Pune-Ladakh-Pune: 15 days: 6300Kms: Me & my Automaton got LEH’d….

Tripoto
8th Sep 2016

Pangong lake

Photo of Pune-Ladakh-Pune: 15 days: 6300Kms: Me & my Automaton got LEH’d…. by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Pune-Ladakh-Pune: 15 days: 6300Kms: Me & my Automaton got LEH’d…. 1/1 by Avijit Pradhan

Many people wonder or the common question that I was asked when I ear-marked my ride of my life with my true companion ‘Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500’ is that ‘why solo’??? ‘You don’t have any friends???’ ‘Riders generally come to Ladakh in group….How can you come alone by taking such a big risk???’ Then I had something in my mind- I had to do it solo the first time i will be getting LEH’d. No backups, me and my automaton did Kashmir(with the issues going on there), raining and freezing Zojila Pass, minimal O2 levels at Khardungla, chilling and biting cold at Changla Pass, no man lands encountered at Morey Plains, Sarchu Pass, Magnetic Hills, deserted at Nubra valley, minus temperature readings at Pangong Lake, full moon lit Baralachla Pass, an inch away from a fatal fall at Benihal, bumpy ride across Rohtang Pass and meeting new people, seeing raw beauty of mother nature and how small we are in front of nature with ice capped, colorful and instantly changing shades of the Himalayas.

After having completed my ride I still can’t believe myself that I have done it and obviously there was never a day I rode, went as I had expected. So I will suggest not to do this ride SOLO because of the hurdles I encountered. It will not be always that you get lucky and you will not face any problems. Like a minor puncture can disappoint your ride in a long way. Then there are many technical things that can upset your bike and trust me, alone, in those terrains you are helpless and what to do next is beyond imagination. I started my trip from Pune on 8th of September and back to Pune on 22nd September. I had done all my preparations in 2 days as it was a sudden plan, which I executed to my best of my capabilities. Actually the route itinerary and the required general knowledge about the places were in mind from a long time, the only thing that was pending for me was execution. It’s not that I do not ride in a group, I do have Royal friends and have done together a lot of rides. But then what I feel is, SOLO has its own charm especially in these places where I am solely responsible for every action and its reaction. I can go in my own sweet pace, stop wherever I want and take breaks according to my requirement. But when we see the other side of the coin, if there is any issue with a bike then think of the situation. So, we should know our bike well to be very specific every inch of its behaviour, maintain it well and have faith on it.

I can share with you some basic tips and tricks for my bike. When I decided to undertake this journey I had done 42,000+ kms with my bike in about 20months. Yes, I had done a lot of riding and had thrown it in every possible situations. For example I always try to keep a good level of fuel that is more than 6ltrs so as not to pressurize the fuel pump. As the tank capacity of my bike is approx. 20lts, I used to refill my tank after every 400kms. Still every time there would be about 6ltrs and an average of about 30kmpl under decent riding conditions, which I knew through my previous riding experience. Carry extra clutch and accelerator wires. In such one would be using a lot of clutch, so be specific on gear changes and have a basic practice to replace a clutch wire. The overall idea of not stressing the clutch is because it has an adverse effect on the clutch plates. The same way be easy with the throttle because to replace an accelerator wire for a Thunderbird 500, one needs to go a mechanic. But that doesn’t mean that we will not carry an extra one. Another important spare is Spark plugs. Have basic idea and practice of how to replace or clean the carbon on it and the basic tool kit required for the same. Carry extra fuses because the size of fuses used in Thunderbird 500 is not easy to get. For a break down, first step is to check the assigned fuse for a specific purpose (battery, main fuse, fuel pump, electrical etc) in the left side tool box and if it is gone, one should be able to identify that and replace with the correct ampere fuse. I do carry an extra tube set for my tyres. But in reality it’s not a single person job when there is a puncture. One need to tilt the bike towards right and simultaneously other should take the tyre out. So the best way to tackle this situation is with a pump. The moment you encounter a puncture pump air and go ahead. Repeat the same till you find a puncture repair shop. But then reaching the puncture shop doesn’t finish your job. Common thing you will hear is that there is a disk on the rear break so they cannot take it out and again install them properly. So I had practised a lot to uninstall and then install the rear break assembly if in such situation. The best thing that can happen to a rider is not to encounter a puncture and I was lucky enough to not get a single through this whole journey of 6200kms. So I prefer button tyres with good amount of grip for my beast so as to reduce the chances of puncture but in the end, we can only hope not to get a puncture. I had used Motul Fully Synthetic Oil for my journey and it’s the best as one doesn’t need to change the engine oil for about 9000kms. I addition to this carry extra engine oil for a top-up if the engine oil level drops. In the end do a proper servicing of your bike and take care of the basic things like break-pads, cone-set, front and rear bearings, chain and chain links and sprocket condition, condition of fork and swing arm should be greased properly, condition of spokes and most important of all, battery, all nuts and bolts tight and wiring should be taken care of with a bit of presence of mind all the way.

It was a last moment plan, as I got a small gap between my jobs. Initially I was thinking that season is gone and most probably I have to plan this next year. But then next year there was go guaranty will I get a free window of about 20 days to do this ride. This was the mentality I was having on 5th of September. Then did some R&D about the situation in Srinagar, climatic conditions in Ladakh and said to myself 8th it will be. Made a list and ticked off at around 9pm on 7th evening. I had planned to start early at about 4am but when I finished all my purchasing’s such as medicines, required eatables, daily necessary things for me and bike and the hilarious task of packing them all it was around 11pm and I was really tired and needed a good sleep just to calm my nerves.

Things I carried on the move:

– Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 (marine)

– Basic spares for the bike as mentioned above

– Tool Kit

– 40lts saddle bag

– 40ltrs Wildcraft Rucksack

– 20ltrs water proof Quechua bag

– 5ltrs Quechua handy bag

– 18ltrs Dirtsack tank bag

– LS2 combat Helmet(both tinted and clear glass)

– Cramster all season touring jacket(with liner)

– Cramster Twister Touring gloves

– Scoyco Summer gloves

– Scoyco knee pads

– Royal Enfield Full Riding boots

– Quechua raincoat

– Nikon d5200 dslr (18-55 mm and tamron 70-300mm lens)

– Action Camera on helmet (SJCAM 5000)

– Volt USB charger on bike

– Normal Phone and an extra one in case of emergencies

– All chargers for the above appliances

– Power Bank

– Thermal Wears( Jacket & Windcheaters)

– Woolen cap and gloves

– Sun glasses

– Extra pair of shoes and slippers

– 5-7 pairs of Undergarments, kerchiefs and socks

– 3 jeans, 2track pants, 5-7 t-shirts and shorts

– Blanket and bedsheets

– Protein bars, Biscuits, chocolates and a bit of eatables as per requirements

– Medicines particularly Diamox (for AMS), other for cold, cough, headache, dehydration, loose-motion, allergy, painkiller, first-aid box, Glucose and other basic ones.

