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Old 28th November 2016, 11:14   #1
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Default Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

I have always thought of myself as a car guy, so much so that I took up riding seriously and bought myself a motorcycle only a year back. After having done solo road trips to Kanha -

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...bangalore.html (Taming the wild in my plucky Alto K10 - Roadtrip to Kanha & Tadoba (from Bangalore))

and driven through Thailand -

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...d-motored.html (Hot wheels and big grins in the land of smiles :) - Thailand motored)

I was always at home behind the wheels of a 4 wheeler, until I wanted to push the boundaries a tad harder and being fighting fit (I run marathons) I felt I was ready to take on the world in a sportsbike, no less! So what if it weighted in at a puny 150 cc and so my foray into the world of 2 wheels started

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/motorb...ngle-seat.html (Flies like a butterfly, stings like a bee! My Yamaha R15S, now with a single seat)

Having chosen this hobby fairly late in life and skipped the mandatory Pulsars, boxers, Splendors etc to opt for a sportsbike at the get go (even though the R15 is a fantastic motorcycle to start learning on and now with the single rider friendly seat back, is also pillion friendly and rider happy) I approached this methodically and ensured that I had all the mandatory riding gear in place.

In due course, I also became part of one of the riding groups in Bangalore, incidentally one where being a TBHP member is a prerequisite. The group is known as TBBB with the members being as proficient in bakar on Whatsapp as they are passionate about biking My riding skills improved as I rode with guys who have been riding for decades and have graduated from small bikes to big bad ones. Did a few overnighters with them and also did a long solo ride from Bangalore to Goa to test my confidence and temperament. All of this started to whet my appetite to do something which pushes the boundaries.

I have been planning to do a roadtrip to Ladakh for the last two years which kept getting thwarted for one reason or the other. The plan was to initially drive my K10 up there and I was determined that I would do it this year no matter what. While the initial plan was to still drive, given that now I had the bike, I started tinkering with the idea of riding my motorcycle up.

I was skeptical however as anybody who has owned the R15 or ridden one would know that the last thing its known for riding comfort. I was apprehensive even while buying it as was not sure how my shoulders and wrists would take the punishment of the aggressive riding position, the stiff suspension and the narrow, bench like seat. Thankfully, over a period of time and after the initial agony, I got used to the riding position and enjoyed the supreme confidence the motorcycle provides even to a rookie rider like me. However, we are talking about a journey of a few thousand kms over many days. I did not want to truck the bike up to Delhi or Chandigarh; felt that it diluted the challenge of doing a solo trip to the Himalayas and this would also give me an excuse to explore the 'central highway', sparsely populated with little traffic.

A number of developments kept me occupied in the run up to the trip and we were already in September with time fast running out to do a trip to Ladakh, given that Rohtang pass shuts down by October. At one point, I almost put the trip on hold and do a long east india trip culminating in Bhutan/Sikkim. I could not take out more than a maximum of 10 days and anything less than 3 weeks does not do justice to Ladakh. It was finally down to my impulsive nature, perhaps something would trigger the restless soul in me to kickstart the comatose trip at the last moment. It did and also proved to be my undoing which almost cost me my life

Trip to Spiti enters the equation.

This option was largely unknown to me as Ladakh dominates the discourse on exotic destinations. Reading through this TL: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ure-sedan.html (Julley! Himalayan Spiti Adventure in a sedan) by ssambyal1980 proved most helpful and gave me an indepth insight of what to expect. I had already made a rough plan to Leh to which this one was added. I decided to postpone the final decision until after Delhi as I knew it would be a helluva trip to make it to Delhi alone riding the baby R. As a last resort, in case I ran out of steam by Agra, I decided that I would ride up to Corbett as a face saver and come back. Got the bike serviced with the oil replaced and the fluids topped up. Also bought a spare clutch cable and a bottle of Yamalube for topups. The V2 and S comes with a spare throttle cable already attached. Was glad to learn that the brake pads still had enough life left in them. Bought myself a magnetic tank bag from NH4 motorheads and decided to use a gymbag strapped to the pillion seat by bungee cords. Had already decided to travel as light as possible with just a change of clothes in addition to a small P&S camera, my trusty Nexus tablet to be used as a navigation device and a powerbank. Also crammed a swiss army knife, screwdrivers and small torch into the tankbag.

