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Ladakh on Electra CI (Or why I almost decided on selling my Bullet)

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  • Ladakh on Electra CI (Or why I almost decided on selling my Bullet)




    The story behind the ride


    “Know yourself before you head out to discover the world”

    I don’t know who said this, or if someone said it at all. But this became my prime force to undertake the ride, the story of which I am going to share. It must be evident by now that I am an ardent motorcyclists. Around two years ago, I had stopped riding in the truest sense when I opted for an assignment in the Middle East. The assignment was optional, although long term; but it came to me at a point of life where I was looking to escape my demons rather than face them. Two years and tens of thousands of air-miles later, I returned back but my demons awaited me. My plan was set. I needed some answers from life. I needed a direction. I needed a long ride.

    The Road had been my teacher for long. I read the signs it throws at me and try to see an analogy they hold in real life. I wanted to unravel some jumbles that life was stuck in using these small fortune cookies that The Road had in wait for me. As we go on together on this journey, I will share my interpretations of the messages from The Road with you.
    Fate had its own plans for me. My two buddies who were supposed to join me for the ride were forced to take a rain check a few weeks before due to their personal and professional commitments. I moved back the dates of the ride to suit me and went into consultation with the members of BULLZzz to finalize routes, and seek advice based on their experience from the ride last year. For those who do not know, BULLZzz is the name chosen by the group of motorcyclists for themselves, who share a common passion of riding their motorcycles to beautiful destinations. I cannot thank my friends enough for the immense help they provided in terms of advice, riding gear, a postpaid connection, heck, even a place to stay until I finished my trip. They had their apprehensions, yet they trusted and supported my decision to ride alone.

    Going into flashback, some members of the DC may remember me as the guy who used to provide some entertainment by sharing our group’s weekend escapades and a couple of longer rides as well. Members of the group turned up the flame brighter and did some momentous rides: Sikkim (which I just missed), two trips to Bhutan, and to the Mecca of all motorcyclists, Leh-Ladakh. They went on to tease me with the pictures from the rides, and I was dreaming though the eyes of my friends. A temporary measure to keep my flame burning was to buy a pocket-rocket, i.e. a superbike at onsite and push the speed limits for a while. The small island nation, however, had its limits in terms of size, and it would have required me at least eight rounds of the roads, tip-to-tip, to achieve what we like to call a normal day’s ride.

    Back to the present, I returned back to India and had around twenty days in hand to prepare for the ride. Preparation is required at multiple levels for the rider and the motorcycle. I myself had to prepare myself physically and mentally before I could seriously consider undertaking such a trip. The most I had ridden till date was 1300 km on a road trip, riding on non-consecutive days with two friends on a reliable Japanese bike through inhabited places. This trip demanded just the opposites; at least 2000 km, riding back to back for days, alone, through places uninhabited most of the year, on a bike the British left behind to torture the Indians even 65 years after freedom from their rule. Psyched, aren’t we? That accounts for preparing myself mentally. Avik, Nilendu and Somnath helped a lot with that, assuring me nothing would/could/should go wrong in unmanageable proportions. We’ll see!

    I was supposed to get back on my cardio regime at onsite, but lethargy was my best friend there. I started when back in India, too late for the ride. I managed to do some running on the days that I had left with me, either on the roads in the office campus, or near the place where I stayed. Swimming would have been good to make lungs stronger, as the diluted atmosphere requires a lot of energy just to breath normally. A proper training should have included some exercises to strengthen the core, which I dutifully skipped. And how did I pay the price later on!

    Next comes the other part of the equation for the perfect ride: the bike! A day after arriving in BBSR, I took the train to my hometown Jamshedpur and drove down on the way back. My poor ride had suffered a lot in the hands of its caretakers, but I had blind trust on the machine and didn’t think twice before the ride. The riding gear and tools were loaded and I took some 11 hours to drive down the 400-something km. The bike was handed over to service center for the routine maintenance, plus fixing niggles I had noticed. A trip was made to Cuttack to get some genuine spares direct from the wholesale shop. A set of offroad tyres were shipped from Delhi by a college friend and mounted on the bike. I learnt to unmount tyres, replace a punctured tube with a new one and mount it back – survival on the road in the middle of nowhere! The authorized mechanic gave a brief how-to session on replacing some vital cables. No hands-on there.