(For me these things were more than sufficient throughout my ride).

I will be starting late, I had that in my back of my mind the moment I went for sleep at around 1:30 am. The late was due to the last moment planning that I had to execute before going into ‘My ride of Life’.

My friends gave me a lot of inspiration and last moment see off…and after that I went for sleep probably for the first time so many things were in my mind and simultaneously I had to sleep as well. Finally managed some sleep and got up at around 6:30am. 4hours of sleep was quiet Ok. One thing I want to advice all is never start a long ride without any sleep or proper rest. There is no substitute for sleep. Next was to complete the last moment packing that included the daily used items. I freshened up and by 7:30 am was all set to venture out. First kept the saddle bag and rucksack down near my bike. The instance I kept my luggage beside my bike, I got a nod from it saying ‘I am ready’. It’s a bonding that every biker has with his/her bike because I had a question for myself, as it was not just me who will be riding, it was we who will be riding together and face everything together thrown to us together. I suddenly felt more confident while I was staring my bike for about 30 secs. I went up and was geared up and carried the tank bag and a small bag to be placed over the rucksack. Gosh, I will be travelling with the maximum amount of luggage till date. To very frank the monotonous and tiring task of the day was to load your luggage every morning and then unload it where I took a halt at night. This used to take 45mins approx. and a lot of energy every day, especially after riding for about 800 kms a day and then unloading your luggage at the end of the day and then carry them to your room. But none the less I was aware and most importantly mentally prepared for all as these were the part and parcel of biking, particularly this long.

So wishing myself ‘All the very best’… Here we go………….

Day 1
Photo of Gujarat, India by Avijit Pradhan

Day 1: Pune (wakad) – Thane- Vapi- Ankleshwar- Vadodara: 550kms ???? 9:30am – 9pm)

– Excitements rolling on, prayed and started off at about 9am. As it was the first day of ride & I had started late because of the last moment packing. With the crackling thumping for 60kms I was interrupted by rain at lonavla, panvel, vapi and then just before 50kms to Vadodara I had to stop for about an hour because it was raining cats and dogs. Being fully drenched for the whole day, finally took a halt at Vadodara in a road side lodge.

Day 2: Vadodara- Ahmedabad- Udaipur- Jaipur- Khelana: 850kms ???? 7am – 8:30pm)

– Thankfully almost all things were dried up except my riding shoes. First day was bad, so target was to cover as much distance as possible. Roads were excellent and cruising at around 110kmph was not a problem. Mostly one can encounter truck traffic through this route and beware of them as they really drive rough. They will change lanes without any indication as if they are driving a car or a bike. I had a close moment while overtaking a lorry from the left and simultaneously it also took a left knowing that I was overtaking him. Finally a good day at the end considering the distance I covered. I was fully exhausted because of the dehydration and heat in this part of India. Again stayed in a lodge beside the highway leading me to Haryana. Thankfully it had a cooler facility that eased me a lot and helped me to get a decent amount of sleep.

Day 3: Khelana- Neerana- Rohtak- Kurukshehtra- Ludhiana- Jalandhar- Batala- Pathankot: 730kms ???? 6:30am – 8:30pm)

– Woke up with the only target to cover as much distance as possible. I had a good sleep and started early at about 6:30am. Again the roads were superb and the only difficulty was going through Rohtak town during the peak time in the morning at about 10:30am. The moment one enters Punjab, the roads are just superb. Proper markings and indications and with very minimal traffic. Again it was the dehydration that took a toll me and about 3pm I could really feel the heat. I had to stop for more often for liquids. My target was to reach Jammu that day. But I missed a turn towards pathankot after Jalandhar and went ahead towards Amritsar. I realized after a while then had to do an extra 80 kms through Batala and finally to Pathankot. I was tired and the state highways after evenings were bit secluded in the region. Took halt in one of the many Maa Vaishno Dhaba one can find in this region as mostly people take rest and start next day for Vaishno Debi’s darshan. Facility one can find here are minimal. Just a nice sleep what I was expecting considering the amount of rest my body needed. When I called my friends about my stay at Pathankot, they warned me considering the situation that was prevailing in Srinagar and what happened in Pathankot.

– (I have not elaborated my ride through the highways this may bore you all a bit. So instead just briefed about my situation and condition. It is not that the highway rides are easy. Going on and on, in Highways can actually take a toll you and can make us feel lazy. So I try to entertain myself by listing to songs or singing them out load, try a bit of stretching while on the go and at last when all these tricks fail, I take a break.)

Day 4
Photo of Patnitop by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Dal Lake by Avijit Pradhan

Day 4: Pathankot- Udhampur- Patnitop- Banihal- Srinagar- Sonamarg: 480kms ???? 7am- 8:30pm)

