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Thread: Mystified Spiti-fied : Delhi-Nako-Delhi : Benelli 302R

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    Default Mystified Spiti-fied : Delhi-Nako-Delhi : Benelli 302R

    “ Life is the shit that happens to you while you wait for the moments those never come”


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    Day 1 : The Independence Day.



    It was 11th August when I got a whiff of a possible streak of leaves stuck to the 15th, like peanuts stuck in candy. I had about 3 days to decide where to ride, prep and whatnot. I had almost fixed on riding to Shrinagar through Jammu and take things from there.
    It was all okay till I asked my colleague who hails from Shrinagar whether I can go. He told me it is unwise to go riding around there at this time. I protested, but to no avail.

    All right, then. I am gonna do this the old way. I opened Google maps. I spotted a place on the map which was tucked nicely inside the lap of mountain ranges. Nako. Cool. I am riding here. Looks a good place to bury my head for good. Get this venomous weekend and the Delhi air get washed away. Let’s just ride here.

    I decided to ride to this place Nako on 14th afternoon. I didn’t know it was the essential leg in the Spiti circuit. I came to know this after reading mild googling, half asleep. After a heavy night duty with patients raining into the Emergency Room the whole night, and an equally tiring OPD and ward work come next morning, I was barely in a condition to stay functional.
    Multiple times my mind called out to me, saying :

    “Dude, why you gotta push yourself to the extremes now? You have worked hard and you deserve the rest. Screw this ride. You saw the photos. Why you want to offroad 500km on a sports tourer? Just ride to freaking Jaipur or something. Wise up”

    I almost gave in. I slept late with stuffing the tailbag with tools, puncture kit and a few Tshirts. Jaipur. I am coming. I almost saw a palace like luxury hotel, a bathtub twice the size of my room and a festive platter of delicacies. Drown the senses in indulgence, boy!
    Although getting up at 7am with a sore body all I could do is sadly mount up and head towards Chandigarh.
    Guess what. Bad decisions do creep up on days like these.

    This was perhaps the shittiest riding day of my life. I started up late, sleep deprived and irritated. I had no real plan, far from an inventory, no idea about the place whatsoever. Screw it, I will cross that bridge when it comes to that, I said. Amidst all the riding groups headed for independence day showoff, I crawled slowly towards Sonipat.

    Almost all the major breakfast joints near Murthal and around were swarmed with unmentionable amount of motorcycles in the parking lot. People were lying down and posing on the road for the memorable independence day ride to Murthal. What can I do. I was hungry and in need of coffee, but I carried on till Ambala. Sore, sleepy and irritated. I did not enjoy one bit of it.

    I stopped over at Ambala for brunch. I needed to sleep a bit, so I managed to catch a power nap on the restaurant table for a few minutes. With that and three mugs of coffee, I thought if I reach Shimla at this rate, it will be a freaking miracle.

    With many stoppings and power naps on the roadside, I managed to reach Shimla by the late afternoon. Don’t even remember the Chandigarh-Solan strethch, how it went. Entirely not memorable.

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    Exhausted, I stopped at the first hotel I could lay my eyes on, and collapsed to a sweet deep slumber. Even skipped on dinner. So much for motivation.

    While the veterans are shaking their heads in despair at me, listen kids – Don’t ride when you are not in the best shape to ride. Just don’t.



    Day 2 : Passion reborn


    I got dreams of horses chasing a Panigale and overtaking it. Weird.

    When I got up, it was almost 11am. Brilliant. 14 hours of sleep, undisturbed. I opened the wide windows with woodwork. The Shimla city was covered in a thin drizzle with a slight cold breeze to make things better. I spotted a beam of sunshine over and above the hills.

    The heavy sleep in the cool hillside air had made me rejuvenated. Too much energy for one person to hold on to. I passed on the positivity to the hotel staff, making puns and laughing while catching a cup of tea with them on my way out.

    So it looks better than yesterday, I told myself. A good day to head ahead and actually read up on this whatever Spiti stuff the world keeps talking about. I rode up to Rampur with my jaw stuck to the tank with the sheer beautiful landscape crossing my eyes. I loved the roads, the way they are built through the impossible terrain. The occasional landslides, carved up mountains, apple orchards, all that. Breathtaking.

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    I surprisingly witnessed almost no bikers. Surprise, surprise! No loud gangs of metallic wildebeests either. It was just the road, me, locals and the bike. A downshift here, an upshift there. It was like a Frank Sinatra song. Never gets old.

