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Old 18th October 2013, 14:49   #1
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Default Round 1 - Taking on the Elements. Chakrata, in the middle of a Western disturbance

It was meant to be a trip to the Chanshal pass and my first solo motorcycle ride. With all of 600 kilometers under my biking belt I was supremely confident of making it to the pass as scheduled. The harsh reality of riding in the hills was about to dawn on me!

Let’s Rewind to the Feb of 2012 to get some perspective

It was on the kind of sunny afternoon when time slows down allowing you to reflect in detail on the things you still haven't done yet that the seeds of owning a motorcycle were first sowed. Of course as all bikers in waiting I just did not know it yet. The impulsive decision to take my Ikon to Poo / Nako having only read about it in the intoxicating travelogues of fellow members made it seem like a good idea. 60 hours later when faced a choice between decimating the under body of the Ikon or risk skidding into a 100 foot gorge just ahead of Karcham, I realized I needed a new ride.

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That is me figuring out the purpose of an SUV

The safari was an option I considered but was unable to get the right price for my kidneys. So I crunched the numbers and replaced the kidney with one less zero. The result- a Hero Impulse. It was Hero's take on the NXR 150 and having just being beaten by the lack of ground clearance and suspension travel, the bike seemed like a good idea.

Fast forward to the night of July the 5th and I did one last check of my gear.The plan was to do the following
6th July: Delhi to Chakrata- 329km
7th July Chakrata to Chanshal pass -170 km
8th July Chanshal to Chandigarh -258 km

Day 1- Delhi to Chakrata- So Far So Good
Not being much of an early riser I planned to leave at 6:30 am. Now the way, I usually leave for road trips is this. Step 1: Throw bag in the boot Step 2: DRIVE!. So when I went down to the bike you can imagine the confusion in my mind when I didn’t find a boot!
Round 1 - Taking on the Elements. Chakrata, in the middle of a Western disturbance-img632.jpg
I know it was as obvious as can be, but these things really don't strike you when you are busy arguing with your parents to let you go.

Hmmm this called for some quick thinking. The kind that never serves any purpose other than to give you a good enough reason to move forward. So a roll of brown tape was scarified in the name of ingenuity and the straps of the bag taped to the grab rails. A quick prayer and I fired the motor to life, checked my mirrors, let the motor warm up a bit and I was off. Traffic in Delhi was sparse and there was light shower as I was crossing Rohini. The light shower gave me a chance to check out the effectiveness of the rain liner on my Cramster jacket that was all of 12 hours old at the time. It is surprising how the mind believes what it wants to. Take the rain test for example. The amount of rain that morning was a mere drizzle in civilized Delhi on the strength of which the next day I ventured into was a full blown western disturbance in the middle of the Himalayas. Kind of like getting in a lucky punch with Shahid Kapoor and going on to challenge Salman Khan.

By the time I hit the border it had stopped raining and decided to stretch her legs just a little. To increase engine life and preserve my rather fragile riding ego I kept it to 70 kph and in about an hour I was at the famous Sukhdev Dhabba at Murthal. Here I was greeted by a cousin of the morning’s problem, If there is no boot then it can’t be locked hence all you stuff from undergarments to a spare key is out in the open.

Fortunately I found a parking space right in front of the dining area. With bike parked, it was now time to get off it. The trouble is that with 215mm of ground clearance and a stuffed bag ridding pillion even a ballerina couldn’t get her leg over the rear. And so with the grace of an Orangutan at a black tie event, I fumbled and stumbled to get off the bike from the front. By which point I had enough eyeballs on me to wonder if in hurry to get to Chakrata I had forgotten to put my pants on! And again the mind sees only what it wants to, and so I thought of myself as the next Adam Rienman, who happened to tour the Haimalyas on an Impulse and make a neat movie out of it.

Two paranthas and a bucket of curd later I was ready to leave, now for all their nutritional value paranthas and curd do not make you any more graceful than you already are, on the contrary they usually have a negating effect. It is true, the next time you go to Sukhdev dhaba just look around. But by now I was on seventh heaven and scampered on to the bike and off we went.

