Motorcycling around Himalayas
One of the toughest terrains to ride in the world- Ladakh is every biker’s dream. I’m not an exception. I did my ride to Leh and places around and I’m really proud to complete it successfully.
Except Delhi to Leh and PangongTso I was all alone. Completely on my own, barren land around and broken roads ahead, with the company of just the motorcycle and music of the engine, heart filled with the excitement of the hundreds and thousands of miles covered and the sweet memories of hospitable native people I could interact with… it certainly is a very different and personal feeling… a pure Ladakhi feeling…
The bike doesn’t have a complaint about the heavy dead weight loaded on it. Even the machine seemed to enjoy the new terrain it took for the first time and felt like asking for more. It was a dream ride; ride of a life time. Like the rider even the machine had all the excitement of a first timer to Ladakh. I’m proud of my machine for that matter.
About this ride, nothing went according to my plan, but everything happened very well and smoothly. Plan to enter Kashmir via Srinagar got changed because of the regional and political issues and curfew at that region. Reach Kargil first and do Zanskar before Leh was the initial plan. Anyway Manali - Leh route was still open and no one could impose curfew on that option.
Delhi to Leh
Ride started from Delhi with two pals from Delhi RB- Kam and Rajan. After a late start we could do only till Bilaspur on the first day. Heavy showers welcomed us to Manali on the second day. Old highway to manali doesn’t look so bad. We reached early in the evening and the rain stopped on our arrival. My friends did some shopping and I too had a ride here and there in the city. Before Leh, Manali is the last place with ATM facility.
Third day offered the most exciting part of the ride till then. Climb to Rohthang pass (13050 ft) seemed to be a cakewalk for LB5. Down shift happens only when the speed has to be reduced at hairpins or broken patches. Anyway the fully broken patches and slushy stretches of Rohthang pass climb added more excitement. After Rohthang the motorcycle never looked 'chromy' and clean again.
We did not miss the tradition of taking photos at the Tandi petrol bunk, under the board that says 'next filling station 365km ahead'. I haven't seen any Leh ride album without that photo!
For the reason that we spent more time on tea breaks, we actually were behind schedule (we actually didn't have one). Our plan to reach at least till Sarchu did not work out. We had to halt at Zingzingbar. Three tents were what that place had. We three and two other riders from Mumbai whom we met on the way settled at one of the tents. The tents were not water proof and it rained that night. It was waterproof tarpaulins that helped us survive that night.
Fourth day is going to be tough. There are 310 km to Leh. Considering the road condition, the terrain and the no of stops we are going to take, it’s a bit tough. But we have to make it and we did it comfortably. We were in Leh by around 6:30. That day we crossed four high altitude passes.
First one- Baralacha La (16000 ft) came within 15 km from Zingzingbar and that was the first time I had to open up the carburetor and down size the main jet. Bike started to miss at around 14000 feet+. Ride further was smooth with the proper jet. 75km from Baralacha La is Naki La (16250 ft). It is the ever exciting Ghata loops that makes the climb to Naki La interesting. It is a combination of 21 continuous hairpins. Few kilometers further is Lachung La (16600 ft) and then we decent to Pang. Pang is ideal place for a tea break. The excitement awaits immediately after Pang is the plain surface that stretches for 60km known as More plains. It is 40km wide and is part of Great Tibetan Chamathang plateau. End of more plains is the climb to Tanglang La (17500 ft). Road is in bad shape with few water crossings and climb is a bit hard. Tanglang La is the highest pass on Manali – Leh road. 28 km further is Rumste and from there the road is good till Leh.
Distance in km - Delhi to Leh via Manali
Delhi – 203 - Ambala - 57 - Chandigarh – 116 - Bilaspur - 69 – Mandi – 69 - Kullu - 40 - Manali - 35 - Mahri - 16 - Rohtang - 20 – Khoksar - 16 - Tandi – 08 - Keylong – 21 - Jispa - 11 - Darcha - 30 - Zingzingbar - 11 - Baralacha La - 36 - Sarchu -40 – Naki La – 16- Luchung La- 23 – Pang - 35 – Debring - 40 - Tanglang La 28 - Rumste - 32 - Upshi - 13 - Karu - 36 – Leh
Ladakh ride is all about reaching Leh first, taking permits for the sensitive regions from the DC office and do the detours. Most wanted ones are Khardung La- Nubra valley and Pangong Tso.
1. Khardung La – Nubra valley
That was my first ride from Leh and beginning of my solo rides. My pals are resting at Leh. I had an early start with minimum luggage and one jerrycan of reserve petrol. I wanted to go to where ever is ridable in Nubra.
Kardung La was covered in snow when I reached there. It is August 15th and what an ideal location to celebrate independence day! Few kilometers before reaching the top itself I could see small patches of snow all around. The mountains around looked like Dalmatians. K-top offered a good time with snowfall happening intermittently. Hardly three or four tourists were seen around. I was literally excited. When it snowed I took shelter at the highest tea stall or at the memento shop. And when the snowing stops I am out. I was roaming around there like a kid. I did not even realize that I spent around 2 hours there. K-top started to become crowded when the snowfall settled. On everyone’s face there is this feeling of having achieved something even if they have come there inside the safety of a four wheel drive. One cyclists gang lined up in front of the Kardung La board and singing ‘we are the champions…’ Another group of Indians celebrate Independence Day singing Vande Madaram and Janaganamana… Few bikers are in a dilemma whether to proceed further to Nubra and get stuck in the snow or go back to Leh… The atmosphere is getting more crowded with different people and different thought processes and it’s time for me to head further.