– Got up early and was ready by 6:30 am. The only thing that was going in my mind was the situation in Srinagar and how will I cross the place that too alone. Though my friends had suggested me not to take the main route but then whom to seek help for the other route. So I started early to cover the distance in day light. I started, entered Jammu and then after 40kms I realized that I had forgot to carry my original DL from the dhaba boy who was supposedly to give me the same after having a copy of it, the previous night. I knew I will need the original DL though I had many Xerox copies. Went back to the dhaba and restored it. Extra riding for about 80kms and most importantly wasted more than an hour. Back to riding mode and target was set for Udhampur. Man, the roads you encounter till Udhampur is clear example how engineering has advanced and the result is such roads at these places. This has to be one of those roads in India ‘Best roads one should travel in India’. Welcomed by well laid tarmac, twisty and curvy roads, also a few tunnels in the way made me forget about my ‘SubhArambh’. One can see a Royal Enfield showroom at udhampur to the right of the road. Undoubtedly the best location for a showroom in the middle of nowhere surround by blanket of greenery and the soothing chilliness in the air. My ride had a regular check-up. Everything was fine as usual and then proceeded towards Patnitop. I could feel the climb due the change in altitude through the forests and the straight pine trees. At about 11:30am I reached at the top of Patnitop. 90kms more for Banihal and then Srinagar and Sonamarg was well within my reach, I said to myself. The starting 20kms in when I realized that road conditions were detoriating and in most places no roads. To my left was Chenab River, flaunting its rich blue water, one mistake and you will be going deep down. And to my right was oncoming traffic, mostly goods and army trucks. I was telling myself, gone are the good roads and these are the roads I always wanted to be, battling my way out alone. Moved ahead with full concentration and at an average speed. The day I arrived there, the previous two days was a curfew in Srinagar. It took me about 4 and half hours to cover these 60kms. It was a full stop traffic of Lorries, personal vehicles, rented cabs, army trucks and not a single biker except me, for miles. Such was the traffic that I had to manage my way out between two trucks and then there were situations, I had to go beside the trucks from left and the path was just sufficient enough for my bike and not even an inch for my left foot for support. I somehow managed my way out with front brakes only, right foot down and a bit of misbalance, there was the deep valley of Chenab river to my left. Then I went ahead and crossed the famous Jawahar tunnel at about 4:30 pm. The situation was really bad and it was evident from the amount of Jawans and Policemen stationed at about every 15-20mtrs.Almost all shops and even the petrol pumps were closed. Only a few people were seen on roads and the other side of the road was guarded by the Army personnel’s. I had a conversation with one of the army personnel and understood how much they endure in such situations. A salute to ‘INDIAN ARMY’. He consolidated me saying that the situation is under control, we are there everywhere and at the same time he added that it would have been better if I hadn’t come there in such situations. I stopped for nothing as it was about 6pm and it was getting dark. I crossed the famous Dal Lake and then the exit towards Sonamarg. Before the exit for Sonamarg, I was accompanied by a local as he was curious about my ride and then at the exit, I could witness 4-5 people with masks and fully covered face with only eyes visible stopping the passing by. I was scared to hell seeing this sight. This was something I had heard of but had never faced. We took a U turn and this guy suggested me another route that was between the villages. I followed him and after about 5km I could see 50kms to Sonamarg towards right. Here the situation was worst; same were the appearance of them. There were two cars with windows smashed and there were broken glass pieces all over the road. They had burnt down 3 tyres and had stopped every tourist vehicles. This guy suggested me I should race ahead without having a second thought else I will be in trouble and on the top of it I was a solo biker. I gave a thought for a second, the road was not broad enough and there was oncoming traffic in it with broken glass pieces all over the road. Went ahead slowly till the first car, the moment they were about to stop me, engaged the 2nd gear and opened the throttle. Crossed them and I could hear them swearing from the back to catch me. They also threw some stones at me but luckily none was on target. My heart was beating very fast and then I could see the black clouds over me. There was sudden drop in temperature as it started raining. Then the mighty terrains started, it was already dark, it was raining and I could feel the cold. I encountered few villages on my way but the situation was same as none of the shops were opened and not a single person on road. Visibility was poor and speed was also around 50kmph. I quietly followed a Maruti Alto to get the idea of the road. The temperature had dropped drastically, it was freezing cold and on the top of it, it was raining. The only thought in my mind was to reach Sonamarg and to cover this distance as soon as possible. I thought of stopping and taking out my jacket liner but to be very frank I didn’t had courage to stop for a while and take out my liner from my saddle bag nor had a thought of capturing a video of the roads. The first hotel in Sonamarg was my only target. After a deadly hour of ride and with God’s grace I was in Sonamarg. I felt quiet relieved after seeing some bikers near a hotel. I stopped there, packed my food and took a room. The moment I reached my room, I got the feeling, I am saved and I am alive. Had the first proper meal of the day, called my friends and narrated them the whole incident. Coming from Western part of the country, I was feeling the sudden dip in temperature. Went inside my blanket, as I was about to sleep, thanked the guy who showed me the way out in that situation and then thanked god for keeping an eye on me.

Photo of Pune-Ladakh-Pune: 15 days: 6300Kms: Me & my Automaton got LEH’d…. by Avijit Pradhan
Day 5
Photo of Sonamarg by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Zojila Pass by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Zojila Pass by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Zojila Pass by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Zojila Pass by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Zojila Pass by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Zojila Pass by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Dras by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil War Memorial, Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Kargil by Avijit Pradhan

Day 5: Sonamarg- Dras- Kargil- Lamayuru- Leh: 350kms (9am- 8:30pm)

– After many days had a sleep of about 8 hours, got up at around 8am thinking of the previous run for life experiences. Got off on my bed near the window and had a look on my companion parked below. Then the moment I looked round, what my eyes saw was the beauty of nature. It was still drizzling, clouds crossing the mountains and from the window across the road I could see the Sind River flow. Though it was cold, I dared & opened the window and stood near the window for about 10 minutes just admiring the nature. Then the toughest part till I had reached manali, was taking a shower in such conditions. Expect the portion of the bed I slept, everything else was freezing. I was ready by 9am and went down to my bike with all the luggage. My target was to reach Leh. As I was starting, it was still drizzling and then the hotel owner came to me to have a talk. He suggested me not to go ahead as it was raining because what lied ahead was the mighty Zojila Pass. The roads will be in worst condition, also the risk of landslides was high and keeping aside everything else, I was solo. I went ahead as per my plans in the rains but this time with the liner of the jacket. The blue and white water of Sind river along the road, mountains till the eye could see and clouds surrounding them, combined with my bike thumping were the factors that lead me to the first sight of ice capped mountains in my trip. I could encounter a few bikers for a first time after 4 days with a ‘Thumps Up’ gesture and respecting the Biking Brotherhood, something untold that we share together. The man’s word were true and the roads, actually there was no road and only slush and rocks. It was difficult to give your 100% because of the cold and ice surrounding me in such road conditions. The grip was minimal though I had off-road tyres and the common phenomenon of these Ghats, in the left was the deep valley waiting for me if in case I had a fall and no one will ever come to know about it. The moment I reached the top, I was seeing the best scenery of my life. The clouds were fading away and I was able to see the sun. I was never so happy seeing the sun till that day. As I got down and proceeded for Drass ‘World’s second coldest inhabitant place on Earth’ I stopped for the first security check. The first thing the Japan asked me is, Saabji , bahut thandi lag rahi hai na??’. To which I asked ‘Abhi kitna temperature hoga??’ ‘Saabji, 0 to pakka hai, -2 ya -1 hoga’. After his words, suddenly I started to feel more chilled. Next was Dras, a small and yet very beautiful place with few homes having local inhabitants. Another strange thing that I noticed is that one can find many abandoned horses and donkeys grazing over the lush green fields. Next was the Kargil War Memorial in Dras which for me is a must visit place in this trip. Another misconception that people generally have is that the Kargil war in 1999 was fought in Kargil but the fact is that it was fought at Dras. The moment I stepped inside the memorial, I never felt so Indian before and after the exit, I was proud that I am an Indian.The Tricolour was waving proudly, flaunting its patriotism with a clear blue sky as its background. One can clearly see the famous Tiger hill and the Three Pimples, where the war took place. There is also another chamber type’s room where one can educate himself with the remains from the war front. After an hour or so, I marched out and proceeded with my journey. Actually, what I gained inside cannot be described in words. One has to go there and feel it. The road from Dras to Kargil is another bliss to ride on. I knew that I will be finding good roads till Leh, so was enjoying the road. Then passed through kargil which is second largest town in Ladakh region after Leh. One should not miss the view of the whole town after crossing kargil, from the top. Proceeded forward and then I witnessed the moon lands of Lamayuru and the Alchi Monastery. It was already dark when I was at the famous Magnetic Hill, so couldn’t test the phenomenon nor I could take any snaps. At about 8pm, I entered Leh. The moment you enter Leh, there is this huge army camp that you have to cross through before going to the city. At about 8:30 finally I was in Leh at a hotel near Sanchi Stupa. Unloaded all the luggage and then a thought came by, a sense of achievement and finally I was at Leh.