It was now when I pushed the bike a little that I understood what it meant to have a 150cc engine instead of 200+ cc when it came to long open highways. There is enough power to get you to 95 kph if you sit straight and about a 104 kph if you crouch down, but at anything over 80-85 kph and you know that you are pushing the engine. Pushing the engine for a sustained period is not something I enjoy and so I decided to live with it and keep it around 80kph. The original plan was to turn off from Ambala for Yamuna Nagar. Don’t ask me why? It is just what I remembered from when I was a kid. Fortunately during a quick water in- water out pit stop the dhaba owner was kind enough to tell me a shorter route from Karnal.

Getting off the four lane highway and on to a well surfaced two lane road just ahead of Karnal, the Impulse felt more in her element. The speeds were generally slower which meant that there was more power to overtake and that I was moving ahead of the pack. One beautiful characteristic of the impulse that I discovered was its stability over bad to very bad roads. The long travel suspension and the neutral handling meant that it could soak up craters, jump over speed breakers and stay relatively composed on short stretches of loose gravel. The Karnal to Yamuna Nagar stretch was good save for a about a 1.5 kilometer patch which had absolutely no road. The bike showed sufficient fuel at Yamuna Nagar and after a quick water and frooti pit stop I headed to Ponta Sahib.

The road to Ponta Sahib was lovely and a light drizzle made me forget the relative heat in which I had driven through. The road meandered through low hills, twisting and turning, rising and falling, mile after mile. At Ponta Sahib I decided to stop for gas. Not sure of the next petrol pump I brimmed the tank. Rough calculations showed that I should be able to make it Rohru, where the next petrol pump was, with enough gas to spare. With the fuel done I rode on out of town looking for a place to eat, sadly I found none. Not that I mean to say that there are none, on the contrary given the number of people from Punjab who travel on this road there were probably a few, ( no offense to anyone but us Punjabis love to eat). It is just that when your mind is racing to the mountains your stomach gets left behind and it wasn’t until the rats in my stomach became hallucinations on the road that I realized that I was really hungry and not surprisingly in the middle of nowhere. So I kept an eye open for food joints and slowed down to compensate for the dancing mice. It wasn’t until after I turned off from the Ponta Sahib- Dehradun Highway that I found what I had been looking for. A small quaint dhaba by the road side where the food seemed to be as fresh as the air you breathe. And so for the first time that day I took off all my kit washed my face and let that sheepish smile rule my face.

Round 1 - Taking on the Elements. Chakrata, in the middle of a Western disturbance-318798_10151936109920647_648889646_n.jpg
Pardon the lack of words to describe how it felt, but I am sure all of you have felt the same way at some point in time

Round 1 - Taking on the Elements. Chakrata, in the middle of a Western disturbance-484124_10151936111435647_1689161596_n.jpg
Got my gear off for the first time that day. Cramster Jacket on the chair Axo knee guards and probiker gloves on the table.

Post lunch I crossed the semi-urban chaos that rules all small Indian cities in Herburtpur and headed to my destination the HILLS. I stopped on the foot hills to click a few photographs little did I know that these were to be my last for the trip.

Round 1 - Taking on the Elements. Chakrata, in the middle of a Western disturbance-548552_10151936111980647_1308062118_n.jpg
The only one that came out well. Just before the climb to Chakrata

As I entered the hills two things struck me. The first is that unlike turning a car on the hills, turning a bike on the hills requires more than just control inputs, it requires nerves. Now this may seem like a trivial thing to some of our experienced riders, but when all you have is 600 kilometers under your belt that too mostly in a straight line. Climbing up winding roads that are wide as a car and without any guard rail, makes you realize the lack of nerves rather than the lack of power from the 150cc machine. The second thing that struck me was the fact that except for one small little settlement the road was absolutely deserted. Not a man in sight or car within earshot.This was in sharp contrast to the NH 22 that I was used to. Ambling along the road I encountered a few landslides which made me wonder if proceeding tomorrow was actually going to be a good idea. And while I was thinking this very thought I entered the town of Chakrata. It was a small little place really nothing much to write about. It was just the way I wanted it. And so after getting my bearings, I set course to Hotel Snow View that I had read about on the internet.