    Collecting the items required for the trip was the last phase. Bike was shipped by then, along with some luggage, all the way to Jammu via GATI, a renowned logistics company. They charge a bomb but they deliver safely. I went around hunting for toiletries, medicines, eatables, clothes, more spares, quick-fix items, a cheap bag to carry them all, etc. The list was huge, will happily share if someone needs it to prepare for their ride. Document copies, originals, storing them safely. To think back now would surely give me a headache.
    Let’s move on to what I would call Day - 1, when I undertook the journey to Kolkata from where I was supposed to catch my flight to Jammu. The damned Dhauli express had it’s up and down trains at nearly the same time. And it was around the same time I lost my common sense that day. I rushed to platform 4, lugging my bags and helmet, and boarded the train, only to realize it was heading to Puri. As I was getting off the train, the loudspeakers boomed to announce the arrival of the up train. I rushed back to platform 1, panting in the heat and staggered into my coach. The journey was dull and I landed at Howrah at the right time. The Yatri Nivas at HWH station was luckily having a vacancy and I bunked up there for the night. After a couple of tries to capture the Howrah Bridge at night, I had my parceled biryani and dozed off, for the next day had to start early.

    Day 0 - Reaching the town of mischief
    Day 1 - The day "it" happened
    Last edited by diffuser911; 02-18-2013, 01:41 PM.
    The Leh Experience!!
    My '08 Suzuki GSX650F

    Escapade to the Eastern Ghats
    Orissa 1302
    My BlackBull - Bullet Electra 5S

    sigpic

  • #2
    Travelogue Approved


    Finding it very hard on the eyes to read white text. Others please give your opinion, so it can be edited to Black if required.

    Thanks
    Biking is not about what you have between your legs, its all about how well you use it!!!!!!!

    Give your details here if you want to help your fellow xBhpian stranded in your city

    Touring Blog: Cycling in Mongolia!

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm hooked to this thread. Nice write up.
      ----
      @the monk: what white text?
      New Brushed Titanium Theme For XBHP Forum (Full Dynamic Width With Depth Effects) For Your Chrome, Firefox & Opera.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by lockhrt999 View Post
        I'm hooked to this thread. Nice write up.
        ----
        @the monk: what white text?
        Nothing. Antz has edited it.

        Thanks Anant
        Biking is not about what you have between your legs, its all about how well you use it!!!!!!!

        Give your details here if you want to help your fellow xBhpian stranded in your city

        Touring Blog: Cycling in Mongolia!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by The Monk View Post
          Travelogue Approved


          Finding it very hard on the eyes to read white text. Others please give your opinion, so it can be edited to Black if required.

          Thanks
          Originally posted by lockhrt999 View Post
          I'm hooked to this thread. Nice write up.
          ----
          @the monk: what white text?
          Originally posted by The Monk View Post
          Nothing. Antz has edited it.

          Thanks Anant
          Thanks all. White looked better in post preview, but black seems good now!!
          The Leh Experience!!
          My '08 Suzuki GSX650F

          Escapade to the Eastern Ghats
          Orissa 1302
          My BlackBull - Bullet Electra 5S

          sigpic

          Comment


          • #7
            bring it on
            shubham.bairy facebook
            My travel book
            http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/search.php?searchid=843553
            The Under Dogs (T.U.D)
            https://www.facebook.com/groups/807767902568039/

            Comment


            • #8




              Greenery all around



              Trucks take a dip here!



              Farms outside Srinagar


              From Titanic View Point - even a 12mm lens can't do it justice!

              Titanic View Point is the name given to the place that gives tourists the first view of the deeply mesmerizing Kashmir valley. Perfectly located for me, along with a food stall, I gave me time to relax my nerves. I placed an order for a Maggie and a tea, and paid attention to my camera which was lying mostly unused till then. While I failed to capture a panoramic shot of the valley, what I captured with my own two eyes was more than enough a pointer of good things to come. An experience that left me a bit sour before I left the place was when I saw police arrive and round up hawkers who were peddling their shawls and other wares; they were snatching away the items on display and throwing it away. I finished my brief lunch and left for Srinagar, quietly thinking if this was the picture that would get etched in my mind about the beautiful state.



              Dal Lake - not so heavenly

              It was quite difficult to tell that you are in the mountains when travelling towards Srinagar. The lush green farms on either side of the road, along with the hot weather would have you believe otherwise. I took a stop or two to ease up my feet, which were still adjusting to the shin-length riding boots. Srinagar came up soon and I could feel the conscious presence of armed forces in the city. I decided to drop the GPS, relying on the people for directions. I was guided to the correct road and the Dal Lake came into view with a mountain in the backdrop. To tell the truth, I was in no awe at the sight; it looked like any other lake from the road beside it. I stopped and took a few photos just for the sake of it. If the real beauty of the lake is to be explored, you need to kick off the riding boots and enter the maze of shikaras on one of them to see the sights hidden from the road. I had, like a famous poet said, miles to go before I sleep, hence on with the road! I was keeping half an eye on the lake, and the other one-and-a-half on the road. The circumnavigation of the lake, while sounded fantastic in my thoughts, became pretty monotonous soon, and I was looking to escape from it. Thankfully, I found the exit from the city going thorough narrow lanes, and finding a fuel bunk, topped up my bike to the brim.