Day 6
Photo of Leh by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Khardung La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Khardung La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Khardung La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Khardung La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Khardung La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Khardung La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Khardung La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Khardung La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Khardung La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Hunder Sand Dunes by Avijit Pradhan

Day 6: Leh- Khardungla- Nubra Valley- Hunder: 140kms (10am- 6pm)

– I was darn tired. But at the same time I was relieved as I was in Leh. Officially I can now put the religious ‘Prayer Flag’ in my bike. I took a hotel near Sanchi stupa there and to my surprise the Hotel was very nice. It was basically a home stay and the family stayed in adjacent house and these rooms were for rent purpose. Yesterday’s it was already dark so just had dinner and went to sleep at around 10 pm. Got up early at around 7 am with the only purpose in mind to travel to the ‘Highest Motorable Road in World ‘at 18380 feet’s. Talked with the owner about the road condition and the weather condition as it was already very chilly in Leh. In return what I got to know is harsh weather and manageable road conditions for the next 3-4 days of my trip. Got ready and headed for the might Khardung- La. One needs to be very careful in these areas as there are no petrol pumps and extra petrol is required. Because of the altitude and road conditions one should not go by the normal mileage of the bike. The starting phase of the roads till about 10-15kms one will encounter well tarmac road but at the same time be very careful at the left end as there are no protection and in addition there is good amount of traffic of the four wheelers and other riders. Body was definitely feeling the altitude from my long breaths and tiredness. Soon there started no roads as we come closed to the pass. The road condition further detoriated as we move up. Here is the condition of less oxygen, with snow along the road and the sun shining brightly over us at the same time. It was definitely very cold and the roads were also slippery because of the ice. Just before entering the pass, there is small passage with huge rocks on both sides with prayer flags tied over it to give an enthusiastic welcome. The moment I reached the top, I felt as if I had conquer something which I will cherish for all my life long. Took some pics of the surroundings and requested a guy to take a pic of mine with the board stating the ‘Highest Motorable Road in the World’ at 18380 feet’s. There is a board stating that staying here for more than 20-25 minutes can be harmful to health. After a glance at it I sat on one the ice filled mountains and felt some ice and at the same time captured the entire area from every possible angle. Suddenly I noticed the time and I was there for about 35 minutes and I was literally started to feel dizziness. I started the bike and due to the minimal oxygen levels the RPM meter was at a less idling condition compared to normal conditions. Then I started descending down. The roads were bad, snow filled mountains to my left and to my right the curvy road of about 25kms to get down to North Pullu. I must admit that these 25kms are till date the toughest one as the AMS had taken a toll on me. I was hungry and due to the lack oxygen the mind was not working. The scenery around me was so beautiful but I was seeing a bit hazy. I was feeling suffocated and the same time the temperature was less than 0. I dared and opened the helmet visor as well as the zip of the jacket for some fresh air. After this also I was feeling very uncomfortable and my numb hands and mind were not in sync. I just wanted to get down as early as possible. I was not engaged in changing gears and was moving in 2nd gear whatever may the road condition be. I moved along the extreme left of the road very slowly for about an hour and reached ‘North Pullu’. And Finally I thought that I will feel good as I was bit down. I ordered some fried rice, had some chocolates and then had medicine. But the medicine will not have an immediate effect. I rested for about an hour before heading for Nubra Valley. The roads towards Nubra valley is a pure bliss. The road condition is maintained in most of the places except a few abandoned places and so are the road conditions. One should not be carried away seeing the straight tarmac because in between you will encounter few patches with no roads and they really come suddenly. The terrain out there is totally barren. Surrounded by brown grey mountains and sand. I enjoyed the double hump camel ride found there which are said to be rare as they are found in Pakistan. As soon as the sunsets down, the clear sky filled with stars is something worth noticing. I was very tired and rested for the night at one of the many tents found there. The night was freezing cold and the toughest thing was the encounter with water for daily habits. Though I could get a half bucket of hot water on request and did the basic things. I had a good sleep as I was very tired and was feeling very fresh. Had breakfast and next thing on my cards was the 3 idiots’ lake ‘Pangong Tso Lake’?

Photo of Pune-Ladakh-Pune: 15 days: 6300Kms: Me & my Automaton got LEH’d…. by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Pune-Ladakh-Pune: 15 days: 6300Kms: Me & my Automaton got LEH’d…. by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Pune-Ladakh-Pune: 15 days: 6300Kms: Me & my Automaton got LEH’d…. by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Pune-Ladakh-Pune: 15 days: 6300Kms: Me & my Automaton got LEH’d…. by Avijit Pradhan
Day 7
Photo of Pangong Lake by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Pangong Lake by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Pangong Lake by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Pangong Lake by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Pangong Lake by Avijit Pradhan

Day 7: Hunder- Pangong Tso: 200kms (8am- 6:30pm):

– Had breakfast, loaded all my stuff and was ready to go. I encountered another interesting ride through the sand dunes. It was the ATV vehicles which were rented out there. One can have a nice experience with them in the sand dunes. After all the fun I was heading straight to Pangong. The roads at some places were not at all existing. I had to carve my way out through water and rocks and that was interesting. But just before pangong some portion of the road was newly laid and at last I could twist the throttle. The first view of the lake and I was more eager to go close enough and enjoy to the most. But then suddenly I could encounter few black clouds and riders encountered from opposite directions seemed wet. There was a sudden drop of temperature. It was chilly and I was only hoping that it should not rain. With a bit of rain such were the climatic change that my fingers were totally numb and to add to it the wind speed was such that one has fight with it to move forward. It was about 5 in the evening, the weather was too cold for me, the sky was divided with blue and black clouds, under the black clouds were the brown mountains and in front of me was a lake with a hue of blue. The combination was something I can sit and watch it for hours. The first thing I encountered when I parked my bike was the Rancho Café. I enjoyed the view for few minutes and then rode down to the lake. Because of the chilly wind I was having a tough time fighting cold out there. But then, this what I needed and had to bear it. I clicked the moon settling down behind the mountains and the water was dazzling with its reflection. To call it a day, I had to find a room bit ahead as there were very few options at this point. Staying options are more at the second view point of the lake. Riding ahead was very tuff in the cold but I managed my way and found a room. The rooms here are made at an elevation and the first thing one sees after waking up is the sunrise from behind the mountain and the clear and clean water to compliment it. Dinner was provided in the dining room of the hotel. Though it was unbearable cold still I stood for some time gazing the stars over me. I called the chilling day off at about 11 pm.

