A 150 cc brand new bike, 1 week of riding experience, totally underprepared and a journey to heaven and hell: A Prologue to my Leh Ladakh trip

2 Aug

Driving a motorcycle is like flying. All your senses are alive. When I ride through Beverly Hills in the early morning, and all the sprinklers have turned off, the scents that wash over me are just heavenly.
-Hugh Laurie

Whenever I feel low or very happy or just need to clear my head, I just grab my scooter/bike and go for a long ride. The wind in my hair and the wheels at my feet always put a smile on my face. Some of the best ideas and thoughts have come to me while cruising on the highway because there is no one to disturb you, no phone calls, no one nagging, just you and your bike.

So here is the prologue to the most ultimate bike trip I did in July 2011—Chandigarh-Manali-Rohtang-Keylong-Bharatpur-More Plains-Leh-Kargil-Srinagar-Udhampur-Chandigarh.

The planning…

Somewhere in April 2011, I was back from my Goa trip and uploading pictures on Picasa. Simultaneously I was browsing through Indiamike.com for my next trekking destination. My office colleague, Nikhil and I usually plan a Himalayan trek in the monsoons. Next day I spoke to Nikhil and we discussed a lot of options—from treks near Manali, Kullu to Sikkim and the north east. A few days passed, we got busy with our work and forgot about planning the trip.

I was contemplating to buy a new motorbike and narrowed down my search to the Honda Unicorn Dazzler. That’s when I causally said to Nikhil that let’s do a bike trip from Delhi to Manali and a short trek to Beas Kund and back to Delhi. A couple of days passed and I was browsing the xbhp and BCMT forums. I then landed up on a Leh Ladakh trip log. I saw a few pics of the Manali Leh highway and that’s when I decided I have to get Leh’d!

Shot an email to Nikhil, Kunal (yes, our esteemed fellow blogger) and a few others. The discussions started in May with lots of people showing interest and many others dropping out. We then contemplated of following the Jammu Srinagar Leh Manali Chandigarh route. But due to the political issues at Srinagar we decided to go from the Manali route and come back the same way.

We read up a lot of blogs and forums to find information on places we could stay and other essentials required, and changed our itinerary a lot of times. The final dates were 2nd to 17th of July. We booked railway tickets for 8 people.

15 days to the trip, most of the folks had dropped out. We now had just 5 tickets and 4 people who were 100% ready for the trip.
Meanwhile I booked my bike and it was delivered at the end of May, but frankly I wasn’t used to the gear patterns and found it frustrating to ride in traffic as I was used to riding a gearless scooter. I started riding it 15 days before the trip and got it to office for 3 days.

1 week to go…the Prado Saga
I had thought of going on a test ride to Lonavla on the weekend but Nikhil called up in the night and told me we have to ship our bikes on the next day at 11 am! So there we were at 11 am, one week before out trip starts, packing our bikes for Chandigardh at Jaipur Golden Transport Company, Saki Naka. They did an awesome job of packing all the bikes and we hoped each bike will reach in one piece at Chandigarh. I was a bit nervous because I rode a total of just 3 days on my bike and the next destination was Chandigarh to Manali on the majestic mountains.

On the same day, I was too bored to catch a bus and train to go home and so I called up my friend Prado whose office is near to my workplace and told him let’s go together in a rickshaw. Throughout the journey I was painting beautiful pictures of Ladakh to him, which made him totally jealous! He got totally mindfucked because he needed a break but had just taken a long leave from office a few months back. To rub more salt in his wounds, I emailed him pictures of the Manali Leh highway and he was totally blown away by the awesomeness that is Ladakh.

Next morning he casually told his family that ‘Amey is doing this epic trip to Leh on a bike’.

Now how would you expect them to react?

Arrey Amey veda zala ahe ka? (Has Amey gone nuts)
How can his parents allow him to do this?

But guess what the reaction was?

Prado, wtf, why aren’t you going? Call Amey right away and ask him whether train tickets are available and a pillion seat empty.

He called me and I went “Dude, are you fucking serious?” Nikhil had told me one of his friends dropped out so there was one seat empty and now Prado was added to the list.

Now with 3 bikes and 5 people we had to buy saddle two saddle bags otherwise we wouldn’t be able to carry any luggage. So I quickly ordered 2 Cramster colt saddle bags which got delivered a day before the trip. Prado and I went to Tardeo and bought riding gear and helmets. Finally it was Friday the 1st, a day to go for the trip and I met Prado at 11 pm in the night to take the saddle bag. Went home, slept, and started packing in the morning, 2 hours before the train departure time!

No Registration Document!
One week before the trip it was announced that non-Himachal Pradesh vehicles would require a permit to take the Manali Rohtang route. That is when I realized my bike’s registration booklet hasn’t arrived. I frantically called my dad, got an uncle’s number who works at the RTO and told him to help me get the RC book asap. I finally got the RC book at the post office (new rule, all RC books are sent by speed post) at 10 am, which is 1 hour before the train’s scheduled departure.

I was finally ready to take this awesome journey that goes to the roof of the world–Ladakh.

To summarize:

Amey Kanse, Honda Unicorn Dazzler
Prado, riding pillion with me
Nikhil Bangera, HH Glamour
Sanjay Rajan, Honda Unicorn
Kunal Pawar, riding pillion with Sanjay

Trip Dates: 2nd to 17th July
Total cost: 10 to 13k.

Some teasers:

Over 15 days we rode on snow, sand, water, mud, tarmac, and dirt. We even experienced snowfall at Tanglangla pass. So stay tuned for a day by day trip log accompanied by awesome pictures!


11 Responses to “A 150 cc brand new bike, 1 week of riding experience, totally underprepared and a journey to heaven and hell: A Prologue to my Leh Ladakh trip”

  1. Jinesh August 2, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Nice start …Waiting for more…

  2. Usha Iyer August 2, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    I guess all that tension before the trip paid off because you enjoyed the trip! Looking forward to the actual trip log and the awesome pictures!

  3. Mary Jasmine August 2, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    That sounds interesting!!! waiting for next ones 😀

  4. testuserpackt August 2, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    You have an interesting style of writing…

  5. Damayanti Bhattacharjee August 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Wow what a start. It was an adventure in itself. Waiting for the detailed travelogue and pictures now.:)

  6. Leonard August 4, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Awesome pics and well written 🙂

  7. Gaurav Mehta August 4, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Whoa!!!…..Adventures started at home itself…….. There’s no doubt that you guys must have had an experience of lifetime……..Waiting for rest of the Travelogue and the pics.

  8. Kunal August 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Amey so many memories with this trip! And it couldn’t have been that fun without ‘The Man’!!

    • Amey Kanse August 8, 2011 at 11:11 am #

      All hail ‘the man’.

  9. Meeta August 10, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    I lenjoyed reading your experience and I can imagine how much fun you all must have had.

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