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Old 30th January 2020, 12:07   #1
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Default Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal

I am a regular participant in the BOBMC Rider Mania.

This annual event brings together most of the RE clubs in India into one huge parking lot. The host club keep changing every year and this gives us an excuse to ride to different places.

In 2019, I rode my new Himalyan to Udaipur. It was a fun trip over very decent roads. On the last day of the event, it was decided to take Rider Mania to an international location. The event was to be hosted by the FORE club of Nepal. They later announced the location would be in Pokhara.

As soon as I heard the name, I took out google maps and checked the time to ride from Hyderabad to Pokhara. It was going to be a three day trip and I confirmed my intent to ride within a heartbeat.

The dates were announced a couple of weeks later and because of a rather important personal reason, I realized I will be riding solo.

My friends would leave on the 18th of January and go directly to Kathmandu.
I would leave on 21st of January and meet them in Pokhara on the 24th of January.
Solo riding may sound scary but its an awesome way to connect with yourself and your universe.

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Last edited by bblost : 2nd February 2020 at 22:47.
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Old 30th January 2020, 19:06   #2
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Default Day 1 : 21-Jan-2020 : Hyderabad to Jabalpur

From past experience I knew I could easily cover the distance form Hyderabad to Nagpur in about 7 hours. The plan was to try and attempt reaching Jabalpur (790 kms) or at least cross Seoni (628 kms). This would depend on road conditions and how I feel at that time.

An early start would let me avoid the traffic in Hyderabad and I hence woke up at 4:00 AM. Got the bike loaded and hit the road at around 5:00 AM.

There was a light chill in the wind and it was just the normal cruising flow. The bike is quick but not quick enough on this empty road.

By around 9:00 AM I started feeling hungry. On the highway I prefer eating at the dhaba's and its almost always the roti with dal fry. Avoid asking the "What's Special" in these places. They will mess it up and you will regret this indiscretion for the remainder of the trip.

A cup of hot tea after the meal and I was off again on the highway.
Luckily the Outer Ring Road of Nagpur keeps you away from the city traffic and I crossed it around 1:30 PM.

So far the journey had been very pleasant but then came the under construction roads around Seoni. There were some very rough patches and lots of diversions. This was the first time I was travelling on an under construction Ghat Road. Its extremely dusty and I needed to take a couple of breaks to cross it. The bike was fully covered in dust and I would need a hot bath once this was over.

By 6:00 PM I was almost at the outskirts of Jabalpur. Used Oyo to book a room in the (OYO 41159) Hotel Royal Inn Jabalpur.

The room was clean and most importantly it had a secure area to park my motorcycle.
In Oyo, book a room for two instead of one. Because I booked as a single traveler the room I got was incredibly small. In the same hotel on my return trip I booked a room for two. Not only was the double room booked at a lower price but it was also significantly larger.

Also if you have a new or as in my case a borrowed sleeping bag, check if you fit into it before taking it along.

After a quick dinner, I retired for the night.

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Last edited by bblost : 2nd February 2020 at 22:50.
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Old 30th January 2020, 21:07   #3
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Default Jabalpur to Akbarpur

I need to cover at least 500-600 kilometers and get as close to the Nepal border at Sonauli as possible.
But the road conditions in Uttar Pradesh were not very promising.

Google Maps usually gives me very accurate time for the selected routes. My plan was to reach Basti or at least Akbarpur. This would totally depend on how the day progressed and I felt.

Since the room in my hotel was comfortable, I slept quite well and woke up before my alarm clock.

Packed up and loaded by 7:00 AM. A cup of hot tea and I was out on the road before 7:30 AM.

Less than an hour into the ride, it started raining. I had to pullover into a dhaba and secure my luggage. Also quickly put on my rain coat. But my shoes are not waterproof. After a few minutes in that heavy rain, my shoes filled up with water. Once the rain stopped, I had to pullover and remove my wet socks.

Put them under the bungee cords so they will dry up and ride for the next hour while my shoes slowly dried up in the wind.

The road till Rewa was quite decent. But then it started to deteriorate. I crossed Prayagraj (Allahabad) while wading thru a lot of traffic on narrow broken roads. The only saving grace was riding over two lovely bridges. There is a mela going on and the banks of the Ganges were fully covered in colorful tents.

As I continued to ride in the state highway, the difference between the roads in South India and here was extremely stark. It felt like I had literally moved back in time by a couple of decades. No street lights or markers. The roads covered in thick smoke from the wood stoves. Lots of stray cattle and they were having better road manners than the people.

