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Old 3rd November 2017, 14:42   #16
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@MODS this is a travelogue and not article on motorsports. Kindly move to relevant section.

The stage on Day 2 went live at 0730hr and with only fifty odd participants at the start the Losar marshal’s were free by 0930hr.

Were they free now to do anything? No not at all. Now they had tos start following the rally and sweep the stage. Then from Gamphoo all marshal’s were to drive 250 kilometers to reach Pang for night halt. Two hundred fifty kilometre in plains is one thing but in hills it mean six hours average of around 40kmph. Add a bit of halt for lunch and sundry we were targeting seven hours of driving after reaching Gramphoo a two to three hour drive for marshal’s in the stage.

Nice travelogue. Just about 350 kilometer of drive in a day plus duty for four five hours. We cannot even say no sweat as temperatures during the day climb up to thirty degree plus. At all marshal points we wait till the last competitor has crossed the next hop point and then join the convoy bringing up the tail. Often enough it becomes so boring following behind the stragglers that we stop for some air before catching them up again.

The area around Chotta Darra has the worst section of roads. Even in a 4WD high clearance vehicle you have to be very very careful in navigation through big rocks and boulders that are strewn all around. It is narrow gorge like passage through high hills on either side. Icy waters of river Chandra - source Chanderaal - flow at valley bottom. There is constant threat of rock slide.

Anyway it was tedium to drive through till Gramphoo with almost no road to barely classifiable as road segments. Though once at Grapmhoo we were on lovely tarmac. This year unlike earlier visit the tramac stretched almost all the way till Naki La. A short section after Baralacha La was bad as was section of last forty kilometres from Naki La to Pang.

A quick stop at Tandi - just before Keylong - to fuel up as it is last pump before Leh. And then a longish break at Keylong for group lunch. Got up from lunch with a learning that it’s a good idea to break up in smaller groups and stop at multiple establishments rather than all at one place. The kitchen is not able to keep up with sudden meals demand resulting in longer than usual time.

We realised after lunch that we were running later than needed, Fortunately the roads being good we were able to keep up much better speeds than anticipated. From Keylong to Sarchu was done in just over two hour. Usually three to three and half hours are spent on this. Climb up Baralacha La was superb. All the while music was blaring and small talk and arguments were kept up to keep sleep at bay.

This picture shared earlier shows the rally winner Suresh Rana passing through Chotta Darra area.

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Old 3rd November 2017, 17:43   #17
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Sarchu straddles the border between Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir. Half the camps are located on one side and the other half on the other side of the "nallah" that divides Sarchu and form the boundary between two states at this point. Camps are nothing but some Ladakhi dhabah next to road or one of the army convoy depot. So late in the season other tourist camps disappear. But if you travel during the tourist season - it's officially open once high passes are cleared of snow and closes on September 30 - Sarchu plains offer many tent stay camps.

Sarchu plains are very deceptive for drivers as you see a long straight road that invites you to press the right foot down. Hidden are deadly dips and sudden ninety degree turns where road turns to go along gorges cut by streams for few kilometres and then come back to take a ninety turn on the opposite side. At speed it looks as if the road is continuing straight ahead.

In one of the early Raid's one of the competitor went high speed in to a dip and bounced his car enough to roll it. It ended up back on four wheels but facing the wrong direction. In his enthusiasm he started pelting the car in that direction only to cross couple of oncoming cars before he realised his mistake!! What a laugh it got from all of us at when we gathered at Pang night halt. This year due to some administrative issues permission to run Patseo - Baralacha La - Sarchu as a stage was not approved so we were only running one stage, Losar - Gramphoo, on Day 2.

Baralacha La is start of Bhaga river that flows down to Patseo - Darcha - Jispa - Keylong to join Chandra river at Tandi. Here on it's know as Chandra Bhaga. In Jammu & Kashmir it's called Chenab.

On the north side there is a almost permanently frozen swamp that is couple of kilometres across and maybe four five kilometres long. Trickles of streams from this form Sarapchu river which meanders northwards through Zanskar area to join Indus near Nimmu of Leh - Kargil axis. It is one of the interesting trek routes.