Few more kilometers of snow filled roads and then suddenly everything is clear much before reaching Nubra valley. Nubra means green and vast green pockets in the valley are prosperous villages. This valley once was the famous Tibetan – Turkistan trade route.
77km from K-top is the village Diskit. Diskit is famous for the largest and ancient gompa in the valley. Diskit gompa is 350 years old and is home to around 70 monks. It was interesting to hear that one of the statues there holds skeletal arm and skull of one of the invaders who was slain 500 years ago.
I stayed at Zambala guest house owned by Mr. Nawang at Diskit (Ph: 01980 220418). Nawang family stays in the same building and the guest house is an extension of his house. What a nice family to stay with! I was served food at their family dining area. The next day morning Nawang offered a free lunch parcel and water bottles. He and his kids helped me carry my stuff to the bike and saddle up. That stay was one memorable experience. The faces I met there and the hospitality I experienced are hard to forget.
Though I once did the climb to Diskit gompa in the previous evening, I visited the gompa for the second time in the morning since prayer room was opened in the morning which gave access to more rooms and activities in the gompa.
About 7km further is Hunter which is the last point a civilian can go. Further from Hunter is the sensitive and expensive real estate for India and Pakistan – Siachen glaciers. Hunter is famous for the sand dunes and double humped Bactrian camels. These camels are believed to have been abandoned by the passing caravans centuries ago and have flourished there. Tourists can take a ride on these camels for Rs. 150 for half an hour and for Rs. 300 for one hour. I was interested only in clicking some pics of those animals and headed back.
32 km on the way back there is a left deviation that takes you to Sumur and Panamik. The deviation is around 15km before Khalsar when we come from Hunter side. 3km ride along the river bed to cross to Sumur side is one exciting experience. You can open up to even 90kph+ there. Panamik is famous for the hot springs. Once I touched the water I couldn’t hold on for more than a second. It was really hot.
I headed back to Leh in the afternoon. It is a 160 km ride till Leh. I did not resist the temptation to take another stop at the Khardung La top. There was a long convoy of army trucks waiting at K-top and there is this jawan jumping out of the first truck and walks up to me seeing a KL registered bike. Mr. Srikumar from Adimali was excited to see an adventure rider from Kerala for the first time during his 3 months tenure there. We had a chat at the tea shop for some time and I left to Leh to reach there before sunset.
Distance in km
Leh - 40 - Khardung La - 52 - Khalsar
Khalsar - 25 - Diskit - 7 - Hunter
Khalsar - 52 - Panamik
2. Pangong Tso
This was my only ride as group at Leh. It was a two men group to Pangong Tso- myself and Kam. Though it is doable in one day we preferred to halt near the lake and come back only on the second day.
The deviation to Pangong Tso from Leh- Manali road is at Karu. Total distance from Leh to pangong Tso is 118km. One of the toughest passes Chang La comes at 88km from Leh. The roads are comparatively fine except few bad patches close to Chang La on both the sides and few water crossing areas before Pangong Tso.
Chang La top welcomes you with a board at the army settlement ‘Free tea for every one’. It’s really tasty. I did not miss it while my retunr too.
Around 10km towards right from Lukung, through the road close to the lake is the village Spangmik. The road is in very bad shape with fully broken patches and a couple of big water crossings. Spangmik is the last village on Indan side. Further ahead is Tibetan region (China). Spangmik’s population is only 45. But it is considered to be one of the sensitive places considering the location. Spangmik doesn’t have electricity or phone facility or even postal service. Villagers rely on Army for any sort of communication with the outside world. Further from Spangmik one needs to have a permit to ride through the lake side road to find beautiful beach like locations.
It is a fantastic experience to see the lake at different times of the day. Moon rise and sun rise by the lade side are beautiful views. Clean and light blue look of the lake with the black and snow covered mountains in the back ground is one of the beautiful moods. Deep blue looking lake with the brown colored mountains in the background is another pose of the ever photogenic Pangong Tso.
We pitched tent at the backyard of Stenzing who served us food and rode with us to guide us to beautiful spots at the lake side. It was nice to listen to the china war time experiences from the villagers. Those are information we wouldn’t get on googling or from any history books.
We started our return at noon. The climb to Chang La from Pangong side seemed to be harder than that from the Leh side. Pangong side climb is steeper. No wonder why Chang La is called as Mighty Chang La.
Distance in km
Leh - 15 - Shey - 4 - Tikse - 31 - Chemre - 8 - Taktok - 30 - Chang La - 22 - Tangste - 8 - Luking - 10 - Spangmik
During my Himalayan ride I had real good times with the native people at many places. Meeting Spulzang was great experience. It was after a long search in the city with the photo of him taken by GK two years ago, Spulzang was finally located at his internet café. He has expanded his business in two years and opened a restaurant too. He is the one who taught us the local name of ‘Old Monk’- Largan (it really means old monk in Ladakhi language). His gift –my name etched on a stone plate- was one big surprise to me. That is one example for how Ladakhi people value friends
Places in and around Leh
I initially doubted that time spent at Leh is actually waste, But visit to few places around changed that opinion. It was intersting to know that Leh used to be an extremely busy city in the olden days when it was a major trading center. Leh is quieter nowadays! It's interesting to visualize those days with caravans from far away lands parked in the market and people from different cultures together in the background of that old world charm… Even today another version is very much noticeable at Leh- international tourists out number the nationals.
