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|8th August 2010, 12:35||#32|
Join Date: Jul 2009
Thanked: 291 Times
Probably the best Leh account I've ever read (god knows I've read too many of them for my own good).
Having experienced pushing a Bull at those heights (a 500 classic) and loading into a truck, I can imagine what you would have gone through.
|8th August 2010, 14:02||#33|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Nov 2009
Thanked: 4,556 Times
What a wonderful adventure. I can feel it as I read! BTB one word "awesome"
Our group of 9 friend from Bangalore did Leh this June on hired bikes. We were snowed out of the Manali to Leh route, so we drove back to Delhi in a taxi and flew into Leh and hired bikes there to continue the journey. Our experience comes no where close to this story as we had a back up all the way through.
|8th August 2010, 15:01||#34|
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Delhi
Thanked: 15,645 Times
Bring back memories of my 2009 trip(though not 2010, when we could not do the manali leh highway as it was blocked!!)
Gata loops are very tricky, esp the shortcuts. This year the Manali Leh highway has been much worse than it usually is!
Thanks for sharing the trip, and good GTO copied it into this section. I also rarely visit the bikes section, and would have missed out on the trip.
Looking forward to more posts, and leh through your eyes! Every perspective is a different one, such is the beauty of leh!
|9th August 2010, 00:36||#35|
Join Date: Sep 2007
Thanked: 13 Times
Great write-up and terrific pics, thanks for sharing.
I haven't enjoyed reading about a bike ride as much as this one.
I've always wanted to do Delhi - Leh but never could due to family pressures and now am too fat and probably too old, so doing my vicarious living through your posts, eagerly awaiting the rest, cheers!
|9th August 2010, 14:52||#36|
Join Date: Jun 2007
Thanked: 2 Times
Amazing travelogue !! First of its kind..I have been to Leh through Sringar route but Manali - Leh seems to be much scenic with more adventure thrown-in.
Waiting for updates
|9th August 2010, 16:38||#37|
Join Date: Jun 2010
Thanked: 47 Times
This is a great write up. Just loved the way that you've built it up - will be a good story to tell your grand children on cold winter night.
|9th August 2010, 22:59||#40|
Join Date: Oct 2007
Thanked: 242 Times
and some more...
The night sky in the mountains and the explosion of stars that are visible to the naked eye is always awe-inspiring. The milky way extends all the way across the sky and the colder it is, the closer and clearer it seems.
And boy was it cold… at 3:00 am.
Even with Angelina valiantly cutting out a major part of the wind whistling around my ears, a lot of it found it’s way into the sleeping bag like an insidiously cold finger. Finally at about 4 in the morning, I sat up to huddle near the clutch cover of the motorcycle. With dawn breaking pretty early around here, I brushed and washed up at first light. Soon thereafter, as I was loading the bike up, a white Bolero screeched to a halt to unload a harrowed looking Ashwin. One look at him and I knew that he’d had a worse night than me!
With less than 5 words exchanged between us (across a road) he re-alighted the death trap Bolero and sped off uphill, to look for the missing men and their machines. About 20 minutes later, I heard the unmistakable sound of an Enfield coming downhill as a flash of chrome and blue came around a bend.
With a wildly gesticulating and hysterically screaming man.
All that I could make out was, "therearaxleonashwinsbikecameoffandnitinalmostkill edhimselfsowestoppedatrhumseforthenight."
Translated – on the way down from Tanglangla, after repairing the twins carrier as best as they could, the nut (pun unintended!) on the rear axle of Ashwin’s motorcycle had come undone. Nitin (or was it Jitin) who was riding the bike down remained blissfully unaware of this significant little fact, till the rear drum brake just exploded the expended brake shoes onto the road.
Then he pretty much crapped himself.
With the 22 group riding just ahead, Topi (our friendly neighborhood spiderman!) came to take a look to see what he could do to help.
He pretty much crapped himself.
Knocking the axle back into it’s slot, the guys had gingerly pushed the bike to a little house that had offered to take them in, at the princely sum of a 100 bucks a head. Unloading the rides, 2 of them had contemplated riding out to Upshi to let us know the situation, but with some convoluted logic that they came up with – they deemed it a better idea to remain warm, cozy and snug where they were!
