So What Happens at Chorla 

Read without prejudice and dispassionately. Might just save your life. 


In a span of last few years there has been rise of motorcycle accidents on the Chorla ghat. Most of them were motorcycle travelers and not the local people. Many of those turned out to be fatal, sending motorcycle community in grieving. While the ghat remains one of the most beautiful places in the Konkan region, connecting Karnataka and Goa; why does such a site turns into a platform of human loss!

So what happens at Chorla, why good riders before blossoming into inspiring people, meet their end so early and deplorably.

Pay close attention; consider this piece as a survival manual for Chorla ghat.

Chorla is a popular route to enter Goa when coming down from Mumbai or Pune via NH-4 till Belgaum. And then via a state highway entering Goa at the eastern border. It’s a scenic route, very pretty sight at dawn. The curves are spread over a length of 35kms approximately. One must take this route over any other for refreshing countryside vistas.

Now here are some undisputed facts about this stretch which I would like you to drill them in your mind and remember it whenever you are here on this particular zig-zag tarmac.

Chorla road is not wide in size and has back to back curves from start to end. So there exists a high chance of longer/bigger vehicle coming in your lane at the curves. Please don’t go arguing about traffic laws and lane discipline. My vision is to get you home no matter what. So coming to the point there will be times you might need to get your vehicle off the road at least 1/3rd of it for the longer vehicle to pass. Smaller vehicles to the edge of the road. And believe me when I say the long vehicle is not doing this on purpose. But if they do, then his loss is insignificant to yours. This also means you cannot go above certain speed even when there is room. I think my point is clear about where I am going with this.

Next is the thrill of lapping Chorla. Many riding groups have now been promoting Chorla as a breakfast ride, locally. A weekend destination for groups coming from outside. Fact check; Chorla has countless back to back curves. The total distance is 35+ kms and most of these curves are blind.

Only 1 out of 10 in such group rides can keep their nerves in check. Rest are just waiting to be instigated to show some display of “talent” and become ‘talk of the town’.. (At what cost)

Over that there’s a high chance of none having the real skill set of lapping. (Real racing/control is what you  see in the documentary ‘A Twist of The Wrist‘.) So after 1 or 2 curves you are doing what I call ‘Banta-giri’. Slang for the great idiot.

Now when the above two scenarios were not enough then there’s the “photographer” act thrown in.

Many or rather all want their cornering photographs on social media asap. So a picture paints up where bikes are parked randomly next to the road (becoming a hazard), everyone doing corners back to back with 1-2 photographers waiting to take their shots from middle of the road. This is something no local traveler or otherwise is anticipating and probability of a crash just went from none to high.

And after all this, still not done; there’s Mother Nature. Chorla road has sudden animal crossings, especially the gray langurs who jump in middle of the road out of nowhere. One touch to your speeding vehicle, panic and disaster awaiting next.

So these are the main events of Chorla that can change your life; a change which you really want to avoid for thousand benefits.

I’m sure with keen observation you can spot more scenerios from which you need to carefully traverse during the ascend/descend of Chorla ghat, and I wish with each passing time you become wiser; not just a survivor.


Read the top line of this article again.. 

Good Luck, God Bless. 

Udaipur Impromptu

Cover Pic – Puneet Yashod


Udaipur is one of the most beautiful places in Rajasthan, India. If one knows how to go around in the old city then in less time a lot can be seen and explored. Part of the city has turned into a developed urban town with all those malls and commercial centers but the old city area still has the feel of a bygone area.

On one winter a friend of mine went on a solo trip to Udaipur with 5 days in hand. I gave a surprise visit on the 3rd day at his hotel. And in next 3 days we managed to cover the best of Udaipur when we had arrived with least preparation and study of the place.

So if you happen to come here with less time and almost no info in hand, you can work around with the following read, and experience Udaipur in unforgettable way.

First what to see –

  • Bagore Ki Haveli
  • City Palace
  • Monsoon Palace
  • Old Bylanes

Where to stay –

Plenty of accommodation from hotels, resorts and budget stay available in Udaipur. My personal favorite is Zostel. Gives uninterrupted view of Lake Pichola and has rooms, dorms, private parking for bikes or 1 car and a terrace restaurant. Kind of a complete package. Located in the heart of old Udaipur. Address accurate in Google Maps.

Eat –

Udaipur has endless options for the hungry belly as well as the curious one. But in today’s time I prefer to eat the best, true local and flavorful cuisine. So for breakfast, the area around Bagore Ki Haveli is decent enough. Plenty of options from street sitting to terrace view. I personally recommend the Jheel Cafe for its quality and location.

I usually go with brunch way and straight dinner; with a quick coffee break in between. But if in afternoon you feel the need to chow then restaurants around City Palace have fresh preparation.

And for dinner I recommend a place called Tribute restaurant where the service will blow your mind away and topnotch food quality. You can also try out local dishes here. Cost wise Tribute falls under premium. Plenty of similar options in the same belt towards Lake Pichola.

(Most of the time I rely on Four Square to recommend good food options around. 8/10 the result works in my favour. Don’t rely on Lonely Planet, content is quite outdated.)

What to do –

  • Walk the old bylanes of Udaipur near the City Palace. Plenty of opportunities for street photography.
  • Take the rope-way to Manshapurna Karni Temple. Panaromic view of Udaipur.
  • Sit by the lake and sip some coffee. Better yet, a Beer.
  • Chillax on the roof top hangouts.
  • Check out Gulab Baug public library for its heritage feel.
  • Beer & Bite at the Bar located within City Palace compound.
  • Chetak Smarak if you are fond of the famous tale of Maharana Pratab’s horse.

(There’s plenty more that can be done in Udaipur but with limited number of days you can start with the above first.)

Udaipur Photo Gallery

Flickr Album – Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

Speed & Glorification

Read without prejudice and dispassionately. Might just save your life.


It so happened that I was in Goa to attend an engagement ceremony of a friend of mine. And since its Goa I had arrived a couple of days in advance to enjoy the beach & beer combo. It was a good weekend with great friends and share of old stories. Goa is best enjoyed when you are arriving in a small group. I finally got to see the less visited places around, like the Figueirodo Mansion in Loutolim and Jila Bakers (All items are homemade by a loving family).

During my time here I was frequently overhearing talks about speed just over my shoulder. By speed I mean fellow riders bragging about how fast they have ridden their bikes. Now this is not a new subject because lets face it, we all have been there. One way or another we have pushed our machine till the red-zone; some even beyond, and enjoyed the thrill of speed. What bothered me is the unnecessary glorification that follows after the act.

So here I’m just trying to put things into perspective — We all love speeding, no doubt about that. Its thrilling but like BRO wittily says, Speed Thrills but also Kills. Roads in India are not meant to be ridden on beyond a certain speed. I’m not saying its impossible, its just that after a certain mark the recovery is next to impossible if something suddenly comes in your way. Dogs, cats, cows, the idiot pedestrian… list is endless. So if you ride regularly and keep pushing your luck, you are calling a disaster on yourself. Remember if you want that odometer to keep clocking then your well being is the most important thing here.

The other perspective of the same topic is people with low self-esteem. Most people who brag about riding very fast are the ones making constant attempt to get others to respect them, to revere them highly. To illustrate this in the simplest way are the riders who buy a motorcycle, rides to near by hill station, rides to Ladakh and voila He’s the One. He’s giving out lessons as if he’s been doing this since decades.

So coming back to a simple point, touching top speed on your bike and constantly bragging about it is not a sign of wise riding but sophisticated banta. And you don’t want to be known as a banta or the good old C word, in your community. Surely in your close group you are the “cool dude” but beyond, just another unsafe rider. Threat to himself as well as others who use the same road.

Be wise. Take pride in responsible riding. Its the greatest privilege a motorcycle tourer can have. And if you really want to quench that urge of high speeding then take it to the track.


Read the first line of this article again.. 

Good Luck, God Bless. 

True Wanderer 3 – Talks at India Bike Week 2015

My brothers and sisters from the biking fraternity, before I give my presentation let me first explain what true wanderers ride is about;

Every year Wrangler launches the TW platform where motorcycle travel enthusiasts like you and me can submit a travel story; a story which you think has been most exceptional in your life. Nothing less than a thrilling saga of adventure.

