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  • 9 Post By Old Fox

Thread: The 2-wheeled Pilgrims

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Old Fox's Avatar
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    Default The 2-wheeled Pilgrims

    You see them riding up-hill or down, the bikes loaded like they were shifting house, precious petrol sloshing inside organized plastic jerrycans or improvised mineral water bottles, bandanas or pony-tails flowing and flying pointing out the dusty wake of their steeds. They ride solo, as twosomes, in small groups and at times in ultra-disciplined large formations, droning and phut-phutting as they labor up-hill or grumble downhill. Those anemic ‘barely-performing’ engines so rampantly available in this equally ‘barely-performing’ anemic nation thrashing their insides, pistons, valves et al fighting a battle on the fringe with the gradient, the hypoxia-ridden air and the ubiquitous road-minus-the-tarmac. To them, riding to and through the cold Himalayan desert is akin to a virtuous ritual. They are the pilgrims on two wheels bound for Ladakh.


    Mountain roads have long attracted the motorcyclist because they mean endless curves. And of course apart from the curves, one either climbs or descends when on a mountain to get anywhere. These two alone spawn a new hierarchy, the natural power structure of logic and a pecking order by itself. The higher you go, the more supposedly exalted is your persona, a confirmed life-long berth at the grand-stand of Himalayan motorcycling. Those rolling rubber footsteps become synonymous to the human flesh and bone bipedal; the expressed exultation on rolling at over the height where jets fly is nothing short of the Everester planting his flag on the summit. The disinterested surrounding faces of those ‘living’ at that altitude for a living notwithstanding. The dis-equation of effort equated in essence through substitution of sheer muscle power and soulful resolve by ‘riding’ skill. The tyres, the clutch, the throttle and the brakes become the ropes, pitons, ice-axes and crampons. They are no less climbers and whatever lessening of stature the comfort of a seat and the exertion of those metal horses inside the engine induces, is countervailed with a pride in the verdict of the odometer.


    The wheezing engine is whipped on, overfed on liquid gold as it gasps and pants, coughing black stink while the pilgrim, usually knowing no better further wrings the twist grip. The gravel crunches beneath, the background crackle rudely interrupted by the occasional ‘whump’ as the wheel jumps a rock and the pilgrim grunts or curses, again in symphony with the verdict of the odometer. The journey of the deviant devout continues. Perched on a piece of foam a few inches wide and fewer inches deep, the evolved ape clings to, grasps and wrestles with the handlebars, bracing against the push and pull of the wind, the hard punches of rocks on the road, the slimy treachery of slush and at places the inevitable slide over dark and shiny ice. Knocked about by the mandate of motion and at mercy of emotionless nature, he rides, arrives, returns and comes back for a rerun.


    Why? To what end? For that sense of superiority? The joy of triumph over the odds? The sadism of suffering? The vanity of toughness proven? Possibly for a bit of each, a sum of proportions divided by the soul and lived through by the body. It definitely is an elevating experience, no pun intended. But does it change the pilgrim as a spiritual pilgrimage would? Or is it even equitable to the journey of a true pilgrim. I think not. The powered machine, so pivotal to that sense of achievement, the bravado, the emotion and the cause of the venture itself is the prime negative differentiator. The division of effort between the machine and the spirit, a very lopsided division at that, is what insulates the spirit from change. The twist-grip whip, the iron horse and the rubber horse-shoes take the bluster out of the jaunt. The body suffers as much as the sitting, whipping and breathing the thin cold air makes it, with the fear of falling, failing or colliding adding their own percentage points to it. The resultant challenge threshold is low in reality and high in perception. Tedium and sheer spadework is more a norm than exception along the route though the sights and sounds of being in the Himalayas more than makes up for it. Those cyclists pushing against the same odds do bring in a sense of perspective which gets waved away with the exchanged wave of greeting or farewell. They and those on foot are the true pilgrims the heart announces, while the vanity promptly disapproves.


    So why do it then? Because this is the best you get for the time, distance and (usually) the resources permitted to a typical urban-dwelling career bound ‘safe’ adventurer. Because, if the pilgrim so wills, the journey maketh the rider a far better ‘motorcyclist’ in the wholesomeness of the term. Because the ride preaches upon, each moment and each mile, the virtues of planning, prioritizing and perseverance. Because the mountains and the weather impose the need for humility with knowledge that differentiates the evolved ape from the arboreal ones. Because, in a world that admires superlatives, nothing symbolizes the sterling better than the Himalayas. And of course finally because as Sir Edmund Hillary quipped when asked for his reason to climbing the Everest – “Because it’s there”. So go brothers, venture forth on the pilgrimage not to be proven better riders but to become better men. Ride on…..!



    Note: This Hard Torque was published in an earlier issue of the xBhp Magazine
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    Surprisingly, dint need to turn to my dictionary today. Brilliant write-up Sir, as usual.
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    Default Re: The 2-wheeled Pilgrims

    Very nice article. I am planning a trip from kanyakumari to Kargil and leh this June. Will show this article to my wife so she can understand my feelings a bit better, as she is very anxious about safety and wondering why I would plan such a trip in the first place.
    dentist by profession, tourist by passion

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    Default Re: The 2-wheeled Pilgrims

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Fox View Post
    Because, if the pilgrim so wills, the journey maketh the rider a far better ‘motorcyclist’ in the wholesomeness of the term.

    Because the ride preaches upon, each moment and each mile, the virtues of planning, prioritizing and perseverance.

    Because the mountains and the weather impose the need for humility with knowledge that differentiates the evolved ape from the arboreal ones.

    Because, in a world that admires superlatives, nothing symbolizes the sterling better than the Himalayas.
    so very true & direct from the innermost core of a rider's heart. i take my helmet off, in respect to the sentiments expressed by u, in-general, on the write-up & in-particular, on the above phrases.

    keep riding my friend & do keep writing as well, for you, amongst other things, seem be gifted in that domain as well.

    jai ho!


    Quote Originally Posted by nishibds View Post
    Will show this article to my wife so she can understand my feelings a bit better, as she is very anxious about safety and wondering why I would plan such a trip in the first place.
    u may just try... but i am pretty certain that she will fail to acknowledge the real essence. only a motorcyclist knows why the dogs love to stick their muzzle out of a running car :-)
    ◦ ● 4-wheels move the body... 2-wheels move the soul ● ◦

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    Default Re: The 2-wheeled Pilgrims

    best feeling is when you complete the tour and your spouse or family asks "what you have achieved now? " and you are smiling and thinking and recollecting the wind , the smell and giving an answer "it cannot be explained you have do it feel it !". Its pilgrimage really sir u do not meet god in temple you know god is with you.

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