Day 1 - wee hours of 24th September (Saturday)

As if on cue, a cloudburst had hit Hyderabad and the effects of that could be felt in Bangalore as well, it was drizzling and my mood reflected the grey weather. I told my wife that I was contemplating cancelling the trip. This would be my longest trip yet and while I have clocked thousands of kms in the car, I have had the bike for less than a year and the furthest that I had done was Goa. I did not relish the prospect of being drenched to the bone at the very outset of the trip. Taking a raincheck on the weather, I started packing my gear. The challenge of cramming so many odds and ends itself had me sweating and fatigued, all this even before the trip has started!

All my knick knacks, before being bundled into the tank and the gym bag, it was a helluva task to cram so many odds and ends!
Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley-wp_20160923_13_30_28_pro.jpg

All set!
Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley-wp_20160924_01_40_21_pro.jpg

Odo reading at the beginning of the trip
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I tried getting some sleep by turning in early knowing that comfy acco on the road may be hard to come by. I planned to leave by 3 am hoping to put in some miles under my belt and reach Hyderabad by lunchtime. Did not need an alarm to get up, half expecting that it would be pouring but found that the weather had eased a little

No sooner had I eased out of Indiranagar turning into the Outer ring road to connect to NH7, it started drizzling! Drat, I thought. Out came quickly the rain cover of my riding jacket which unfortunately clings like a film and the nylon rope tightened to the portion of the plastic cover which I had clumsily cut out to keep my gym bag-improvised-tail-bag dry. My paltry rain gear was already being put to the test!

I consider myself to be an adept and experienced car driver and have driven for long hours in all sorts of conditions and roads, both during daytime and after dark. I believe some of that experience came in handy as I headed out into the darkness of the desolate Bangalore-Hyderabad highway, with the inadequate headlamp of the R15 providing little solace. Regulars on this highway would know that there is little traffic on this stretch even during the day, so you can well imagine how it would feel to barrel down this otherwise excellent stretch of tarmac in the dead of the night with faster vehicles passing you by now and then. I tried my usual after dark tactic of tailing a bigger vehicle at a safe distance, however so deserted is the highway that even finding a truck to follow is hard, and I do not particularly fancy following a truck while riding. So on I went as the drizzle played hide and seek, stopping for the first time only after dawn had broken.

It was quite a while before I was at the outskirts of Hyderabad, far longer than it had taken in my K10 the last time I had come up this road, and the sky was looking ominous. I already knew that the delicious Nehru ring road was out of bounds for two wheelers and I was not relishing the prospect of navigating Hyderabad city traffic. No sooner than I had entered the city, the skies opened up and I did not even have time to find a roof to park under. Unable to even get my tablet out and slot it inside the transparent top flap of my tank bag so as to find the route out of the city, I stopped now and then to ask for directions. The cloud burst had brought the city to its knees and with all flyovers out of bounds for bikes, I found myself in familiar territory - peak time Bangalore city traffic After struggling for a while, the weather relented and I was finally able to use the tablet and slowly pick my way through rain battered streets. I stopped somewhere on the outskirts for some chicken biriyani - did not realize how famished I was - before resuming my ride. I was like a drenched crow in all my black colored riding gear and ride was not off to a great start. Finally managed to get out of Hyderabad and stop at a petrol pump to refuel. I had ridden almost 600 kms since my early morning start and I will not forget the look on the pump attendants face when he learnt how far I had ridden and my planned destination!

Shortly after, I stopped at a dhaba as it was drizzling again for some tea. I was soaked to the bone, my gear was heavy with all the water and I made a squelching sound wherever I walked, in short, I was miserable! I called home in low spirits and talked to the wife about turning back. It was decided that I would somehow manage another night and if the weather did not improve, I would head back. The ride had gotten off to the worst possible start. I enquired at the Dhaba about accomodations ahead and told about a place called Kamareddy about 30 kms on where I could find something.