Hundreds of entries pour in and after the deadline; only 10 best stories make it to the top ten. Most people assume the judgment is based on popularity and voting but truly it’s on how you write, what you write, the photos and videos, the aesthetic feel and the inspiration factor …and the overall presentation.

I too submitted my entry and found myself among the top 10 travelogues.

The next stage comes in. We 10 are then required to ride anywhere we like, any destination of our choice and route we want to undertake and live blog for 7 days a fresh story. Main rules remain the same best photos, videos, inspiration and motivation factors but above all the best write up, the story.

Only 1 winner will emerge and he or she will be awarded a grand motorcycle. (In my case the Kawasaki Z800 )

Allow me to share a fun fact, on a different contrast. In my schooling days my English teacher used to get very angry with me. Would always shout, “Mr. Vaikul you’ll never be able to write a proper essay. Your stories are non-sense. ” And she use to throw my paper in the dustbin. I felt very bad at times. 🙂

Here I stand today because the motorcycle travelogue I wrote in 2014 stood first among hundreds of entries. If only my English teacher could see this.

So here is,

LESSON 1 of Life – In your quest for success and learning, there are going to be obstacles and challenges only. Some situations are going to stop you and beat you down. But the only thing that can truly stop you is your conscious itself. Your will is the only thing you need to hold on to, to keep moving forward. By your dedication, your fate is compelled to open the doors of success in your life.

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When I earlier mentioned that one has to submit a motorcycle travel story to participate in the contest, it’s obvious I also submitted an entry. But the story that I submitted, I had no intention of writing it down in the first place. I left my job and undertook a 36 days trip in the Himalayas on my motorcycle and it was purely for my pleasure. A much needed break.

A friend of mine, Anahita Pagdiwalla, knows me by the skin, insisted to write down this story and submit in the True Wanderers 3rd edition. I was not keen, least interested. But knowing her its best to do what she says than face her fury.

I did what she asked me to do and here I stand today as the winner of TW 3 and proud owner of a 4 cylinder motorcycle.

So LESSON number 2 of Life – Behind the success of EVERY man there’s always a woman. She can make you, she can break you. Please be nice to her; she will stand by you through thick and thin.

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Coming back to my ride story;

The first thing I did was checked who are the other 9 finalists. And to my disbelief, 7 out of the 9 guys I knew well. By well, I mean they are excellent photographers, good in writing, creative in video shoot… basically serious competition.

I felt discouraged, the final ride had not even begun and I already had my hopes killed. Beating these guys was like going after Osama Bin Laden with an air gun.

But then again I remembered how a small candle can brighten the darkest room. And every champion was a rookie at one time.

The 3rd LESSON – The world fears a rookie, for they know what new will be unleashed and nervousness kicks in among the champions. For the rookie, he has to focus only on giving his best. Concentrate only on the bulls eye. (Those who follow MotoGP, you know what Marc Marquez did.)

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So now when the stage was set and I had a fair understanding of my competition, it was time to chart out a route. When readers come on my blog I wanted them to be amazed from my act. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for me and I wanted it to have a grand opening.

Hence I picked a route that would endure my mind and body to a level further. I chose to ride from my home in Mumbai to a place called Chandrashila in the Himalayas. Its at a distance of 1800kms from my residence, going over 4 lane highways, few cities enroute, mountain roads and a trek of few kms.

On paper it’s not quite practical but to do something extraordinary was my determination.

For the first time in my life I prayed to God in desperation to bring me back alive and safe from this one.

And yes he did, on the night of the 7th day I came home; tired, exhausted …but at peace.

route map

The 4th LESSON – To taste success hardship is the only way. Shortcut will only give you temporary boost, but to experience heavenly glory, your metal has to go through the process of seasoning and sacrifice. No other way.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

What happened in those 7 days, time is too short for me to narrate the true episodes and experiences. I’ll share the ones that are very dear to me and I hope you find them inspiring.

This ride started when the summer was at its peak. On day 1 itself the wind was warm and the temperature was close to 45 degrees Celsius. Not quite a pleasant day to ride and a mammoth of 1000kms I had to cover to keep with the schedule.

Just covered roughly around 300kms and stopped to capture the sunset. The theme of TW 3 was ‘chase the sun’. So I took some pictures of the sunset but the next thing I remember is I’m lying down on the side of the road. Out of fear I got up and realized that I think I fainted a while back. Is it that Hot! Or Am I not feeling well? Many questions hit me hard. And the most important of all, should I continue to ride on? (If this would have happened while riding then I was a goner!)

5th LESSON – Body is the temple of God. Adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy; Be carefully careless.

So did I ride on? Of course I did.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Another episode.

Many of us have heard this, ‘Lord works in mysterious ways.’ In this episode I actually got to live it.

I was fixed on my route and had no intentions of altering it midway. But when I took a random halt to relax my muscles, just in the middle of nowhere, I read a sign board saying picnic spot and view point 6kms left. Since I was seeking interesting stories, I took the chance and went ahead to see what’s this place about.

Upon reaching the site I realized that it truly was a scenic place, very pleasant and peaceful; and I met a guy there who takes care of the tourists who visit the place. Cooks food, makes camping arrangements, looks after the plants and trees around.

When he got to know why I was there and what I was doing, he took me to his house, gave me food and told me some interesting facts about the trees around the place.

I’m glad that I met him and today I have shared his name and contact details on many travel forums. Some of my friends from north have made a visit to this place after reading my story.

[vsw id=”Ea1z7xGTEf4″ source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

 

LESSON number 6 – ‘Lord truly works in mysterious ways. When two souls come together there’s always some purpose to it and when two souls are brought together against all odds, there’s always a divine purpose at play. What is the finest education in life? Is to understand how nature serves its own purposed through you. Our lord has written the play, your job is to act well and retire.’

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s one short episode,

One of the places I visited on this ride was Lansdowne. It’s the home of Garhwal rifles — Finest soldiers of India and expert in mountain warfare. There is museum maintained by the army and I went in to check out the place. No camera is allowed inside so left my pack with the guard outside.

The place is filled with mountains of information, stories and artifacts. I really wish I could photograph some.

And just when I was pondering over the letters and documents kept for viewing, this one line I read that really brought tears in my eyes. My feeling of empathy was quite shaken.

Let me read out, ‘‘To those who read this scroll, ………….for he left his loved and dear ones by the call of king and country, to face hardship and danger and later pass out of sight of men. He sacrificed so his people can live. May his name not be forgotten by the time ahead. For we breath in freedom and price was paid by his blood.’

The 7th LESSON – A soldier fights for the people he doesn’t know, he dies for the people he doesn’t know; all he knows is that he gave up his today so we can have a better tomorrow. The freedom we enjoy today must not be taken for granted, for someone is paying the price by his blood.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Moving on to another short episode,

What does an old lady do? Nothing but cares for the young ones.

On the narrow lanes of Lansdowne an old lady spotted me strolling up and down many times and finally stopped me to ask if I was looking for someone. I explained her why I was here and what I was doing. She was glad to hear me out. She gave me a cup of tea and told me to be careful on the road ahead from the town. It’s all downhill and steep. Don’t ride after dark and stay alert. For someone who had met a stranger, all she showed me was care and guidance.

The only frightening thing to come from her mouth was a blessing that I get married soon. 😛

Old Lady

My LESSON number 8 – Our elders want only the best for us. Though we may disagree with them on certain times, but their care and love for us is immeasurable. In their old age, our unconditional support acts as boon their life and living. When you go home tomorrow show some love to your elders.

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Coming to my most favourite episode,

Chandrashila is a beautiful peak high in the Himalayas. The trek of 3kms looks small but takes some effort to reach the top. And the last 500 meters steep slope is always covered with snow.

At that altitude, I was told that it’s easy to spot a Himalayan Mongal. It’s the state bird of Uttarkhand. And while going up the trail, I met many enthusiasts who were able to capture some photos of this bird.

Here I was, reached at the summit, took some photos and videos but no bird. I was happy with what I experienced till that time but was hoping to photograph the bird for good finish.

