Day 14, Marathon ride to home (June 7th ‘14, Udhampur); Distance Covered ~2900 kms It was decided to move out at 9am next morning but the fatigue caught us badly resulting in delayed start. After breakfast & refuelling our bikes we headed for home (Delhi) at 11am on the final day of our quest, with around 650 kms to ride. We all were fervent to get back home and thought to take breaks after covering longer stretches. It’s easier said than done. The hot weather & scorching sun made it extremely difficult to ride for more than 45mins. at one go. We bid farewell to the hilly roads at Jammu and were back on the plain highway post that. It helped us to cover around 80-90 kms every hour. The rising temperature which went well beyond 47 degrees was testing our patience & endurance levels as well. It was becoming impossible to ride without drinking water after every 30 mins & seemed that the water was evaporating from our bodies. The heavy riding gears was causing lot of discomfort, but didn’t even think of riding without them. At times after being impatient, I was riding little faster than the remaining 3, only to slow down & wait for them to arrive. Perhaps this was an advantage that a 500 cc bike had over its 350 cc counterpart. We were easily clocking around 120 kms while the latter was finding it difficult to cross the 100 km/hr mark. However learning from previous day’s incident, we ensured to drive together with our speed hovering around 90km/hr. During our breaks we took updates from Amit about Ishwar’s release & were delighted to know that they were set free around 12pm. At the start of the day’s ride, Nishant had suggested to stop for lunch at Haveli restaurant at Ludhiana by around 3pm. We had reached the venue around 45 mins late with Amit, who was accompanying us throughout. During our last day’s ride it would have been wonderful to ride with all riders together in the similar way we drove on this route 12 days back. This couldn’t happen as few riders did not bother to stay back & support during the exigency, some had to stay back with Ishwar & those who started together from Udhampur were scattered, perhaps due to more frequent breaks taken by some riders. However within a span of 30-45 minutes every one had arrived at the restaurant, tired, drenched in sweat and exhausted. Came to know that Ebrahim & Sunil had lost their way while Mrinmoy, Ankit & remaining Nagpur team who were riding together reached as soon as we had reached. Maneesh shared his incident where he had met with a small accident when a bike had abruptly hit him. Thankfully he was lucky to not fall on the road like the other guy who had hot him & he accelerated away from the scene to avoid any unfavourable situation, like the previous day. In fact during an informal chat with the police & army officials at Srinagar, we realised that if we had ran away from the spot, we would have saved ourselves from the trouble. Maneesh understood this & did not bother to stop at the spot and rightly so because he wasn’t at fault either. At Ludhiana, getting into the air-conditioned restaurant seemed to have injected new life into our bodies & after getting refreshed over sumptuous lunch we left within an hour. While leaving some of the riders began to contemplate riding the entire stretch uptill Delhi that night. Finally some riders halted at Ambala and it was a sensible decision because stretching beyond the point when your body retires is dangerous. However we 4, Nishant & Varun rolled ahead & were determined to go all the way. While leaving the restaurant Tarun & Anuj requested us to stay back at their home at Panipat. It was getting late & we were getting signals that our body fuel was draining out fast. However the ride at night was more comfortable & easier than riding during the day. We kept taking breaks at regular intervals and for water, stretching our muscles and refuelling our bikes & stopped at Panipat toll where we bid farewell to the brother duo with whom I had enjoyed thoroughly and formed the foursome gang. We decided to move towards Delhi & not to stay with them as we also wanted to reach our home & sleep there. So we parted after hugging & thanking each other & hoping to get on a new ride sooner. Maneesh & me left for Delhi along with Amit. We had reached Delhi border at around 1am & by then I had already dozed off couple of times, so had to stop to wash my face & get refreshed. The last 20 kms appeared like another 200 kms & was not getting over quickly. At Mukarba chowk we finally bid goodbye & headed for our home, sweet home.