Anyways we reached Sarchu around 1730 just as sun was going behind the hills in the west. Immediately the wind temperatures dropped and it became chilly. When we got out of the car we were wearing just a T shirt. By the time dhaba got out tea and maggie ready we had to take out our jackets. That is how quickly the cold sweeps over. We rested for almost half an hour before starting towards Pang. About fifty kilometres away with Gata Loops, Naki La and Lachunglung La to be crossed on the way.

Picture from Sarchu plains by Harjiv Chadha shows the plains cut in middle by Sarapchu River.
Marshal's Travel Stories: The 2017 Raid De Himalaya-12002632_10153637530056917_3094028398860771373_o.jpg

The tented dhabas at Sarchu. Number of dhabas vary and so do prices. But it is so refreshing to stop and have soupy noodles. Again picture courtesy Harjiv.
Marshal's Travel Stories: The 2017 Raid De Himalaya-12030556_10153655461036917_5512518745435603606_o.jpg

Lovely and arrow straight tarmac. Picture courtesy Ajay Jagga from Roadograhers group on Facebook.
Marshal's Travel Stories: The 2017 Raid De Himalaya-13254825_2030733640485410_8012050477407300590_o.jpg

Last edited by sudev : 3rd November 2017 at 17:57.
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Old 3rd November 2017, 21:33   #18
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Lovely words Sudev Sir, brings back a lot of memories
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Old 4th November 2017, 02:06   #19
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Words are not enough to describe the raid. Indeed it's one of the toughest race. Rated well deserved 5 stars.
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Old 4th November 2017, 21:31   #20
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Thanks Behlan and Daman. Those who have been involved with the event in past can appreciate this much more for sure.

So before we started our dash for Pang we stopped for maggie and chai at Sarchu. And it was dark within half an hour of sun going behind the western hills. With headlights on we covered the next twenty kilometres to Gata loops. Now Gata loops are an engineering marvel. In series of 21 hairpins the road climbs up 2000 feet using a single mountain face. From valley floor to fear inspiring drops at the top they offer ever changing view of Sarapchu river and valley. At top of the loops the road continues its slow winding climb to Naki La.

Marshal's Travel Stories: The 2017 Raid De Himalaya-335089_3023441830805_2112906371_o.jpg
Picture credit Suzie, an old Raid hand. (https://www.facebook.com/suzie.ianson)

For four wheel drive vehicles loops are interesting because there are few short cuts that can be taken to cut across straight up the mountain face. It is really enjoyable and makes the travel interesting. Moreover we had done it many times in the past. As soon as we came to first such short cut I told Samir, he was driving, to take acute right. He did that and we bumped up on AWD in first gear. The first shortcut was easy. Once we hit the road again the shortcut did a little zig zag and continued up but with sharp bend and steeper slope. It should have been done in 4WD Low Lock selection. Samir started up without lock and barely off the road we were stuck!

Imagine have to reverse on a dark night down the slipper slope with a right sharp bend behind you and all the while imagining the steep drop behind you that can drop you all the way down to valley floor. Slowly we recovered and Samir swore off taking more short cuts. Not in the night he declared.

The loops are also interesting as it is supposed to be haunted by ghost that shows up during night time. (full story is here http://vargiskhan.com/log/ghost-gata-loops/). And here we were approaching the same place on a moonless night. Already the fright of aborted shortcut was making our heart beat faster. While climbing the loops we also had to come to a complete stop by road side, with acute sense of urgency, near to the water bottle dump described in the story.....

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Old 4th November 2017, 21:59   #21
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No it was not the ghost or anything like that but the same infernal urge to relieve the pressure building up. All due to strict water regimen imposed on ourselves to escape AMS or headaches. Standing at the edge of steep drop, doing our business, we were gazing at the start studded night sky.

Here we were witnessing creation at its best. Stars were so clear in the chilly windy night that you could reach out and touch them. Delhi sky would be 1% of this at best of times.

Any way we kept on gazing for five long minutes and trying - mostly unsuccessfully - to guess the constellations.

Our friend Umesh Gogna captured this during another trip to Leh. He runs photography travel excursions and is a master photographer. Worth visiting his photo collection at https://www.facebook.com/umesh.gogna.9
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Old 4th November 2017, 22:26   #22
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During entire trip we were to witness such sparkling sky sight again and again. Dark outlines of mountain ranges surrounding 360 degree horizon with starlit sky in centre.