I hoped to make Adilabad that evening, but the rain had other ideas. I started getting pelted again as darkness fell, and although I had promised myself that I will stop riding at sundown, I rode on in order to find a place to crash in for the night. Visibility was bad and I followed the tail lamps of vehicles in front, trusting the tarmac to remain on two wheels. After I rode for what seemed to be an eternity, I saw the lights of a motel appearing through the blinding rain. Glad to have stumbled across a shelter for the night and a respite from the elements, I quickly changed into some dry clothing and that made a world of difference to my spirits. As an aside, my biking buddies refer to such rain drenched rides fondly as 'wet chaddi rides' and a quick inspection revealed that my boxers were indeed drenched. 'Wet chaddi ride' - check! The motel (Divya resorts) was an anomaly on that deserted stretch with a swimming pool and a restaurant (!) where I sat later in the evening tucking into some nan as the rain shut out visibility outside. The prospect did not look too bright for the next morning.

Trip Log Day 1 - Indiranagar, Bangalore - Divya Resorts, Kamareddy. Kms logged - 710 kms

https://goo.gl/maps/5WUArciXJbo

Day 2 - 25th September, Sunday

The rain had disrupted the power connection in the area and I had a fitful night, tossing and turning. Woke up the next morning, half expecting it to be pouring but found that the weather was holding, looking grim nevertheless. Had a tough time packing my knickknacks in the semi darkness which was tossed all over the room in the hope of drying them. Completed my morning ritual of tying the gymbag to the pillion seat - which would become a feature of this roadtrip for another week - searched for some tea in vain and set off. The heavy rain had completely transformed the landscape which was now lush with greenery. I soon spotted this trademark 'truckers' dhaba and stopped for the morning cuppa which I was looking for.

I learnt from the truckers that the weather forecast was pretty grim and that they had been stuck there for a while now. They were obviously curious about my gear and wanted to find out where I was headed and even suggested an alternate route to Hinghanghat when they learnt I was headed towards Nagpur. I decided to stick to my pre planned route however and soon hit the road. With many articles of clothing still soaking (underwear especially!) a couple of which I strung in the gap between the nylon rope and the gym bag it was holding down. Progress was brisk as the rain held off for a while and I was soon in Adilabad and on the last bit of good tarmac I would see for another 100 kms at least. I refuelled at this CoCo station and learnt from the attendants that they had seen another motorcyclist descend upon them in the middle of the night about a month back, which I deduced would have been fellow BHPian and inveterate ride J Ravi. I let the excited guys there take a few snaps of themselves before taking off.

I was soon upon the dreaded 100 odd Hinghanghat section and from my experience two years back, I was dreading the worst. Imagine then my surprise when I found that it had improved by leaps and bounds and while a few renegade trucks blew clouds of dust at me, I made short work of the stretch and was soon pulling up at the toll gate in the outskirts of Nagpur. I was again feeling good about being on the motorcycle.

As I rode past the toll gate enjoying the well paved roads, I spied ominous clouds in the horizon yet again. I was made to understand that there was no inclement weather in these parts, but boy, was I mistaken! Even before I could spot a dhaba and park - it was lunchtime as well - the blanket of thick rain bearing clouds were yet again over me, lashing me with piercing rain and even pieces of hail. I was again soaked to the bone and all the painstaking effort of drying off my clothes and teasing out moisture from my boots by changing successive pairs of socks and blow drying them by placing them against the air vent by the fairing gone down the drain, literally! Desperate for shelter, I found a largish dhaba by a bus stop with Nagpur still about 30 kms to go, parked and waddled in, squelching my boots. By this time I was getting used to all the curious glances tossed in my direction. Had a vegetarian thali and hot tea to warm my innards. By this time, I was getting tired and irritated by being pelted by the rain time and again and I decided that enough was enough, did not care how much bad weather was ahead of me but I would not let it stop me. As if on cure, the rain intensified as I headed out but I was desperate! I maintained a steady speed never exceeding the speed which would compromise my braking distance but did not stop either. Summoning all my skills of driving - albeit a 4 wheeler - in heavy rain, I soldiered on. I soon found myself at the diversion where a left takes you to Seoni with Nagpur straight ahead. Aware that road widening work was on along the Pench forest corridor which I would otherwise have taken, I stopped at a makeshift roadside shelter where a few traffic cops had taken shelter under. They invited me in seeing my soaked condition, but I did not want to get off the bike and lose my resolve of riding in these trying conditions. They directed me to move on straight towards Nagpur via the outer ring road and connect to the Bhopal highway which would take me towards Chhindwara and Sagar beyond that. They were surprised to learn my destination and wondered why I was not riding a Bull instead! There aren't any snaps of this stretch as I did not dare unravel my gear and expose them to the elements.