First time in my life I prayed in desperation and cry; gave myself a silent 2 minutes… and voila, a bird just ran in front of me and went behind some rocks. I got to see it for split second but realized that it was surely a mongal, its outline is distinctive. Slowly I went closer to the rock and in that 3 second moment I was able to capture 1 photo of this beautiful bird.

Himalayan Mongal

So here is the LESSON 9th – A true prayer can bring magic in your life. Keep praying with faith and gratitude. A prayer can get you long way.

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The last one,

On the 6th day while returning from the Himalayas, coming back into the plains it was past midnight. Since I had only 1 day to reach back home I had to reach the mainland anyhow before I start my final run.

At 3.am when finally my body was giving up, I felt it’s time to check into a hotel but what will I find open at 3 in the morning.

3 hours prior, at midnight when there was a chance I didn’t take it.

For the first time I thought Himalayas are divine, people of the mountain treat it as their father. So let’s leave it to him; he shall take care of me.

In the next 20 mins just upon a turn I was surprised to see a lodge open. I immediately checked in; they also gave me some food and nourishment. And I learned that due to election campaign going on; they have been told to keep the lodge open till late hours.

Most important LESSON – Sometimes in Life you have to take a LEAP of Faith. Then rest everything falls at the right place automatically.

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Thank you MTM and IBW for giving me this platform today; my utmost respect to my parents for supporting me always in this journey. I would like to conclude with this small video I made during this ride.

[vsw id=”bsxheXa5tS4″ source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

 

Warmee up

Warmee – a handy tool for bikers born for the cold adventure.

I had received a few pouches of Warmee from their team; I had read about it and was keen to try them out this winter. From a biker’s point of view, anything that helps protect you from the cold is a must have tool in your bag. Until now, the tools referred to — thick liners or thermal wear kind of clothing.

I had no answer to anyone asking if there was anything available in the market that can work as an instant warmer thing. In fact few years back the only fastest way to get that instant warm moment was to grab hold of the bike exhaust.
Well burning fuel just to warm your hands at the chance of burning your skin, sounds so illogical.

Luckily technology has come a long way and ‘Warmee’ the latest in cold killer can cater those urge for instant heating solution.

If you see the below images of the product, the pack has all the instructions and most common questions answered, so I won’t again ponder over that part. But I’ll share my experience on how it has come to use in by motorcycle endeavors.

 

warmee

warmee

Winter is the season when I go on frequent rides early in the morning. Covering an average distance of 100kms is pretty obvious. Though how much I act fondly of cold weather, the single digit temperature ultimately gets you. And the primary issue lies while riding at high speeds; as all my riding gears are of mesh material, the wind really hits you hard on the torso.

Blame it on the age, very recently I have started feeling the chill on my skin. But here is a fact, I don’t intend to slow down. All I need is a solution to clear this hurdle.

So on my recent trip to Agra and Bharatpur, a total distance of 1300kms; I put two packets of Warmee in my jacket pocket. One on left and another in the right side.

Like the instructions say, it takes just few seconds to heat up. And while riding, within couple of minutes I felt a warm sensation inside my jacket. I could feel the chill disappearing on my skin. For 3 hours of riding in the morning, Warmee was at play.

Around noon when the weather was warm enough, I took the Warmee pouches out to dispose them off but wondered to see how long it stay warm before running its course! So for the time being I just kept it in my bag …and after couple of hours when we stopped for lunch somewhere on NH-8 — To my surprise, the pouch was still warm.

I can say I’m quite impressed with the new product and would recommend to fellow bikers.

I have also made a list of ideal scenarios where Warmee can come in great use –

– Camping (use inside sleeping bag)
– While riding motorcycle (like how I have mentioned)
– Bus/Cab journeys early morning or late nights, when its little over pleasant cold.
– For senior citizens who are sensitive to cold weather.
– Ladakh riders, to get some relieve from the ice cold weather at that altitude.

I’m sure there will be more number of ways Warmee can be used.

P.S. – Since it’s one time use; I strongly advice you to dispose off the pouch responsibly.

You can Buy Warmee on Amazon or Snapdeal; or you can find the store list on their website – Warmee

Warmee Pouch
Warmee Pouch

 

10 Interesting, Surprising or Shocking things from my True Wanderers Saga

The best day of the year 2014 — the day I was announced winner of wrangler’s True Wanderers ride.

From a thousand plus participants I emerged at the top. And the trophy was boy oh boy, what a beautiful machine — The Z800 by Kawasaki.

A brand new superbike and the recognition that followed, is the ultimate achievement of my life. I don’t know what can come close to beat this.

For those who have not read the winning story yet, here is the LINK. Give it a read and come back here for some more bonus stories.

For those who have read my blog, here are few addons that you won’t find there or anywhere else.

Presenting 5 interesting — surprising — shocking things that are products of my True Wanderers Ride timeline.

1.) Did you know I won this contest because of Royal Enfield –

Sounds surprising? but its true. You see much before True Wanderers 3.0 revealed itself, I had bought a Thunderbird 500 for my solo 36 days ride in the Himalayas. It was a long pending dream and since I was about to take a sabbatical from work, I thought this is a perfect window to fit this ride plan in. And so I left for the longest ride of my life on the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500.

It was a good trip. Regardless of how people keep talking about mechanical issues the brand faces, I had no single problem with the bike. Covered 5000+ kms and came home safe and at peace.

Just a week past by and I penned the travelogue of this ride. It was not easy to find the right words. And the write up, edit, rewrite and proof read… all went on for couple of weeks. When finally it was ready, I shared it here and in few forums for my friends and readers.

To qualify for the final round of True Wanderers, participants had to submit a travel story of any of their past rides. And when my friend insisted to participate, I submitted this 36 days Himalayas entry for the competition. You all know what happened next. So if Himalayas on Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 did not happen, Z800 wouldn’t have happened.

2.) Did you know half of the photos of this ride was shot on iPhone 5 –

I was carrying 2 DSLRs on this ride. One for the wide and the other for telephoto shots. Carrying 1 DSLR and interchanging two lenses would have become a bit of a time wastage. And time was very precious for this ride.

Removing the big cameras from the bag also takes a minute, so I had every intention of using the iPhone too, quite frequently, where I cannot lose any important moment. And it’s the moments timely captured that make amazing and winning photographs.

So at the end of the day when I use to select the best pics from the lot to upload on the blog, I realized most were from my iPhone.

3.) Did you know for the first time in my life I was frighten to get on the motorcycle –

What I planned for those 7 days was something stupid in theory. Right from the first twist of the throttle it was a drag all the way to the end. I was aware that every time I ride the bike I’ll have to push my limits to save time, which was very precious for this feat to complete successfully. And over that, the WTF incident right on day 1 near Surat brought all my confidence to almost zero level.

Thinking of all this was only making me afraid of going ahead in full surety. For the first time I felt an emotion that I thought I was immune to when it comes to motorcycling, …Fear.

4.) Did you know this ride gave me a serious injury on my shoulder –

In this mad rush type of ride, I had to also make myself aware to be careful about the damages physically I may incur. Not that I intend to hurt myself but its my theory that such rides always tend to give you some kind of injury. Mostly a minor one. Least I was expecting that I might get a serious shoulder injury.

This so happened that while coming down from Chopta, one corner had little black ice and slush. I couldn’t spot it from far and the rear tyre went in on the curve; this slid the bike against the hill side of the road and my shoulder brushed against the hard surface at a little high speed. The pain was there just for few immediate hours and gone; but upon returning home and checking up with the doctor I got to know that few tendons have been snapped. I’m still in recovery mode and it hurts when I raise the shoulder back and up. But hey, no pain no gain… I have a 10 lakh rupees supersport bike parked in my garage as my winning. Covers up much of the pain. 🙂

5.) Did you know I almost faced an unrecoverable breakdown of the bike on day 2 itself –

The packing for this ride went almost till the flag off time. Everything was done in so much of hurry that I had a feeling I forgot something important to carry. When I was reaching the flag off point, in my mind I was going over the checklist and wondering whether I forgot, or what I forgot that’s bothering me right now…!

Only when I covered 100kms it hit me that I forgot to carry the chain lubricant. It was very important for the ride. Already I was running on the last setting and lubricating the chain every 500kms was a must. The moment I reached Jaipur the inevitable took place. The chain started making hell of a noise and I couldn’t find a dam shop of motorcycle accessories on my route. Over that my preference was to buy a spray bottle so I can carry it on the ride ahead. Just lubricating with those local oil sprays won’t be enough. They barely stick on the chain (gets thrown off at high speeds.)