We slowly climbed to Naki La. Between Naki La and Lachunglung La there is a deep valley. And we could see many of the car front or tail light As they went around the bends down to the valley floor and then climbed hairpins on the other side to the next pass. Almost all were from our band of marshal's driving towards Pang. At the same time there were quite a few headlights moving in the opposite directions.

Mainly these were empty oil tankers returning from Leh. Oil supply base for Leh is Ambala railway head. And there is army of oil tankers moving to and from between Ambala and Leh. Rushing through to stock up enough petroleum products to last winters as the road passage cuts off with heavy snow.

The road clearing is kept up by GREF and BRO some where up to mid November. After that once heavy snow falls they also give up the fight against nature and wait till summers. Then snow clearing is started in May June before the passes are opened again in late June for traffic.

Just after Naki La the lovely tarmac road we were travelling gave up and we were back to broken road surface. At the bottom of valley there is a small stream called Bhiskynala (Whiskey Nallah).

From here one can take a shortcut cutting off almost 3/4th of the distance climbing to Lachunglung La. Despite flutter of heartbeats at Gata loops it was too much of effort not to go for shortcut. Keeping extra precaution Samir moved in to 4 Low Lock and moved up the slope. We ended up climbing it in 4th gear most of the time. This shortcut is also taken by most the regular taxi / sumo guys coming down. So much so that in google maps with sat vie on this path shows up. See the link given.

Going up the only hitch is the last ten meters when you have to climb a crest and then take a sharp left to get on the road. That done all that was left was go down the other side of pass and drive the very very tedious twenty five kilometre to Pang. At nigh we did not see anything but dust till taking a turn almost at Pang we were greeted with shimmer of colourful lights of Pang dhabas.

Dinner at Army mess and a night in car followed.

18 hours from bed to bed (okay car seats).

Just another day for Raid marshal's travelogue.

More tomorrow.

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Old 5th November 2017, 06:29   #23
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So how does one become a marshal at Raid?

If you possess the following:
  • A AWD / 4WD vehicle that you can drive and are willing to abuse
  • Have a equally mad companion as there are always two marshals per car
  • Ten to twelve days free in October
  • A GPS device that you know how to use
  • Experience about motorsports - though not essential
  • Can use radio
  • Snow chains - or else buy them from HMA
  • Training in first aid - or better still are a doctor
  • Connection with God

Then you apply to Himalayan Motorsports Association - the organisers - expressing your interest and availability. They decide if they want to select you. That is where the last item becomes important. Jokingly Vijay Parmar is referred as GOD by marshal's who have been going time and again.

Entry list for participation opens in April for the event that is held in October. Some where in May / June the organisers send email to marshal's on their list asking for availability. So if you plan to be one of such mad bunch you should apply much before that.

If you get selected then you are informed and sent a list of items that you need to arrange
1. Spare Jerry can
2. 20 L fuel
3. Funnel
4. -10 degree comfort sleeping bag
5. Sleeping bag liner
6. Emergency rations for 2 ppl x 2 days(dry)
7. Basic Emergency First Aid kit
8. Oxygen can (available at any chemist)
9. Snow chains (to be fitted and checked)
10. Tubeless tyre puncture repair kit & knowledge of use
11. 12 v air compressor (tested)
12. Diamox (for AMS)
13. Spare fuel filters for HSD vehicles and air filter
14. Headlamp/ torch
15. Tow strap
16. 2 D shackles
17. Vodka for windshield wiper bottle
18. Vehicle tyre condition to be checked
19. Spare valves for Tubeless tyres
20. One spare tube (based on vehicle tyre size)
21. Vehicle battery to be in good condition
22. Auxiliary lights
23. GPS or Android phone with a Orix app
24. Gloves
25. Dark Glasses
26. Sunscreen
Though in retrospect I think item #2 should be inside item #1. How else 20 litre of fuel to be carried. Multiple layer for clothing and additional pair of shoes is recommended. You can add to the list but more or less everything there in that is needed.

Again a month or so before the event they would ask for scans of your vehicle RC, PUC and DL. This is to apply in bulk NGT permission to cross Rohtang La. Now no vehicle is allowed up from Manali without this permit. Last year one of the marshal's car was held up at the barrier as he forgot to the permit at hotel room. He had to go all the way back to get it wasting couple of hours in process.

