Well this is a futile attempt to put in words the events and experiences which I shared with 4 of my friends when we undertook till date one of the most outrageous journeys by road to Spity Valley.
It may not sound such a herculean task to the seasoned riders but to a boy from the planes whose list of travels starts from Chandigarh and end in Delhi on a train was certainly a task to be reckoned with.
It all started with a couple of beers during the office hours when I might have muttered out the fateful words about a ride into the mountains. Can't put a figure on it but I haven't heard such quick yeses from married men in my life. It was the booze alright.
Deciding the rout, arranging gear, making reservations and borrowing bikes came next. Man, had someone put so much effort and planning in a company's operation it would have sailed through its quarterly targets.
So, finally on 28thJune'09 in the wee hours five guys one with a broken shoulder, second who rather fill his tank with whisky than petrol, third who rather sit with the previous one and drink that whiskey, forth who had never ridden a bike and then there was me who inspite of owning a bike for nearly 2 years had clocked up 6000 Km of which 75 were in hills and had spent a lot of time skidding with the bike on the way to the office started the journey.
Initial nerves had calmed a bit by the time we crossed Bilaspur as the roads were nearly empty and straight. But they came back in a big way as soon as the winding roads started and on every turn we faced the choice of being run over or plunging to death in case of a miscalculation. It was at this point that I realized the pickle in which I was in. I was trying to remember verses from Hanuman Chalisa in order to keep my mind off the trucks which seem to be aiming straight for us.
The new guy in the mean time was introduced to the roads of north India in quite an unpleasant way when he took his first fall and ended with a bummed knee. This almost set the stage for the other tumbles which were to follow.
Finally after 300 Km of back braking yet uneventful ride we reached Manali where we took another hour to locate the hotel in which booking were made as we mistook the name of the hotel to be Delhi View which actually was Valley view. Finally we all were able to place our sore bums on the soft mattresses of the rooms.
Day two started almost in the same fashion as day one with every one rushing to mount the gear on the bikes. The journey was supposed to take us from Manali over Rohtang Pass to a place called Chatru where we were supposed to rest. Short ride to the filling station at the base of the climb we realized that the new guy had started to fall behind. We took it to be initial nerves. I so sincerely hoped that we had taken it as a sign of things and long list of complaints which were to follow and convinced him to stay back.
At this time I was more scared about myself then to have bothered about the wellbeing of others. The climb started easily with proper roads which slowly disappeared to be replaced by a dirt track with rocks as big as footballs sticking out. With every turn of the road the climb got steeper and the rocks sharper. Scenic beauty of the place did help me a bit but all the fun was taken out by the bumps in the road. Finally we reached the Pass. We decided to sit and unwind a bit but that wasn't to be, because even after waiting for nearly an hour Captain Slow (the new rider) didn't show up. We ended up scouting the whole of the pass to locate any signs of him but to no avail. After another hour he showed up riding towards us from the direction in which we were supposed to go from Rohtang. As it was reviled by him, somehow he had managed to take a goat track which had landed him 5 Km ahead of the pass where he had taken directions to reach the pass again.
So united again and learning from the previous experiences we asked Captain Slow to go ahead as we will be behind him and will be able to help. Alas, even this didn't work, after an hour of downhill when we didn't see him we decided to take a break as our butts were killing us and frequent rides through cascading icy water on the road had drenched our shoes and frozen our feet in them. Then we saw him again, not ahead of us but good 15 min behind us. It turned out that he had suffered an attack of AMS (Acute mountain sickness) and had blacked out. Realizing the seriousness of the situation we quickly made our way to Chatru where we were supposed to stay in a Dhaba. Getting there we an adventure in itself water falls in the middle of the road, bikes getting stuck in the water, waiting for half an hour on every junction so that some human form may appear to guide us on...
When an idiot rides
Finally we arrived at Chatru hoping to catch some sleep and get out of our soggy shoes which had really taken a pasting in the water crossing. The dhaba turned out to be a tarpaulin covered hut on the side of the road with beds of mud and stones covered with mattress made out of something with felt made out of packing material for electronic goods. And to top it all going out in the dark in the wilderness to answer mother natures call. At 8 we got into our sleeping bags to get some sleep. I couldn't get any because of the irritating noise being made by rain on the plastic roof of the tent. The morning came and by god's grace the guy was feeing better so we rode again for Kaza.
As we road the rodes turned to gravel tracks of what seemed like was originally a river bed. Ride was now much more comfortable. We reached Kunzum pass without any incidence and were treated to grad view of green moss covered fields with fresh show covered peaks of the Himalayas under a blue sky. The views were absolutely mesmerizing. I thought these were sines of some normalcy getting restored but …. things were about to get more say more exiting. CBZ suddenly decided to do 80 on the track and banged its chain cover on the rock luckily the rider was OK. We had to remove it using a screwdriver and hammer as the nuts were all jammed. The pulser decided it hated the road and fell further back. But the amazing views of the long straight roads in the Spity valley continued. I would like to endorse the view of calling it Switzerland of India with it snow clad mountains and vast stretches of green pastures on either side of the road. It made it all worth it.
We finally reached Kaza late in the evening only to find that the Guest house where we were supposed to stay was already full. We some how managed to find a hotel and were about to crash when more good news was delivered. We were desperately low on cash and two more of our riders were down with AMS.
I was pissed deciding that couldn't that it was enough decided to ride straight to Rampur which was 300 km away find an ATM and then ride back to Chandigarh the very next day. We started early in the morning the CBZ broke it chain which took 4 hours of our precious time taking away any hope of visiting the Monasteries we reached Rampur at 7 in the evening and after replenishing our cash reserves decide to treat ourselves to a nice hotel and food.
In all our excitement we absolutely forgot that the guy on pulser was missing in action. It only came to our attention when we received a call from him saying that he was stopping 60 km from Rampur as he was too tired to drive. Not to be rude but I was quietly revealed as I was tired of his consistent bickering about how tired he was how his AMS was coming down on him AAAA........
We had missed all the monasteries and the golden Buddhad at Thiber. So we decided to end our journey on a high. We stopped at Kufery the next day celebrated our friendship again without the Pulser or its rider as true to the trend he has stopped at Shimla :-))
So this was the end of the ride with its highs and lows (literally). I had seen how beautiful the wilderness can be. It also made me more humble seeing the natures unfathomable power and man's consistent efforts to survive in her furry.
Thanks to those who were there with me your friendship means a lot and a bigger one to those who tolerated my composition and managed to reach the end.
The idiot will ride again