Day 8
Photo of Thikse Monastery, Thiksey by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Thikse Monastery, Thiksey by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Thikse Monastery, Thiksey by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Thikse Monastery, Thiksey by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Thikse Monastery, Thiksey by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Thikse Monastery, Thiksey by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Thikse Monastery, Thiksey by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Thikse Monastery, Thiksey by Avijit Pradhan

Day 8: Pangong Tso- Changla Pass- Leh: 180kms (9am- 6pm)

It was tough next morning to get out of the blanket and proceed with the daily routine. But then there was ‘sunrise’ which made jump out of my bed. What I witnessed was speechless. One has to be there to see the sunrise. It was the best sunrise I had seen till date. I have taken videos and pictures of the sunrise doing just a bit justice to it and as a memory for me. Next was freshening up with the cold water. I was ready, lubed my bike’s chain and was ready to go to the lake again. I enjoyed my ride along the shores of the Pangong. I spent some quiet time near the shore and just enjoyed the moment. Captured some final shots of the place from every possible angle and decided to proceed further to Changla pass with different shades of alluring Pangong Lake in mind. Next was the Thiskey Monastery before Changla pass. From a distant only one can see the huge statue of Buddha. Parked down the bike and then I climbed up to see it more closely from inside. Peace was in the serenity and I could feel it. Went through some of the preaching’s of Buddhism, prayed for some best wishes and enjoyed the view from the top and finally heading for the Mighty Changla. Actually while in the monastery I met a group of ladies of 6, who must have been in there 40’s and were on a road trip. They were from Mumbai and were glad to know me when I said them that I was riding from Pune. They warned me of the biting cold at Changla that they had encountered. I actually underestimated their advice as I had been to Khardungla. Though Changla pass is at a less height than Khardungla and is the 3rd highest pass, but the cold here is biting one. The roads were wet and slippery. Except the road, surrounding mountains were covered with ice and gradually at the bottom were patches of brown and white. Snow was in plenty here. I opened the helmet and within seconds my eyelids, nostrils were covered with tiny bits of ice. The cold here was something I had underestimated. So before it could get me I clicked few pictures and was ready to get down. After descending a few kilometres I could finally feel my fingers. After that the roads were good till Leh. It was around 6pm I reached Leh and went to the same hotel where I had checked in previously. Again there was this satisfaction having encountered these places which I had accomplished after riding continuously for 8 days. Though it was 2-3 degrees C at night, the weather at Leh now was quiet manageable having spent some time in the harshest conditions that I will ever encounter.

Photo of Chang La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Chang La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Chang La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Chang La by Avijit Pradhan

Day 9: Leh (Sanchi Stupa, Kumbh Mela of Himalayas): 50kms (full day)

This day was an easy and refreshing day, having sightseeing around Leh. First of all I got freshened up and had fresh apples from the trees as breakfast. Next thing was the bike wash. Then I headed to the famous Sanchi Stupa which was just beside my hotel. I tried to calm my mind by doing some meditation at Sanchi Stupa. I was just enquiring with my hotel owner about the places that I can visit and to my surprise he came up with something ‘Kumbh Mela of Himalayas’. I certainly had heard Kumbh Mela but, in Himalayas is something new and interesting. It was a must visit for me as it occurs in every 12 years. So he suggested me to visit the place in the evening as during the morning time there will be some prayers and offering to god and at the evening there were some cultural events and ‘KK the Musician’ was to come. So after Sanchi Stupa, I went to Shey Monastery, Leh Palace, ‘3 idiots’ school and few places around before evening before going to the ‘Kumbh Mela of Himalayas’. They had a large gate written ‘Kumbh Mela of Himalayas’ at the entrance. The moment I entered one thing that I noticed is that how organised the crowd was. The count was large but all were being seated and enjoying it with a calmness. There was absolutely no sense of urgency running through the crowd. And the event of KK was scheduled at 8pm and it started exactly at the same time. Generally these kinds of events are never on time but in Leh it’s something different. The moment he started singing the crowd came in flow and at the same time I also started enjoying. I clicked some pictures around and headed back to hotel at about 11pm humming few lyrics. I still wanted to be around for few more days, the moment I realized that it was last night in Leh and I have to start my last stretch of ride in Himalayas i.e. to Manali. It was already late before going to bed and I had planned of starting at around 7am. This stretch was not something I was confident with as I had not done a deep analysis of the road ahead.

Day 10
Photo of Taglang La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Taglang La by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Gata Loops by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Gata Loops by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Moray Plain by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Moray Plain by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Moray Plain by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Moray Plain by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Tanglang La by Avijit Pradhan

Day 10: Leh- Debring- Pang- Sarchu- Baralachla Pass- Darcha- Zing Zing Bar- Jispa: 350kms (10:30am – 9pm)