Service crews are even more stressed than the marshal's and are unsung hero's behind every podium or even otherwise for each participant. More about them next. Here is a picture of typical service crew lifted form the Raid website.
Marshal's Travel Stories: The 2017 Raid De Himalaya-screen-shot-20171105-6.25.59-am.png
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Old 5th November 2017, 14:12   #24
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Fantastic narrative. Thank you so much for putting your experience in words.
I have a perennial problem, that there is no website- or atleast my bad luck that I havent found one, where the Raid progress is updated every evening (for example) during the event. We have had to rely on mobile photos of the next days starting order to figure out who was where in the standings- and that too only when the mobile network was available.
Why dont they have a dedicated Social Media team - all it would need is two or three people to increase the visibility of what is probably the most spectacular road event in the world.

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Old 6th November 2017, 11:39   #25
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Great narrative and pics.

A query or two about your radio's:
  1. are they battery operated? or via an adapter 12v USB type from your cars lighter?
  2. don't you say "over" once you communicate whatever the message was?
  3. why don't you carry Honey?

I read somewhere that transformers in adapters, mobile phone themselves, power cables and so on cause this radio static.

Some antennas are a rotary type instead of fixed position ones. That too helps I believe.

A spoonful of honey reduces the need to water the plants too often.

Honey also prevents water loss from our bodies. How, I don't know. It just does.

If I remember my school physics correctly, the lower the air pressure, easier it is to boil water. Perhaps boil is incorrect. It just vaporizes magically.

A general query:
I thought I saw a few Polaris vehicles in a magazine which covered the Maruti Raid. I don't see any such vehicles in your pictures.

Class dismissed.

Last edited by hangover : 6th November 2017 at 11:56. Reason: Spellings fixed
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Old 6th November 2017, 13:10   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammer & Anvil View Post
...Why dont they have a dedicated Social Media team - all it would need is two or three people to increase the visibility of what is probably the most spectacular road event in the world.
Thanks for appreciation. Regarding social media and progress updates I agree that core team needs to do something on this. In past they also tried some sat connection but I gues that has it's on dish problems etc. And of course AFAIK sat phones are not allowed.

Yes the hinterland has communications problems and only BSNL works around main towns in the region. And not always. At Kaza for instance despite getting BSNL on WiFi connection we were not able to get any data transfer. Maybe connection is sporadic. At Leh Airtel kept showing data connectivity but barely any transfers was achieved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hangover View Post
A query or two about your radio's:
  1. are they battery operated? or via an adapter 12v USB type from your cars lighter?
  2. don't you say "over" once you communicate whatever the message was?

I read somewhere that transformers in adapters, mobile phone themselves, power cables and so on cause this radio static.
Thanks for appreciation.

The radios are connected straight from battery. Current withdrawal when transmitting is high so a good connection is recommended. Lighter and USB sockets do not work. Interference from loose electric connection and other devices can be a cause but if at all it will be local to the vehicle concerned.

Quote:
Some antennas are a rotary type instead of fixed position ones. That too helps I believe.
Rotary type antennas will also have more complicated mounting and control system. And what benefit of direction when you are getting transmission from two diametrically opposite sides?

What we use are mainly 1/4th wave mag mounts tuned to the channel generally used.

Quote:
[*]why don't you carry Honey?
A spoonful of honey reduces the need to water the plants too often.....Honey also prevents water loss from our bodies. How, I don't know. It just does.
Did not know this or have heard about the beneficial aspects of honey. We learn. Personally I am allergic to honey so... 8-(

Quote:
If I remember my school physics correctly, the lower the air pressure, easier it is to boil water. Perhaps boil is incorrect. It just vaporizes magically.
Spot on and add to this the dry weather. Body moisture loss increases.

Quote:
I thought I saw a few Polaris vehicles in a magazine which covered the Maruti Raid. I don't see any such vehicles in your pictures.
This year no one participated in Polaris. Also there is some technical inconsistency in use of Polaris. In cross country rally you can only use a vehicle registered with RTO. Polaris cannot be "generally" registered for road use in INdia as it has not got VRDE certification. Couple of years back some Polaris were used with "improper" documents that lead to disqualification of driver at the end of Raid.
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Old 6th November 2017, 14:03   #27
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Continuing...

Service crews are backbone for all participants. To win a podium without service support is almost an impossible undertaking especially when you are participating in a rally that goes over crazy terrain and surfaces.

