 1500 Hrs and we scurried to get going to Mukteshwar town, which is 4 Kms away from the hotel. While going from the hotel to the town, we had some starting problems due to the rain water entering the spark plug chamber, which we fixed by drying it out and then it was time to roll.
While on our way, we realized we never have clicked our snaps while riding and that got us going crazy with the camera.
In Mukteshwar, we went to Chauli ki Jaali, a rocky outcropping from where you can get a view of the Nepalese Himalayas and of the Almora town below. At Chauli ki Jaali, there is a wind eroded hole in the stone, and the locals believe that if a woman who is having difficulty in conceiving, passes through that hole on a moonlit night, she would end up conceiving within a month. Since we did not have any such wish, we gave this hole a wide berth and moved on to the PWD Lawns where they have made a vantage point. On a clear day, we would have been able to view 7 of the snow capped peaks of the mighty Himalayas, but since the skies were overcast, we were unable to get a good view of anything except the flora there. The peaks, which are visible from the point, are the famous Nanda Devi, its Nanda Devi East, Nanda Ghunti, Trishul, Trishul East Face, Pancha Chuli and one more peak whose name I don’t remember… We clicked some snaps and generally loitered around for some time clicking snaps of the beauties (read bikes) and decided to an about face and return back to the hotel.
The ride back was fun, and we stopped at a vacant plot of land, which offered a perch from where we could enjoy the view of the valley below and the skies over our heads. Once we had our share of Mother Nature, we decided to roll back to the hotel, where we had a bonfire to tend and the bottles of booze to wipe out. Reached the hotel at about 1800 hours and it was lil bit chilly. We ordered some tea and some snacks to curb the hunger pangs and then the hotel staff scurried to set up the bonfire in the lawns.
With the fire roaring and the drinks flowing, pretty soon, all were in a mellow mood and we decided to invite the other guests to join us in our merry making. This was in the hopes that their spouses would also join us but that plan fell flat and we were left with some rich jerks having problems with everything in life.
Anyway, the jerks left us as they had plans for a Chinese dinner and then it was just the four of us and then the real fun started. The hotel staff decided to join us in our merry making and they entertained us with their local songs and dance. Karma, a very rare drinker, was going crazy with all the Rum he had drunk and he decided to go for a walk and then some time later, Pravin decided to join him and they went jay walking on the mountain roads. In the mean time, Big Will and I had fun sitting around the dying embers of the fire and waiting for the two of them to turn up.
This time around, going off to sleep was not a problem as all of us were pretty much sloshed and with our alcohol supply dried out, we could not enjoy more. Sleep came the moment we hit the sack and it was sweet dreams for all of us.
Day 3 (Mukteshwar – Delhi)
Woke up the next day to a clear sky, and ordered our breakfast and I went to have a chat with Pradeep, the Big Chief of Red Roofs to meet him and also to settle our bills. With the bill taken care of, we decided to be on the road as soon as possible to avoid night riding on those dangerous roads. Pradeep advised us to take the road to Nainital rather than going from Bhimtal as the distance would be reduced by 30-40 Kms.
We took the turn towards Nainital from Bhowali and entered the cacophony of crazy tourists and the crowds of Nainital. Stopped at a fuel pump next to the Naini Lake, gassed up the beauties and managed to get out of there and hit the road to Kaladhungi.
Now this was a piece of tarmac worth a mention as it was smooth as a baby’s bottom and a pleasure to ride on. No bumps, no annoying potholes to dodge and barely enough traffic to call it that and the best part, 33 Kms of downhill roads. No gear changes required unless the turn was sharp and we were on a roll.
But being human beings, we decided to quell the hunger pangs and stopped a road side hotel, which was a little to big and well maintained to be called a Dhaba. Enjoyed a delicious lunch amidst some beautiful landscape and rolled onwards towards our destination.
After a stopover at another tea stall, we decided to ride non stop till our butts could take no more and started to beg mercy. Reached Kaladhungi and saw a board for the Corbett Falls, which was unfortunately closed as it was past 5 p.m. Imagine the level of bureaucracy where a natural thing like a waterfall closes down after 5 p.m.?
But we took the disappointment in our stride and managed to reach a place where the water was flowing on the road in a 5 or 10 meter wide patch. Unaware of the danger of algae, I roared in the water, felt I was going too fast to be safe, decided to hit the brakes… Proved to be a wrong decision as the moment the brakes put their grip on the tires, the bike floundered, skidded sideways and went sliding for a good 5-6 feet, dragging me along with it. Fortunately, due to the algae, the road was slick and I managed to come out of the spill with a minor scratch on the elbow, a bruised ego and a load of water in the pannier box and wet clothes. In the process of recovering from the spill, I lost my cell phone and wet my brand new digital camera ?
Since I was laid up with the task of drying out my bike’s innards, the guys took a bio break, and copped some smokes and after a session of first aid, we rolled towards Ram Nagar, which was our next destination. It was getting dark with the sun setting and when it was twilight and time to switch our head lamps on, Swapnil found that his had lamp bulb had breathed its last the moment he switched it on. Another agonizing 10 minutes went past and we found that it wasn’t the bulb which had gone kaput, but it was the connector which had gotten lose due to the high rise handlebar. Fixed the problem, and again it was time to roll. Managed to get into Ram Nagar and then took a tea break. After calling up our respective homes to tell them we were safe and sound, we started to roll towards Delhi. On the Moradabad By-Pass, the traffic was backed up like the sewers of Delhi during Monsoons and the trucks were piled helter skelter, trying to get on the road to belch their fumes again. Managed to squirm our way between the behemoths and reached a roadside hotel, took a dinner break with the hotel staff serving food outside and us gobbling the rotis and the chicken like a hungry pack of wolves.
Looking at the watch, we realized it was post 10 and then looked at the traffic on the road. It was light but when we climbed the road, we realized that although the oncoming traffic was light, the bus drivers and truckkies were rash and cared not at all for the smaller traffic on the road. Post this experience, the common decision was to give those idiots a wide berth and not to come in their way. Managed to reach Delhi at about 5 in the morning and bid farewell to all the riders and reached home. The next thing was to promptly crash land in the bed and rest the weary bones a lil.
The pics for this escapade are available here:
Hope you guys enjoy reading and watching them as much as I did in penning the ride and clicking the snaps.