              The outskirts of Srinagar became a bit of a hassle for me. I was seeing droves of young men riding three-up on motorcycles and interfering with the other drivers on the road. At times I felt I was being followed by a certain bike or two. One such group drove along with me and tried to get some details about my ride, which I wanted to avoid disclosing to stay out of trouble on the road. It turned out to be a psyche; as the road headed farther away from Srinagar, this particular crowd thinned out gradually and I breathed more freely. But was this the last trouble I faced that day? Read on!


              I might have heard demonic laughs here if I listened closely!


              As ominous as it looks
              You are never alone on The Road even if you think you are; even strangers become companions where the need arises.
              Last edited by diffuser911; 02-18-2013, 04:00 PM.
              The Leh Experience!!
              My '08 Suzuki GSX650F

              Escapade to the Eastern Ghats
              Orissa 1302
              My BlackBull - Bullet Electra 5S

              sigpic

              Comment


              • #9
                good going bro
                ASHWIN NARVEKAR

                My Blog - http://driftwiththeclouds.blogspot.com/
                Leh Ladhakh Trip
                Sikkim - Bhutan Trip
                My Bikes: Honda Unicorn, RX 135(Sold)

                Comment


                • #10
                  Nice travelogue diffuser911....BTW what are those Tyres F/R fitted? Is it Michelin?

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Nice to finally see this thread here Sunil. So you are making sure to compensate for the many many months spent without a bike

                    Ride safe.



                    Growing old is compulsory - growing up is optional
                    So many roads, So little time
                    RIDE for PASSION

                    See us & our global rides at:
                    www.rideforpassion.com

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Seems to be quite an adventurous ride. Waiting for more !

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Day 2 - When I climbed my first mountain pass

                        Originally posted by drifter View Post
                        good going bro
                        Thanks!

                        Originally posted by RiderMan View Post
                        Nice travelogue diffuser911....BTW what are those Tyres F/R fitted? Is it Michelin?
                        Front is Ceat Gripp 90/90x19", front of Impulse

                        Originally posted by Haroon View Post
                        Nice to finally see this thread here Sunil. So you are making sure to compensate for the many many months spent without a bike

                        Ride safe.
                        Thanks Haroon bhai!! I indeed was an experience made even better by staying away from the saddle for so long


                        Day 2 - When I climbed my first mountain pass

                        A beautiful morning


                        River behind the nightstay

                        Kolors of Kashmir


                        Sonamarg meadows


                        ZoziLa-ed!!

                        Onwards from Zozi La

                        Covering the entire scenery with my eyes, I decided it was high time I stopped for breakfast. The next village that came in my way, Matayen, I checked the first shop if they had anything to eat. They had, of course, the universal food: Maggie and omelette. I sat down in one of the most gorgeous locations a person can have his grub at: rugged mountains on the front, a green carpet on my left and some children playing with pebbles on the grass. Simplicity is bliss! After clearing my plate, I purchased some snacks for the way, and some chocolates to give to the kids playing. Moving on from the village, the road was rattling my innards within my ribcage so I had to maintain a slow pace. Before I reached my destination for the day, there was a big hurdle on the way: Photu-La.




                        In B&W

                        A beautiful butt-break

                        Dras was the next town on my way. I had made sure I took shorter breaks in order to spend some time here for two reasons: it houses the Kargil War Memorial, and it is said to be the second coldest inhabited place on earth. I was dying to experience some cold, after my experience in Jammu and Srinagar! Dras was a small town and I was surprised to see a wall running parallel to the road. Over the shoulder of the wall were hills. I stopped at an army camp where I saw a board saying Kargil Wall Memorial, and went up to the soldiers on the gate, enquiring if this was the place. I remember clearly the soldier saying proudly that when you see a big flag of India, the biggest all over the world, from a distance, you know you have come to the right place. Goose-pimples! I said Jai Hind and continued down the road. The flag indeed was visible, waving in the pure Ladakhi air in all glory, against a backdrop of the brown mountains.