Because its cold, most people were covered in dark shawls.
This combination of no illumination and narrow roads with people covered in dark cloth was extremely challenging.
I had to take breaks every 30-40 kilometers just to rest my weary eyes.

The only food available on the roads was samosa, bread pakoda and jalebis.
They were very tasty but its difficult to make a proper meal out of them.

By the 7:00 PM I reached Akbarpur. I was not only tired but very hungry. Thankfully the hotel had a decent restaurant and served me good food.
This was my first time getting a disappointed booking on Oyo. The hotel refused to honor the booking but was willing to give me different room.
They also added that it was the only room available. They were not lying. They had to turn back the next group of travelers who came in just after I had confirmed the room.

Luckily for me the largest hotel room in this place was just some Rs 1,600.

The best part. A very clean and secure bike parking.

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Last edited by bblost : 2nd February 2020 at 22:54.
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Old 30th January 2020, 21:18   #4
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Default Akbarpur to Tansen

I had no idea how deep into Nepal, I should try and go. There was to be very honest, no plan at all. I had no idea if I should stay at the border or proceed towards Pokhara.
No idea just how cold it will be and if I will be able to handle it or not.

At Akbarpur I wore my leather jacket inside the crash jacket. I left the hotel at 9:00 AM. I had been told that to get a SIM from NCell in Nepal, I would need my passport. This information turned out to be wrong. All you need is a photograph and the driving license.

But since I was not carrying my passport, I decided to get roaming done for my Airtel Prepaid. This is more expensive and I strongly recommend getting a local SIM.

As I approached the city of Basti, I came across a never ending bridge. Below it is a river covered in fog. The bridge climbs up into the clouds. Sandwiched between the two layers of fog is me on my bike with no one else.

Is this the stairway to heaven?

The magic soon ends and I am back on the normal roads but with the memory of magic deeply seared in my heart.
Quote:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
About 30-40 kilometers before the border a new type of fog starts to envelop me. It thick and its cold grip is very powerful. My bike's thermometer starts dropping from the usual 30C to just a little over 20C. My hands are burning inside the gloves. Thankfully the leather jacket was working and I am not shivering. But my palms are paining.

Suddenly the character of the road changes. There are over a hundred trucks parked on the sides of the road. I slow down and ride with a lot of caution. Parked trucks almost always leave oil spills and I want no drama of that kind. Then all of a sudden even this changed. I am inside a market selling everything from clothes to pressure cookers. This is the border.

The time is 1:30 PM.

Then the universal truth of the world. Bureaucracy can make you cry.

Counter #1:
Under a tree. A guy asks my name etc and enters it in a form.

Counter #2:
Take that form and wait in another counter. Give photocopies of my RC and DL. Also show the originals. The lady there then wanted to order samosa's for her team. So after discussing the same for almost 15 minutes, she was free and took my form. Then she gave me a printout.

Counter #3:
Show the printout and pay the money. It is Nepali Rupaya 150 or Indian Rupees 100 per day for a motorcycle. The funny thing is that the guy refused to accept INR from the guy who was in front of me. But had no issues taking it from me. He stamped the paper and gave it to me.

Counter #4:
Give the printout, its stamped and returned.

This entire exercise took over an hour.
Less than a couple of hundred meters ahead, a security checkpoint. They ask me question but don't make me open the bags for a detailed inspection.

In all this excitement, I forgot to get any money converted to NPR. I hoped to get some money from a money changer on the way. But there were none or rather I could find no one.

I vaguely recalled a friend saying that most petrol bunks would happily change the money. Luckily I found such a place. The owner of the bunk not only gave me some NPR but also gave me the contact to some hotel in Pampa.

I entered Pampa in my google maps and rode on. It took me a couple of kilometers to realize that the Pampa he meant was Tansen. I have no idea how I confused myself.

But tired and weary I stopped by the road in a clearing.

I had packed some dry dates in my tank bag. So sitting by the roadside, I ate them in complete silence while watching the sun slowly start setting in the horizon.
Then I decided that it makes no sense to carry on forward but I should stop for the night.
Having crossed a hotel some 4-5 kilometers back, I rode back. It took me almost 30 minutes to cover the distance on the mountain path.

Hotel Peace Point had a nice room with a heater and cost Nepali Rupees 1,200 for a night.

As the darkness settled in the cold become more severe and it was finally time to get my thermals out.

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Last edited by bblost : 2nd February 2020 at 23:02.
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Old 31st January 2020, 21:08   #5
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Default re: Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal

I had just about 130 kilometers to ride but in the mountains it would easily take over 5 hours.

