Motorcycling Nirvana @ 13000 Ft

This was the last ride of the Luci-Fers as we knew it. Post this ride, 4 of the original 8 decided to move out of Delhi for greener pastures… so this ride was a very special one for all involved… With the D-Day approaching, preparation for the ride was in full swing with all of us getting our bikes serviced and checked up at our respective mechanic’s shop. Every one was excited and eager to get on our steeds and thump our way to Manali… We had decided to halt in Mandi for the night, as the ride from Mandi to Manali is breathtakingly beautiful and best enjoyed during the daytime.

The riders

Karma Negi – The Donkey (Electra 350)

Swapnil Wilson – The Bitch (Silver Standard 350)

Sushil Goyal – Pillion on “The Bitch”

Karan Puri – Julius Cruiser (Black Thunderbird 350 AVL)

Pravin Bhateley – Horsie (Machismo 350 AVL)

Sumit Singh – (Black Thunderbird 350 AVL)

Shoaib Ahmed – (Blue Electra)

Manish Chachra – The Black Beauty (Black modified Thunderbird 350 AVL)

Other travelers

Sachin Malik & Varun Kathuria in a red Swift

Day 1:Delhi – Mandi (450 Km)

Sumit was the first one to reach the designated spot and to give me a wakeup call. The next bunch of people to arrive consisted of Shoaib, Karma Negi, Pravin and Karan. I reached the designated spot which was barely 100 mtrs from my residence at 0430 Hrs and the last one to arrive were Swapnil Wilson and Sushil Goyal at 0530 Hrs. We started rolling at about 0545 Hrs after we all had a visit to the ATM machines and after filling up on petrol. However, 35 Km into the ride, Pravin wanted to stop as he was feeling hungry and wanted to tank up on some tummy filling parathas. A Dhaba was located and everyone stopped to eat. As is the norm, the pit-stop which was to be for a quick bite and a cup of tea, turned out to be for 1 hour. We moved from the dhaba at 0700 Hrs and decided that if we wanted to reach
Chandigarh in time, we would have to ride non stop for the next 2 Hours. Call it co-incidence or destiny, just a couple of minutes after 2 hours, we stopped at Mayur Dhaba… the most favored eating joint this side of the road on Karnal by-pass.

Some people say that bikers don’t eat much… only drink… Bah… Well I would just want that person to see us hogging the paranthas and then s/he would change his/her point of view. Well, anyhow, moving on… Another hour and more than a couple of parathas later, we started rolling and finally managed to reach Pipli, where Swapnil’s Bitch suffered from a seized engine. With the kicker jammed and no where to go, we let it sit there to cool down some and 30 minutes later, filled ‘er up with engine oil and the Bitch thumped… and thumped till eternity it seems. With the decision to get it fixed up in
Chandigarh, we arrived at 1500 Hrs, which was too late to get the bike fixed and to reach Mandi on time, we decided to show the bike at Garchha Automobiles in Ropar, just after the rail track after the diversion at Rup Nagar… However, in the enthusiasm of riding, we did not notice the showroom come and go… we realized this after we had reached the turn for Kirat Pur… After consultation, we decided to keep riding and show the bike in the morning to a mechanic in Mandi, where we had a night halt.