I feel it is worth staying two or three days in Leh to see the historic places around. I visited few places.
Shanti Stupa, close to Changspa is one beautiful place to visit. The stupa is made by a Japanese with the help of Japanese government. It is part of his effort to spread Buddhism around the globe. The view of Leh from the stupa is awesome and the stupa itself is one hot spot for photography.
Leh Palace too is worth a visit just for the views from top of the palace and the gompa nearby. Namgyall Dynasty ruled from this palace from 1553 till 1834. The palace is a nine storey structure with projecting wooden balconies. The palace is said to have been abandoned in the year 1834 after an attack and defeat by Dorga and the royal family was moved to the stok palace where they live to date.
Stock palace is around 10km from Leh. Built in 1814 this palace is occupied by the royal family to date. It has a small museum that has few royal artifacts on display. The gradual ascent to Stok is amazing. Places in rear view mirror gradually goes down and finally at Stok you have a good view of the stok village with the mountains in the background.
Shey Palace and Gompa
15km in the Manali road, this summer palace was built in 1645 and the gompa in 1655. Ruins of an old fortress too are seen nearby. 12m high statue of Buddha inside the gompa is the biggest in Ladahk. The statue is gilded with gold.
After the detours to Khardung La, Nubra and Pangong Tso and the visits to different historic places in and around Leh I was still in full excitement about Zanskar. I did full preparation at Leh for Zanskar.That included a bike service.
20th Aug 2008. I’m supposed to head to Kargil and from there to Zanskar, the next day. I had to sit at the garage till noon to finish issues with the shock absorbers etc. Again time spent on arranging two more jerrycans delayed me further. So I had to stop at Lamayuru that evening.
Next 5 days were the most memorable riding days of my life. I have written separately about the Zanskar days- ‘Zanskar- A solo Pilgrimage’
A night at the Army camp
After coming back from Zanskar I was in a kind of ‘ride is all over’ mood. What remains now is the return to Delhi via curfew bound Srinagar that will not even let me take a stop in between. So nothing colorful is left. I am even going to miss Dal Lake.
From Kargil I’m heading towards Drass. I was a bit fast to reach Drass before sunset and find a place to stay. It was only 25 km to Drass when the mishap occurred. The clutch box hitting an unnoticed stone in the middle of the road and the resulting fall and damages to the bike left me with no other option but to stay with an army camp. The damages were broken and oil dripping clutch box, fully bent foot peg and a broken rod that holds the side stand and the silencer. The riding gear saved me without a scratch. It is hard to forget the faces of those three army men who treated me like more than a guest. Their hospitality is beyond words.
Kargil to Delhi via the curfew bound Srinagar
I had to go back to Kargil to fix up the bike the next day and I filled extra petrol in jerrycans before heading to Srinagar (Thanks to the advice of those Jawans whom I stayed with). That was one basic necessity since there was no petrol bunks opened on the way due to curfew.
First stop was at Drass. Visiting Vijay path- Kargil war memorial was an honor. The huge stone with the names of Jawans we lost in the war is right infront of you and the places that took most of their lives- Rhino’s horn and the (in)famous tiger hill stand in the background.
That day I stopped at Sonamarg and stayed with few other riders met there who were reluctant to enter the curfew bound areas in the day time. Plan for the next day is to cross the Srinagar region which is under curfew. I was stopped at least 20 times on the way by police and military. Thankfully army rules the entire highway. Sight of army guys at each and every corner of the highway gave a safety feeling.
One incident is unforgettable. This army officer –Sandeep and his Jawans controls a specific region and I was stopped there and Mr. Sandeep has no intension to let me proceed further. It was after 10-15 min. his intentions came clear to me. He wants to listen to my ride stories and wants to know about my bike, how I maintain it for such a long ride etc. Even I enjoyed that break. I saw in his eyes, the desire for rides while inspecting my bike and the set up. Doing all these rides alone was one thing that confused him.
So, you are not married?
I said, ‘no’.
You don’t have a girlfriend either?
I again said, ‘no’.
Hmm, so it is clear… No wonder…
I just smiled.
After a long chat he wished me good luck and I opened the throttle and wished him back.
Before leaving I asked him what to do if someone else again stops me like this.
He said, no, no one is going to stop you like 'this'!
Yes, that was true. No one stopped me anywhere else like 'that'!
Rest of the journey was eventless. By around 6 I reached Pathankot. I spent that night there in real heat after around 20 days. The next day straight to Delhi and that was the end of my 20 days’ expedition.
I haven’t heard good about north Indian cops. But this incident proved that there are exceptions. I was shot with speed gun on the way to Delhi twice. First time I pulled over with other over speeding four wheelers by cops at the next barricade. I was the only two wheeler and the cop wondered with the reading in his hand- 98kph!… The allowed speed for two wheelers is 55kph. But when am I going to reach Delhi if I go at that speed. Amazingly he left me me with no reluctance. What a relief... The second time I was 100+ and I was not stopped. That was real luck.
Distance in km - Leh to Delhi via Srinagar
Leh – 35 – Nimmu – 29 – Alchi – 63 – Lamayuru – 51 – Mulbek – 47 - Kargil – 56 – Drass - 30 – Zojilla pass – 25 - Sonmarg – 63 – Ganderbal – 21 – Srinagar – 178 – Patni Top - 55 – Udhampur – 60 – Samba – 77 – Pathankot - 116 – Jalandhar – 59 – Ludhiana – 106 – Ambala – 120 – Panipat – 85 - Delhi
How may days for Ladakh
If the ride begins from Delhi, it will probably be 4 days to reach Leh via both Srinagar and Manali routes. So 4 days to reach Leh and 4 days for the return.