With that cranking noise I rode from Jaipur to Meerut and wondered that if I don’t find anything here then I’m officially thrown off my schedule. Staying exact on time with my itinerary was very necessary to work everything out for my story.

One, two times I event felt that the chain might snap or jump off from the sprocket. It was now totally dry. And just when my mind was preparing to face the breakdown; …spotted a good shop which sells exactly what I was looking for. A big can of chain lube; not Motul though but as if I was in a situation to complain.

In fact I almost came at a point where I was considering to apply my hair oil on the chain 🙂

6.) Did you know mosquitoes are responsible for the write up of day 0 and 1 –

If I have to win this thing then surely right from word 1 everything has to be awesome. Bullshit has no room in the story.

Day 1 & 2 involved in me covering far distances in short time so I kept the writing for last on day 2. After almost 48 hours I reached close to Lansdowne, found a hotel, checked in and thought of taking a nap first before I start writing the blog in the wee hours of morning. Just when I was tucking myself in, I realized the room is fully invested with mosquitoes. Not even half an hour I was able to sleep at peace.

These rascals were even coming under the bed sheet and tearing into my flesh. (I was just wishing for the mosquito bat over here.) Fuck the sleep I decided to start writing now itself. And decided to put whatever words that come out immediately from my heart and mind. I didn’t even proof read and straightaway published it.

I now realize that if there had been no mosquitoes, what content that arose from me that day would have been different. And that different would have not been the winning one because the winning one was from the mosquitoes incident.

Sounds so stupid but that’s what the chain of events show.

7.) Did you know on the last day I slept on the bus stop for an hour, only to be awakened with the title ‘Ghost’-

On Day 7 I had to ride from Meerut to Mumbai in less then 24 hours to complete my 7 days circuit. Meerut to Mumbai in 24 hours is pure stupidity. Even with my pushing endurance level, I was sure somewhere close to home I might snap. My sleep will take over my mind. But I decided to worry about it when the event nears. And so after 18 hours of rigorous riding, finally somewhere ahead of Modassa I was not able to hold on to. Physically I was so tired that I close my eyes and I would fall asleep.

I decided to give myself few mins break or atleast an hour’s sleep. So like how Dr. Arnob Gupta does, I found the perfect bus stop, parked the bike close to me and slept on the bench. Idea was to refresh myself with a power nap but I opened my eyes to something weird and funny. You see there was a marriage happening close by and the “Baarat” was going from the road where I was sleeping. They saw my bike and me lying on the bench, wearing all these weird things (gears), so they stopped to check this curious sight.

Just when they came close (within a feet) my eyes opened and I got up suddenly. In that dark ambiance I don’t know what happened but I clearly heard someone shouting ‘bhoot bhoot’ and they started running away. It was a LOL moment for me; I quickly spoke and calmed them down. Once relaxed they seem pretty annoyed with what happened and started telling me ‘Aisa koi kidhar sota hai kya…’ Once the show was over I hit the road once again, but this episode didn’t get out of my head till I reached home. Whenever I felt sleepy I thought of this scene, giggled and paced myself.

8.) Did you know I’m struggling to reach the ground when sitting on this bike (Z800) –

This is a funny one. I was not totally aware that this machine is so tall. I’m a good 5.8″ but despite, when I sit on the motorcycle, my feet struggle to reach the ground. So now I cannot move the bike if it’s stationary position and off. It’s heavy and massive.

And me regardless of being a huge person, have to be careful with this mean machine.

9.) Did you know as a prayer to almighty I rode on my bicycle from Mumbai to Shirdi –

I’m not very much in religion but my perspective of prayers and connection with Baba have always had a unique identity.

For some reason I felt a strong urge to be in Shirdi on the day of the announcement. I was already anxious and nervous.

For me riding to Shirdi from home is not a difficult task on my motorcycle. It’s just 3 hours ride from Mumbai. But again for some reason I had this feeling of putting my mind and body through rigorous levels to understand this unfamiliar urge I was experiencing.

So I decided to pedal my way to Shirdi this time. I anyways had a bicycle expedition in the Himalayas coming up, so pedaling to Shirdi will just become a perfect training thing for me.
What happen next, you all know. 🙂

10.) Did you know I cried like a baby when I saw this video –

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5 WTF Moments from the Spiti Valley Bicycle Ride

You read my Spiti Bicycle Ride Notes, your saw the photos; you liked it and appreciated it. Many thanks…

Now on a lighter note, here are my favourite WTF moments from the Spiti Valley Bicycle Ride.

1. 21kms for that 3kms We had taken a couple of days halt at Tapri; and at least I in my mind was relaxed because next day we had to cover only 25kms to reach Reckong Peo, of which only last 5kms is uphill. Rest all just a cruise parallel to the river.

But when we began this day, within exit of Tapri we saw a 21kms uphill diversion to Chooling due to landslide. Chooling my friends was just 3kms away from the diversion via the regular route.

For a mere 3kms we were off on a uphill path of 21kms.

WTF; Shoot me now.

2. Why Pedal Downhill! All this time we were enjoying whenever there was a downhill stretch. It was a moment to take a breather from the constant pedaling. But here after entering Spiti Valley I don’t understand; why on some downhill paths we had to pedal.

Despite the decline the bike was not catching up any speed.

It was strange and silly experience.

WTF; somebody give me a rocket booster.

3. Wind in My Face, Please No Thanks On a motorcycle the wind in your face is quite pleasing; but here on 0 BHP wind in face means pedaling against the wind to the last light.

Post Rampur we always got head wind after 3pm until Manali.

WTF; The feeling was like pedaling on the indoor cardio cycling machine with constant level 10 mode.

4. Where the Hell is All the Food Going By day 8 of the ride we could feel a shift in out metabolic rate. Whatever we eat was getting instantly digested.

We were hungry after breakfast, we were hungry after lunch and… we were hungry after dinner.

WTF; We were craving for sweets and beer always …and liquids throughout the ride.

5. Mr. Turkey Somewhere in the middle of the ride we got this pride and ego in ourselves. Any motorcyclist who use to pass by raising a thumbs up, we were enunciating ‘Bitch Please…’; 🙂 LOL…we were finding it very funny. Everyone tends to glorify their motorcycle rides in the Himalayas nowadays and we were like Bitch Please do it on 0 bhp.

It all went fine for few days until we reached Tabo. Upon reaching a cyber cafe we met a guy from Turkey who rode all the way on his bicycle, weighting 80kgs. (A Grand Bitch Please to us.) And over that he says I don’t feel I have cycled enough until I cover at least 20000kms. Our jaws dropped upon hearing this.

After this incident we were brought back on the ground; and in Abhilabh a Russian spirit came in (though the guy was from Turkey :-D) Hence onwards Abhi spoke everything in Russian accent. It was a ROFL acts to the end of the ride.

Why WTF!? …its because every time we were climbing steep slopes, he would do his Russian accent and smash all the focus and enthusiasm accumulated. I myself slipped on my own pedal once.

Hilarious it was..

Spiti Valley on a BICYCLE

Full Set of the Photo Album of Spiti Valley bicycle ride uploaded on my Flickr Account.

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When we did the Chandra Tal trek, Jamaica requested me to make a video presentation of it. This is the one I was able to cook up. Dedicated to Jamaica and his service to the people visiting Chandra Tal.

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Notes

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“Great Things are achieved Only by Sacrifice”

In life, you don’t feel you have lived until and unless you do something crazy. Something you survive and live to tell the tale. Something that makes your heart warm; Something that burns the incense of passion inside you; your blood turns hotter than lava and the sound of your breath is looking to reach higher decibels.

No matter what logical decision your mind tells you to make, your heart is always ready to sacrifice something to be in that moment which gives you the utmost bliss.

With similar thought process and feelings running inside me I was having these ideas of doing a bicycle trip in the Himalayas. Atleast once in my life I wanted to register this entry in my day log of karma. I’m not sure how, but even the place hovering in my mind was Spiti Valley, specifically. I have seen those mountains over a couple of times and yet my focus was back on the same place.