The ride in itself was easy and hassle-free with no further mishaps, spills or breakdowns. We stopped at a place with a wide shoulder where we all could park our bikes, 7 in number, and it was time for a photo-shoot. After this pit-stop, we rolled non stop till Slapper, where The Bitch suffered with a flat tyre… This was an experience no one would forget as the puncture wala refused to remove the tyre himself. We all thought that was weird but having seen weirder stuff; we all pitched in to remove the tyre. Upon inspecting the tube, the guy pronounced the verdict… we would need a new tube as this one was shot beyond repair, thanks to the uphill towing which resulted in the valve stem breaking away from the tube. Since we had forgotten to carry spare tubes, a 3-Km trip was made downhill to Barmana to procure one. After handing the guy the tube, it was time to fit the tyre back to the bike and we started rolling again. This entire exercise lasted about an hour and a half, which we had to pass by playing with the pups who had gather round us when we parked our rear ends on the stairs of the shop. This was the place from where we informed the Hotel about our predicament and that we would be delayed in arriving. After the phone call, we started moving and till Sunder Nagar, the ride was hassle-free with no breakdowns. On the road to Mandi, after Ner Chowk, Swapnil felt some sound coming from the rear tyre and leaned a little to listen to the sound better… in the dark, doing a stunt like that resulted in him taking a tumble on a mud pile and the bike landing in a shallow ditch. After careful inspection, and finding no fault with the bike, he decided to ride as if nothing had happened. 5 bikes reached the hotel in Mandi at about 2330 Hrs and waited for the other two to arrive as they had decided to take a breather in Sunder Nagar to have a cup of tea to open their eyes which were shutting down after riding for about 16 hours. It was then that I received a call from Karan informing that he and Sumit were stuck at the “loha wala Pul” and could not figure out which way to take. The Hotel staff and I decided it was best if we went to the place and guided them to the hotel. While going to retrieve the two lost bikers, we met up with Varun and sachin, who had left Delhi at 1500 Hrs and were there just after us. After leading the two bikes to the hotel, we started our mid night revelry in the restaurant, with every one partaking a very generous helping of alcohol to warm them up and to relax the bunched up shoulder and back muscles, followed by a scrumptious meal, which was rustled up by the hotel staff in a jiffy. After the meals, it was time to head up to our rooms where we decided to guzzle up some more. At about 0300 Hrs, we decided to call it quits and went to sleep.

Day 2 Mandi – Manali (115 Kms)

We all woke up at about 9 in the morning, ordered some tea to clear our blurry, hung-over heads. Every one wanted to be bright and perky as I had promised them of a beautiful ride on the mountains with excellent roads and breath-taking beauty.

By 12 PM, we had managed to get ready and gorge on some amazingly yummy paranthas accompanied by achaar and curd. Fully sated and filled up, we started to roll, and then remembered that the tube for Swapnil’s bike needed replacement as we had to make do with one that was for an 18 inch wheel… got that changed and then finally started towards Manali. Sachin, who had joined us in Varun’s Swift, decided he wanted to ride his way to Manali and Karan, who seemed to be in a lazy mood decided to let him ride his bike. Owning a RD350, he was familiar with powerful machines and he adjusted to our riding style pretty quickly and was giving us company really very well and was complimenting Pravin, who liked to rip the road apart on his Machismo.

The riders from Mandi – Manali

Karma Negi – The Donkey (Electra 350)

Swapnil Wilson – The Bitch (Silver Standard 350)

Sachin Malik – Julius Cruiser (Black Thunderbird 350 AVL)

Pravin Bhateley – Horsie (Machismo 350 AVL)

Sumit Singh – (Black Thunderbird 350 AVL)

Shoaib – (Blue Electra)

Manish Chachra – The Black Beauty (Black modified Thunderbird 350 AVL)

Getting out of Mandi, we hit the NH21 and it was then that Swapnil mentioned about his tyre making a grating noise. Upon checking the wheel, we saw that it was rubbing against the swing arm… probably, a bad fix up which may have done this. Got it fixed.. Had to go to three mechanics who could not figure out what was wrong and then one simple man did the trick for us. It was already 3 by the time we crossed Pandoh Dam and bowed our heads at the Hanogi Mata Temple, which is a must for a safe journey. In the mean time, Varun and Karan, who were in the car, had already reached a place called Aut, where they were waiting for us, cooling their heels in the amazingly chilly waters of the Beas
River.

After an agonizing wait, they decided to move on and reach Manali ahead of us, as they would find it difficult going along at 50-60 KMPH as Varun would have felt cramped in that powerful machine which can do 140 in a jiffy. We took a brief halt at the River Touch Hotel Complex, which offered an access to the river flowing across the road, and we clicked some snaps and generally fooled around with each other. Upon coming up the steps to the complex, we realized it was more of a dhaba complex than a hotel complex… Well, definitions differ from place to place and we let it pass. Since we all were in a ravenous mood, we all ordered Bread and eggs to keep it light enough so that we would not feel queasy but filling enough to quell the hunger pangs which were driving us mad. The entire ride was uneventful as every one was riding slowly and carefully as we passed through numerous towns, which line the highway on the way to Manali. We finally reached Manali at about 7 in the evening and while we were paying the entry fee, I had called up Varun to come out of the hotel with Karan to accord all of a warm and a royal welcome… After all, people travelling on Royal Enfields deserve a ROYAL welcome when they are about to grace the hotel with their presence and their mean machines… But the royal entry turned out to be a damp one as I skidded and fell when I entered the parking lot… hitting the brakes to stop, all hell broke lose… A Skid and a tumble later, I escaped unscathed. The only injury was a massively bruised ego.