Ideally you need multiple vehicle service support as cross country logistics at the Raid prevent service vehicles to reach from start end to finish of stage by jumping from one point to other. In flat terrain like desert it is possible but not here. More so as once the stage is sealed then no service vehicle is allowed to travel. As stages are sealed couple of hours before the rally it is extremely difficualt for service team to give service at, for example, Kaza and then again at Gramphoo. So you need one vehicle at Losar / Kaza and one at Gramphoo / Koksar.

The service team that needs to be at Kaza / Losar end needs to make sure that enter stage at midnight and clear it well before 0500. If they run late and the stage sealing starts they are localised at one or the other marshal points. This would make them totally useless.

Apart from the travel times you also need to consider the time they would spend on actually servicing to the vehicles. Typically the participants reach Kaza by the evening and then vehicles need attention from one to multiple hours. Yet the service team also has to leave Kaza by midnight to be running ahead of stage sealing. Imagine the hours the service crew has to manage with.

Factor in working in darkness, chilly temperatures and windy conditions. And then travel over bumpy roads for five seven hours to get a short rest before the competitors start reaching Gramphoo. Yes Service teams are hero's.

With multiple teams you can have one team staying put at Gramphoo and the other at Losar / Kaza. WHy I am sating Losar again and again is the this save time to reach service for competitor by two hours and correspondingly lesser travel for service personnel.

Typical team consists of a driver, head mechanic, couple of junior mechanic and may be a tinker / electrician. With ECU's controlling the workings more and more the last guy - electrician - has to be more than normal wiring guy.

To reduce costs some people share service support but then the amount of time they can get is proportional to number of vehicles in the team and number of members of the service team. Mostly service team will prioritise of first come first serve but this is also given a go by if a faster competitor - likely winner - needs service. Service teams that attend to single type of vehicle are better placed than those who attend to multiple type of vehicles.

You are also left amazed at the range of spares these guys carry. From fully assembled rear of front axles for Gypsy to multiple spare sets of shock absorbers, brake pads, oils .....

To continue with our travelogue here is a picture of local audience courtesy Ramalingam ji
Marshal's Travel Stories: The 2017 Raid De Himalaya-22712335_10214790952113661_7881598060049296840_o.jpg

And views which only marshal's or photographers get also courtesy Ramalingam ji
Marshal's Travel Stories: The 2017 Raid De Himalaya-22712322_10214788429770604_5938959958554119295_o.jpg
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Old 11th November 2017, 09:30   #28
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Day 0 - 3:

At Gurgaon I and Samir have brief phone conversation

Me - Guru ji all ready?
Samir - Have not had time to get vehicle serviced. Going for service today. Then if time permits will also do shopping for puncture kit and some medicines.
M - Jaldi nahi kar rahe ho - aren't you doing this rather early
S - Phatee paadi hai. Dus din kaam se gayab hona hai. Peeche se kya kya karna hai staff ki list bana raha tha do din se. Badly caught up in work To go out for ten days was making list of work to be done by all staff.

Going out for ten - or even fifteen - days used to be annual ritual that we used to enjoy growing up as children. Dad would take leave either during summer or autumn break and we would motor to some far away places. Contrast that with now and it seems that taking more than a day or two off from work - especially your own business - is impossible. Now general vacations are weekend dashes and annual vacations are reduced to Sunday to Sunday trips and that means less of motoring trips.

Helping out in cross country events is sort of vacation drive for us - me definitely - and despite lack of sleep and lousy timings and irregular food and cold and dizziness - we love it.

As it was Samir's Fortuner that was going to be used he had the responsibility of making sure that all systems were go including having a spare tyre over and above the stepney. This was one of the mandated requirements that we carry a spare tyre and tube. He had just got his suspension changed and new set or Ironmen were going to be performing for our comfort.

S - Wife's purchased dry fruits, chocolates, chips, bhujia, maggie, cuppa noodles, cuppa upama and also some heat and eat packs from Haldiram.
M - Sounds great. Just get two cases of water.
S - Already done and ice box is filled Gatorade and chahas packets.
M - Stove?
S - LPG hai na. Got LPG
M - Kal chalen yaan parson? We go tomorrow or day after
S - Lets take it easy. Go some where to middle tomorrow. Easy tow half day drives.
M - Okay. Kitne baje chalna hai?
S - Post lunch?
M - Sounds good
S - You got everything?
M - Ji kapde aur sleeping bag. Medicine hain mere pass. Have packed clothes and sleeping bag. Got enough medicines
S - Chalo see you tomorrow.