My friends were planning to leave from Kathmandu and do some sightseeing before coming to Pokhara. They would hence reach around 5 PM. But knowing them I knew it will take them at least 8 PM.

So I had a nice hot cup of coffee. Waited for the solar water heaters to do their thing and bring the water to a tolerable temperature. Since I had no idea when the next bucket of hot water will be available, it was important that I make the best use of it when its available.

It was a clear day but with a cold breeze that chilled you down to the bones.
Covered with enough clothing to make it impossible for anyone to know if I was a human or a Michelin man, I took off.

But hunger struck soon enough. Found a place selling hot puris. It was such a beautiful location with a stream nearby and nestled in the mountains.

The roads are very scary but they are also incredibly beautiful. There is no room for complacency and every turn can hold a surprise. I just kept hoping it was not a speeding car that would be the flying in from its wrong side.

I am not a very religious guy but I try and not miss my Friday Namaz. Its sort of something I have been habituated with and missing it always feels like a damper. I had absolutely no plans of finding a mosque on my route and was resigned to my fate.

For some reason despite the good breakfast, I started feeling quite hungry by noon. Found a very clean looking restaurant and stopped for a quick plate of noodles and coffee. They also had clean toilets and very friendly staff. After my lazy meal as I come out and just start wearing my helmet, I hear a very beautifully rendered Azaan. The Muslim call for prayer. I could scarcely believe my luck. There was a Mosque less than a 100 meters away.

Quote:
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9
Oranges were in season and I stopped to pick up a kilo of them. Nothing like the sweet fruits to give an energy boost.

I finally rolled into Pokhara at around 5:00 PM. Had taken a very relaxed ride and just enjoyed the sights all around me. I was expecting to first meet my close friend here. He had not registered for Rider Mania and was simply riding thru Nepal.

Incidentally we both reached his hotel at the exact time. This was a decent Oyo Himalayan Arizona. I had a sudden idea and booked myself into the same hotel. I simply was in no mood to go and pitch a tent in the venue.
Meanwhile my other friends also arrived and we drove down to check out the Venue.

It was a beautiful location right by the lake. But walking in the slushy mud, I realized that my decision to stay in the hotel was very smart.

I am one of those rare bikers who is a teetotaler and has no love for music. It not that I don't like music but the kind I do is something they will not play in any bikers meet.

After meeting as many of my friends as I could find, I returned home.

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Last edited by bblost : 2nd February 2020 at 23:10.
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Old 31st January 2020, 22:38   #6
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Default Pokhara

Pokhara is the second largest city in Nepal. Its also happens to be main tourist city as its a gateway to the Annapurna mountain range.

I had skipped going to Kathmandu and from all accounts it was a wise decision. My visit to Nepal was more about riding there than actually being a tourist checking the local nightlife and so on.

My friend Viju who joined me here has been a riding buddy since 2003. He was there with me on my first ride out of Hyderabad when I was a newbie RE guy. My riding has been greatly influenced by his approach to travel.

So we took off after breakfast to check some of the local places. We climbed up the Sarangkot view tower and saw the breathtaking view of the Annapurna range.
Viju plays a lot of badminton. I don't.
So he climbed up the steep steps to the summit while laughing and I died a few times.

Don't miss this when you visit Pokhara.

We then rode up an off-roading trail to Shanti Stupa. This was not the usual road but we did not know it at that time. Simply followed the google maps route and it was very thrilling. A lot of fun because my bike was right at home in this kind of terrain.

There are about 80 such peace pagoda's spread out across the globe. Nepal has two of them. With the other being in Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha.

We spent a couple of minutes just soaking in the serene calmness of this beautiful place before returning to the valley below.

I caught up with my friends at Rider Mania but my mind was already churning and looking for a new plan.

Viju and I decided to start our return ride the next day itself. With Lumbini and then Varanasi as two destinations we will visit.

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Last edited by bblost : 2nd February 2020 at 21:30.
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Old 1st February 2020, 12:40   #7
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Default Lumbini

I have always been fascinated by the life and teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama.

He was born in Lumbini, which is very close to the Nepal-India border and just a couple of hours away from Pokhara. My friend Viju on his RE Interceptor was going to ride along with me.

We left after a relaxed breakfast at the hotel. The roads toward Butwal were really bad. This allowed me to almost keep up with his significantly more powerful bike.

I had imagined Lumbini to be a large city and I was completely wrong. Its a small town and has very few hotels available. We found a pretty decent place opposite the entrance of the Maya Devi Temple Complex. After dumping our luggage at the hotel, we quickly rode over to the place.