After looking over and making sure there was nothing wrong with her, we all moved into the hotel to occupy the rooms allocated to us in Hotel Nagesh, 2-3 Km before town. The rooms were nice and clean and we all settled in on our own beds… 4 to a room and the other one had 5 in it. Once we had settled in and changed into more comfortable clothes, we started our revelry, which went on till 3 in the morning. Finally, tired and drunk, we all had our dinner and promptly went off to sleep.

Day 3 Manali – Rohtang La – Manali (102 Km):

Woke up at 8 and was amazed to see the view from the window… Below I could see the River Beas, running away downhill and then managed to tear my eyes from the fabulous sight and then my heart skipped a beat… I saw the most beautiful and amazing view one can dream of when in the mountains. It was the sun hidden behind a bank of thin clouds, giving off the feel of a sunrise. The sight was the one, which would be stamped in my mind for all eternity.

Golden
Mountain, with a halo around the clouds covering the sun… It was a sort of an omen of the good things which the day to offer us. Later, I realized how wrong I was in reading Mother Nature.

We decided to have breakfast and then go to Phuntsok, a Mom & Pop run Tibetan joint in Vasisth, which serves some amazing quiche and local fare, cooked in the typical home style, which just enhances the flavor and the taste and the aroma… not to mention the appetite. However, we were unlucky, as they had not opened for the day. We clicked our snaps and some of the mountains and decided to head out to Rohtang La, hiring ski suits on our way up to prevent us from the biting cold which was to be expected up there. The ride was bone jarring and nerve wracking due to the pot holed road and the crazy drivers who ferry tourists up and down on that road. Finally managed to reach a place which was about 15 Kms away from the Rohtang Jot, where we had our first view of snow. It was enough to drive Swapnil go a little crazy in the head and he just threw himself on the snow. As soon as he had landed, Karma decided to join him and get some snaps clicked.

Pretty soon, we were joined by the other riders who were lagging behind, having been forced to stop due to the rain which had started lashing out, making things wet and all the more colder. We all made merry of all the snow around us and then, as if a gift from God, it started snowing… Our first ever experience of Snow. And there could be no better alternative than our Royal Enfields to enjoy it on. Thereafter, he snowfall turned into rain and we all decided to head towards Rohtang to be able to eat and drink something to warm us from the bone chilling cold and the wind. About 200 mtrs up the road, we made out Shoaib and Pravin, waiting for us to catch up with them so that we could start rolling.

It was here that Sumit informed us that he could not feel his toes and was afraid that if they got frost bitten, they would have to be amputated, having endured toe surgeries for the past 4 years, he was a little hesitant in going further. With two more people deciding to join him in heading downwards, they left, making a beeline to the relatively comfier climes of the mountains below. After the three had left, we were only 4 people on bikes and 2 in the car. Varun was desperate to see the Rohtang
Pass, as he was unsure of when he would be able to come back here, and Sachin was all gung ho in joining him. This decision also prompted Pravin to join them in the car. And it was then that they broke the cardinal rule of Luci-Fers… No drinking and riding/driving. They picked a bottle of rum lying in Pravin’s bike and headed uphill, leaving us poor souls to shiver in the cold… but to while our time away, we decided to click some snaps… Pravin had forgotten to lock his bike and we were left there to guard it. After about 45 minutes, when we could not take the cold any more, made a call on Varun’s cell asking them to head downhill as we were on the verge of hypothermia and would be leaving pretty soon, letting the bike be where it was unattended. Even after this call, it took them almost 1 hour to make it back down. In the mean time, the three poor souls, yours truly, Shoaib and Swapnil took turns in warming our hands on the bike’s silencer. Finally, the three came down and we rolled down towards Vasisth, where upon reaching, we had two cups of tea to thaw our innards a little. Finally managed to reach Phuntsok, where we found out that all things were sold out and the outlet had been closed for the day. Sumit was particularly disappointed as he had come to Manali after two years and had to go empty stomach. From Vasisth, we all hit the market in search of some decent souvenirs but were unable to find any. After a disappointing look-see in the entire market, we all managed to enter a restaurant and ordered some food to fill our empty tummies. The food came and vanished but our hunger levels were still the same. Post this feast od sorts, we decided to start the daily ritual of toasting Bacchus, the Greek God of Wine. But the moment we stepped out of the restaurant and started our bikes, it started pouring and in a matter of 5-7 minutes, the time we took to reach our hotel, we were wet and cold. After changing into something dry, we started our session of toasting and regaling and revelry. This is when Sachin decided to jump upon Karan and then it was Karan and his back… which had taken a beating and was injured and he could not flex or bend. Everyone thought that he would be okay to ride the next morning, as we had to leave for Delhi.