I didn’t argue with myself; locked the destination and prepped for it in 3 months time. A new bicycle, gear and some practice for the muscles, back at home.

Usually anyone would train for atleast 6 months but I knew my mind and body was ready for it. It was a calling that I couldn’t doubt.

Going solo or not was still a question but sometimes words are released in those moments that you feel the control of external forces. I shared the plan with a friend of mine and he with another; And locked the group to 3. All this happened in a nick of time.

And so it was decided that we 3 will ride together on our bicycles to Spiti Valley this season of 2014.

We all had our frights and fear; but making it through was unquestionable in our hearts. We knew this was it.

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Here I present you 10 notes that took birth in this bicycle ride up in the Himalayas

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Note 1: People Lack Patience to Practice Patience

In today’s time one really needs to be patient. If he or she cannot remain one then during restless times one’s mind becomes annoying as a fly.

We took train from Mumbai to Kalka. Our bicycles were booked in the luggage car and we were rested in the 2AC compartment. Best place to be in the hot summers of Central India.

The train journey was quite long; sitting with hardly any activity to do requires tremendous amount of patience. In the first 6 hours itself my mind was going nuts. And to top it up, the seats occupied by the people opposite our birth were the only noisy ones in the whole compartment.

Jesus, …it was like ‘KILL ME NOW’ moment.

I came pretty close to snapping a few times; but calmed myself and went into deep silence to find peace and perspective in the finding scenario.

You know in difficult times I always remember the teachings of Dalai Lamba; to beat your own misery you need to visualize someone’s greater misery. Someone in this world, your brother, your fellow kind is going through much painful days than yours.

I immediately jump to positive feelings whenever these thoughts I recollect in my head. Today is a gift, it is a present. Perceive it in a way that you cannot see at first sight.

Interacting with the noisy family and neighboring passenger helped calm those annoying hours.

Really I need to start practicing patience to deal with annoying situations; you really don’t want to blow up yourself. Making yourself better and helpful is the sole purpose of one being.

Note 2: Holy Moly – The Reality is Tenfold of What We Thought

We prepared ourselves by cycling regularly couple of months before this main feat. We ate right and we packed right. We had all the things we need and we were high on confidence that we’ll be able to do this with some efforts. Hey! We had the youth on our side; so big deal!

We were foolish.

The moment we pushed that first pedal, the thought of reality kicked us hard. In fact kicked us right from the the south direction straightway up.

Within just 4 kms after embarking from Kalka we were “little” tired and muscles feeling heavy.

Plan was to reach Shimla in next 48 hours; with a night halt at Solan.

Every km being uphill, the climb was a staggering effort. Breathless, tired, exhaustion, thirsty, frustration, annoyance were the only words ringing in our heads. And the last few kms of the attempt were like ‘Forget the ride just bury us here.’

Regardless of how and what we were going through, somewhere in the back of the mind there was always this small candle of hope. Nothing but just desperate and urgent emotions of triumph and victory use to set in at moments.

We made it on time as per itinerary and also feet anchored to the ground. Reality plans now, no cloud 9 display.

Note 3: Reverence to The Body

Just when you think the tough part is over you realize everything was just warming up.

In the hours of our climb to Kufri and following day to Hatu peak, we realized our bodies are truly limitless. But you need to be patient for your physical being to come in terms with performance level. When it’s ready, you’ll know it.

Push it to build, not to destroy. It was the time that at least I started respecting my body on a whole different level. In the scales of physical endurance it was becoming stronger but needed continuous feed of my patience.

You may be last in the race but you are not done yet. Only inside you, you know, and are fully aware that there is so much yet to yield and deliver. It’s the only thing you need to keep in mind to pull such an act of adventure.

And in testing times, you’ll always find a helping hand to cheer you and bless you on your journey. We found this feelings in the lady who fought on behalf of us with the bus driver who almost dashed into us, we found it in the local guy running a adventure shop who saw our parked bicycles and stopped for a chat, we saw it in the local tourists who were cheering us when climbing steep slopes and… we saw it in invincible forces that were flying with us for our protection.

Today we now find ourselves in a position to do the impossible. The spark and potential has been awaken, now its time to move this body to greater heights.

It’s well said that body is the temple of God, adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy; carefully careless. Quote, my Guru.

Note 4: A Skill if Unproductive is Never a Waste

Many of us in our lives learn something out of context; we pick up a few skills along the journey of life; Most land up being unproductive. You are a professional banker but you are an awesome gardener too. The latter might not be earning some bucks but it’s the skill you possess, you have been defined by it.

Believe me none will ever go to waste.

In an incident where my bike met with an accident; only the skills never used by my fellow cyclists came to the rescue in the need of hour. None of those skills were put to use in daily routine but today they stood to be heroes. There is a fine line between living and truly living.

Skills are your best weapons to emerge victories in any stage of life; no matter how diminutive they are, each set can be those drops that fill the ocean.

So in life pick up some new set of skills wherever there is an inner calling.

Note 5: True Test of Patience

Losar just 3kms away but why it feels like 300? You are at your full strength but why do you feel weak? You ate well then why are you feeling hungry? You had a good sleep then why so much fatigue? You trained well but why cannot see any results? You carried 4 liters of water then how come only half left when you are not even halfway across? Its downhill then why the cycle is not going fast?

In events like these you only feel, oh God let this moment past asap. But the truth I realized that until one doesn’t start enjoying these moments no matter how much baffling they are, every second passed will feel like endless hour.

Yes I’m in a pickle and I’m not able to figure out some things. But this scenario is just a part of your pursuit to success. It’s what going to make you. One needs to accept it, challenge it and resolve it by keeping self calm and composed. Then every longing second will feel like a fast paced moment.

Being aware and alert is the key of performing a patient activity. You are high on pain and my god, you love it. When finally that particular timeline has passed, your inner self screams in roar of rejoice and victory.

Yes you have made it. And shall do it again…

Note 6: Offcourse an Indian Can Do it

While crossing Pooh, we came across a small army post where the head officer asked in a little strong tone, ‘which country?’
I replied in the same tuning, INDIA.

He was shocked, surprised and later overwhelmed to see Indians on a bicycle in the valley. No backup, no big group… Just 3 people on bicycles.

We were brought inside on orders to have tea and snacks with them. Have a little talk and then carry on ahead with the ride.

A thought started pondering in my head that why sometimes some people assume Indians cannot be seen doing something like this… or something else; some other adventure feat.

We see many foreigners pedaling across the Himalayas, and I take inspiration from them only to execute on parallel lines. I believe there is nothing an Indian can’t do. And I also say why first of all bring nationality into it. If you are human, then you are limitless. One should learn how high he/she can excel in this God given life.

This was the very moment that gave birth to another ride on my bicycle, in my head —  A K2K : Kashmir to Kanyakumari SOLO 😛

Hopefully in 2015.

Note 7: There is No Harm in Asking for Help

Often I have seen that many of us especially in our youth refrain from taking any help when in trouble. It’s obvious that our pride and ego drives us into this thinking mode.

When climbing up Nako, we were determined to go all the way up pedaling. And honestly we did quite well; pretty impressive for first timers. But just 5kms before the village our body gave up. Physically, mentally and emotionally we were totally drained. There was nothing in us that could boost up our enthusiasm. And it was already past the last evening light.

Thankfully there was a small hotel coming up nearby and the restaurant was already functional. When we got speaking with them we got to know they are just packing up and will be driving to Nako where they stay.

It was a Mahindra Max and enough room at the back for 3 bicycles and 3 guys. We asked if they could drop us up and they casually answered in positive.

On our way up I realized that stubbornness is a quality that needs guidance. Yes I was stubborn. I wanted to go all the way up pedaling. But when I have mentioned before ‘Body is temple of God, Adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy. Carefully careless’ I need to know when to stop and give it a break. Who knows, maybe next time I might be able to do it faster than just going all the way up pedaling.

Note 8: And I Thought Downhill Will be The Most Fun

The moment we started pedaling in the mountains, I had a feeling that going downhill must be super fun than the never ending uphill. That slow pace requires tremendous patience, so downhill will be pure compensation — was my belief. But in reality, we did not see this coming…

The first long downhill patch welcomed us post Narkhanda. It’s almost 40kms to the bottom of the hill from the popular hill station.