I rode on towards Nagpur with the bad weather ensuring that the roads were largely devoid of traffic on a sunday evening. Nagpur is a city in transition with a metro and many new flyovers in place and soon I was inside the city asking for directions to connect to NH 547 to Chhindwara. This is an alternate route to bypass Pench on the way to Sagar and onwards to Jhansi and highly recommended -

https://goo.gl/maps/q2DwN3cZyZy

I soon discovered the cloverleaf which brought me down to the road to Chhindwara, the entrance to which stood another one of those trademark dhabas. Exhausted with my battle with the elements, I settled down to some sweet milky tea, just what the doctor ordered. I thought I would be further down the road by the end of the second day but the incessant rains had proved to be a dampener. I was still glad to have made some progress and crossed Nagpur by the end of the second day, debating whether I should have stopped at Nagpur for the night given that the next big town was some distance away. I made it across state borders into Madhya Pradesh before realizing I had lost my way in a state highway before asking for directions and found my way back to the road to Chhindwara. I called home to see if the wife could call ahead and book a room at Narsinghpur, which I thought I would be able to reach before calling it a day. As it happened, it took me a while to reach Chhindwara and having located a resort on the Chhindwara - Narsinghpur highway, I checked into a bare but spacious room, tucking into some nice hot rotis and subzi.

Trip log Day 2 - Kamareddy - Chhindwara, 510 kms. Memorable quote by a fellow motorist waiting next to me to a railway crossing - 'That is an interesting uniform (referring to my gear), which company do you work for?!l'

https://goo.gl/maps/yvsZagUoGG92

The highway beckons
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Made lush by the heavy rains
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The authentic dhaba experience
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This dude was thrilled to have his snap taken
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Outskirts of Nagpur, sweet, milky tea never tasted this good
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A random park at the outskirts of Chhindwara
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Day 3 - 26th September, Monday

I was exhausted by my ride yesterday and was staring at an increasing pile of soaked clothing. I was hoping to make it to Delhi by evening today and I knew if I could make good time to Agra, crossing the YEW into Delhi is just a two hour affair. Got up early at pre dawn as usual and scrambled onto the bike to head out into the dark. Perhaps its just as well that I hit the surreal Chhindwara - Narsinghpur NH 547 just as a pink glow was spreading out into the eastern horizon. This stretch is as good as it gets anywhere in the world and tailor make for motorcycles. Tights bends and corners and flowing chicanes with just the right degree of banking make this is a joy to ride on. Just watch out for the local joggers limbering up in the middle of the road at junctions and you are good! This was disposed off just as the sun was making its presence felt and I soon turned into NH 44 towards Sagar. This highway is used mostly to haul freight by truckers and there was hardly a passenger car to be seen, let alone a motorcycle as the GQ via MH, GUJ and RAJ being preferred by families. Bovine herds chewing cud sitting bang in the middle of the highway helped me stay alert as I slalomed around them. I had finally left the gloomy weather behind me and the sun was now shining brightly on my back. Along with drying me and my gear, it now made me feel unstoppable.

I was forewarned about the bad patch between Jhansi and Gwalior by J Ravi's thread and anticipating that, I stopped at a roadside Dhaba for some lunch and a short nap. After tucking into some standard oily fare and stretching out in a tee and shorts at one of the khatias, I was ready to move. I crossed Bundelkhand and sometime in the afternoon, I was at the dreaded Jhansi-Gwalior stretch. This proved to be everything it promised and worse - pockmarked tarmac, reduced to rubble at places with trucks helping to coat you liberally with the dust around. Unmarked diversions with often two alternatives branching out with many motorists taking the wrong one and realizing way too late that they have taken the dud one. Apparently funds earmarked for this stretch was siphoned for other noble causes and I did not see any work going on to remedy this.