This day of ride is something I will remember for a long time to come. It’s not about the distance and tiredness, but my lack of terrain knowledge especially when I was at the top of Baralachla Pass at about 8pm in evening. Initially I was to start at about 7.30 am in the morning but I felt asleep and woke up at about 10am. Luckily I had done my packing the previous night except the daily stuffs. Loaded all the stuff and was ready to go by 10.30 am. Now the only thing was to fill my tank. One thing that a rider should keep in mind is that while doing this Leh-Manali ride we should fill petrol in Leh as there are no petrol till next 365kms. Accordingly we should carry petrol cans so that we can reach the next petrol pump. As I was having a 20lts tank so I was pretty sure that I will not need any extra petrol cans. I knew I was late and the only thing in mind was to cover as much distance as possible. I was riding continuously with less breaks except the necessary ones. The road conditions were good at the starting which was a bit of moral boost as I can open the throttle. Next was the second highest pass ‘Taglangla Pass’ at about 17,582 ft. The roads to this pass are nice and one will enjoy the climb to the pass. But again there is a gradual drop in temperature while climbing up. When I reached the top, I was the only one in the area. The sun was shining bright, blue sky, mountains capped with snow and simultaneously it was windy and chilly.All I did was cherished the moment for few moments. The view from the top made me forget of the climate and I started capturing the scenery. After a while I rode down and next was ‘Morey Plains’. To do the icing on cake, the roads at Morey Plains were a pure bliss. But blazing past the road was not something I wanted. So stopped for a few shots and headed off-road to the mountains surrounding the road. It was fun off-roading in the mountains but I was soon on track to avoid punctures and then was winding through the hair-pin shaped turns known as ‘Gata Loops’. There are about 21 loops covering a distance of 7kms with river on the right. Then the next destination was Pang which is basically a military base. It was about evening 6 and the sun was about to set. After Pang, the road to Sarchu is in a very bad condition. Generally it’s dusty and jerky if you have to follow a 4 wheeler or a truck. The sun, dust and no roads made this stretch a bit challenge. But I was not aware of the challenges ahead. I found 2-3 small river crossings till Sarchu. I was very careful while crossing them as I could not afford falling down in such cold water. It was around 6 pm when I did the entry at one of the check post there. The sun was about to set but it was not completely dark. Then I enquired about the road conditions ahead. The jawans at the check post suggested me to call it a day off at one of the tents at Sarchu. Because ahead the road conditions were very bad and the darkness, temperature drop after evening with small river crossing were definitely not going to help me. But something came in my mind to proceed further and not to stay in Sarchu. The only thing that I asked them is if I will encounter any kind of robbery or so in the way. To which they responded that there will be no as such robbery but the only thing is that the place will become more remote as I climb up gradually and because of the road conditions if there is a puncture or even a fall then then are least chances of finding any help. Without having a second thought I proceeded. The golden orange peaks of the brown mountains because of the sunset made me stop and enjoy the sunset. The picturesque was such that even the DSLR was not able to do a justice with it. With a blue river to my right and not much human beings in my sight, I cruised ahead. It was literally dark when I was at the base of Baralachla. The road at a first glance made me think of the suggestions I had got at Sarchu. But turning back was not an option there. With the extra white lights ON, the visibility of the roads had improved. Big and sharp rocks, loose soil, bumpy roads and dark valley to my left made me ride very cautiously. I was concentrating the most. I was warned about the road conditions but the roads were totally nonexistence at night. To add to it I had to cross 2-3 river crossings during the dark. Though I managed to cross them without a fall but my boots and pants were wet as I had to keep my legs down while crossing them. The temperatures were decreasing and my climb proceeded. Being a full day, the moon was huge and shining bright at the top. The road conditions had improved once I was close to the top. But the catch here while riding was to be very easy on the curves and not to go by the road conditions. One curve missed here and no one ever will come to know about me. The only thing that was in my mind was to cross this stretch as soon as possible and with at most caution without any stops. The moment I reached the top I was feeling that my bag pack was bit sliding to the right. So I thought of stopping and adjusting it. I stopped and adjusted the bag. Then out of curiosity I stood and just had a look around me. I was taken back by the surrounding. Big full moon and its reflection on the ice capped mountains surrounding me all round. There were thousands of stars twinkling and it was definitely cold. I could not see a single soul to the limit of my eyes in the moonlight. The surrounding was definitely worth looking at but being the only one in my sight amidst of the snowy mountains made the fear creep in me. Now I jumped on to my bike and was desperate to get down. I was relieved when I finally found some people to interact with at Darcha and Zing Zing Bar. I asked them for a better options to stay. As options were limited there so I was suggested to head for Jispa which was about 7kms ahead. I was appreciated by the locals whom I met when described them what I saw at the top. I proceeded further and found a decent hotel at Jispa at about 9pm. I had surely conquered my fear in me the moment I reached my room. The only thing that was in my mind while sleep was the moment at the top of Baralachla. The scenario till date is also very fresh in my memory as I don’t have any snapshot of it.

Day 11
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan

Day 11: Jispa- Rohtang Pass- Manali: 140kms ???? 8am – 2:30pm)

I was up early and was ready to cover the last stretch of my ride to Manali. Last stretch doesn’t mean that I have not ridden back to Pune it is just that I will be covering the famous route that for me started from Pathankot on Day4 and on Day 11 I will be in Manali. Except this route others were majorly highway roads. I was excited and was feeling confident enough due to previous day ride. I had realized the mistake of not starting early though the end was acceptable. Done with breakfast and was ready to go. I gave a salute to my companion for being with me at the most difficult times in the past few days and now I was pretty sure that I will be covering the remaining stretch without any hustle. Morning was pleasant and bit chilly. The weather was nice to ride and I continued my journey towards Rohtang Pass. Soon I was at Keylong and the roads were nice black newly laid tarmac. I was enjoying the view surrounding me. Though the temperatures were not as low as Leh but one can easily find ice capped mountains throughout this route. There were nice curvy roads that allowed me to have a bit of fun though. I stopped at many places to capture the scenic beauty as it will be my last day riding through the hills and I wanted to have it all. It was around 12-12.30 I was at a place Khoksar where I had to stop for entering my details. I then decided to have my lunch there at a road side dhaba. After enquiring few people I was suggested to have mutton at a dhaba there. Being fond of Mutton I headed straight to the dhaba and ordered a plate of rice and mutton. Between all these excitements I had actually dropped my bike keys somewhere nearby and I was not having a clue of it. I enjoyed one of the best mutton and was satisfied with the sumptuous meal after a long time. Next when I started to leave I was shocked not to find my bike keys. I started looking here and there and trailed back to the places I had been to. Starting from the parking of my bike to the booth, I went for entry and back till the dhaba, I searched it everywhere for about 15 minutes. Finally I didn’t find it and headed to my bike for the spare keys which was inside my tank bag on the bike. I was just about to start the bike as the neighbor shopkeeper came to me asking if I was having my keys or not, as a guy had found a key. I was relieved to see my key and asked how he found it. The shopkeeper said he found it nearby and had asked many other RE riders as RE was written on its keys but all of them had denied. I was happy for having my key back and was overwhelmed with the humanity. My mood was up and I was ready to conquer my last pass ‘Rohtang Pass’. The initial route was good but after 4-5kms it started deteriorating as I climbed up. Further up and road was bumpy and technically there were no roads. Thankfully I didn’t encounter mud and slush which make the roads even worse as the weather was clear and there was no rains from past few days. Finally I was at top of Rohtang Pass. Many tourists were there to enjoy the scene from the top and I was just busy capturing moments. On the way I found many bikers who were heading to Leh as were coming from opposite direction. I had a chance to speak to a group who were about 9-10 peoples on their RE’s. They enquired about my ride and also the road ahead till Leh. Then started the descent to Manali. The roads had improved but being a single lane and a lot of vechiles, I was very careful and the same time very excited to cover the last stretch of Hill rides. The road being a descending one, I was using brakes more often which leads to overheating of the breakpads. Then was my first crash though not a major one. There was an army truck in front me and I was waiting for it to go ahead. All were all waiting for the other side of the road to get cleared. Truck moved ahead and I also gave a throttle, the moment I engaged 2nd gear, the truck applied a sudden break and came to halt. I also applied brakes but my rear brake pads were already hot and it failed. I tried controlling with front but it was late. I crashed the grill of the army truck from behind and my headlight assembly was gone and also the left auxiliary white light was broken. I was at maximum 30-40 kmph when I tried braking so I thought the truck driver didn’t even realize that someone has banged the truck. I had a look at the condition of my bike and continued riding to avoid any situation at the middle of traffic. I was just 7kms away from Manali. The moment I reached Manali I had a proper look at headlight and the headlight was pointing up. The focus was up and the assembly was damaged. I was definitely sad but then there was a simultaneous joy of reaching Manali. I just made up mind that in such long journies there will be few here and there’s and this is part of ride. I cheered up myself, my plan being to see a few spots in Manali, I started venturing the place. It was about 2.30 and being a small place, few spots can be covered. I went to the famous Hidimba Temple and some more temples and few spots. As the sun was setting down I started to look for a place to stay. Then I took a hotel near bus stand. It was cheap obviously because I got a family size room for Rs800 all to myself. The owner himself being a rider was amused by my ride. He also gave me a proposal of riding with them to Spiti Valley, as they were to start the next day. I showed him the condition of my headlight and also accompanying him again to Spiti without any rest will be tuff. I wished him luck and went to my room. I changed my clothes and had a shower. Probably after a week I was having a proper bath. The temperature at Manali was pleasant as compared to Ladakh. Then I went for a stroll to market, bought some dinner and slept like a log.