Within 5 minutes of the start we caught up speed and at the first turn I skidded a little. Almost fell you can say in fact.

Lesson 1 – Bicycles with luggage are not meant for cornering the way I’m imagining.

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On a straight downhill patch almost touched 50 speed and felt a wobble.

Lesson 2 – Going fast downhill with luggage onboard is a stupid idea.

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Already so much weight on bike and the weight of the bicycle pushing downhill in concern to speed, mass and gravity; most likely to get punctured.

Rear tyre gets its first nail on the trip.

Lesson 3 – Best to go fast on smooth surface than otherwise.

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Who said body will be at constant rest when going downhill?! A stupid assumption.

Lesson 4 – Your forearms and palm pain like hell because entire weight is falling on them while descending rapidly. The bigger you are the stronger it’s going to hurt.

“Uphill se darr nahi lagtha hai sab, Downhill se lag tha hai…” Dabbang style 😛

Note 9: Chacha Chachi

I don’t even need to explain this note. Those who have traveled Spiti thoroughly will know who are truly called as Chacha Chachi.

In this bicycle trip to Spiti Valley, 3 days spent in Batal at Chacha Chachi’s Dabha were the blissful moment of this epic feat. Their warm hospitality is unbelievable and immeasurable. Until you meet them you won’t even accept the fact that people like them exist even in today’s time. They have defined how a human being should live and behave. Their life there is also a testimony to the limitless potential two people have when they come together.

The food and talks just made us hung on to the place like bees on honey. We had to push our mind to come out from that comfort zone so we can move ahead in our journey. Otherwise who knows we would have lived there for more time.

Few moments of my life I shall surely dedicate to this beautiful couple living deep in the Himalayas. A gift to them is a must.

God bless them.

Note 10: Hidden Power Wakes Up

You don’t need to be exposed to gamma rays to become Hulk; not get bitten by spider to turn in Spiderman, not take boosters to become like Captain America… or wish you have super powers like Krissh. The Hero is already inside you. Strength and Bravery are already lurking inside you. The capsule of wisdom is too present in your diet; all you need to do is wake the hero, launch your strength and push the bravery sky high; …absorb the knowledge from the surroundings dispassionately. And transform into an ace human.

You’ll then realize you are already capable of performing miracles. The magic was already in your hand, you just have to start swinging the wand for the greater good.

This bicycle ride made me realize what I’m truly capable off and how much there is still inside me that needs an eruption.

All this time I thought I’m just a motorcycle enthusiast and Himalayan lover with a zest for photography. But now I realize there is more ‘stuff’ hiding in this body, soul, mind and heart. I cannot see it immediate but seek it with meditation and faith. I learned to trust my own self in ways I had not seen before.

It’s truly said that humans don’t fully work on their potential; how beautifully true it is, when here it took me 28 years to understand this… how much time it will take for others.

We all have hidden powers in ourselves; each one having a unique strength, a feature… a unique identity — spark. Try to take on something impossible that shall open the gates of that hidden dragon inside you. It’s time to come out of the ashes and take the flight of phoenix.

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Discoveries of Spiti Bicycle Ride

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There is no such thing as ‘Been there Done that’ – Many of us have this tendency to say this statement. It’s a way to make one sound cool. But I now realise the truth is otherwise.
No matter how much time you have been there or done that, every new time will always give a new perception. If you cannot see it then you are not seeking it.

Muscles are your best friends – You strength and muscles are you saviours for any such feat. We don’t take care of them enough; it’s high time we do the needful.
Making them stronger and flexible is more important for this generation than it was for the previous one.

Value water like nothing else – We get it’s regularly uninterrupted supply so we tend to take it for granted.
That feeling of quenching your thirst when you are desperate for some water is unexplainable. Water is life, value it — respect it.

People deserve respect, no matter how small – In today’s time the one who is highly qualified and become a big man gets the most respect. But we forget that by default in our hearts even today we generate respect for those who hit our chords gracefully. Rather than the humble receptionist of Shimla hotel, I felt a warm affectionate feeling towards the house owner of Losar where we stayed one night.
A small man from a small village won our hearts by just few graceful words from his illiterate being.

Skill is your qualification, not graduation – In the era where graduation is very important for teenager, learning few set of skills is getting ignored.
In life some skills that you pick up come to your rescue at desperate times. Its important to learn a thing or two once in a while.
Learn different types of knots, learn how to fish, learn sewing, learn to defend… atleast learn how to fix a puncture. 🙂

A herbal tea can do wonders – Drinking tea and coffee everyday is just useless and waste of money. We already know we get the 7th grade supply down to us and all above are exported; then what’s the point of having poor quality products for living.
Just move to herbal tea; it has so many benefits that you’ll see the results in just few days.
The herbal tea we had at Kye monastery, I felt its benefits in the same hour itself.

Inspiration and motivation are the only thing that drives you; seek it – These two things will always be the driving force behind your living, your activities and your behaviour.
The moment it starts diminishing, you tend to change in unpleasant way.

Burned enough fuel, now it’s time to give back – All these years we have burned enough gas to fuel our passion of automobiles; it’s high time we give something back to the environment.
Start by taking up a bicycle ride. Burn those calories instead of octane. You’ll surely benefit in the long run; and the respect you earn as a residue is an addon.

Abundant energy lies in small moments of joy and happiness; spread it – It’s something we know but always undervalue the concept.
One does not realize the powerful energy hidden in the joy of little things in life.
You get a top job in a big multinational company, you are happy, you are at the top of the world… But it still can’t beat the joy you experience when your baby first time calls you mama, papa.

It’s not the tea at Cafe Coffee Day but the cutting at Batal Dabha gives you warm and homely feeling. A feeling that ignites caring thoughts for our brothers and sisters on the planet. And our extended family among the animals.
From these small moments you’ll derive great amount of energy that you’ll never run out of enthusiasm.

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Last Note from My Journal

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The ride ended with some realization of truth and a sense of maturity. I promised myself that hence onwards I’m not gonna stop bicycling.

Be it for health and fitness or just mere commute or even some good long distance touring; bicycling will be an integral part of my lifestyle.

So the story of this ride ends but a whole new chapter in my life opens up.

The Air Up There | Himalayas

36 days in the Himalayas; 1 Man – 1 Machine

(Talking to myself inside the helmet); it’s been 12 hours since I left Kargil and entered Suru – Zanskar Valley. Couldn’t find an ounce of food to eat. Have been just on water… Yeah! This ride is definitely the most testing and challenging one done till date. Common Om focus; one mistake and you gone forever. It will take weeks just to know you are missing.

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I never imagined my life would revolve around Biking. May be it’s a passion or just an addiction but Motorcycles and Biking is now a culture, a family, a place where you make good friends; I’m grateful for this and the fact that it has given me the ability to reach any corner of the country in any environment. Freedom to explore the world on two wheels. Is it possible to push your limits in this world and to know where you stand by? Can two wheels teach you lessons of life? And what happens when you fall! So why not take it to the extremes and test the limits of man and machine, a place like no other, The Himalayas.

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Hi, my name is Om Vaikul and I set on a journey to the mountains for 36 days, covering 8000+ kms through 7 states, 9 valleys, 9 mountain passes and came back in a state of bliss. What makes any of this even more special is that I made this solo on my bike – on a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500.

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The joy of being in Himalayas for me is unexplainable. We all have one place in our lives where we come to in peace with ourselves. For me Himalayas has always been the answer to the chaos in today’s living. Material, Spiritual and in Superficial terms, being just in Himalayas has become an annual thing. They are not just the youngest mountain range in the world but also the liveliest ones.

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Why Solo?

Till date I have made 6 trips to Himalayas and each time I was fascinated to hear some stories off this and that valley or come to know about some amazing place across a river that is very less explored. Also in each trip some of the places from the plan use to get skipped because of short of time or road block; some reason or the other. So once I had decided that a trip to Himalayas solo is a must. And it’s the only way I could quench my thirst of photography in the mountains fully.

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Why Thunderbird 500?