Day 4 (10th April 2006) Manali – Delhi (590 Km)

The morning greeted us with thunderous rain and we all felt we would not be able to move if the rain keeps up the way it was. And to further compound our problems, karan’s back had really gone from bad to worse with him not even being able to turn over without wincing in pain. He would not be able to ride with the condition he was in. And then the culprit, Sachin came to the rescue and offered to ride in his place. One thing sorted out, there was another crisis brewing… We had forgotten to pack our rain gear and with the rain falling the way it was, it was desperately needed.

So we ventured out in the market to find enough sets for all the riders. After haggling with the shopkeeper, we finally managed to pick up sets for all of us and came back to the hotel. The departure took another 2 hours with everyone gearing up to leave and packing and having breakfast and paying the bills. We finally managed to roll from Manali at 1300 Hrs, sure of another late night run on the NH 1. The ride was progressing pretty well till River Touch where we had tea and then the moment we entered Kullu, Sachin and Julius Cruiser took a turn and Sachin hit the back brake and Julius floundered and skidded on the wet road. Although the fall was bad, neither the rider not the bike was hurt. The only damage was a bent front peg, which was preventing Sachin from hitting the rear brake effectively, due to which he was limiting himself to a more manageable speed on the hills. We regrouped at the tunnel, where every bike thumped like a thousand guns going off simultaneously. Post the tunnel stunt, we all rode together and managed to reach Pandoh where we stopped to have some tea, which was very much needed to thaw out the frozen insides and warm our hands.

We waited for Sachin to limp in and we straightened out the foot peg some and that restored his will to ride. After crossing Pandoh and reaching Mandi, the rain-gods showed some mercy on us and stopped the downpour. This was the place where we lost all trace of Swapnil, who, even though with a bike needing repairs, decided to zip ahead. We got a call from him asking for directions as he was lost somewhere in Mandi and we asked him to stay put and wait for us to catch up with him. We finally managed to catch up with him near Slapper, where we all broke our run for a cup of tea. From Slapper, we moved on thumping away to glory in single file, reverberating the mountains with the thump of 7 enfields leaving people wondering and gaping in awe on the sight of our entourage making way to the plains.

We rode like this till we crossed Bilaspur, where we stopped to get rid of the rain gear which we had kept on as a precaution. There we received a call from Varun informing us that they had reached Kiratpur and were waiting for us. We all decided that we now had to reach Kiratpur as soon as possible and we started to roll amidst the convoy of trucks which had become too much to handle, but we kept up the pace and soon we had left the convoy of those smoke belching, slow moving behemoths behind and had crossed Swar Ghat. Now the ride was comparatively easier and faster as it was all downhill till Kiratpur, from where the plains started. At Kiratpur, there was an avid discussion as Sachin had declared that he could not ride any further as he had injured his leg in the fall at Kullu, which had started acting up now. Again there was a brain storming session which led to all kinds of ideas being floated. All of them were shot down either by Karan or by the person concerned. It was finally decided that we will ride till Chandigarh and then see what options were open. Upon reaching Mohali, we all separated as Sachin, Karan and Varun decided to go on at their own pace and the remaining 6 bikes would travel at the best pace they could muster.