Since I had timed it well, attacking this section somewhere in the hours between 2 - 3 PM, when many trucks stop for lunch, I skipped the worst and by late afternoon had taken the bypass around Gwalior onto the road to Agra. I was jaded and thirsty by this time and stopped at a dhaba for a break and for the sun to start fading before making the final run to Agra. While I had left behind all the bad stretches, I was planning to make camp at Agra and not push it too much and reach Delhi by late evening.

The ride to Agra was largely uneventful barring some traffic near the town. Even though I had decided to not ride past the sunset hour, I found myself doing that in an effort to cover more ground. However I ensured that I stopped every hour or so and to reduce speeds after dusk. I called up ahead while refuelling to a guest house on Fatehabad road in Agra which I located with the help of my tablet. I reached after 9 PM and as their kitchen was closed, dashed to a nearby McDonalds for a quick meal. Three plus days of riding from dawn to late evening was taking a toll on my bum and I was emptying tubes of Sofromycin just to be able to put on my riding pants and keep riding. I took a refreshing shower and hit the bed, happy in the knowledge that I made good time and it would be another 2 hours for me to hit Delhi - the first goal of this solo ride.

Trip log Day 3 - Chhindwara - Agra 710 kms. A sore bum but gear all dry, ahh the simple pleasures of life!

https://goo.gl/maps/DS6wq8JFTSr

Superb tarmac all the way to Narsinghpur
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Last edited by Aditya : 5th December 2016 at 07:17.
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Old 1st December 2016, 12:24   #2
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Default re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

Day 4 - 27th September, Tuesday

Another day, another early morning start. I set my navigator to the YEW and rolled out of Fatehabad road, also keeping one eye out for some tea and breakfast. I caught NH2 and was asked to head towards Kanpur then get off the highway, turn left and head for another 10 kms to come up to the YEW entrance. I noticed some hot tea brewing and baskets of puri and kachori but wanted to hit the YEW first. I guess I missed the nearest entrance and stumbled onto it after a while. Tanked up on some coffee at one of the refreshment centers (but sadly no breakfast as they did not have any fresh eats) before setting off. It was predictable and I could maintain a steady near triple digit speeds and it was no longer than 2 hours that I fetched up at the Greater Noida exit. I felt a great sense of accomplishment and even though I made it to Delhi only on the morning of the 4th day, it was a major trip for the milestone as I had not backed myself to hit Delhi from Bangalore on my motorcycle without a major hitch. I was soon coursing down DND with the typical crazy Delhi traffic breathing down my neck. I would have liked to hit Delhi before the early morning rush hour and even though I made it to the capital at the stroke of 9, with most flyovers completed it meant that I was soon close to Grand Trunk road which would take me to Chandigarh.

I was almost out of cash (pre demonitization days and one could count on ATMs to work!) and was famished. Having read about the legendary breakfast stops on GT Road at Murthal/Sonepat, I was not about to settle for anything less. I spotted the awnings of the mammoth dhabas as I rode down the ramps onto GT road and stopped at Pahalwan Dhaba, Murthal, for breakfast. It looked and felt like a replica of any of the fast food masquerading as a dhaba establishment which dot our busy highways. The lassi was served in a plastic cup with a straw and while I am no expert in Punjabi cuisine, that is not how authentic lassi is supposed to be served!

I was soon off, thoroughly enjoying myself on the butter smooth and arrow straight Grand Trunk road. Saw some weird sights like Force travellers barreling down the road with their bonnets draped in the national flags of Canada on some and the US in others! Thankfully there were no ghastly mishaps on display which this stretch is also infamous for.