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    At Rampur I stopped over for brunch. I opened the internet for the first time to read up and bring myself up to speed with this whole Spiti affair. I read two blogs on xBhp, Wikipedia and such. I felt disappointed I had only 4 days in total, the first one I had already spent on riding hopelessly. The Kaza – Manali was going to be yet another stress run, if I had to touch it.

    I thought it through : I asked myself – "are you riding just to get out there and lose yourself to the random events of the universe or you are bucking up for some instagram worthy expedition?"

    The answer was loud and clear. Nako it is going to be. Then a stern U turn.

    It ought to be better than a bubble bath in Jaipur, anyway.

    Going ahead with the roaring, fierce waters of Satlej river at one side and the mighty mountains on the other. Sweet Lord. The roads are more than broken at places with rainfalls, waterfall crossings, mud, slush and sharp stones.

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    The Benelli 302R, in my opinion is a jack of all trades and does a pretty goddamn well job being at it. The engine and the cooling is phenomenal. I fell in love with the switchable ABS and adjustable front forks. I could slam on the rear and lock the Michelin out till it begged for its dear life. I could get a sweet plush rebound more than your uncle’s spring mattress. Just twist that little bastard with a screwdriver and good to go!

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    When you are riding on such roads, it is important to know the terrain. I learned it the hard way for first 50 kilometers. The road is built in binary code. Ones and Zeros. There are stretches with racetrack level finish, and BAM. Suddenly you get a 20km offroad session. Followed by a good road. There is nothing average, nothing middle class in this part of the world. There are hardships, and there is happiness. That’s about it. The grays are for the complicated city life. Life is all about black and white in here.

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    All the good part is canyon craving. So you need your ABS up and forks damped for the good part. It was kind of annoying to keep fiddling with the settings, but after about a 100km, I found a sweet spot on the adjustment of the shock. I wish it had the SUMO mode on like on them KTMs. You know, Practice. Make mistakes. Experiment. Learn. Or don’t learn. Do whatever you feel like. You are away from the sweaty, messed up world. No one gives a damn here.

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    Without even scraping the bottom once, but scraping the footpegs generously, I sped my way ahead. Half the time I rode, I stood on the pegs like a sailor on the stern. Half the time I ducked behind the windscreen and tackled those beautiful corners. Duality of life, of roads and of sates of mind. Everything in play at once.


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    I wanted to call it a day at ReckongPeo. Yet, after reading Kiran/Sachin’s blog – it diluted my mind. I reached Tapari at about 6pm. There was enough daylight for me to go make it towards ReckongPeo. I took a moment at Tapri to grab a cup of tea. To continue or not?

    I asked around the owner of the tea stall. He chatted with me a couple minutes – telling me that this is as good at it gets. It doesn’t matter. Tapri, Spellow, ReckongPeo, Nako, whatever. The geography stays. (You are too freaking little to expect anything else from this landscape.)

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    Somehow, I saw the point in the gentleman’s statement. What is the point? What does all this mean? I am no damn tourist. I come to places to blend in them. To foget myself. My burderns. So what? If it is all the same? Should I just head on back and blurt this out? This mini moment of self actuation?

    Frustrated, I walked on to the bridge over at Satlej. Here is the river. Powering its way ahead like it is nobody’s business. Thousands of years, the same job. I sat there, eating the breeze. It is hard to put into words, what concoction was brewing inside of my mind back then. It was something I always have sought to obtain in my travels : being at peace with yourself. Letting go of stuff. Just being. A small human being in the lap of the huge mountains. The mountains don’t care. Neither do I.

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    I think this helps in keeping my ignorance levels down in the usual stressful life. I can’t be ignorant at my work life, since there are decisions to be made upon which lives depend. So I seek solace in the mountains, or on a sea shore. Being insignificant. Realizing, all this means nothing. After I go and for centuries later, it is going to be just the same. So better be okay with things as they are and do your best.

    Couldn’t think of riding ahead anymore with the brainstorm. Riding needs a clear mind. I am no fool. I surrendered to the elements, and asked around for an accommodation. I found one at the riverside. It was the government resthouse. For all its worth, sometimes being employed by the central government helps.

    I took a hot shower, changed into civilian clothes. I went out for a walk around the city. I went on for a couple kilometers northwards, on the inner road which goes to ReckongPeo. Beautiful narrow foot trails, beautiful happy people. I bought apples from the local gathering of vegetable vendors and had amazing momos and thukpa at a small unnamed joint.