Ashwin the sorry sod had finally given us up for dead (at the very least) at 12 at night. With no money to pay for lodgings or food (all his stuff was still on his bike in Rhumse), he had fortified himself against the neighborhood dogs with a battalion of dhaba chairs. Said neighborhood dogs were displeased with the unwanted entry of, ‘the big doh’ in their hood and were making it abundantly clear by growling and occasionally charging the leather clad Ashwin. The night was spent fending off the, ‘advances’ of a pack of stray dogs.
The joys of being single eh? You wild dog you...
To rattle back to the present, with the spare throttle cable firmly entrenched in the throttle housing, we headed back to Rhumse, where a grinning Digvijay, wildly smiling twins and a pink colored Ashwin greeted us like long lost brothers!
Over hot chai and the most delicious omelet in roti, is when the truth came out that Jaiveer had actually pulled the short straw. For who was going to bell the cat (myself), now knowing (Ashwin had done the honors) that Ashwin and I had spent a very cold night in the open on the road…while they slept without sleeping bags in a very cozy room!
Which explained, "therearaxleonashwinsbikecameoffandnitinalmostkill edhimselfsowestoppedatrhumseforthenight."
As they say, attack is the best form of defense. Following the principal, Jaiveer was trying to get the whole story out before I ripped him a new….*ahem* orifice.
With Ashwin’s rear wheel and axle now jerry rigged, all of his stuff was distributed amongst the other 4 bikes. A group of Germans also on hired Enfields kindly offered to let Nitin ride in their support vehicle with the completely destroyed Ladakh carrier. So we set off in what was fast becoming a common sight and the de-facto norm…
1. Ashwin sat astride a dead bike.
2. Coasting downhill, scrabbling uphill.
3. Almost killing himself messily (on a number of occasions) since his life hung by a thin wire (literally)
4. Cursing like a sailor except when he was stoic as a monk (very rarely!)
5. With no rear brake and a very fragile front brake.
6. Being pushed from the rear periodically by either Jaiveer or me.
Although in all fairness, Jaiveer did do pretty much 80 percent of the pushing. We covered the 30 odd kilometres till Upshi in a little over 40 minutes and then another 15 or so kilometers in thrice that time.
Then we quit.
On a particularly long uphill push which involved all six of us pushing a darned 200 kg piece of utterly useless and mind numbingly temperamental piece of crap (and I’ve not even got to mentioning the bike yet…) Hailing down a goods carrier and negotiating with him to transport the bike till Leh, still about 35 kilometers out. I then set out ahead to look for accommodation for the night, while the rest of the guys loaded the bike and accompanied it to a mechanic.
With Ashwin’s bike deposited at the mechanic (it needed a whole new rear hub), and the twins carrier being repaired, we all jumped onto the remaining three bikes and headed to the lovely hotel we had found refuge in…
Wooden floors. Running water. Flushing toilet. Soft mattress on a real bed. Clean linen. We were in civilization!!!!
Bath’s, shaves and unmentionables dispensed with, we headed out to the German bakery for some much needed lunch at 4:30 in the evening. We were back at said German bakery at 7:30 in the evening for dinner! Gluttony at it’s best (worst).
In the meanwhile, a raging debate had broken out over the route back to Delhi. The planned itinery (which was now shot to hell) was for us to ride through Kargil / Srinagar / Jammu / Pathankot and head to Delhi, thereby completing the loop.
The only fly in the ointment was that Srinagar was under curfew.
An officer who had been my dad’s ADC was posted in Srinagar and had organized acco etc in Srinagar and R&R in Sonmarg at appropriate Army transit camps. He was also keeping us updated on the situation in Srinagar itself and according to him, if we made it in before nightfall, we should be okay. Reassuring? Not even remotely.
The choice was whether all of us were to die ducking stones and bullets in the Kashmir valley or, retrace our way to Manali through torrid water, terrible roads and have only Ashwin die on us of AMS. The discussion was going nowhere till I stepped in and announced that Srinagar it was to be.
That settled, we picked up the bikes that had been repaired, had the rest of our bikes looked at; Angelina had a wash / wipe and wax and we headed back for dinner, a scant 2 hours after finishing lunch. Post dinner I headed back to the hotel, since the rest of the guys wanted to tank up tonight itself. I didn’t. About 15 minutes after getting back to the room, I get a phone call. It was one of the twins, I forget which.