Two days in Leh to arrange the permits and to see places around.
Two days for Khardung La and Nubra
Two days for Pangong Tso.
And there can be atleast one day buffer.
That means atleast 15 days for the traditional routes.
If Marsimek La is added to the itinerary then that's going to add one day.
For Tso Moriri and Tso Kar one day, if the circuit is done while on the way back from Leh or on the way to Leh or else it is going to be two days.
On Leh - kargil route if the Dha - Batalik route is an option, that will add one more day.
If Zanskar is part of the plan add 4 more days.
Places that need Permit for entry
1. Pangog Tso - beyond Spangmik.
A permit and extra fuel will let you do the Chumathang - Tso moriri - Tso Kar circuit from pangong Tso.
2. Nubra valley ( Diskit, Hunter, Sumur, Panamik )
3. Tso Moriri
4. Batalik (Skurbuchen - Dha - Batalik)
Tips that I learned during my trip for a smooth ride on the mountains:
1. If the vehicle is running in the plains with up-jetted carburetor, keep the stock size or even lower size jets as spare. You might end up with a missing carburetor on mountains. (Spare jets carried with me helped me during the ride)
2. Clean the air filter once in a while. The dusty terrain clogs the filter faster and the lack of oxygen at mountains will lessen the air intake into the carb drastically.
PS: There are few guys I can't miss to mention about here. Those are the guys who helped me whatever way they could in my effort to make arrangements for this ride.
Tools and spares contributed by JSR, Moshaii, Sashi, Meppa...
Thanks to JSR for the carburetor tips and loads of information about Ladakh. Your previos experiences made things easier for me.
Kam and Rajan from Royal Beasts, thank you for being my hosts in Delhi and for giving me company till Leh.
I thank every one who supported and helped me directly or indirectly.
A ride to an isolated region in Ladakh and see a piece of virgin land- that was one secret agenda I had when I planned my Leh ride. And Zanskar happened to be the ideal location for my pilgrimage. An isolated valley in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains, less explored by tourists, a beautiful and peaceful valley to experience the real peace of mind- That is Zanskar.
Area: 5000 square Km
Road Access: June mid till Oct mid
Place and people
Zanskar lies south- west of Leh and south- east of Kargil. As of now this is the most isolated valley in Ladakh surrounded by mountains and the only road to reach there is from Kargil which is one of the toughest in the region with 240km of gravel/sand roads with lots of water crossings.
With less than 1500 population, Padum is the administrative headquarter of Zanskar. Apart from few places closer to Kargil there are no options for even food or water on the way to Padum.
More than 50% of Zanskar population is Buddhists, but Muslim population is very close to that of Buddhists’. People here are warm and friendly in approach and trust the stranger travelers. The reason probably is that the kind of travelers come to Zanskar today are different from other parts of our country.
My host family had this story to share with me. 21years ago one trekker from Europe (I forgot his name) visited Zanskar on foot from Lamayuru. He came back next year and started a school at Padum. That is the most prestigious school in the region now. Last year 20th anniversary was celebrated; the founder couldn’t come due to old age though. Many Padum kids are sponsored by travelers to Zanskar and their associates.
In winter when the roadway is blocked, the best option to reach the outside world is to walk the frozen Zanskar River and reach Nimmu and Leh.
And thankfully people are not literally isolated even in the winter. In case of a medical emergency district administration can even initiate an airlift.
There are two valleys to be covered in this route. First one is Suru which starts at Kargil and ends at Penzi La (155km from Kargil). There it is the beginning of the Zanskar valley.
If I describe the route from Kargil to Padum with Km readings it can be like this:-
124 Rangdum village
130 Rangdum Gompa
145 Beginning of climb to Penzi La
154 Beginning of Zanskar valley.
156 Penzi La Top
161 Drang-Drung Glacier and beginning of descent to Zanskar valley
173 Beginning of Abrang region
193 End of Abrang region
215 Ating hanging bridge and check post
225 Tungri (Bridge to west side of Stod river)
(Readings as per my bike’s odo)
View Larger Map
1. Riding gravel/sand road with uneven and unpredictable surface for a no. of days.
2. Riding the bike with the extra dead weight of the additional 15 ltrs of fuel and the extra care to protect the petrol cans. If you damage one and lose fuel, your trip is cut short. Anyway I carried a fourth can as spare, never used it though. (getting fuel at Padum in black market depends on pure luck)
3. The unpredictable water crossings- Those at the Zanskar side are relatively easier compared to the ones at the Sure valley side. At suru valley side you will see mother of all the water crossings you have encountered in the entire Ladakh. Some with depth and some with heavy current and some are combination of both. The challenge is more on the way back. Suru valley will be cleared during afternoon and that is the time when the glaciers melt more contributing more water to these streams.
1. Motorcycles condition should excellent. The shock absorbers are going to take all the beating thought the ride.
2. Rider should be comfortable doing rough road for longer periods with extra load. Unless you ride very slowly, the duration you need to be on foot pegs is obviously more in this route. So better be prepared physically.
3. Riding with a pillion is the last thing you would want to do.
4. Keep an extra jerry can. In case if one of the cans cracks/breaks, the spare one will be your savior, or else your journey is cut short.
5. Your natural instincts will take you diagonally through the heavy current water crossings.
6. I followed a strategy of keeping two cans of petrol (10ltr) untouched till the morning I started my return ride to Kargil. How much ever I burn there, as long as I have those cans saved for the final day, my ride is safe. Those precious things were kept safe inside my room till I saddled up for the return.