The hotel is a tad out of town and the approach is along a steep trail. GULP! ten hours of riding, inclement weather, and fictitious mice aside, it was the first time that I was descending such a steep slope on a bike and that too on a wet and consequently slippery trail. Fortunately I got down without a hitch and got straight to business. I negotiated a room for the princely sum of 800 rupees, I know what you are thinking, but it is a handsome amount in my world. Remember till a couple of years ago I could have stayed in a military mess for pittance, Oh well!

With the bags unloaded and having freshened up, I decided to give the local market a visit and see what I could lay my hands on, a rain coat as you would imagine was on the top of my list. There were I think two shops in all and I was shown a couple of ponchos. Now I imagined blasting down the mountain roads tomorrow and a poncho so to speak of was not only a drag on the wind but also on my self esteem. So after much persuasion I got one shop keeper to show me a two piece rain coat. 450 was the amount he quoted and we settled for 400, not bad but not my best bargain either. On the culinary front there were two distinct choices vegetable momos from a small food stall and HUNGER! Though the mice in my stomach wished for some animal company in the form of chicken momos, they settled for two plates of vegetables.

As I was coming back to the hotel I decided to stop for a while and take in the view, and then the cursed cell phone rang, what followed was a heated conversation with my girlfriend. So there I was in the middle of this peaceful place shouting on top of my lungs, giving all of Delhi a bad name in the hills. Not wanting to be chased out of town with pitchforks for spoiling the peace I buried the issue and drove back to the hotel.
Now back at the hotel with the rain rain falling rather heavily , I did what I love best- watch the rain and think of the futility of the material world and the value of all that we can not measure. Before retiring I tucked into some palak paneer and roti which was served in the rooms as the hotel does not have a dining hall. Not that I wanted to step out anyway.

And with that I turned to myself smiled at what I had managed to achieve, and slept like a baby while the rain on the tin roof sung its sweet melody.

Last edited by GTO : 21st October 2013 at 16:17. Reason: Adding paragraph spacing for superior readability. Thanks for sharing :)
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Old 21st October 2013, 16:18   #2
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Default Re: Round 1 - Taking on the Elements. Chakrata, in the middle of a Western disturbanc

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd October 2013, 17:06   #3
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Default Re: Round 1 - Taking on the Elements. Chakrata, in the middle of a Western disturbanc

Very interesting start to the journey ... Please continue the travelogue. Cheers
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Old 25th October 2013, 21:46   #4
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Default Re: Round 1 - Taking on the Elements. Chakrata, in the middle of a Western disturbanc

Good to see you here. For the benefit of the other readers, the start of this journey is documented in this travelogue: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-peo-ikon.html (Impromptu trip to Reckong Peo in an Ikon)

Eagerly awaiting the second part.

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Old 19th March 2015, 16:49   #5
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Default Re: Round 1 - Taking on the Elements. Chakrata, in the middle of a Western disturbance

Long long overdue I agree. A lot has happened since the last post.
Got a first rated college degree,
Got a job I was ok with. Albeit in Telangana State.
Sold of my pride and Joy the ford Ikon. Only to realize the value of 4 wheels in crazy traffic
Bought a Nano.
Not satisfied with the misery of owning a Tata Car, I decided to up the stakes
Went out on whim and bought a 15 year old non running gypsy through a friend and have been having nightmares ever since (more on that hellish story once the car is registered in my name)
On the other hand did not have any mind space left for pre wedding jitters
Got married
Still running around for the Gypsy paperwork
Had a nervous breakdown and nearly sold the gypsy
Could not sell the gypsy because the RC had issues
Brother in-law helping me out with the paper work (benefits of being Jija Ji)
And now finally completing where I had left off.

