The soul of every traveller possesses a hunger. The hunger to see and explore new places that act as the food for the soul. And when one keeps feeding their soul like that for long enough, that longing to do so becomes what you call a spirit provoking and everlasting desire which one caters to till they can or, are allowed to. That is what drives me and that is what formed the basis for this particular ride.
My association with xBhp has made me to them and them to me, like family. I have done uncountable rides for xBhp but all of them are just as special as the first one. And that is because, since the time I decided to quit my profession to make motorcycling and photography my profession, Sundeep Bhai and our entire team of xBhp has been supporting me to the core. And this is another one of those rides that I took up for xBhp and JK Tyre. JK Tyre sent me a set of new Blaze RYDR tyres and after this trip, if I had to describe these tyres in a word, it’d be fabulous. After traversing the terrain of places like Mustang Valley, I have high expectations when it comes to tyres and these ones from JK Tyre, do not disappoint.
Text & Photos: Sagar Banerjee
About the ride, the destination was not very hard to select. And that is usually not a problem when you are a resident of Siliguri. The summer heat there usually makes one want to escape to the mountains. So, all that was left to do was to pack, saddle up and leave for a ride through Northern Sikkim. My plan was to cover the major zones of Northern Sikkim but the majority of the places were barred for tourists due to unprecedented snowfall. So, I decided to cover Lachen-Thangu Valley-Lachung.
Total Distance Covered – 532 kms (approx.)
Day 1 started with a lot of enthusiasm… I started from Siliguri at around 2 PM. My target for the day was to take a halt at Mangan which is around 135 km away from Siliguri or around 5 hours of ride time. My first break after starting the ride came at Coronation Bridge which is a delight for bikers and photographers. It is almost overwhelming to witness the Teesta river flowing through the greenery and these kinds of visuals are hard to describe in words.
I was so engrossed in the scenery that my break turned out to be longer than planned and as dusk approached, I had to hurry to my destination. Yet, I did take a couple of breaks before I finally reached Mangan at about 7:30 PM. It was already dark and I was tired after the day’s ride so I headed straight to my stay. But before that, I did make full use of the opportunity to witness Buddhist scriptures being preached. Indeed a great way to end the day.
Day 2 had a lot in store for me as my target for the day was to reach Lachung which is around 60 km away. But the stretch from Mangan to Lachung is full-on off-roading and the heavy drizzle the previous night made the matters more… interesting. I started at 9 AM after breakfast. The first 10 km was somewhat paved and I was enjoying the slight drizzle.
But the fun ended soon enough because the scenic beauty I was enjoying soon turned into a nightmare with landslides all around and the severe road condition. Though the stretch was difficult to cover, the Blaze RYDR tyres from JK Tyre, with the innovative groove design, did help the matters a bit. My motorcycle, Optimus (KTM RC 390), puts out a good amount of power in a rather frenzied manner and that can be dangerous in these kinds of conditions but the tyres held their own. I did stop a few times to take some photos but the waterfall was what drove me crazy. It was huge, falling from the rusty peak which wasn’t lush green per se, but just had ferns on it.
After that, I got going and the road conditions showed no signs of improvement. Finally, I reached Lachung at 5 PM. Lachung has always been known for its beauty because of the rustic mountains, perennial waterfalls, and homestays. The temperature at that point was probably already below zero! So, I decided against taking any risk and proceeding towards Yumthang. Also, the locals had already warned me about the snowfall so I decided to call it a day.
This day was going to be treacherous as I had to traverse roads covered with snow. I started early, at 7 AM because I planned to reach Lachen. Around 15 mins out of Lachung, there is a checkpoint where they checked my permits and stuff, in addition to making a record of my entry time. The roads were restricted because of the snowfall and I could only go 7 more kilometres. Another issue that I faced was black-ice which is very scary. But I somehow rode through it and boy, was the reward worth it…
As soon as I entered the Yumthang Gate, I was bowled over by the beauty of the mountains covered with snow. After clicking some photos, I just wanted to take in the scenery because after all, that is why we ride, don’t we! The above mentioned me time, lasted a bit longer than I anticipated because I got late heading towards Lachen. On the way, I refilled the two jerry cans, got some snacks, washed my bike and all that because the place I was headed, did not have many resources.
As I started again, it was already 3 PM. I had to hurry but the shutterbug in me made it difficult as I stopped at another river-let which was surrounded by huge scapes of mountains. After that, I headed straight for Lachen. The roads to Lachen were butter smooth and with the confidence-inspiring JK Tyre Blaze RYDR tyres, the corners became a lot more fun. I reached Lachen at around 6 PM and it was already very cold and add to that, a minor drizzle. So, the day ended with a slight drizzle, a cloudy backdrop with just me and Optimus.
Day 4 was supposed to be the trip back home and I planned to take the long route covering around 170 km of both rough roads and smooth paved ones. I started off as early as I could because the child in me was bugging me to go to Thangu Valley as well. So, I decided to pursue that but the roads that led to the valley were completely washed off. Gravel, mud, water, you name it and it was there. But with the impeccable Blaze RYDR tyres and the incessant poking by the child inside me, I reached the valley and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I took some photographs, wandered around for a bit before I remembered the road condition. So, I started on my way back home and it was mostly a smooth ride.
I reached Siliguri at around 8 PM, with an exhausted body and mind. But with all that, there was a sense of gratification too. Firstly, the places I saw were marvellous. The ride, although challenging, was a lot of fun because of the confidence inspired by the Blaze RYDR tyres. And while this was supposed to subdue my hunger to travel for a while, I just feel hungrier.