Its spread over a very large area. Its very clean inside and there is a polite yet firm security patrol. Unfortunately some of the tourists do not appreciate the sanctity of this place. There was an Indian family who let their toddler run all over the ruins.

There is a special building that prohibits photography. Inside it and protected by a glass shield you can see the exact place where he was born. This is based on the finding of an archaeological team that did the excavations here in 2013. But some historians caution that further research is needed before it can be fully accepted.

In any case its a very beautiful place and there is no dispute on the excavated buildings being from somewhere around the 3 BCE and are supposed to have been built by the great Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Dynasty.

We sat down and watched the excavated buildings as the sun slowly set and darkness enveloped the beautiful gardens.

It was getting cold and we decided to grab some dinner. By the Lumbini bus stand there were some small family run restaurants. We had a very filling and yummy dinner.

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Last edited by bblost : 2nd February 2020 at 21:33.
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Old 1st February 2020, 12:59   #8
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Default Varanasi

The next halt was in the oldest city in India and possibly in the world itself. The historic city of Varanasi.

It was going to be a long ride and we were already very wary of the traffic and roads in Uttar Pradesh. So decided to wake up early. But it was pointless.
Not only was it cold but an extremely thick layer of fog had enveloped the hotel.

Finally by 8:30 AM, we could delay no more. Took off into the white fog.

It was freezing cold and it felt like we were riding inside a cloud. My bike has a thermometer, which is close to the engine. It usually hovers around 38C when I am riding in Hyderabad. On this stretch I glanced at it after almost an hour. It was showing 13C.

I could hold the engine and not feel anything more than a little warmth. The fog was so thick that my helmet visor was collecting thick drops of water. My clothes and baggage were getting damp.

Visibility was even more interesting. My friend was riding ten feet in front of me. I could barely make out the tail light. But life must become more fun. There were speeding vehicles coming from the opposite side.

One black Scorpio in particular came speeding right into the path of my friend and both of them braked very hard. They stopped with mere centimeters to spare.

We reached the border and made an entry at the Nepal Checkpost. Then crossed into India and showed our Driving License for proof of our citizenship.

Then after a quick tea stop, we were back on the road.
The roads in UP are crazy. There will be nothing for a couple of kilometers and then you will suddenly have this beautiful multiple lane road. But that makes it very scary as the vehicles are speeding in from every direction. No one follows any lane discipline and the concept of slowing down while approaching junctions is nonexistent.
Even the vehicles that come in the wrong direction come speeding as if they want to play a game of chicken. I know I will anyways blink first so did not even try to play this suicidal game.

The last 100-125 KMS to Varanasi are a traffic nightmare. I can't even imagine how difficult it would be to navigate this in a car. Narrow broken roads with all kinds of traffic, which was both human and bovine.

We finally reached Girija Ghar junction and stopped with no strength left to carry on.
In a distance saw a Oyo board and rode there. The parking was going to be a challenge and my friend went inside the hotel to talk with them. Never one to waste a moment when it comes to food, I made my way into a Pani Puri stall.

WOW.
I mean, it was not just good, it was mind blowing good.

The guy served some amazing pani-puri's in a leaf. When done with the puri's he filled that leaf plate with the pani puri water, some lemon juice and a spice mix.

I had two servings.
Tiredness?

What is that?

Like a dead battery getting some electrolyte, I was literally recharged and ready to go in no time.

The Oyo hotel had another branch close by and they promised to accommodate our bikes inside their lobby at night. We quickly got there, parked the bikes and unloaded the luggage.

Since there was HOT water, had a quick shower as well.

Varanasi expert Viddy asked me to check out Kashi Chat Center.
This is not a food blog. So I will simply say that if you love food, go to Varanasi.

We then hired an electric auto to get to Assi Ghat.
I was pleasantly surprised by how clean it is.

A bunch of young people were playing musical jugalbandhi.
Listening to them, while sitting on the banks of the Ganges in such a beautiful location.

Truly blessed.

This is a place full of amazing positive energy.

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Last edited by bblost : 3rd February 2020 at 14:11. Reason: typo.
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Old 1st February 2020, 20:18   #9
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Default re: Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal

The return trip to Hyderabad was via the same old route with the overnight halt in Jabalpur at the same hotel.

Not much to add except that the bike held up beautifully and my friend's RE Interceptor left it feeling grossly under powered.