Ok so I woke up in the morning and guess what! It was still raining. Well the jacket had a rain liner, the raincoat had a lower and I as usual had a few screws loose in my head. So what the hell, we will go for it. Albeit just to Shimla, via Hathkoti, safe to say chanshal pass is out.
Went to the bike, fired it up and let it warm up as I proceeded to tie my luggage. The rain did make life hell with my hands slipping constantly. Finally I got the bag tied down as well as I could and proceeded to mount the bike. Now I still had not mastered the art of a one legged mount on the impulse and nor am I am a gymnast by any stretch of imagination. The only option then is to try and put your leg across the riderís seat. In the process you do soil the seat but that was going to be the least of my worries.
Just outside of the hotel, I was chased by a dog. Turns out people arenít the only ones who are inquisitive about a mad man on a motorcycle. Well a since I had all over 40kms of hill riding under my belt zooming away wasnít really an option. So I opted for a girlish shriek which settled the matter and the dog gave up.
Now 20 kilometres outside town the road vanishes, and you are left with a gravel track. Add to that wonderful lubricating properties of water and what you have is a riderís challenge straight out of hell. Now remember, only 700 kilometres of riding under my belt.
It was all first gear and second gear using the engine braking to get me to Tuni. Needless to say I was soaked to the bone, dog tired and nearly falling of the bike. At Tuni I hungrily gobbled up some hot rotis with dal and sabji. The rain had let up a bit so I changed into a fresh pair of clothes.
From the Tuni market I bought a pair of gum boots for 200 bucks. Good for keeping the water out though they made the controls harder to use!
The road from Tuni to Hathkoti was nice along the valley floor. The few straights meant that I could make up for some lost time. I thought I was making up some lost time till I got schooled by a 100cc bike. I gave a half-hearted chase but with a long journey still ahead of me I decide to preserve my strength.
Along the way the bag holding my brotherís leather jacket tore loose and fell, I realised it a kilometre or so later, donít remember now if I turned back to fetch it. I was just chanting Shimla Shimla Shimla.
From Hathkoti I turned towards Theog and for those of you who are not familiar with the road; let me tell you it was royal mess. The Chinese were hired to widen the road to 4 lanes. Half way through they gave up leaving behind an awful mess. It was on this road that the symptoms of an increase in altitude began to show on the bike. First it started to lose a little power then some more. I thought it might be over heating so I stopped by a stream to clean the engine fins. Still no luck! And so the impulse and the rider limped on till Theog.
By the time I reached theog I was clearly not thinking straight. I turned down an arrangement made by a family friend at the Theog rest house and instead proceeded to Shimla. The climb to from theog was made in complete darkness with the engine struggling to rev beyond 4K rpm.
Finally I reached the Shimla tunnel and decided to take the bypass. I had reached Shimla and was in no shape to drive through to Chandigarh. So at the first decent enough hotel, I slithered off my bike grabbed the railing for support and reached the reception.
The deal was struck and I asked him to come with me to confirm he had hot water. I slithered back down the steps, got my bags and had a meal just next door. Then I dipped my legs in hot water for an hour.
Finally I slept off and woke up next morning.
Day 3 began on a good note, woke up and no ill effects from the gruelling 13 hour drive the previous day. Had already cleared the bill the previous night so just let myself out. The bike started without a fuss and the engine warmed up fairly quickly. The town was still asleep when I decided to head out so progress was brisk.
Once out of town the combination of good roads and down slope soon went to my head and I began charging down the mountain side. The engine too got better as I descended and I was able to reach parwano in about 2.5 hours. From there I took the expressway which I was seeing for the first time and was simply blown away. Needless to say touched the bikesí top speed momentarily and was grinning all the way down. I stay in panchkula so I did not have to ride too far into the city.
And to top it off I was home and making preparations for the havan on my dadiís birthday before my cousin bro could wake up. Which meant dad couldnít say a word about my bike trip.
Stayed put a few days in Chandigarh and then had an uneventful ride to Delhi.
Thanks for being patient
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