For the simple reason, I had carried ample luggage on this trip. Something that may or may not come handy was also in the bag. Couple of places was quite off the map, remote and isolated so carrying atleast 10 litres extra fuel was mandatory. And I wanted to enjoy this ride in a cruiser position; also not compromise anywhere in power. I saw Thunderbird 500 has the only option that fit aptly. The 20 litres large fuel tank, tried and tested 500cc engine from the best selling Classic 500 and the many other modern technology incorporated in this bike, made this a feasible choice.

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Priceless Experiences?

From the whole 36 days. I would like to narrate 9 incidents that made me think in a renewed way towards life granted by the almighty one.

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1st Incident | Location: Somewhere on the highway

Just when I had taken a small tea break by the highway, a guy riding a motorcycle came and stopped besides me. He seemed a local fellow and I guess was also stopping for tea. When I turned and looked at him properly, my glass almost fell off after the sight I witnessed. The guy had no left arm; yet he rides a motorcycle properly.

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I exchanged few words with him, took a photograph with his permission and carried on. He was such a casual personality as how we express ‘no big deal’ phrase. The only thing that kept rotating in my mind was ‘Impossible is truly nothing.’

2nd Incident | Location: Chail, Himachal Pradesh

It was past 5 PM and I was coming down on the Chail Kufri road to get back on the main highway and as per my itinerary, today’s halt was in Narkhanda. As I was cruising, calculations were in full flow in my head that in an hour I’ll lose the day light and Narkhanda is still another 2 and a half hours away, max, that too if I rush a little. One thought was, maybe I’ll check in to a hotel nearby. Probably before the sun sets! And just after passing of this thought a hotel kind of thing passed by. I was little fast so couldn’t get the whole glance. I stopped ahead and thought for a second whether it was what I saw or may be try my chance little ahead!

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I don’t know why and how, but the next action came naturally. Without wasting a moment I turned back and went there. Parked my bike, removed my helmet and took in the whole view of the place. It was quite something. A hotel which looked like a home, totally built on a slope with stones and concrete pillars. When I was bargaining for a fair deal, the lady who came at the door told me to go up at the top and her husband is sitting there, please speak with him.

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I met him on the terrace of the hotel and spoke with him for about 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised to know that it was not at all about the rate or tariff to stay here, he was curious to know why I’m traveling alone, who I am and the curious questions usually asked to a solo traveler. After a moment of silence he started praising of what I am on to and wished me the very best for the journey ahead.

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The lady got me some tea and then finally topic came on the price for the accommodation. Rs. 500/- was finalized. I was little tired that day and the owner also insisted to sit and relax for a while before going down again for luggage and stuff. Here is when a new topic got initiated. In that moment I got to know from him, this place is their home and now made into a hotel, their village is close by and this was their parents’ dream. Many other little and big intimate details of the place I was told. I also got to know he had given a job to someone to make a website for his place and the guy never corresponded back. This is when I interrupted and told him it’s not that difficult to make it. It is hardly expensive to make just a simple static website for a place like this on a platform called WordPress. I quoted him a small figure of Rs. 2000/- that is sufficient to create one.

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He asked me do you also make a website. I replied yes. Here are his next words, “Son, please make one for us and don’t pay us anything for the stay here. Enjoy 3-4 days here. Have the best of food that my wife will prepare. My sons will take you around and show you the place.” I don’t know how and why but to this I agreed so spontaneously that I didn’t even understand whether I myself said yes or just my soul was answering. For the first time I felt of higher powers at work.

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I stayed with the family for 3 days. Each meal given to me was king size. I ate with them in the kitchen as well as the dining room. On cold night, food was served to me in my room. Every item consumed is grown there and like he promised, his 2 sons took me on a tour of the whole mountain. Before leaving he even told me, “I have good contacts further ahead in state, if any help needed then do not hesitate to ring me up.”

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When I reached Mumbai after 30 days from their place, exactly on the 35th day I got a call from them to know whether I have reached safe and was my journey a success! I was touched by their approach. I’m still in touch with them and have been invited to come there again in winter months to see a whole different Chail. First time I realised the meaning and got a true experience of the phrase “Guest is God”.

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3rd Incident | Location: Maling near Nako village, Himachal Pradesh

When I was closing in on Nako village I got to know via Bcmtouring.com that the Malling Nallah area has a disastrous drop. The road has totally gone down. And no way will it be ready in the next 15 days, that was the degree of damage. I still took my chances and settled in at a home stay in Nako. It’s a very remote village high in Himalayas so accommodation charges amount to hardly an expensive figure.

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On Day 2, I made reckon of the situation and decided to give 7 days’ wait, for it to improve. But right after passing of the 3rd day I realised this is no way going to get ready even for lighter vehicles like a bike anytime soon. I was discouraged and disheartened. But just when I was getting ready to turn back, an army fellow met me at the village. There was a wedding in the evening so some army guys had come down for some work. He told me that he was observing me since last 3-4 days and inquired about my intentions. The next thing to come from his mouth was, “Sirji you come up tomorrow morning with your bike, with luggage and everything. We have just put a railing on the patch and with some efforts we might be able to get you across.” I was delighted to hear this. Very eagerly I waited for the next morning.

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At the first light I was full ready to roll. Even before breakfast I was ready up there. The same army fellow met me and gave me 2 helpers to assist me out. And with some daring efforts, me and my bike were taken across. I could not express the joy of the current happening. Some other labour or person would have asked for money or some compensation. But the moment I went across and looked back, the 2 people immediately went back to their camps without showing any expectation. I whistled and waved to show my gratitude. I experienced the phrase, “Yes, even today there are people who will help you whole heartedly.”

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4th Incident | Location: Chandra Tal

During my 7 days stay in Nako, via a working cyber café I was communicating and updating on BCMT forum about the road status here. I didn’t realise who all were reading or following it. After my departure from Kaza in Spiti valley I arrived at Chandra Tal. Kept my stuff in a camp and headed towards the lake. I met a guy over there ‘Jamaica’ and with just some talks exchanged he recognized me the one who was in Nako for 7 days. He was overwhelmed to meet me and I was taken away by his hospitably.

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So many mutual friends and topics opened up that an amazing bond got created with the man. He made an amazing food for me that night. It’s not easy to cook non-veg items at that altitude in severe cold weather. Also insisted to come and have breakfast with him next day morning. He prepared everything by himself. At the end of our meeting it happened so that he didn’t take a single rupee from me for his services offered. People ask me; tell me a person who will work not for money? Today I can proudly say, come with me and I’ll not just tell but show HIM to you.

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5th Incident | Location: Keylong

I had plans to explore the hike route to Keylong monastery before I set riding for the day. I started at 6 in the morning and since there was nothing open at that hour, I just grabbed couple of bananas for the trek. Within 40 minutes of climb I was lost and the 2 bananas disappeared in my stomach. I didn’t want to go back, was totally determined to make it to the top of the monastery. So finally after zig zag climb I was inside the main building. Totally drained, hungry, thirsty and exhausted enough to fall down. Over the top I got to know that all monks have left for the Hemis festival.

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Just when hope was dying out, I was greeted by 2 little monks (kids) who took me in the kitchen. I think they noticed me tired and exhausted because the next thing I see is hot herbal tea and a jar full of biscuits kept in front of me. I was trying my level best to control the tears that were trying to burst out. Both of them gave me a tour of the place before I started downhill back to the hotel. Quote, “God walks with you. He takes care of you. His love can take you across the universe.”

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6th Incident | Location: Leh

When I reached Leh I was looking for the cheapest possible accommodation and close to the main market as much as it can get. After some snooping around I finally found a homey stay that fit my budget. My very thought before closing my eyes was that after 5 days I’m gonna have a royal English breakfast at German Bakery. A must do for bikers coming to Leh. Next morning, excited, ready and just when I was about to exit the room, the house lady grabs me, “Hello ji good morning, where are you going in such a hurry, come have breakfast first.” I couldn’t say no and sound rude. So I agreed. When I went in the kitchen I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, a royal Ladakhi breakfast, homemade, just for me.

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Here is my point, for the 4 days I stayed in Leh home stay; the house lady didn’t let me leave the house without having breakfast with them. I was given variety each time the morsel was presented to me. What makes this special? On the 4th day when I was clearing the payments for accommodation and food, the house lady refused to take money for the food. I couldn’t do anything but bow in front of them. The only line that kept going in my head that day, “Who are these wonderful people, I know nothing about the real Indian.”