I was at the easy end of things with not much else to organise.

One can do Delhi Manali easily in a day but we wanted to do it extra easy. By experience we know if you arrive late in the evening at Manali it's a traffic mad house right through the day and then at the end you have to go around getting hotel accommodation etc. organised. So it was better to reach half way and then next morning reach Manali by lunch time.

Day 0 -2
Took a cab to Samir's place and soon we were moving from Gurgaon. Crossing Delhi was leg 1 for us! Rest of the drive was uneventful. Originally we though we will stop at Swarghat - sort of first hill climb after the Punjab plains - but it was barely past sundown when we reached there. So we continued onward to Bilaspur. Bilaspur overlooks Govind Sagar Lake - formed by Bhakra hydro electric dam - and has a nice Himachal Tourism facility by the side of National Highway.

We were still not feeling tired so while having dinner we phoned the accommodation coordinator to check if we could get room at Manali as we estimated that if we continue post dinner we could be there and hour or so past midnight. But no rooms were there so we had a longish D&D before sleeping. I though Supreme Court had banned drinks within 500 meters of highways except within municipal limits. Oh well it was Himachal and it was a government run enterprise. Last thing we checked with hotel staff is what time we can get tea in the morning? 7AM was earliest.

Day 0 -1
I am early rise and Samir like to burrow under the sheets - or quilt - till ten. I was up early as usual and did some pending work using surprisingly good data connection on mobile hotspot and Samir's laptop. I knew connectivity was set to be absent in a day or two.
By 0700 I was at reception desk asking when can we have tea? and may be a toast along with only to get stumped with "Sir ji ...itno jaldi kay hai. Aa raha hai cook. Thandi hawa leejiye aaram se" Sir why the hurry? Relax in cool wind. Cook is coming.

Yeah why not? And I took some easy deep breaths.

Samir shaken awake and tea and toast done by 0900. We were on the move with fresh cool breeze still blowing on our faces. Soon though it was warm enough to roll up the windows and put on the air-con. We are spoilt.
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Old 11th November 2017, 10:08   #29
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Day 0 -1 Continued
So keeping the sane advice of receptionist in mind we drove at moderate pace....okay we tried to.

May be as soon as next year the tunnel connecting Manali with Lahaul will open up and Rohtang La will become only for tourists. Or will it become disused like pass on top of Pir Panchal rage (above Jwahar Tunnel) and such? What ever that may be in anticipation the highway is being widened in stretches to divided four lane highway like you see now beyond Jammu towards Srinagar. A good stretch around Sundernagar is complete and it was fun to drive in triple digits there however all the time we gained was more than lost when we forgot to take diversion of bye-pass spanning Nehar Chock.

Sundernagar - Beautiful Town - as the name suggests nestles by hill side in a wide valley just before Mandi. The town shot in to prominence some thirty year back when BBMB project linking Bhakra with water from Beas was started.

A sleepy town with a lovely tree lined avenue in past is now a bustling city(?) with endless traffic. It boasts of a modern medical college with hostel. Umpteen car agencies and shops on side of the highway add to the choke points. Sundernagar to Mandi is now almost one continuous town. Price of progress.

Even after Mandi there are almost endless eating joints on the road side till almost Pandoh dam on river Beas. Its from here that the BBMB water diversion starts and using mix of canal and tunnels supplements Bhakra dam fill. Its a fascinating project and needs a trip of its own to see and understand.

After Pandoh dam the road climbs a little with few hairpin turns. And at one of them we espied fruit chaat stall. So feeling no time pressure we enjoyed a patta of fruit chaat enjoying the view of water lake created by Pandoh dam. Its here that one find a rope bridge high across the lake connecting one side of hills to the other. It is an experience to walk on this bridge. Attested by the fact that lot of tourist taxi's that were stopped here creating a mini traffic jam.