Crossing Chandigarh, we ripped the road till Ambala where we stopped for Dinner. Post dinner, we all rode hard and fast, making good time but had to halt at Oasis as Sumit was feeling sleepy and could not keep his eyes open. The pitstop at Oasis stretched to 45 minutes as Sumit still was not feeling upto the mark. While we waited for Sumit to come back to Mother Earth from his trip to La La Land, we met Rohit from Royal Beasts, who was making his way to Delhi from
Chandigarh. After exchanging pleasantries and ride experiences, he decided to move on. We also moved from there about 15-20 minutes later and finally managed to reach Delhi by 0900 Hrs the next day. Although exhausted and deprived of sleep, we were a happy bunch to be home. While we were getting our end of the ride photo, we received a call from Karan, informing that they had also made it home at about 0700 Hrs. The ride pics can be viewed here. Hope you guys enjoy this as well. :-)

11 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    seems like a real long ride to me. And you guys must be very young to have this kind of stamina :), what was the avg age of the group.

    Have more fun.

  • bikerdude says:

    Nandan,

    Day one leg was 450 Kms… dogged with bike problems, but all a part of the game. day 2 was an easy 115 kms and same with Day 3 @ 102 kms… the weather played havoc on day 3 though… so the ride was tough.

    Day 4… while coming back was a non stop ride of 590 kms… that was really a killer. lack of sleep further confounded the problem… but we managed to limp our way back…

    The avg age would be close to 29-30 years… not too young but definitely young at heart :-) Planning to ride solo to Leh in June… till then, I have to curb my itchy feet and an itchy palm of the hand which grips the throttle :-)

  • nandanjha says:

    yeah, I know Manali is tiring. I drove to Manali last August and it took me almost 14 hours. We started at about five and reached there before 7 in the evening. We didn’t expect it so on the way back we stopped at Mandi (Hotel Visco) and then did Mandi-Delhi the next day.

    Doing all this at 29-30 is impressive. Do more and keep inspiring the world.

  • bikerdude says:

    Intend to Sir… Intend to ride till my last breath. That is one thing which keeps me sane in this insane world… the feel of the wind in your face and you and the machine going as one…

    Some people consider me to be certifiably insane… but if it makes me enjoy myself… then bring em on !!!!!

  • manish says:

    Manish,

    Reliance has made it very clear that we Indians love to give advice and we do so more when its free to give.

    Its a sort of request: I read your previous post and saw the photographs too. You have many wonderful photos to share. I have two suggestions:

    I feel that it would be a good idea, if in your post, you also share photos with the text (It increases the pleasure of reading) and in your case the photos you have taken are simply marvelllous. Its a better idea rather than giving the link in the end, it will also help in the sense that from the photo album atleast the best one would be seen.

    And second thing if you can split the post in several smaller ones(May be splitting them according to days and the routes) that way also it will help the readers (In bigger posts, sometimes later parts are missed by readers).

    What do you feel about it?
    If you agree with it, may be as an experiment why not try this out on our current post too :)

  • achmadbiz says:

    Woww .. very long trip. I will wait your report and the photos of course :).
    Have nice trip. Nice reading this blog :)

  • Manish?Nadan

    Will be posting the next journo in parts and include pics as well.

    Need to spend some time experimenting with the pic inclusion tho… me not as tech savvy as some of the others… ;-) Need my time with any stuff to figure how to do things right.

    Cheerios,

    Manish

  • backpakker says:

    awesome energy and spirit …it was good fun to read all the pieces

  • marcopolo says:

    Motorcycling is fun but not with the happy-go-lucky attitude in the mountains. I am amazed that your group used hired clothing to go up to Rhotang. These clothes are battered at best, and are practically useless.
    I have been riding to Ladakah every year for the last ten years, and believe me, you can never been too proctected in the mountains where the weather can change in minutes. But our protective clothings have ensured that we have ridden through snowstorms, rain and mountain fog in relative comfort in plcaes like Zoji La, Tanglang La and Khardung La.
    You guys were lucky that nothing serious happened to you. Any terrain over 10,000ft should be treated with utmost respect. Because that’s where oxgygen starts thinning, and high altitude sickness can set in. And no matter how thrilled one gets at the sights, it is better not to jump around in joy because that can trigger breathlessness in thin air.
    Best wishes for your next trip.

  • vikram says:

    Hi guys,

    When I read ur whole story and last when I saw ur pics .It really came live in my eye.Your experience was really exicting and inspiring…You are lucky that u are having such a wonderful group..I and my close friend michel are only person in our group who generally plan such trips..We went for a trip to musoorie and now we are planning for nainital…but after going through ur experience our next destination will definately MANALI.

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