    It was so refreshing. I walked some more and then returned to the guesthouse. At night, I wandered out once again towards the bridge. The bright lights were illuminating the frothy, restless waters of the Satlej. I let her be. I pulled out my phone, called a few dear ones. It is different, communicating with your heart all bled out off its ignorance. It is different making a conversation like this, than talking stuff on the phone on a Sunday night. You need to creep out of your mansion of ego and the petty ignorance to do such thing.

    I ate like a killogram of those crunchy apples for dessert. Then I fell asleep. Next day, Nako. My random spot on the map.



    Day 3 : Beautiful Disasters


    I got up at 6am. On the road at 7am. Tank filled to the lips at the pump. Air checked. All good. Chain cleaned and lubed.

    I blazed past the roads. The Ones and the Zeros. I stopped at Spillow for breakfast. Good God. The man was right. It is really the same. Same smiling people, small towns. Hardships and happiness. I was glad I didn’t push myself the last night.
    I had eggs with paranthas. Bread is hard to come by in early mornings here. I made quick chats with the restaurant owner who is about my age. The town itself is damn cute. It is like those miniature play houses. It starts and ends in a blink. It has a little monastery uphill, even a traffic policeman in the main road. Perfect. I think I am retiring here.



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    I pushed further. Nothing is to be said here. I was riding with my full attention. These roads are built to kill. I took photos but I am not at all about photos now. Documentation is my only mantra. I clicked a few if and when I stopped. Screw the photos. I am tired of looking at the world through a screen. Not about to start it now.



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    I realized my camera battery has died, and so my phone. It was 2pm, I had crossed Pooh and into Dubling. Dubling has this resto at the entrance. I parked ahead, wondering if I could score some lunch at this end-of-the-world-middle-of-nowhere place. A lady attended me, made a plate full of steamed momos and some noodles in broth. What else does a man need?

    While I was eating, I got my phone on charging at the restaurant. It was around 2:45pm when I left. Hurriedly, I headed up. In the middle of the road, I realized I had forgotten my phone in the restaurant at Dubling.

    Anyway, who cares about the phone. I have my camera. Oops. That too was discharged. Big deal. I will remember it, carve up in my memory.

    Nako came fast. This cute little place with so much of Tibet in it. I parked around a place where I could hide my bike behind a few SUVs from curious eyes. I pretty much walked the whole place on foot. I saw the monastery from outside, the scriptures and the ruins. A few tourists were taking the rounds of the same. I quickly detached from the scene. There isn’t much of a town left in me anymore, I told myself. I wanted to stay here at Nako for the night, but somehow the place didn’t rub me right.

    Maybe it is the postpartum depression. You feel depressed when the journey is over. You lose interest in a girl once she accepts your proposition. You no longer feel okay with the spot on the map you randomly zoomed on to, now that you really made an effort going there. It comes with a sadness, that the adventure ends here. It is a U turn after this.

    I indeed took a U turn. Could not bear the burden of this place being the reminder of the end to this beautiful madness. Came to Dubling, picked up my phone form the kind lady at the restaurant.

    Where do I head back? Do I ride all night? Do I go back to Tapri? Narkanda? Where? What do I do?

    The wise words again rung : “It doesn’t matter. It is all the same”.

    I revved the throttle with so much love I could muster. I wanted to keep every moment of this beautiful, intimidating, barren land to myself. On two wheels, where you can all taste and feel everything.

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    Trying to witness as much I could, I continued. I stopped at a waterfall, and played in the water like a little kid. Then I sat by the canyons, looking at the river. Time slipped away.

    Just by nightfall I was back at Tapri. I made the same calls, got the same room as last night in the government guesthouse. Damn, I had known I was coming back, I wouldn’t have carried the claw bag up there at Nako. But we are all the puppets of randomness.
    I ate dinner at a different joint. The caretaker of the guesthouse had become quite an acquaintance and we talked some. I went to the riverside again, this time as much putting my feet in the wild current.

    Bliss. Peace. Solitude. Calmness. Whatever you name it. It was right there.

    I slept with a light mind. I sent a few photos to my best friend off the phone.

    Probably the calmest sleep I have slept in years.




    Day 4 : Material loss and existential gain.




    The return leg. The most thoughtless piece. Eclipsed with the apprehensions of the tomorrow. The plan was to shoot for Delhi. The glorious monstrosity of concrete with self created problems and fake solutions. A giant play. A race, lost from the beginning. Cynicism starts taking over and bitterness starts flooring in the mouth.