My decision zone was coming up pretty fast and I had to decide by the fork in the road at Ambala if I should head towards Manali and further to Leh or towards Shimla and Spiti valley. My breakfast did little to satiate my craving for wholesome Punjabi fare and I chanced upon a small, neat eatery next to a petrol pump which seemed to fit the bill. This was one decision which I was going to blow a big lunch on and I ordered crisp naans and daal makhni tucking into the creamy goodness. A giant glass of lassi followed and I was nowhere near resolving my dilemma. Eventually, the fact that Spiti looked doable in about a week from where I was while Ladakh would demand a more detailed exploration clinched the decision, and I soon found myself at the entrance tollgate of the Hindustan Tibet Highway.

I did not particularly relish the prospect of taking on the chaotic Shimla-Parwanoo stretch which was being widened and I was here a couple of weeks ago and saw the mayhem first hand. Nevertheless, the climb had begun and there was no looking back from here. The scenery, as always was breathtaking and I stopped now and then for hot refreshments.

I was violating my self imposed embargo of not riding after dark every evening and I found myself riding up, chasing taillights in the ravines well after dark. At length, I decided to seek refuge at a very cosy hotel at Kandaghat called 'The Falcon Crest'. Even though comfort was not high on the priority, I was grateful for hot water and a soft mattress. I was only about 10 odd kms away from Shimla and fast closing in on my goal.

Trip Log Day 4, Friend's Guest House Agra - Hotel Falcon Crest, Kandaghat. 530 kms. The feeling of crisp, cold mountain air filling one's lungs, priceless

https://goo.gl/maps/hTJvccQsRat

Ready to be unleashed on the Yamuna expressway
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Ab dilli dur nahin!
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Pahalwaan Dhaba - breakfast of champions? Not quite
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At the authentic punjabi dhaba on the outskirts of Ambala
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The beleaguered stretch to Shimla
Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley-wp_20160927_17_18_45_pro.jpg

Day 5 - 28th September, Wednesday

What I would not have given for a relaxed start after a steaming cuppa. It was not to be however as I wanted to make it to Reckong Peo and hopefully to before dusk to Chitkul, the last village before the Tibetan border. It was still very early in the morning when I made it to Shimla and the streets were still deserted. A new green tax was recently imposed and even though I would have liked to pay my dues, could not find the place where I could. Asked for directions to Narkanda and soon left most of the whatever little traffic I could see, far behind. Any passenger traffic which could still be seen thinned out after Narkanda and all that was left were trucks ferrying apple from orchards. I was at Rampur by lunchtime, an army garrison town and the last town where you saw service infrastructure for vehicles before hitting the Kinnaur valley. The road worsened after Jeori and it was a bone jarring ride after that as I rode into the pockmarked roads of the Baspa hydel power plant being built by JSW. Heavy trucks have levelled the roads around these parts and even cars were having a difficult time. By late afternoon I was at Powari where I topped up on fuel, not sure where the next petrol pump would be. Before 6, I had pulled into Reckong Peo, the largest town in Kinnaur district and the last important but station of any note. One has to pull out of the main highway to get to Peo (as its referred to by locals) and then climb some steep hairpin bends to reach the place. I thought of climbing 7 odd kms upto Kalpa where accomodation is better and one also gets to view the milky way at night apparently but abandoned the climb halfway through as it was getting dark and for the first time in the trip, after almost non stop riding for 5 days, I was finally feeling the fatigue. The highlight of the evening was a sumptuous meal of mutton momos and mutton noodles at a shack by the bus stand. I got ten large momos for just Rs 60!

Trip log Day 5, Falcon Crest Kandaghat - Shimla - Theog - Narkanda - Sainj - Rampur - Jeori - Wangtu - Karcham - Powari - Nondescript guest house (do not remember the name!) Reckong Peo - 280 kms

https://goo.gl/maps/zQUnPPoHeER2


Outskirts of Narkanda
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Apple country
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Swallowed whole by the cliffside!
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Near the hydel power plant
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On the legendary road
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Gravel track
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Right after the dreaded stretch beyond Peo
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Near Sumdo
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Looking down from the highest point of Malling nullah
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Last edited by hothatchaway : 3rd December 2016 at 21:12.
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Old 3rd December 2016, 10:30   #3
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Default re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