                        As I entered the parking lot for vehicles in the Operation Vijay Memorial, I spotted another Bulleteer who seemed to be securing his luggage and went ahead to park next to him. An exchange of names and trip information followed; he was on the roads for a good 30 days, visiting Spiti valley in addition to my itinerary. He was now on his way back through Srinagar-Jammu. And he was a college student. Some guys really have all the luck in the world. We went in together towards the memorial, on top of which the tricolor waved beautifully. The memorial built in memory of the 1999 Kargil war and its heroes have been a dream destination to patriots around the country to pay their respects. The ground below our feet was sacred indeed! We asked around about the famed Tiger Hill which was captured by Pakistani army and were surprised to learn it was just in front of us! It sent shivers down the spine to learn that I was standing close to the point that the enemy had captured. I asked the jawaan standing guard near the flag post and flame if there are any bunkers still on the hill that Pakistani. He replied that we have destroyed all of them, and I replied, impulsively, achha kiya (good thing). That was my moment of pride during my journey; I was never overly patriotic, but that moment, I felt proud to be standing with the best men of our country.

                        Next, I and my new friend visited the memorabilia shop, where I was supposed to pick up a t-shirt for my friend Avik. Unfortunately, the item was fast moving and the officers in charge there said I can buy it from Muskaan TCP, just after crossing Kargil. We thanked them and headed to the war museum where a fascinating array of items and photographs from the Kargil war were on display. Metal splinters, failed bombs, artillery shells and scrap, all from the war itself. And I am sure I was looking at just a fraction of the actual amount recovered after the war. My new friend, being from a military background, was even more fascinated and was taking his sweet time looking at the artifacts. Just about then, the omelette that I had consumed earlier started showing the undesired effects of reused cooking oil. I bade a hasty goodbye and rushed towards my bike. Thankfully, the war memorial compound contained a loo as well. Sometime later, I went back to mark an exit in the guest register and saw the soldiers handling a new machine gun, which reminded me of the Bullpup we love so much in Counter Strike.

                        I had decided to skip Kargil the town, as per suggestions from friends, and stay at Lamayuru. Reasons: overpriced and not as beautiful. The skip however took time as I got lost in the lanes for a while. When outside the town, the road started climbing and I found my petrol bunk of the day by the road side. If I did not mention earlier, petrol is a rare commodity in Ladakh region, and petrol bunks are few and far apart. If you happen to run dry, God save you! I was making sure that my thirsty Bullet gets a tank-full at each bunk I see. This was done here as well. The view of Kargil town from the outside captured my fascination, which had been busier with warding off what-if situations related to the bike. I halted outside the bunk and let loose the Canon. Remembering I had a t-shirt to buy and two passes to cross, I took off in a minute. The TCP was not far from where I was, and I managed to get there soon. Seining no one available, I put my loaded bike on side stand and shouted out a hello. A jawaan came out, and pointed behind me: the full tank was leaking very freely from the fuel cap, around a liter already on the road and more coming! Disastrous! I quickly raised the motorcycle and put it on center stand, bemoaning the loss of fuel and the overpowering smell that would last for the days to come. The jawaan showed me through the t-shirts available, and unfortunately, the largest size they make is L; Avik, on the other hand, was XXXXX (pause for breath) XXL. At least I think so! I turned back ruefully, not able to get the one thing he had asked me to. I thanked the jawaan and carried on to the next La of the day: Namik-La.


                        Kargil Town

                        Another fantastic break on the road

                        Pinnacle


                        A dry landscape


                        This was my most cherished spot with the smooth mountains all around



                        On the photo-ride


                        Behind Lamayuru Gompa


                        My favorite shot from the day


                        Zooming in
                        The Leh Experience!!
                        My '08 Suzuki GSX650F

                        Escapade to the Eastern Ghats
                        Orissa 1302
                        My BlackBull - Bullet Electra 5S

                        sigpic

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Great TripLog - You have a distinct way of writing which brings images as we read.
                          You seem to have pseudo-HDRed some pictures which look cool.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Beautiful write up. I love this and am glued. Salute to your ride. Bring it on.
                            Honda Unicorn 150 (2007- 2011) - 55000 Km
                            RE Thunderbird 350 UCE (2011 - 2015) - 30500Km
                            RE Classic 500 (2015 - 2016) - 10100Km
                            Suzuki Gixxer 155 - (2016 - 2017) - 17500 Km
                            Honda Activa 125 - (2017) - 3200 Km - Darjeeling
                            RE Thunderbird 350 - (2017) - 12200 Km - Hyderabad
                            Yamaha FSZ3.0 - (2019) - 5012 Km
                            Motorcycle Trip log - Summer ride to N. Sagar | Leh 2012 - A story told in pictures | Winter in Darjeeling 2018 | Summer in Goa 2018 |

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