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7th Incident | Location: Rangdum village

Deep inside the Suru – Zanskar Valley is the village called Rangdum. It consists of just 4-5 houses and 1-2 hotels (namesake). Before reaching Padum, one night has to be spent here. It’s the only feasible halt in between the journey of 300 kms off-road stretch.

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I stayed in one such home stay and didn’t dismount much luggage from the bike; just got the camera bag with me up in my room. There was a hotel at walking distance on the other side of the village and I had inquired that dinner will be available but served after 7-8 PM. So till then I rested for some time in my room. By night it was so cold that even stepping out of the room was discouraging. And yes I was hungry enough; since morning I had nothing but a cup of Maggi noodles.

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Just when I couldn’t make up my mind, the man of the house arrived. He looked very aged but strong in stance. The first thing he said was let’s get your luggage inside. Since you are traveling alone, you don’t want to risk your luggage here at this place. Surely nothing will happen but theft doesn’t come in definite conditions. I was speechless. I agreed to him quickly. The next thing he asked me was whether I have eaten? My expression was enough to speak out the answer. He immediately tells his wife, please serve him too, with the food prepared today. I did mention to him that don’t take any trouble as I was about to go to that hotel, he replied, they serve only junk food. No taste, no nutrition. Eat here at home.

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I was presented with rotis, vegetable, curd and Tibetan bread. Prepared exactly how they eat and quantity that will suffice 2 people. I ate and never in my life slept so peacefully. I realised, “Food is truly Brahman; and Vishnu can get him to you in any form, any way and any manner. And Allah blesses the Family who treats the guest as their own.”

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8th Incident | Location: Pensi La

A very small incident took place at Pensi La that left a big impact on my thinking and approach towards life. I closed in on Pensi La pass and took a break near a view point. I noticed a man standing there and staring at me. It didn’t bother me at all. I even exchanged pleasantries with him.

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Just when I was about to pack and move ahead, he stops me and gives me black tea. For a moment I assumed it’s a stall kind of thing he is running under the shed at the corner of the view point structure. When we were talking, the next thing he serves was hot fresh puris. I was totally taken back at the availability of this delicacy at this altitude and weather. I enjoyed every bite of it.

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So what was the big impact? The moment I asked him how much do I owe him for the tea and snacks, he was shocked. In a very heart touching tone he said humbly, “What Sir, you are guest in the Himalayas. To serve you is to serve our father.” (Pointing to the Himalayas). I later got to know that the man was just up there to collect some dry grass for his village. It will take him the entire day to do so; hence he carried materials to make his own meals till sundown. On seeing me, he shared what he had made and forever changed my perspective towards life.

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Values of Being Human are deep rooted in us. We have forgotten them, but somehow our soul still knows it. Only incidents like this, it takes, to re-activate them. No education, no money, nothing but just a humble gesture.

9th Incident | Location: Karsha Monastery

When exploring the monastery on foot, I reached to the top and was busy in photography. A very old monk came by and asked me something. I could not figure a single word that he was uttering. But I figured this much that he is asking to stay for some time. I gladly obliged. I had all the time to give. In about 20 minutes, many little monks came running and this old monk grabbed my hand and made me sit next to him. The next thing I know I’m having my lunch with them – white rice and a boiled egg.

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Food has never been so tasty. Not my stomach but my soul was fed by the Lord himself.

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The 36 days on the highway has taught me lessons of life. Lessons you can’t read about or see on TV. I rode and lived my life in a perspective not seen by many, to a place where you can’t afford any mishaps of judgment.

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I conquered my fear, received the love of my people and country, driven by willpower at times, composed myself in situations of threat and got in touch with my true self.

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This journey made me a better man and I feel privileged to come back alive.

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Checkout all the 600 pictures from the ride HERE.

– Om Vaikul

The story was also published in MotorBeam mag; you can checkout the link Here.

10 Kinds of Bikers I Have Met Till Date

The social media has really made new speed records in connecting people. I started motorcycling 3 years prior to the time when social media kicked in.

Platforms like Facebook and Online Forums has connected us with like minded people around the country; for some even around the globe. With its help I too was able to get in touch with so many bikers than I ever could have.

The journey began from riding with a close group of college friends to big group rides, rallies and festivals. I realized we are so many in numbers.

As years went past, so did my liking for keen observation; I kind off figured that we have a breed among ourselves in this two wheeler world.

Based on my observation, here are 10 kinds of Bikers I have met till date.

1.) The Obvious Showoff

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Somewhere in our time all of us have been in this category for a span. Showing off intentionally or unintentionally was the first days of our biking. Be thankful if you exited this category sooner than ever.

These kind just love showing off, forever. They are into biking for nothing more than seeking attention. The word ‘Showoff’ is enough to give you the whole picture.

You can spot these guys easily when they are in front of you and usually are dum dum.

2.) The Wrong Company

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Pure criminals; they ride Motorcycle for the only purpose of theft. They even steal them and participate in petty to moderate crimes in the neighborhood. A shame and nuisance to the society and give a bad name to the ideology of Bikers.

Beware of these kind. Don’t get yourself in trouble.

3.) Know it All

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These kind have done some biking. By ‘some’ I mean a 2-3 years of active riding. They are in the primary standard but act like they have PH.D; they love to project that they know it all. They dwell on half knowledge and try to act winners by demotivating the fellow rider. They only make wrong decisions and justify why it was right thing to do. Never a team player and insecure riders. Very weak and jealous emotionally. Pure backbiters.

Beware and don’t bother to argue with them. Otherwise the idiot will bring you down to his level.

4.) Fame Gamer

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They have nothing much on biking, but they know all on how to stay in the limelight and be the most talked person. These kind have huge fan following and you wonder how the hell that happen. Rarely you’ll see them riding but find them very active on social media.

Riders love them, hate them and can’t ignore them.

5.) Dhoom Effect

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These guys are purely into biking because of Dhoom movie. John Abraham is their ideal or Aamir Khan off lately. The character which these actors portray becomes their role model. They know shit about motorcycling and most of the time land up crashing.

You’ll find them after dark, indulged in some illegal street racing activities. A menace to pedestrians, society and to the men of law enforcements.

6.) Newbie Rookie

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These have just started biking and have great potential. World is often unkind to them and don’t welcome in the group easily. Some are even ragged by elder riders and most of them are treated with the kids attitude. ‘Bacha hai woh’; Let me rephrase, ‘Naya hai woh’.

But these are the ones who turn out to be great leaders and trend setters. They surprise everyone with their performance and make the competition worry about.

They enjoy what they do and don’t get bothered by what the world thinks of them.

7.) The Professional

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The fastest of the lot. These guys are here purely for the sport. They have enrolled in racing schools, learned from the best and practiced on the track to be the awesome in racing.

Motorcycling is passion, motorcycling is their profession. They are the real celebrities of the two wheel world.

8.) The Stunter

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Each one from this category have weird looking motorcycles; but that’s because they have done exclusive mods for pure stunting. Believe me when I say, this is a tough category. Each one of them has fallen, broken, hurt themselves and risen from the ground to get back at it again… and again.

The best ones practice daily and are creative in making something new happen on two wheels. They have no interest in any other kind of Biking.

9.) Adventure Junky

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These kind are the coolest. Motorcycle means adventure to them. Finding new routes, exploring new trails; traversing across the land is their only Mojo. They respect everyone around and expect nothing back. They are strongest when it comes to endurance and are quite seasoned.

You see them walking or taking public transport when heading to work and going to local places around; the bike only comes out when it’s the weekend and time for some adventure ride on the offbeat track.

10.) The Real Deal

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The hardcore and the elite group. These guys have seen it all and done it all; they have even been to the dark side and returned to tell the tale. Their lives are legend and their lifestyle a reason of inspiration and envy for the others. They are often great role models and guide a fellow rider aptly.

The average people refuse to believe such personalities exist in today’s time. These guys have a genuine fan following and are often soft spoken. Modesty and kindness are their natural traits.

Not all of us who began our two wheel endeavor, reach this position.

P.S. You’ll definitely meet many assholes who declare they are at this level. 😛 — Beware… 🙂