    Moments like these, just take a break and look at your bike. Ogle at her. Show her some love. Click photos. Works for me.

    It was raining, quite heavily on the day of return. In Tapri, almost upto Shimla. I was so happy to have shunned the Sun for once. No dry heat. Only showers of love and drizzles. And of course foot deep mud and slush.

    At a crossing, I was stopped for letting a convoy of army trucks to pass through. My phone slipped from my hand into a ditch. Moments later, about 20 plus armored trucks rolled over it, buses after that. I pulled out a discordant flatbread like carcass of the phone. Messed up beyond recognition. Bad luck on a good day.

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    I paid no mind to the loss. I had no reason to call anyone, no reason to navigate. Hell with the phone. I will enjoy whatever is left of this journey. Not going to let a piece of semiconductors mess with my mind.

    I had a spare phone, of course. With the destroyed SIM cards, it was useless. It was out of charge too. Great.

    Enjoying the rainy day at a leisurely speed, I crossed Rampur, and soon I was at Narkanda. I stopped over at the Himalayan Café. My all time favorite at Narkanda. It was around 11am, I ordered espresso and stuffed eggs. Charged up the phone a bit, borrowed a hotspot, let my folks know where I was.

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    I remembered I had a batchmate of mine from the MBBS days working at PGI, Chandigarh. Would be nice if I meet him, maybe over dinner. Maybe I crash at his place. Anyway it was Saturday. I was not due for work till Monday.

    I messaged him through facebook and managed to get his address. I then left the hotspot along with Narkanda, and breezed towards Chandigarh.

    I should have taken the Chail bypass like I did last time. I was out of my mind, taking the parwanoo bypass through Shimla. It was dusty, hot, humid and unpardonably irritating. I spent all the time contemplating my decision.

    Reaching Chandigarh, I went up the given address. It was around 5pm. Caked up with dirt and grime. I used the phone of the landlord to call up my friend. He was in a conference. I went up to a nearby Barista, and drank a load of coffee to gain a grip over the urban madness.

    My friend arrived, he showed me to his place. We had a chit chat. I decided to stay the night with him.

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    Next morning, I left Chandigarh at an early 7am, reaching Murthal for breakfast. I was challenged and passed by all types of Sunday riders on my way back, but with a journey so impulsive and spirited, I had nothing but love and kindness in my heart. I kept on my smooth 110s, tucked in neatly behind the windscreen, shocks doing the God’s work for me and the engine grunting out that 7000rpm symphony.

    That, right there is a good life. And I am asking for nothing more.

    Did I take something back from this journey? Absolutely not. I rather gave up something in those furious, inert mountains. I rode in exhausted, irritated and cranky. I rode out a smiling, humble man. I left that poison in the deep nowhereland. And believe me when I say this, it is always worth the trouble.

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    Last edited by DocOnTwoWheels; 3 Weeks Ago at 02:37 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Mystified Spiti-fied : Delhi-Nako-Delhi : Benelli 302R

    Thread approved.
    Another one in the can Doc.
    A great read like always.
    DocOnTwoWheels likes this.

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    Default Re: Mystified Spiti-fied : Delhi-Nako-Delhi : Benelli 302R

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    Nice Ride

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    Default Re: Mystified Spiti-fied : Delhi-Nako-Delhi : Benelli 302R

    Beautiful!
    Thumbs up!

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    Default Re: Mystified Spiti-fied : Delhi-Nako-Delhi : Benelli 302R

    Nice travelog , by the way if you don't mind what is your field of specialisation Doc ?
    Yamaha RX 135 5 Speed - 2000 -(current)
    Yamaha R15 v1 - 2009 - 2016 ( Sold )
    Yamaha R3 - 2015 - (current)

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    Default Re: Mystified Spiti-fied : Delhi-Nako-Delhi : Benelli 302R

    Quote Originally Posted by bharatheshk View Post
    Nice travelog , by the way if you don't mind what is your field of specialisation Doc ?
    Thanks, Bharathesh! I practice Respiratory Medicine. Yes, the lungs and stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by krishna77 View Post
    Beautiful!
    Thumbs up!
    Thanks a lot

    Quote Originally Posted by sajalsheth View Post
    Nice Ride
    Thank you Sir!

    Quote Originally Posted by xBhp View Post
    Thread approved.
    Another one in the can Doc.
    A great read like always.
    Thank you for the quick approval and encouragement.

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