I did decide to go to Ladakh at any condition. But there were a lot of issues and problems that kept following me until the final day. I would better like to enumerate them according to their gravity :
1 . Is it really possible for me to take my own bike there?
This was probably the biggest question mark i had in my mind. Would it be possible for a 97.6cc passion plus to make it? The highest motorable pass in the world? A cruiser bike is most suitable. I gave it a thought though, but getting a new bullet or so was out of question for me. Also, I thought to buy a second hand 70’s bullet which would cost not less than 25k. The repairing work to prepare the bike for such a long and hard journey would have cost me other 10k or more bucks. So…..that too went out of question. Seemed too difficult sitting here. I took opinions from loads of people but I got very strong negative response from most of them. Also I tried to contact some people who had rode in the Himalayas so that I can get the actual picture. Most of the information I had was that I got from blogs and forums of sites like bcmtouring or indiamike. But atlast I was real frustrated and my mind was not ready accept NO’s that I got. Everybody ended upto a bullet or a thunderbird.
But then I got some encouraging words from someone ‘Dude, if you really wanna ride on your passion, go on, but drive it like passion, don’t except too much from the bike’. It was Yogesh Sarkar. A known name in the field of biking. If you haven’t heard, you better need to search by the name on google rather than reading this blog, frankly. The same day I consulted my mechanic. Though he was shocked on hearing my idea, he just took a look at the bike, and then me, and then said,” Only you can drive it, go on”. Though meanwhile he reminded me, rather warned me with a big (*) which means LOTS OF CONDITIONS APPLY, I had made my mind. Let’s see what happens. I am ready to face everything.
Riding in rains is the most weird, dangerous, risky and last but the best….exciting part. But I’d say it’s better to avoid rains on the Himalayan roads. Some reasons are like:
- The vision becomes poor. The water on the helmets irritates a lot. I won’t prefer to remove helmet as the rain directly hits face at high speeds.
- In case if one is not properly insulated from rain from top to bottom, i don’t need to describe the feeling one gets when the water slowly and steadily moves in pants. If the journey is long, getting even drop wet is foolishness.
- The brakes tend to slip on the liners (my bike isn’t having disk brakes….so for those who have….. pardon) which results in poor braking.
- Grip on the road reduces ultimately reducing the speed on normal roads and especially on turns there are chances to slip at high speeds.
- The Himalayan rains are very peculiar. When it rains, it literally pours like a cloudburst for some time. And then in few minutes, you may see the sun up. But because of the rains, the streams swell up and may as strong to drown a car away with a depth of 2-3 feet.
- The clouds or fog are surrounding at heights which restrict us from a look at the beauty of the valley.
- If the road has heavy truck traffic, the truck tyres spray a shit dirty water all over you.
Certainly, except the excitement part, I was least keen to face the other conditions. Or in short I never wished to fall prey to rains at least in the Himalayas.
I would also like to mention here that, the same trip, I had planned last year. But because of the misleading information that it rains heavily in late June there really curbed my enthusiasm. I won’t discuss the name of the people here but I’ll just request them not to give misleading information if they don’t have the exact idea. Is it so hard to say that ‘Dude I don’t have much idea’ rather than giving out improper information?
Anyways, whatever might be the situation, I didn’t need to worry because my jacket itself is an excellent raincoat. Just added a lower to my stuff and I was equipped enough to face the worst rains.
3 . Who would accompany me? Can I go alone?
Apart from feasibility and rains, this was a big blunder I had to face. People lack in enthusiasm a lot. I asked number of people who I thought were capable of this tough journey. The first time they heard the idea and they were like “you just say when we should go”. Like they were ready with their backpacks on shoulders. But as time passed and month of May came closer and closer, most of them started giving reasons which were extremely foolish. I hate such people, who just boast about their deeds. When it comes to doing something, the suckers back off. I wasn’t angry that they backed off at the end but why did they give commitment at beginning. I never asked them for commitment.
There was a time when I had thought and prepared myself to go alone. And seriously, I was firm to ride alone if no one would have accompanied me. Anyways, I had one friend with me, Chinmay who’s my senior and one of the closest friends that I have in Pune. Filtering out of almost 12-13 people, we two were left at the end. But again, Chinmay’s main problem was same as mine-BIKE. Here he drove a 1988 model of Hero Honda CD100. His condition was more doubtful than mine. But I knew his bike well and trusted her. Also we got a green signal from our mechanic after he got some maintenance work done for his bike.
That’s it. We were all set to hit it. Just two of us, one with a CD100 and other with a Passion Plus.