7. Keep food parceled.
12th of July 2008 was same as other 12ths. But this 12th had few specialties.
-Moshaii woke up before sunrise.
-JSR rode with pillion.
-Meppa had his first ride after he shifted to USB (United States of Banaswadi)
-We could flag off before sunrise as planned.
This time Kalhatty was the proposed venue for TVM guys to meet Blore gang. Making them ride all the way from TVM, around 500km- almost 12 hours of butt breaking ride was one criminal offence. Bangalore fellows escaped with less than 300km.
Bangalore gang: JSR, Moshaii, Meppa, Conductor, Shre, Karthik, GK, Sassi, Keeny and myself Jo.
TVM team: Jay, Crank, Anil and Venu.
I was excited to take out the white lady for a long run for the first time after the overhaul and modifications. MuneerDa kept his word and delivered the bike the night before the ride. When I took the test ride, I felt the extra kick of the additional CCs along with the convenience of operating levers at the ‘right’ sides as those used to be in my old 350.
Expectations are high when Kalhatty visit is planned. Many of us who’d been there before had wild dreams about the Kalhatty climb. Starting at 5:45 seemed a bit impractical considering the punctuality of our men. But noone came much late. There we go again to SB’s most visited Kalhatty for the Nth time. Few of us pushed hard and some like JSR kept their cool.
JSR wouldn’t have ridden like this before. Like a ‘just licensed’ rider, medium rev/speed in all the gears, dead slow in cities and almost in Hanuman gear on speed breakers and even on zebra lines… Our respected madaam AntaGulika seemed to enjoy every bit of the ride. Experimenting with the camera in different angles, sometimes stretching hands wide, thinking whether to put on sunglasses in the darkness or not, wondering if sunglasses are removed that’s gona affect the glamorous pillion look… Gulika, I think was under the impression that holding something while pillion riding is the sign of fear and a daredevil like me shouldn’t do that… Evidently JSR seemd fed up with this myth riding. His eyes started to pop out saying ‘yeh dil mange more’…
JSR finally stops before eyeballs touch the visor. I continued riding on JSR’s assurance that he and the stopped pack will start soon and catch up. But, by the time I reached Mysore people were scattered everywhere. People took different routes to bypass the city and I took the city route and since no sign of anyone, had breakfast too from Kamat alone and headed straight to catch up with others. But amazingly the confusion made most of them stuck here and there and just before Kabini I could realize from Meppa’s call that I’m atleast 15km ahead of rest. What an irony! Anyway I got reunited with others at Nanjangud. Breakfast at Nanjangud was great. Moshaii and Meppa had a dosa which was longer than moshaii.
JSR kept his cool for some more Kms and then an unexpected twist… I’m talking about the throttle twist child… He couldn’t control his emotions seeing the wild ghat curves. JSR flies like Luttappi flying the spear with Dakini as pillion. Our pillion daredevil started to shiver for the first time and was seen holding the rear carrier tight praying for life. (That rear carrier was found lose on reaching Kalhatty and JSR had to tighten all the nuts and bolts on it.)
Bits and pieces overheard by co riders on the way--
Dakini: Entahda Kunthathinoru virayal? (Dai Lutt, why does the bike keep wobbling all the time ?)
Luttappi: No problemo Dak, That’s not issue with the bike.
He then explained about the banking and other technical stuff about taking curves at high speeds.
This time noone’s bike gave up on the Kalhatty climb and everyone made it to the top safe and sound, but to see the ‘Kondi’ waiting there. Pattambi Satyan is almost an Anaconda. Earth, sun and other smaller particles rotate around him. What comes out of his mouth is pure spirit fume. Noone dared to light a cigarette near him. Pattambi is 100% inflammable.
Ride to Ooty after Lunch was eventful. There we had the next ‘Kondi’. Sassi’s chain gave up and fixing it took around 2 hrs limiting our plan to visit one place- the beautiful landscapes at 9th mile. It’s an awesome place. Coonoor is dropped.
We headed back to reach Kalhatty before sunset and the TVM guys too reached there almost at the same time. Crank was stuck in the middle of the final climb when I passed him. Anyway he need not worry about the bad performance of his bike on climbs. That is a road runner with unbeatable top speed. Though there were minor issues on the way all TVM guys, Jay, Crank, Anil and Venu made it on time in style. They would really have enjoyed the last part of their ride- the ghat section.
To be honest, this time the camping was disastrous. Two more teams share barbeque and dining, not enough space to accommodate such a big crowd and on top of all Pattambi is fully out. Result: everything out of control.
Then the unthinkable, unacceptable happens. Blue Grape, specially brought for TVM guys vanishes in a matter of few minutes! GK rose up to handle the situation. He played double role as Sherlock Holmes and the drunken fist. In an amazingly choreographed climax GK kisses the villain and villain kisses the ground multiple times. THE END. Issue solved. Whoever has that bottle, keep it as a memento.
Next day during the ride two more ‘Kondies’ were in the list waiting to happen.
Sashi’s battery cover flew off and scares the car behind him. He amazingly avoided running over it. Conductor who was behind him did manage to sweep it and then to his amusement the battery itself comes flying off. This time our hero had no other option but stop and fix up with others help before heading further.