Here is one picture I could find using google that does this location modicum of justice. Thr river below swells up much more post monsoon and from middle of bridge if you look down you get serious case of vertigo.
Marshal's Travel Stories: The 2017 Raid De Himalaya-bridgeacrossthebeasriver20knorthofpandohindia9.29.15copy.jpg
Picture credit to http://spmatchett.com/2015/10/26/ind...lly-something/

At end of the Kullu valley Beas river enters a gorge till Pandoh dam. Now this is part of a run of river hydro power scheme that means you byepass the original location called Aut at the bottom of Kullu valley with it's junction to Tirthan valley.

The curious name of the place - now a small hill town - has history in mid sixties AFAIK. Prior to this the road from Mandi to Kullu valley used to climb to to a pass and descend at Buhanter. This road still exists but is longer and has steep climb.

A new road was made connecting Kullu valley and Mandi. At that time there was no Pandoh dam and the road between Mandi and Kullu valley used to run along the gorge carved by Beas river. It is a narrow gorge and has unstable rock faces. So the traffic between Pandoh and Aut used to be one way.

You had to stand in a queue till your side convoy was given clearance to start. The two sides were called IN and OUT. OUT degenerated to Aut as tea and food vendors built up stalls to serve the bus passengers. Slowly it became bigger and now is a town still has a bus stop but is now also has thriving market mandi sending whole sale packets of fruits and vegetables from the two valley's down to plains.

So once you reach Aut you are officially in the Kullu valley. Enjoying the scenery and still not keeping any time pressure we entered Buhanter - the Kullu airport is located here - and like very year we were stuck in traffic jam. Majority of traffic wants to cross over the Beas river to use the new road that also is byepass to Kullu. But while the main bridge on Beas is two lane one there is a small single lane bridge before that which is perennial choke point with three road junction before that adding to misery.

Just so that you try not going across and continue inside Kullu.....it's worse.

After Kullu you have the option of crossing back to left side of river and follow the national highway or remain on the right side and use smaller - but more picturesque - road right till Manali. With couple of small bridges to cross over.

Since the hotel we were to report at was on left bank before Manali we crossed over....Mistake. This portion of highway is undergoing massive construction for making it wider - four lane? - and was in chaos with choke points ever few hundred meter.

Braving all that and payment of green entry tax in to Manali we ended up at the base hotel for the Raid de Himalaya 2017 by around mid afternoon. Finding a parking place is difficult when scrutiny is going with no place inside and for half a kilometre on either side of the Citrus Groove Hotel But we were lucky to find a slot right opposite the hotel that - from the looks of it - had just been vacated recently. Saved a long walk to hotel.

Last edited by sudev : 11th November 2017 at 10:33.
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Default re: Marshal's Travel Stories: The 2017 Raid De Himalaya

Day 0 -1

What happens at Day 0 and one day before the Day 0?

As far as competitors are concerned they all have to report for documentation check and "Safety Scrutiny" of the vehicle. This is an activity that can be a breeze or can create lots of tension. Depends on your preparation and making sure that all regulations are read understood and applied to papers or vehicle as the case may be.

But for officials it also means that some of the marshal have to report three days in advance of the Day 0. After all they are the one's conducting scrutiny.

Which in turn means that people handling the logistics and hotel accommodation etc. also have to be there.

So Day 0 - 3 the Raid circus actually starts building up.

We had to report Day 0 - 1 as we also have to get our vehicles fitted with radio's. Get our documentation completed. Collect the all important Green Pass that would allow us to climb to Rohtang on Day 1. Get our gas money - more on it later - and get most important document called Marshal / DCOC Manual.

DCOC stands for Deputy Clerk of Course - official term in motorsports denoting some one who can take decisions within the rules framework while event is running. COC is the top official running the event.

Race Director and Stewards are two other layers on top of COC while event is running. The first to help take operational decisions. The second help take judicial decision or interpret rules in case of difference of opinion between competitors and organisers.

The manual listed names and contact details of about 75 odd officials who were to be part of Raid. It also listed all competitor's name contact information broken up by category and class of participation.

The manual further contains section giving copies of all permissions received from state, army and sundry authorities. These come in handy once in a while for marshal's on the ground. There is a SOP section on emergency action with first aid flow chart. Another section lists all contact numbers for hospitals and police stations on the way.

One section contains blank tracking and timing charts for each section with overview section maps. This adds about twenty five pages to bulk of the manual.

There is one more important section that is most essential and needs to be understood.

Last edited by sudev : 11th November 2017 at 10:50.
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