Riding for ~650 kms was extremely tiring but within i was excited to bring back enough memories & stories to share with everyone. In the words of Ibn Batuta, “travelling leaves you speechless & turns you into a story teller” which summarises my 14-day expedition aptly. The experiences from even the smallest distance travelled, the mesmerising sight of the hills, the tranquility of the lakes, the roughness of the rocky hills, the potholes, the treacherous terrain of the passes have left a permanent impression on my mind and I will cherish it lifelong. As someone said- “In the end we regret the chances we didn’t take.” And this time thankfully it took the chance and got on board to live my dream. Not only I joined the trip, I celebrated it throughout. Today as I sit down to watch the pictures & get into introspection mode, I realize that this journey has changed me to certain extent. The very thought of getting on the trip after quitting my job was something that I wouldn’t have dared to do few years back. Thankfully I did it without any regrets as the experience gained on this trip is monumental & will treasure it till end of time. Some of my friends acknowledge & appreciate it while some may consider it utter foolishness. I am able to appreciate the smaller things we see every day and have become adaptable to the extreme situations/conditions such as crossing the deadly stretches in the wee hours & enjoying it rather than cribbing about it or being happy about having Maggi for lunch & not blaming the organisers for a proper lunch arrangements & many more of such instances. This trip also had reinforced my self-belief and has strengthened me to take on the challenges head on & without being anxious of any situation. Perhaps my accident on Day1 had made me stronger mentally & made me believe that even though everything may not go our way, but with determination we can make our way to the top. The scenic locales, rivers, lakes, have made me fall in love with nature & now would not object if Subha (wifey) wants to place some plants in our balcony, which I had strongly resisted till now. I had shared a room with 2-3 riders who snored dangerously & even farted and thankfully learnt to adjust to every situation instead of cribbing about it like some of my fellow riders.As riders, we needed to understand that being on a road trip there would be several ups & downs & we should be ready to accept it with a smile. Perhaps this contended attitude was the key to enjoyment & rediscovering ourselves. Unfortunately most of my rider friends from Delhi were found to be less accommodating to changes while friends from other parts were quite cool about the adjustments. I do not want to start a regional war by making this statement but, unfortunately, this was experienced and my belief that riders from Delhi were more adaptable was changed. However that does not change my equation with them & my bonding gets stronger every time as I revisit the days spent with them. In the words of Tim Cahill – “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles”. I am proud that I have more friends now & together we have covered >3500 kms and have stood by each other in testing times & even to get clicked together at a scenic locale. This trip has also made me realise that India is more beautiful that I thought it was. I would surely want to travel more & see the unseen than lusting for a foreign location. The wanderlust has seeped deep into my blood & my quest for travelling on my Royal Enfield is going to take me far into the unknown territories, making me meet new riders/travellers, sharing & learning from their experiences. Henceforth I would perhaps travel more to enjoy the journey rather than the destination.
Lastly, I cannot end without thanking the superb team of Royal Bikers- Amit, Manu, Varun(s) & Nishant. Thanks for making this ride ‘The Ride of my life’. We get better with every experience & wish that the experience gained in this trip will help us burn our tyres for many more kms. We should not be disheartened by the unpleasant incidences but be happy that we braved them, took them head on & came out with flying colours. Fellow riders- Manoj, Dhiraj Patil, Anant Singh, Shivaraju Mariyappa, Anurag Sharma, Rohit Mantri, Mohit Sharma, Gopal, Ranga Rao, Sunil Bhatija, Manish Bhatija, Ebrahim, Navin Bhatia, Mirmoy, Ishwar Hingorani, Anurag Chaurasia, Amit Ganotra, Chankey Raj Singh, Ankit Rathi, Amit Bhatnagar, Rahul Mohan, Pramod Gupta, Samir Abrol, Vikas Garg, Jai Prasad, Kamal Thakur, Saurabh Saxena, Pardeep & remaining ones for being a sport & I am glad to be on this ride with each one of you. A big thanks to my foursome gang - Anuj, Tarun & Maneesh with whom I have conquered the hills honking our signature tune (which now has been patented ;) & only we will be using it). The families of every rider deserves a bigger round of applause for allowing them to join the ride covering the some of the most dangerous routes and helping them living their dreams. Kudos to you guys. Not to forget, my family, friends for your support & encouragement. Papa, I will be with you in the next trip at any time you call me, provided the destination is in India. And above all Subha, my super wifey, for being the best friend & pillar of my support. It wasn’t possible if you had not got me this bike, encouraged & kept poking me about my ride & its preparations, getting my ride list ready, packing & many more…Love you for all that & wish you join me on the next long ride to experience the magic together. In the words of Buddha- “Its better to travel than to arrive” and I wish to travel till It arrives. Check the Trip Album here- https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152082156426511.1073741828.556181510&type=1&l=440be322b7