The opening statement with laughter and mirth in the background, “Err…(ha ha ha ha) our bike’s caught fire...”
I of course thought they were being idiots. Till it turned out that they were dead serious.
Sat on a motorcycle with flames licking at your nether regions, directly below a 14 litre tank of petrol, while sitting atop a petrol pump with a gazillion litres of highly inflammable fuel is never a good idea. That is exactly what one of them did.
Someone started throwing sand and mud onto the fire, while others ran around to figure out what else to do. A bored petrol pump attendant actually looked the other way. To cut a long story short, putting the fire out, they then pushed the bike to a mechanic who was miraculously open at 11.30 pm. He then changed the entire wiring because a short circuit in the ignition cabling had started the fire in the first place. All for a very reasonable 100 rupees. They then all came back to the room(s) an hour after that, to collapse into bed.
I was fast asleep long before this time.
to be contd....
|9th August 2010, 23:41||#41|
Join Date: Oct 2007
Thanked: 242 Times
thank you again!!! :)
the craziness of it all pretty much makes up half the fun of any road trip, be it in a car or by bike. all the best with your 2nd ride (whenever that may be!!)
i don't think it retains the title of the holy grail of biking anymore, because a lot more people attempt it successfully now than ever before. but, with the wrong weather, bad roads and fairly miserable conditions more often than not, it can still pose a pretty hefty challenge to most 2 wheeler riders. it's a good ride and needs to be done atleast once before moving to newer and lesser known pastures!
been hammered at work and took the time out after dinner to write some more.
i feel for you bud! i feel for you.
pushing anything at these heights is no fun and a bullet makes you want to just die!!! thank you for the kind words.
I've read your Leh account bud... really really good too!
and yes, the manali leh route this year is a non-road most of the way, partly due to the widening of the entire road and also because of unseasonal snowfall and rain throughout the season.
as i've mentioned to one of the guys earlier, Leh is still a brilliant ride if it is done with the right people and the correct mindset. there are bigger and invariably better rides all over the country, but pretty much everyone wants to do Leh atleast once before venturing further afield (if at all).
that is what makes this so unique as a trip...
hahahaha... thanks bro for the kind words. you're never too old or too *rounded* to do the trip ~ i am living proof of the same!
just posted day 7 and will do some more in a bit.
thanks mano. having ridden both routes in the one trip, they each have their own unique bits about them. on the whole, the manali route just looks a little more rugged and rocky than the srinagar one, but i thoroughly enjoyed both ways.
i'm busy narrating it to my kids at the moment! i'll just get the grandkids to read about it - far too much effort is required to remember all this crap!
i'm pretty overwhelmed by the tareef, so the update took a little longer than normal.
no mano... we got back on the 22nd of last month, so we're okay. i've got friends stuck there now though and another group of 4 riders has gone missing.
i know most of their parents and their families. still hoping against hope that they're okay.
cheers guys and thanks for the comments. a group i work with are collecting whatever they can and money to be moved by road as soon as either route is teneble...
|10th August 2010, 13:48||#42|
Join Date: Mar 2007
Thanked: 30 Times
|10th August 2010, 15:22||#43|
Join Date: Sep 2009
Thanked: 4 Times
Taking this space to remeber the mishap took place in leh and the people who are suffering.
@bIte tHe bulLet ,Amazing travellogue
@Dwarak,i booked the classic 350 couploe of weeks back and waiting to take delivery 6-8 months later!!hoping to join with you in your 2nd trip to leh.
|10th August 2010, 19:19||#44|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Oct 2009
Thanked: 1,287 Times
At the risk of overloading your cerebrum with the "taareefs" on this thread, I have to say that this is one of the best Leh logs ever. Took me back to my 1st ever road trip on my bull and the issues we encountered enroute (though nowhere near what you experienced). Fantastic read sir. Rated paanch sitaara.
|10th August 2010, 21:06||#45|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2006
Thanked: 226 Times
good to hear you are becoming a bulleteer. Sad you have to wait for 6-8 months. Surely, we must ride along next ladakh trip.
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