Day 6, 29th September - Thursday

The previous evening, I had planned to go further than Peo and I did not realize that I had taken a detour off the main highway in order to enter Peo. This resulted in my riding up and down the small town a few times trying to figure out an exit. Upon asking at the bus stop, I was told that the immediate 20 kms out of Peo towards Kaza is really bad and given that it was already getting dark, I should look to find a place in Peo to sleep for the night. I had found a row of rooms the previous eveni on the first floor of a small building which stood diagonally across the bus stand and changed quickly to go out and grab a bite. I had initially planned to ride to Chitkul which is famous for its scenic beauty but after a quick review of plans, thought of pushing ahead to Spiti and Kaza. Again got up before the crack of dawn, trussed down my luggage and headed out. Wandered onto a narrow ledge and started wondering how bad the road could be up ahead before being told that they had closed this road sometime back! Doubled back onto the main highway and this route was as bad as promised. In fact calling this a road - a highway at that - was a travesty as there was hardly any metal, no guardrail with signboards promising shooting stones to accompany you down hundreds of feet below into the gorge should the passing trucks fail to nudge you down. If there is no snap of the stretch, you can deduce how badly my *** was scrunched up, out of sheer terror.

Managed this pass to be greeted by a nice metaled stretch where some trucks were parked by some shacks serving tea and breakfast. I was promised no mobile signal for Airtel/Vodafone after Poari but continued receiving intermittent signal well past this point. Stretches of excellent tarmac (near ITBP bases) were punctuated by some nasty gravely and dirt tracks and the R15's aura grew in leaps and bounds in my estimate. The never gave up grip and the fuel injection meant there were no starting troubles, nor were any of the hill slopes posed a challenge, all disposed off without a fuss. The last phone call home was made from the army base at Puh before heading on towards Malling Nala, a somewhat high pass at an altitude of 3700 metres which connects to Nako. The roads changed color to smooth tarmac and I started climbing the harpins quickly to a vantage point with spectacular views of the snuff colored mountains around. The scenery while approaching Spiti changes dramatically from the lushness of Kinnaur to a dry, stark aridity. Its nothing like anything you can see anywhere else in India, except Ladakh of course which shares the same geography and climate.

Made a quick pit stop at the Nako monastery which was built almost a 1000 years back overlooking the lake. Its not imposing unlike some of the other monasteries you may come across but is marked by its serenity. At Nako, you are still at Kinnaur, the landscape has however, unmistakably changed around you. I crossed Changdo on my way to Sumdo and you are officially in Spiti. You have to enter your details at the small military outpost there as well as your vehicles as the on duty sentry chats you up, happy to see anybody making this arduous trip up the mountains, much less solitary motorcyclists from down south. Tabo is the next major stop which is at the bottom of a bowl shaped valley. Tabo also has a 1000 year old monastery which unlike others in the area, is not perched at the top of a hill and is situated at the bottom of the valley. It is recommended that you stay at Tabo (3000 odd metres) night here before ascending to Kaza which is at a higher elevation of 3800 odd metres to stave off altitude sickness. Its another 48 kms to Kaza from here which I decided to make on a stretch generously paved with dirt and gravel and before long, I was cruising down a valley flanked by imposing snuff colored mountains with views to die for.

I will forever remember the time and the view of Kaza coming up, it was after 530 in the evening and as I saw the dusty and nondescript town in the horizon, it was an overwhelming experience. I left home almost a week back with no small amount of trepidation: a motorcycle trip across the length of the country traversing more than 3000 kms across all sorts of road surface. I underestimated my resolve in getting here, braving inclement weather, physical discomfort and fighting back the emotional turmoil that the sole breadwinner of a family experiences while undertaking something as hazardous with little reward other than accumulating memories to last a lifetime!

After firing away a few snaps it was down to the mundane task of finding a place to stay. Kaza is a place where you perhaps find more motorcyclist (both solo, small and large groups) than the denizens of the town themselves. There is a 'Zostel' property at the bottom of a small slope right after the entrance which itself goes on to fork out into one that leads to the small bus stand and the other meanders out towards the outer edge of town and finally onto Kunzum pass and Manali. I elected to fill fuel at the highest fuel retail outlet in the world before settling into a small hotel at the edge of the town.

