#CEATxPlorer: To the lesser-known gem of Uttarakhand- Bhimtal

#CEATxPlorer: To the lesser-known gem of Uttarakhand- Bhimtal

2020 has been a strange year. Quite a difficult one too. The world has been facing quite a few problems but the biggest one was unlike anything we had seen before. While it was hard to believe in the beginning, that was the reality and we all had to accept it. COVID-19 was not alone in bringing the world to its knees. The implications of it- social, economical, physical, and most importantly, mental. Holding on to yourself is the best thing you can do in tough times and that’s what I did during the lockdown. And I also promised myself that I was going to ride more and explore more. This was a special ride for me for more than one reason but first, a big thanks to xBhp and CEAT Tyres for enabling me to take up this adventure. 

For me, 2020 did not only bring new challenges but it also taught me a crucial life lesson. Life is short and it must be lived to the fullest. In essence, that is what I have always believed in but this year just reinvigorated that belief of mine. Because of xBhp, I got an opportunity to be a #CEATxPlorer but that came with a challenge as well! I had to decide where I wanted to ride to… and how! 

I wanted to do something different and I wanted to challenge myself in order to find my limits and then extend them further. So I decided against riding my tried and tested Z900. I am a superbiker too… still feels like a dream. Anyway, I finally zeroed in on Royal Enfield Bullet as my ride and Nainital in Uttarakhand as my destination. Even if fate had other plans, I stuck to my own till the day I was supposed to start.

Now, the Royal Enfield was easy to arrange. One of my friends owns one and when I asked him, his response was something along the lines of, “Brother, you don’t even have to ask.” Friends like those are hard to come by. Without further ado, I took it out for a spin to get a hang of it. The first thing I noticed was the lack of grip as the tyres of his bike were old and nearly gripless.

That is where CEAT came in and offered me to try their Gripp XL set of tyres. Upon researching, I found that these were indeed one of the best pairs of tyres one could get for the Bullet. So, the next day found me at the CEAT dealership and I got a pair of brand new Gripp XL tyres installed. That was all I needed to be an explorer… err… #CEATxPlorer.

Day 1

Now, day 1 of the ride was upon us and I was ready to go. My Rynox Bag was well settled on the Bullet and I was ready with my riding gear. Riding gear is important so please pay attention to your own safety and always ride with complete riding gear. Back to the topic at hand, I felt so energetic looking at the Bullet all saddled up and ready to go. But I was up for a rude awakening.

I already mentioned that I ride a Z900 and the Bullet was, well, a bit difficult to adapt, to put it mildly. That’s the problem with the human body and the human mind. Too much of one particular thing and you get comfortable. So yes, after the first 50 kilometres I realized that this was not going to be easy. Once I take up something, I try my best and in this ride, 150 kilometres in one go was the best I could manage without breaks.

Now, during this stint of over 100 kilometres, I had to adjust to the seating position, the seat itself, the vibrations because of the engine being a large capacity single, and the handling dynamics. It took a while but the one thing that I was instantly comfortable with was the grip from the tyres. In the very beginning of this jaunt, I had realized that these tyres are meant to munch miles. Comfortable, sturdy, grippy, and confidence-inspiring. That’s everything one could ask for. 

After the much-needed halt and wholesome lunch, I was feeling ready to ride again. The CEAT Gripp XL tyres had already proved themselves and I was also starting to get comfortable with the bike on the whole. Mountains! Here I come! After riding non-stop again, this time with a little less difficulty, I reached Bhimtal. Yep, Bhimtal. That’s what I meant with fate having other plans. For some reason, during the ride, I automatically ditched the plan of going to Nainital and decided to go to Bhimtal instead. 

After the decision was made, I had to rationalise it too. Bhimtal is just as beautiful and as I mentioned, I wanted to explore more. That’s all the rationalisation a biker needs. Anyway, about the journey, highways can get boring after a while and that is why I was eager to reach the mountains and for the twisties to begin. 

In the beginning, I was a little apprehensive because of the motorcycle being relatively new to me but as I started to push little by little, I realized how much grip the CEAT Gripp XL tyres had in store. My confidence was going up after every turn and after a while, it was a breeze. The compound used on these tyres is a very good balance in the sense that it is hard enough to offer a lot of mileage and soft enough around the edges to provide ample grip when the motorcycle is leaned over.

Now, of course, one must always ride within the limits of oneself and their bike. So I was not dragging my knees but even then, I had realized that I and perhaps the motorcycle reached our limits much earlier than the tyres as I felt they had more in store. Having my own fair share of biking fun, time and kilometres flew and I reached Bhimtal. The best thing that could have happened, happened and I got a room in front of the lake itself.