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan

Day 12: First rest day in Manali:

I woke up after having a sleep of about 10 hours. Today I was not having any distance to cover. The only thing that I had to do is to fix the headlight assembly and just here and there in Manali. I had enquired about few places like Manikaran and a few places nearby but choose to eat and sleep. Freshened up at about 10am and started my bike. Searched for few shops who could fix that and finally I found one who did some jugaad so that I can continue my ride. I also did a regular check-up of the bike like the engine oil levels and other tit and bits. Everything was fine to continue my ride back to Pune. One thing that is very common in Manali is Royal Enfield’s. There are many shops who rent and arrange trips to leh, spiti and other nearby places. Then I took my bike for a wash. It was noon and had packed my lunch from a famous dhaba in Old Manali. Had lunch and slept again till evening. The evening I spent strolling in the Mall road, shopping and eating. Then I took the bike to petrol pump to fill it so that I can start early the next day without wasting any time. I was feeling fresh at evening because of the extra sleep. Though I tried sleeping early but I finally got some sleep at about 1am and decided to start lazily the next day.

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Avijit Pradhan

Day 13: Manali- Ambala: 350kms ???? 9:30am- 8:30pm)

Technically today was to be the day for the start of my ride back to Pune. Somewhere in my mind I was liking the place here away from the busy of metro life. Should I go ahead and cover Spiti? Was something, I was thinking. But then Spiti also requires some more preparation specially the routes and all. Above all I had to let my near and dear ones that I am proceeding ahead to Spiti and it would have been a strict no. Somehow I consoled myself to start back to Pune. I lazed out of the bed at about 8am and was feeling should sleep more. But had to wake up and proceed with the daily stuff. I was ready to start from Manali at about 9am. Traffic had already begun and moved cautiously. I was not sure of the roads ahead and was following the google maps for the next place. I purchased some really fresh apples for my journey which was my basically anytime hunger diet. Soon I encountered ghat roads with oncoming traffic. But I was unaware of the fact that these roads will be all for about next 300kms. My proceedings was also interrupted as my headlight bulb got fused in between. But I was lucky enough to find one garage ahead and I replaced the bulb. As lights were mandatory once sun starts setting down. I generally enjoy ghats but this time I was just hoping of finishing this stretch as soon as possible. I stopped at about 4 pm for some coffee and snacks at a road side hotel. I inquired the guys there and they said that still I had to cover about 70kms of the ghat roads. It was just before Ambala, when my auxiliary white lights stopped working (the extra white lights). I knew that continuing with the stock lights after dark was a risky proposition and I have to repair it anyway. Though I proceeded with the stock light and being on a state highway which was a single lane, going was tough because of the high beams of heavy vehicles from the opposite. So I decided to stop and find a solution to this. After asking few people, I could find an Enfield garage. I went straight to him and he agreed to help me. He said to me that the problem was with the relay of the auxiliary lights. But he was not having it and then we tried finding one in the nearby electrician shops but couldn’t find the exact one. Then he suggested me another idea, to short the connection and the light will be ON whenever the bike is started. Initially I was not agreeing to it as it would pressurize the battery but then I needed the extra lights to drive after sunset and my battery was fairly new. But next what happened was, my main fuse was blown away as soon I started my bike with lights ON. As the main fuse was gone, my bike was completely dead. Thankfully I had spare fuse as the mechanic was not having fuse for my bike. I decided to replace the fuse and proceed ahead with stock lights and will try to change the relay somewhere next day. So after about an hour at the garage I proceeded ahead to find a hotel for the night. I found one on the highway with safe parking option. Though the hotel was empty, I was charged about Rs900 and the room condition was pathetic. As fields were surrounding the back of the hotel, there were a lot of insects if I switched ON the lights. The room was not at all ventilated and it was non AC. Tried sleeping with the open window by putting OFF all the lights,but the insects kept falling on me as I was not using the blanket as it was very hot and humid.I had to close the window finally. I somehow managed some sleep and was looking forward to the next day.