Mappa’s break down added icing on the cake. I could see big fire balls coming out from bikes exhaust. Bike stalled with no spark. Thankfully it never started again. Problem lied in the clutch box cover- a broken soldering from the coil to the CDI unit- the only thing we did not open and check. Anyway one carrier auto got a good ride to Bangalore. Keeny deserves a special thanks for staying back till bike got parcelled.
Without paamban pattambi's Anaconda performance… sasi’s chain and battery kondi… the great blue grape incident… Meppa’s bike's breakdown…
there wouldn’t have been much to learn and remember from this ride. But what I’m wondering is how come all the “Kodies” happened on this single ride.
Finally, how many of us would return to Kalhatty once again. I don’t think anybody will do that unless it is to give pattambi a ‘kickback’ on his undercut.
Each and everyone had their own contributions to make this ride a memorable one. Thank you all for being a part of this wonderful group event and for the nicest company.
I owe few guys special thanks.
Meppa, Moshaii, Jsr, GK..... those who offered me their pillion seats when my bike's delivery was in doubt.
Sasi even offered his bike....
Anaconda: Fully drunk state of a human being or the heights of drunkenness.
Hanuman Gear: 1st Gear
Luttappi and Dakini: Cartoon characters in one of the Mal publications. Luttappi has a flying spear. He takes Dakini and another character Kuttoosan to places on his spear. Lutt is their driver/pilot.
Photos (Few from my clicks)
7th and 8th of June 2008
Bike: Chingismo :)
Ride through the Bandipur forest once again and of course the mountains roads of Ooty and Coonoor
See some of the tourist attractions- Pabbu wanted it.
Accommodation: At Ooty Gate. They hold the award for the lousiest service provider in the entire subcontinent. Only rate seems BIG at the gate.
I can’t forget Pabbu walking to the reception lobby where ‘distinguished’ guests wait, asking for a mug in the bathroom after waiting in the room for more than half an hour. This can be called ‘heights of escalation’.
Food included accommodation package got changed for some technical, hidden reasons. Anyway we did not want to pay them for food. Instead, explored Ooty town and could find some real nice biriyani and mutton.
Two “nuts” crossing the town on Bike to find a particular restaurant in the middle of the night, wearing shorts and T shirt, ignoring Ooty’s cold weather…. that cop on duty at the signal wearing a no. of sweaters, but still shivering… I’m sure he wouldn’t forget the scene for a long time.
Started from Bangalore at 4:15am, this was the earliest start I’ve ever had. Pabbu was a decent, calm and quiet pillion. Thankfully he does not add much weight to the rolling (thunder motorcycling) system and alter the center of gravity much.
I took the roads through inside the Mysore city for the first time and had a glimpse of the Palace after a very long time. It’s really a charming view in the early hour of the day- golden sunrays of early morning reflects on the golden minar of the palace.
I did not forget to stop at Kalhatty and have a look at the Dutchy’s den. It is newly painted and seems that the road to there is repaired. Proof is the Innova seen on top. Once again I felt the Mudumala route a steep climb- this time because of the extra pillion weight on the bike. Anyway Chingismo did a fantastic job giving no issues on the entire ride.
Pykara lakeside visit was just for the sake of it. Lousy crowd have destroyed the charm of that place. But the trek in the forest from the drinking water reservoir site was the experience of the day. On the way, from some spots the Dodabetta Peak is visible. But we could never go closer to it, coz finally there wasn’t any idea on which direction we were walking. There was the first time monsoon rain decided to pour on us. Anyway wet chickens could return to the base without much causality, but chingismo’s one slip and slide for few meters at the unused most slippery forest road (well, almost a road) and a near fall was inevitable.
Security cops sent us back from the Dodabetta Peak’s entrance check post. They shut at 5pm and opens only at 8 in the morning. So we had to go back in the morning again. Aha, what a traffic in that narrow road… and the smell of burnt clutch plates and break shoes. The atmospheric temperature at that narrow strip of road is much higher and doesn’t come par with Ooty climate at all.
Coonoor railway station and loco shed were revisited again… and the 1904 railway tunnel and bridge too.
Lamb’s rock and Dolphin’s nose- two good view points and decent enough places to spend some time because of very less no of visitors.
After a real good sleep we started back to Bangalore on Monday morning at 6:15 and reached home at 11:15, just took a half an hour break for food. No rain and no sun- the ideal climate for a ride… Thankfully the rear breaks improved after the slopes in the wet morning conditions when it was a real big concern.
Thanks to Pabbu and his bike Chingismo for the nicest company.
Kick starting the AVL Bullet
Kick starting the old Points ignition CI engine is a beauty.
But the newer avl500, Machismos and Thunderbirds- Kick starting is a nightmare for some. Harder kicker on these TCI avl machines is a known issue. One needs to literally stand up on the kicker and risk more wear and tear to leg joints than that to the bike parts. Right foot slipping of the licker lever and getting jammed between the lever and the foot peg giving the toe a one of a kind strike and tissue damage is one major risk.
Let me share an observation to make kick starting a smooth exercise. This basically depends on the effective use of the decompression. The decomp in TCI avl bullets are said to be ineffective and useless. It doesn’t decompress at all, the lever doesn’t even get pressed… few myths.
Press the decomp lever. Yes, it’s obvious that the lever is kind of stuck and doesn’t move. Keeping your thumb pressed on the decomp lever, push down the kicker lever gently. You might feel that the kicker also rejects with the normal tension initially. What I do is stand up from the seat and apply the body weight on the kicker. Then, it gently goes down relieving the decompresser too. Now the depcomp is applied fully and the kicker is totally free. Now release the comp lever and kick start smoothly as in a points CI bullet. The gentlest push on the kicker and the engine fires up.