Trip Log - Day 6, Peo - Poari - Jangi - Spello - Puh - Khab - Kah - Nako - Malling Nullah - Chango - Sumdo - Tabo - Kaza - 200 kms

https://goo.gl/maps/E231mvEzFmu


Nako Monastery
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This road did not exist a decade back, one had to climb down to the river bed
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Sumdo checkpost
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Breathtaking scenes of the cold desert
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Finally!
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The following morning - enroute to Key monastery and Kibber
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Enroute to Key Monastery - where eagles dare
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From the monastery perch
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Kibber village - highest inhabited village in the world apparently
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Top of the Kunzum pass - 75 kms from Kaza
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Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley-dsc03432.jpg

Last edited by hothatchaway : 3rd December 2016 at 20:22.
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Old 5th December 2016, 07:15   #4
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Default re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!

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Old 5th December 2016, 09:01   #5
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Default re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

Amazing travelogue! Had done the Chandigarh-Narkanda-Kaza-Manali-Chandigarh circuit with Mahindra Adventure in Sep 2016 but your experience is at an altogether different level!
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Old 5th December 2016, 16:32   #6
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Default Re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

Wow! That is one long and lovely road trip. Kudos! Wish you many more miles ahead
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Old 5th December 2016, 20:38   #7
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Default Re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

Great to see your trip log here, I got to know about your trip first hand. Great keep it coming.
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Old 5th December 2016, 22:28   #8
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Default Re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

That's one helluva journey.
All the way from South to North on a bike, hell man,you gotta be crazy!!
Really loved the pictures, all the best for more of your 'Motorcycle Diaries'.
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Old 6th December 2016, 12:06   #9
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Default Re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

That's one great ride you've undertaken there. Kudos man!!

From your lack of confidence in doing long rides, on your steed, to what you've managed to achieve right now, it's one amazing journey which some of us lesser mortals wouldn't even dare thinking about. Well done brother!
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Old 6th December 2016, 22:49   #10
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Default Re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

Awesome Travelogue, your passion for travel is pouring out of each word. Doing such a big tour on a bike is highly commendable especially for someone who started riding recently. Keep revving.
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Old 7th December 2016, 11:14   #11
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Default Re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

A great ride and a terrific story. Amazing grit and fortitude .Well done.
Am tempted to post the write up of my son on his 6000 km ride on his unicycle from the the Artic, the top of Alaska across Canada to the lower 48 over two and a half months !
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Old 8th December 2016, 13:15   #12
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Default Re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

Wow man !.
You are one hell of a courageous person. I cannot imagine doing these kind of distances solo, more so on a bike like the R15 which has a forward leaning commited seating.
But, I suppose the rewards are the experience itself and it shows in the photos that you have shared.
Btw, did you have any plans for back-up /retrieval of the vehicle, if something went wrong on the mechanical front?.A special cheer for your family who supported you through the ride.

Keep traveling and keep it coming.

Cheerio!
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Old 8th December 2016, 20:44   #13
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Default Re: Where eagles dare, along with the 30 something biker - Solo ride from Bangalore to Spiti Valley

To be very honest, I didn't even bother to see the pics, having visited the place last year and witness the beauty with my very own eyes..

What grabbed my attention towards this "just another post" on my FB feed was Spiti! And being a travelogue writer myself, I'm yet to come across a travelogue as beautiful, as crisp and as engaging as yours!

What a beautiful narration!
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Old 9th December 2016, 05:58   #14
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Amazing!! Commendable!! A Big Salute to you.

These words in your travelogue put a smile on my face and a chill down my spine.
" I left home almost a week back with no small amount of trepidation: a motorcycle trip across the length of the country traversing more than 3000 kms across all sorts of road surface. I underestimated my resolve in getting here, braving inclement weather, physical discomfort and fighting back the emotional turmoil that the sole breadwinner of a family experiences while undertaking something as hazardous with little reward other than accumulating memories to last a lifetime!"

Ride safe.👍
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