Even after settling in the room, I could not get myself to ease up as the scenery I had in front of me was one of the best I had ever seen. I suggest that if any of you decides to visit Bhimtal, make sure that your stay has a view of the lake. It is majestic. Anyway, after some refreshments, I went to the lakeside and I saw quite a few people there. It was not a full-fledged crowd but families taking photos, people playing guitars, and singing… it made me realize that the world was starting to heal. After drinking in those visuals, I went to a local restaurant in Bhimtal for dinner and hit the sack.

Day 2

The next day, I got up early because I had plans. I loved the hospitality of the guys at my stay. When I woke up, they brought me a cup of piping hot tea, and add to that the view that I had from my room, I was in awe. Now, after tea, I decided to go boating. There are a few options where there’s the short tour and then the long one. I obviously went for the latter and I am gonna be honest, the experience was surreal. Even in around 30 mins, we had only covered half of the lake.

Nature sure knows what to do when something needs to be made beautiful and Bhimtal is one of the many gifts it endowed upon India. Once done with boating, I decided to use my day to visit someplace else as well. Someone recommended that I could go to Mukteshwar as it was also beautiful and not too far either. So I picked up my bike and I was on my way. 

On my way to Mukteshwar, I found the roads to be mostly alright but there were some isolated bad patches. That is where I realized what that big-block tread pattern of the CEAT Gripp XL tyres can do. Despite some loose gravel and generally bad roads, I never felt at a loss of grip. The whole journey went in a breeze and it did not take me too long to reach Mukteshwar. 

The day was rather easy in terms of riding and I was not too tired. So after leaving my luggage in the room that I got, I went to Chauli Ki Jali. It is a sort of a cliff which I was told was quite popular so I decided to go there. Here too, I found quite a few people who were enjoying the view and I also became one of them. I stayed there for a while because I wanted to witness the sunset and my patience bore fruit. That was perhaps the most beautiful sunset I had ever laid my eyes upon.

I felt so at ease that I just lied down on a rock there, closed my eyes and started to think about how beautiful our world is and how much I am yet to see. I felt so at peace. After I had my fill of that place, I went to one of the cafes in Mukteshwar and the best thing about it was that it was open. So you could have your favourite snack or tea or coffee and the beautiful view serves as the free topping. After that, I simply retired to my room and went to sleep because the next day was to be really long and arduous. 

Day 3

This is one day that I am never going to forget. By the end, I was so tired and that I felt like I had broken every part of my body. But this day also taught me to never give up. So the day started with a ride to Bhalu Gaad Waterfalls. This is where the condition of the roads was awful in some places, and this is where I realized how much of a blessing good tyres like the CEAT Gripp XL are.

I had to struggle a bit mostly because of the broken roads but the fantastic grip from the tyres ensured that I reached my destination safely. Now, The way to the waterfall also consists of a small trek of around 1 to 2 kilometres and does not take more than 20 mins. But if you are not used to that, it is bound to tire you out but then, it is a whole lot of fun as well. And the end of the trek is also worth the effort because the waterfall and the surroundings are simply breathtaking.

I wanted to stay longer but I had to reach Delhi the same day so I decided to keep my stay around the waterfall brief. After enduring the bad roads again, I reached my room, packed my bags and got ready to leave. Since it was late in the day, I decided to cover the 300 kilometres to Delhi without a stop.

Around 100 kilometres, I was alright but around the 150 km mark, I was starting to feel slightly tired. Then some under-construction parts of the highway were also there to greet me which slowed me down a bit, but I kept going. The sun had set but I also reached my destination not long after and while it was a relief to be off the saddle after riding for 300 km non-stop, I also felt a little sad. This ride, Bhimtal, Mukteshwar… man, they were very enjoyable.

But then, this is not the end of the world, and there will be more rides in the future, and I am sure that I will be visiting places just as beautiful and maybe even more. So till then, this is Raghav signing off. Take care, everyone. Be safe. Ride Safe. 

CEAT Gripp XL: Tyre Review

Switching your riding style is difficult and it was the same for me. From the sharp handling sportsbikes that I am used to, the laid back cruiser style of the Royal Enfield was a tad daunting in the beginning. It is not impossible but it definitely starts from the bottom- tyres. I found the CEAT Gripp XL to be a fantastic pair of tyres because of the balance they strike.
During this roadtrip, I had to deal with a variety of riding conditions from highways to broken roads to no roads. But the tyres held their end of the bargain and gave me enough time and leverage to learn my way around the Royal Enfield.
Even on the highways where it is generally easier to ride, you have to have tyres that are sturdy and stable. CEAT Gripp XL tyres provided more than enough of that and I was able to consistently maintain higher speeds. Where the roads were broken or missing, the big-block pattern of the tyres gives you more traction to play around and therefore, better control. So in my opinion, CEAT Gripp XL is the best tyre you can get for your Royal Enfield.

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