Thought of posting this an year ago when I did and installed this circuit on my bike, but then forgot. I’m a living example for procrastination.
This is one arrangement I thought of when I started using extra headlamps on my bike that drain battery very fast. One solution I thought of was to cut the power to other bulbs that are frequently in use- tail lamp and break light. I think a tale lamp bulb rating is 10W and 21W for break light.
I replaced the bulb with an LED setup same as that in most of the newer vehicles (not on any Royal Enfield though). This one is not as exclusive as those come from the factory, but it serves the purpose and when the tail lamp cover is fixed we don’t see the setup inside but the light. This alteration has been done on a TB tail lamp that has more than enough space inside to add a circuit board. Same setup is possible inside a regular tail lamp too, but need to reshape the circuit board a bit which is not a big deal.
Line Circuit board - 1
LEDs (bright and focused type. Ordinary ones are useless) - 8
Resistors (4K7 Ohm) - 2
Wires (about 6 inches in length) - 3 pieces
Bulb that suits the socket of the tale lamp, glass and filament removed - 1
There are two different circuits for the tail lamp and the break lamp. A set of 4 LEDs are used for each. The LEDs are connected in parallel with the resistor in series to them. Ground is common for both circuits. Wires are soldered directly to the terminals pop out from the broken bulb, which are insulated with sleeves or insulation tape.
Two small aluminum clamps are soldered to the board and is fitted on the base tightening screws.
I have used red colored LEDs for the break lamps and are pointed straight (The top row in the pic). Two of the tail lamp LEDs are connected straight and are red in color. The other two are pointed down and are white in color to illuminate the number plate.
Instead of 10W/21W the new set up draws only a fraction of a mW. (I haven’t calculated the correct value though)
PS: The circuit can be improved by designing a bigger and shaped circuit board and by adding more LEDs to improve brightness.
This is a new design I have tried on my new bike. The setup has more LEDs. The illumination is not very impressive. It would have been better with reflectors.
This is a new design I have tried on my new bike. The setup has more LEDs. The illumination is not very impressive. It would have been better with reflectors.
Few days before the ride, I’m sitting on a bean bag at Moshaii’s home with a half emptied glass, contemplating the issues of my bike; JSR is busy filling his second round and Moshaii multitasking with one hand on the computer keyboard and the other one holding his glass, at the same time two fingers reserved for a cigi smoking away the mosquitoes and other small creatures with weak hearts and lungs. Do those mosquitoes die of sudden heart attack or lung cancer? God knows.
JSR is looking at the short lived bubbles popping up from bottom of his glass and said to himself, ‘Poor things, they don’t even live long enough to finish their first ride’.
Anyway before finishing that round he raised his head, looked at me and said, “Why you worry Jo, you can take my 500 next week if your bike doesn’t get fit by then”.
Wow… What a consolation… Problem solved… Game on…
But the 500 got some viral fever or flu, coughing continuously and getting unconscious; so I took my bike. That’s the uncertainty of life…
JSR proposes and God disposes.
The lifeless 500 is still lying in my porch.
Moshaii rose up to everyone’s expectation and did not rise at all. History repeats… Moshaii was completely ‘fit’ the previous night and woke up very early morning at around . Confused Moshaii chose not to pick any call on his phone and not to respond to any of our sms’ and headed solo expecting a second chapter to the Mannavanoor experience. To reach the camp before the rest, he would have ‘missed us’ purposefully if seen us on the way. Anyway the solo dude reached Kalhatti at around 5, almost 4 hrs after us. By then we were in Ooty and Conoor.
He hit and killed a bird (or the bird hit him and committed suicide) on the way; one monkey had a narrow escape. Moshaii strongly justifies himself with the point that the monkey crossed the road where there wasn’t any zebra line. Also that inhuman thing abused Moshaii loudly till he disappeared from the sight. Thankfully since he was busy, Moshaii did not stop to deal with it; or else one monkey would have joined the camp later in the evening on a black MH registered bullet.
The ride through Bandipur was awesome. I don’t know why, but the ride through that forest has always been breath taking for me and I love it. This time the lush greenery of the forest seemed faded with the autumn effect though.
And... Oh Boy, the two km off road ride to the camp… A stretch where a weak machine will never obey whatever we ask to do.
GK rode from
Conoor visit proved to be ‘full paisa vasool’. Visited the loco shed at the railway station and the driver allowed us to enter inside the engine cabin (!) of one of the century old steam engines. I’m sure one will be thandoori if one of us stays there for one hour.
Meanwhile we got a distressed call from Caption Satyan from Kalhatty with the news that someone calling himself Moshaii crash landed at the camp claiming to be one of us, raided the kitchen and finished all the left over food leaving nothing to feed the elephants, tigers, cheetahs, cats, rats etc (prefix ‘wild’ with each creature and read).
Jumbo belong to the bat family, I doubt. At night, while coming back from Ooty he zoomed ahead leaving us behind… seems darkness boosts his eye vision. The sad part is that one cop misguided him at a turn and sent him in a different route for a very simple reason- to avoid the elephant trail at night. It wasn’t less than half an hour before we could recover him.
Night at camp was awesome. By the time we reached, bonfire, tent, barbeque, refresher liquids… everything is ready. Rest is history.
I slept peacefully in the tent; Jumbo and JSR on both my sides (don’t relate this to Jesus Christ between those two gentlemen). The misery was the rumbling thumping roaring sound from both the sides that woke me up several times at night with the fear that it’s some wild animal circling the tent and I’m gona be a piece of Kabab in the morning. Anyway later I got used to this horror and slept peacefully.