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200128_085417.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200128_102941.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200128_125116.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200128_160104.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200128_160539.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200128_160743.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200128_161141.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200128_161318.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200129_105614.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200129_183949__01.jpg

Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal-img_20200129_195622.jpg

Last edited by bblost : 2nd February 2020 at 21:45.
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Old 1st February 2020, 21:02   #10
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Default Rider Notes

Riders Notes

Always on Gear:
  • Helmet.
  • Mesh only Crash Jacket.
  • Knee Guards.
  • Army Surplus Paratrooper shoes.
  • Trousers were these elastic trekking pants from Decathlon.
  • Woolen Socks : Changed every 3 days.
  • T Shirt: Changed everyday.
  • Jockey underwear: Changed everyday.
  • One piece raincoat for when it rains and it did rain one day.

In India since its warmer:
  • Team-BHP jacket inside the crash jacket.

In Nepal since its freezes you to the bones:
  • Thermal Pants and T-Shirt.
  • Swapped the gloves with Skiing gloves from Decathlon.
  • Leather Jacket inside the Crash Jacket.
  • Alternate between prayers and dirty thoughts.

Luggage:
  • Cramster Saddle Bags.
  • Trek'n'Trail Empocher.
  • A magnetic tank bag.
  • A completely waterproof bag.
  • An ordinary Adidas sports duffel bag.
  • Bungee cords to hold them in place.

Spares:
  • Rear Tube. I actually had this since I just replaced my rear tire and tube.
  • Headlight Bulbs.

Misc:
  • Hawai Chappals.
  • Two pairs of night clothes.
  • Tooth Brush and Paste.
  • Hand Sanitizer.
  • Some Bandaids.
  • A bottle of antiseptic.
  • Dried Dates. Very useful to have some backup as I am normally cranky and when hungry...
  • Shower gel.
  • A quick dry towel.
  • A microfiber towel to quickly wipe the helmet and tank.
  • I also had a pair of jeans, a nice shirt and shorts which I did not use.

I did not wash my clothes during the entire trip. To keep my clothes in decent shape, I kept dirty and clean in separate bags.
When the riding pant got very dirty, I simply removed my shoes and held my legs under a tap till the accumulated muck was washed away.

You cannot expect to maintain a very prim and proper attire.
If there is hot water, have a bath. You never know when will be the next time.
Eat fiber rich foods at night so you can have a fresh start in the morning. Never know when you will find the next clean toilet.

Last edited by bblost : 2nd February 2020 at 21:48.
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Old 2nd February 2020, 21:49   #11
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Default Epilogue

In some mountains tall I felt the voices forgotten call out to me.
They murmured my name in a way familiar and at once strange.
I reached out from beyond the fog of fear to ask if perhaps they would light my way.

But they ceased as soon as I doubted myself.
For the only one to take it forward was my own desire.

Many miles passed before they reappeared.
But a fool I was that letting go seemed harder.

For only when I had left myself behind did I truly find the path was so clear.

It was not filled with magic or blossoms.
But just bookmarks of all that is past.

We live our lives going thru the turns. Every turn bringing us back to where we started.

To laugh with careless abandon as the wind tickles my soul.
For what else is greater than to stand as a tree as the seasons travel all over.
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Old 3rd February 2020, 10:14   #12
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Default re: Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd February 2020, 16:04   #13
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Default re: Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal

Even RE's have become reliable nowadays, especially, the later batches of Himalayan. Shows in how tightly you packed and were not carrying any spares.

And yes, that Interceptor is fast, rode one and 2 of them accompanied me on a recent ride, it could easily keep up with big bikes in our road conditions.

Thanks for sharing this travelogue and your breakup of rider notes etc, it sure does help.
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Old 3rd February 2020, 16:11   #14
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Default re: Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal

Actually my old Thunderbird (2003) also worked quite well.
The only spares I carried were the spare tube and headlight bulbs.

Its another thing that it was such a basic engine that once when its clutch cable failed in office, I rode like 30 kilometers to my mechanic without using the clutch.

The only scary failure on that bike was in 2017, when I was riding solo to Chennai. The front disc brake jammed around Ongole and I had to proceed very carefully for the next 300 kms.


In my experience if someone rides a Royal Enfield like a revving bike does it start breaking apart.

Last edited by bblost : 3rd February 2020 at 16:21.
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Old 3rd February 2020, 16:31   #15
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Default re: Chalo Nepal 2020 : Bike ride from Hyderabad to Nepal

Lovely trip Immy and good to see your RE in action. We'd been to Nepal (only Kathmandu really) last year and it's a nice little place. The only thing I did not enjoy in Nepal was the food. We went with TripAdvisor ratings and were mostly disappointed.
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