Day 14
Photo of Bhilwara, Rajasthan, India by Avijit Pradhan
Photo of Bhilwara, Rajasthan, India by Avijit Pradhan

Day 14: Ambala- Bhilwara: 750kms ???? 7am- 9pm)

I was not content with myself with the distance done the previous day and also with the sleep. So I wanted to cover as much as possible and even had plans for riding through out the night provided I find a new relay for the extra lights. After talking to my friends I found out that it’s been raining in Pune and also Mumbai. I understood that even the return journey will not be an easy one. So I decided to go through MP and then enter Maharashtra with a hope of getting less rains on the way avoiding Gujarat. I was already feeling the heat at about 10 am in the morning and at about lunch I will be in Rajasthan. At Rohtak, I stopped for water and there were many shops like small dhabas, mechanic shops and small electrical shops. I fancied my chances of finding a new relay here. Finally after going to 5-6 shops I finally found the shop with the relay. The shopkeeper replaced it and now the lights were perfectly fine. Waiting for about an hour in my riding jacket under the sun,for the relay was tiring and I was dehydrated a lot as there was no shade nearby. But I was happy that lights are fine and could make a good distance if I travel through the night. I proceeded ahead and decided to have lunch a bit late. The afternoons in Rajasthan was tough and I was dehydrating fast with heat. I rode till about 4pm and for the past 4 hours the heat was directly at me. I was exhausted and drained completely. I decided to have something to eat and drink and rest for some time. I found myself a dhaba near the highway. More than food I wanted water and a lots of it. I had some light snacks and lots of fluids but then I was having a severe headache because of riding under the direct sun. After resting for about 45mins, I decided to proceed. I had to take a diversion at Kishangarh to proceed towards MP. The sunset was relieving for me but cruising at a constant pace in the state highways was a task. There was oncoming traffic as well as lot of diversions between them with the trucks all the way. I had decided to drive the whole night but I was not feeling 100% to do so because of the headache. I tried my best to cover as much as possible and riding in night was something in my mind which would be risky on such remote roads. I was taking many halts because of thirst and then I told myself to go as much as I can and call it a day when I could take no more. Soon after at about 8pm, I encountered an accident in front me. A swift driver overtook me at about 100-120 kmph and lost control at the diversion and directly ran over a group of people waiting at a bus stand. Soon crowd was gathered, I crossed the spot and decided to call it a day. I definitely needed an AC room to relieve me from the heat. Just after the accident spot at about 50mts I found a hotel which was basically build in palace style. I was charged Rs1200 for an AC room which was very good. I came to know from the attendant that 6 people lost their life because of the stupid driver. I thought that riding in night was not a very good decision on such roads and I should start the next day. I had a nice relaxed sleep of about 8 hours which was necessary for me after riding through the heat and recover from dehydration.

Day 15: Bhilwara- Pune (wakad):1100kms ???? 6am- 12:30am)

Had a nice cosy sleep and was feeling fresh to ride. My body got the required amount of rest after the dehydration of the previous day. I got up early to avoid the heat and traffic in the State Highways. I started from Bhilwara with the only aim to ride direct to Pune. After Bhilwara my next destination was Chittorgarh and Nimbahera in Rajasthan after which I will enter MP. I was doing a good pace and at 2pm I was near Indore. As I had to take the bypass and not enter Indore, I stopped in a dhaba for lunch. The weather had changed, heat was gone and it was slight drizzle and again chasing the black clouds started. I was aware of the weather condition as rain was predicted in this part till Pune. By 4pm I was near Sendhwa and I was to enter Maharashtra. Rains were severe for the last 15-20 mins and it continued heavily the moment I entered Maharashtra. The respite to me was good roads and visibility was good which made me proceed with a steady speed. It was quite a battle to ride in the rains. But I was feeling respite from the heat that I experienced in Rajasthan. There are 2-3 ways to reach Pune through this route. After enquiring from my friends I got the confirmation I should head straight and should follow the route via famous Shirdi. I knew that the road condition just before Shirdi was pathetic but after that the highways were nice as I had done them many times. So I wanted to take a familiar route and not be asking for routes in the middle of night. It was already dark and I had done good distance though it was raining. After riding for about 800kms I was starting to feel tired, so I had to take many short breaks. But next what I encountered was worse. Because of the rain the road before Shirdi was very bumpy and being a one way it was difficult to ride because of the lights from the oncoming vehicles especially the trucks. It took me about 3 hours to cover a stretch of 50-60kms to reach Shirdi. It was already 10.30pm and now I was fully exhausted being ridden for about 1000kms for a day in the rains. I was done both physically and mentally. Now I was not able to make my mind to ride the next 100kms to reach home. I was sleepy, tired and feeling the cold for riding in rains from past 4-5 hours. I somehow crossed Shirdi and was taking a break before the highway to Pune. I was feeling to call it a day off at Shirdi and start the next morning. My friends suggested me to halt there and continue the ride the next day. But the only thing that was in my mind is just 100kms and I will be in my bed. It was still raining hard and the highway was dark. It was about 11pm and I started for Pune. Encouraging myself that only 100kms more, where I done about 6000kms in the last 14 days. Now I was in a condition where I was not at my best both physically and mentally. Focusing on road was difficult and my eyes were closing. I felt that if I close my eyes once,I will sleep. Somehow the fear in my mind made me not to close eyes instead I was taking a break after every 15-20kms. I was stopping for 2minutes and telling myself a few more .I would never suggest anyone to do so as we should not push our self after a limit as we can’t concentrate 100% on the roads and then chances of mishap are high. I was feeling the same and now I was in a state of mind that anyhow this ride should complete. I was never so happy to see the Decathalon in Wagholi because after that I will be entering Pune. It was already 12.30 and my friends were waiting for my Welcome. Finally I reached home. Never was so happy to return home and see my friends. I was tired till the very moment I reached home but then what I had achieved in the last 15days made me forget my tiredness. When I recall these 15days even today, I get a glimpse of what I had achieved in life, lesson learnt and now I am different individual altogether. I still remember my good and bad times that I had faced which gives me motivation every time a face a situation of life in my daily chapter while I am not riding. Technically I had done my best till date, riding continuously for about 1100kms in 19 hours through the State Highways in rains. Being the last day of the ride, it was tough for me, to get going for so long. But to see the other side of the coin, I had achieved a lot in those 15 days covering about 6300 Kms which i can be proud of .

Riding liberates me from the hustle and bustle of daily life. I just seek chances to get a relief from the daily life and ride. The memories I have gained are for a lifetime and will never stop riding. I thank my friends and family, without their love I would not have achieved something like this. And a hearty salute to my bike who has been with me in the most difficult times that I had faced. I take good care of it till date. I have not done a long ride in the recent months and technically after getting Leh’d, because of work and family pressure considering the risk involved in it. But then I don’t know if I can stop riding. I will somehow convince my loved once for my next ride to LAHAUL & SPITI on June 25, 2017 and tick off this destination from my list, gaining experience from the episode ‘My Ride of Life’.

For SPITI Valley adventures follow me on - Instagram ‘av_r.e.rider‘.

THANKS……

Be the first one to comment