Sunday morning we visited ‘Duchy of Kalhatty’s Palace’. That’s how the Duchy calls it; a nicely constructed one decorated with antique furniture, old photos, animal skulls etc. All the rooms with balcony and the tree house with fascinating view of the nearby mountains and clouds, JSR says all these seem designed to have ‘thanny’ party (thanny means Liquor in English) at chilling nights. Moshaii seconded him. What to do… These ‘liquefied’ souls don’t have anything else to think of.
We left the camp by . The heavy breakfast gave us no option to think about lunch before leaving.
Finally Moshaii is riding with others.
GK, running in, trying hard to control his instincts and emotions to open up a bit but listens to the bike and cruises slowly…
Thanks to all the riders for this amazing ride and nice company.
JSR, Moshaii, GK, Jumbo and JSR’s colleague Uday (this was his first long ride and he enjoyed it. Uday rides very well too.)
PS: One horrible sad scene on the way back on
Weekend ride to Galibore on 10.02.2008
Morning 7:00, attendance marked and found 5 of us present at the BTM petrol bunk as planned earlier. Meppa, Moshaii, JSR, myself Jo, and our very well wisher Kar to ride with us till our breakfast point and see us off. The Bypanahalli railway crossing delayed me and moshaii for more than 15 min. One soul did not pick the phone and JSR recollected from his previous experiences that it’s the sign that the soul is still “resting in peace” and is a go ahead sign for others.
Decided breakfast point was kanakpura. JSR was found trying to stop much before that, responding to the call for refueling. His personal fuel level seemed much bellow the reserve. The previous day’s alcohol would have melted down and gasified whatever possible solid fuel he’s had and would have gone like fumes out into the free space. But he moved with the crowd to stretch till Kanakpura for breakfast. At the restaurant 5 idli vadas and one extra vada each for all but JSR... That’s the amazing part of the breakfast story. Anyway he was in full throttle after that. Kar took a U turn. We headed straight.
Few stops to ask for directions and we are at Sangam safe and sound with full energy and enthusiasm. The roads are tempting.. Narrow stretches, full of potholes and rough patches.. Most of the time leaving us up on foot pegs…
The pack stopped at sangam. Me followed by JSR headed to the sand and then close to the water. Moshaii and Meppa’s wtf look did not last for long. They too are there in the $#it. I can’t forget JSR’s comment when I got down to guide him to cross the river… “Da, are you going to send me to other side and you guys going to stay here?“ That suddenly reminded me of the procedure of abandoning unwanted kittens and puppies mostly at the other side of some river or stream making them impossible to come back and find the owner's house. I said, “No Duda, we follow you to any hell“. Good, the photographer is now on the other side and we followed. Moshaii counted the “phishes” he went over while crossing. The latest information is that there are few final calculations to be completed before publishing the final count.
The next stage seemed quite eventful. The sand dune didn’t seem like letting us through easily like the river did. Few events there are beyond explanation. Moshaii’s left right left right bike dance step is inspirational to any choreographer. He made some offerings to the sand dunes – few crystal glass pieces in return to the nicest time and experience.
The other side, a watch man at the check post to the wilderness asked us 100 bucks each under the table to go past the check post with bikes. We imagined one of our fingers raised up in the air and kissing him good bye. Crossed the river back in search of “non check posted” wilderness and found very good ones. That was Galibore area. That was a good decision. I had been to the check posted area and that is not different from the Galibore wilderness and off roads. Probably Galibore is more apt for biking and more exploration. The sangam side is crowded with tourists and lover couples all around like those mosquitos at JSR’s house porch in the evenings at HSR Layout. No place for a biker to open the throttle of his heart with peace of mind.
On the way we had to squeeze pass thorough few Wipro (office team outing) busses blocking the narrow road. Moshaii recollects one girl who was about to step down from one of the busses, seeing JSR popping out from the wild and coming straight to her, suddenly put herself into reverse gear and disappeared back inside the bus. She would have recovered from her initial shock after we all passed by and would have asked others “why are these maniacs riding baked in those space suits when there are air-conditioned busses with push back seats to travel”… We saw the local civilization (probably) welcoming the wipro civilization with drum beats same as that happenin in some funeral processions. (They would need to do things like this and more... After all the package to stay there for one day is around 1600 bucks)
The mud road offered us a wonderful time. We put our anchors at a shore. There Meppa was found flirting with few dogs… Oh let me correct myself… he was found with few dogs and what he was doing with them is still a debatable subject. Let me not get into that now. That all I leave to human imagination to interpret.
We had our lunch back at sangam, a decent restaurant with good food, facility and staff with the right attitude to serve. It was when we all finished our lunch and chilling under the trees, a group of Xboys emerged out of nowhere and got pissed to see our bikes line up. Thankfully it seemed they all were too hungry for much show offs and soon disappeared inside the restaurant.
The return ride… as exiting as the morning ride… around 4 or 4:30 we are back at JSR’s place for the much awaited golden colored drink comes in bottle labeled with some king bird on it.
One fantastic ride;
Everyone kept the rider behind in his R Mirror;
Small group with a good formation ride;
Everyone fully ‘armored’…
I enjoyed it very much.
And, those who missed may come out to the terrace at night, lie down looking at the sky and start counting the stars from one side to the other and keep repeating it till you get the same count two consecutive times. This exercise should give good relief to the pain... :D