Lifestyle Awards 2013
Wellness & Relationship
My Memorandum of Wanderings
This trip happened to me by pure chance, all thanks to Sachin and Ayesha. I had no idea that something like this was brewing, and by April I had actually started planning a Solo ride to Spiti on my Old Customised Lightning 500.
I had already extensively toured Ladakh on it in 2006 when I even covered extreme and remote regions like the Zanskar Valley and the Hanle Basin in the Chang Thang Plateau, home to the world's highest astronomical observatory that houses the Chandra Telescope.
Then one day in April, I got a call from Sachin saying that they were planning this trip to Ladakh with
NDTV Good Times
and if I’d like to be a part of it.
Even with my solo Spiti ride at the back of my mind, I remember immediately saying, “Yeah, let’s do it!”
At that point I even remember mentioning to Sachin that I was thinking of getting a new bike before the next Rider Mania, but as soon as it was confirmed that I was gonna be a part of this trip, I booked myself the 500CC LB, picked it up two weeks later, and started its running in process.
One by one things started falling in place. Initially, Ayesha and Sachin had a tough time getting 10 riders for the trip, but that too got sorted out in time.
It was only after the 10 of us started sending out our introductions on the group mailing list, that each of us found out who the others on the trip were.
Out of the 10, I only knew Sachin for the longest time (since Rider Mania 2004) and Vir since Rider Mania 2005.
The rest of the guys, Sonali, Harsh, Mustan, Leon, George and Nigel I really had no clue about, and well, almost everyone knew about Ayesha from her shows on the channel and also her coverage of Rider Mania 2008.
The little interactions we all had on e-mail prior to the trip were basically just introductions of ourselves, and that's it.
Speaking of Ladakh:
To simply put it, compared to other places where you are basically riding on a monotonous, straight and smooth highway to get to your destination, once you’re in the Himalayas, especially the Ladakh region, you are at the Destination and making a fantastic journey through it.
The sights, the awe-inspiring landscape, the seemingly digitally enhanced Clear Blue Skies, the non-existing roads frequently and abruptly punctuated by raging rivers and frigid water crossings...
The unpredictable weather and extremely harsh Climate, all the raw natural and untainted beauty and challenges one encounters here, make Ladakh the Holy Grail for Motorcycle Adventurers like me.
No other place or Trip can be remotely comparable to it.
And the amazing part is, despite all the odds and challenges you face on a Trip like this, it really doesn’t satiate your appetite for it, and rather than remaining a “once in a lifetime” thing, this trip becomes a pilgrimage that beckons you to do it again and again when the passes open up in June each year.
The Trip Begins:
All 10 of us got together in one place for the first time in Chandigarh, and trouble started right there.
Seems there was a major disagreement between Sachin and Nigel regarding Nigel’s choice of Helmet, and while they all talked about it, and I was asked to intervene, I was faced with a weird predicament on whose side to take in the argument.
Both parties were right in their own way. In the list of Riding Gear MUST HAVES for every rider on the trip was mentioned: A Full-Faced Helmet.
And seems Nigel wasn’t used to those kinda helmets and preferred a more open-faced one that barely covered his scalp.
Some people do feel claustrophobic in fully covered helmets as they do restrict the view a bit here and there.
And for one not used to them, they can cause claustrophobia, and even if not, a lotta riders use the mini helmets for their own sense of style and individuality, to feel the wind in their faces.
Nothing wrong in that. But, as a company rule for the Trip, everyone was asked to bring a full-faced helmet only.
Nigel justified his case on the grounds that it was his time that was gonna be utilised on the trip, and he had a right to choose how he’d like to do it.
He was correct in what he was saying too. And here’s where the argument reached a dead end and Nigel was asked to make a choice, either to get a full helmet, or to quit the trip before it even started.
The man stood by what he believed in and chose the latter minutes before we all set off on the road from Chandigarh to Raison.
Not a good start to the Trip, and we all did wish none of the helmet issues and argument had ever happened in the first place.
But soon enough the time to set off on the road had come, and all of us readied ourselves for the Mountains, the cameras started rolling and we began the Trip as 9.
Barely an hour out of Chandigarh and we had to make our first stop to get our waterproof rain gear on. None of the riders were interacting too much with each other till this point of time.
We were only getting acquainted with each others’ riding styles now.
I’ve always known Sachin as being one of the finest riders in the country, so no surprises there, but Harsh, who I was meeting and riding with for the first time completely surprised me.
Being the senior-most in age among all of us, he easily outrode each one of us with his phenomenal ridings skills and absolute concentration and control over his Machine.
Mustansir, being the dirt demon that he is was rocking on his Dirty boy too. Vir rode with the confidence of someone who owns the road and is indestructible.
Sonali rode at her own comfortable and steady pace while Ayesha was the complete surprise package handling the powerful LB500 like she was born on it.
Leon, George and I were pretty much riding comfortably taking in the first sights of the Mountains.
We reached Raison shortly after dusk and there everyone seemed more relaxed and at ease with each other. Interactions began. The Road Trip had begun.
There at Raison by the Campfire, the Guitar and everyone singing to it, the Whisky, the Hills, the mood, the atmosphere and with the challenges of the terrain and weather ahead at the back of our minds, one by one the riders all got more comfortable with one another and then began the real ice-breaking.
Next day, we started out for Jispa which is beyond Rohtang. The first taste of the shape of things to come came in the form of the climb from Manali to Rohtang.
On A Personal Note:
Being the founder of a Club and the leader of the pack on all highway rides, always meant shouldering the burden of a lotta responsibilities on the road when it comes to riding with a group.
And having been in that position with the club for the last four years, and as proud as I am of my club Wanderlust MC, it’s undeniable that I often miss too much my Solo riding days where I just had to be responsible for my own safety on the Road...
Where I could ride at my own leisure and pace without worrying about the rest of the pack and constantly coordinating with everyone to make sure everyone’s safe and regrouped at all the pit stops.
Doing all that takes away the charm of really enjoying your own personal trip. So, I also saw this as a good chance, maybe not to be riding solo, but for once to be just one of the riders in the pack and just enjoy my trip and let someone else be in charge for a change.
As I discovered on the trip as it progressed, all that four years experience of really looking out for everyone else in the pack was really deeply-rooted in me by now, and I constantly found myself slowing down or falling behind and tailing the pack whenever I didn’t see the exact count of riders in my rear view mirror.
Ladakh is a dangerous place specially for first-time riders to this region and though we were all riding together for the first time, in the first couple of days of the ride the camaraderie within the group got really comfortable.
Almost Everyone was looking out for everyone else in the group.
It became like a Teamwork for each of us, even though each one of us was on a personal journey of either self discovery and/or personal gratification in his or her own way.
We all had a job to do and that was to make this Trip Work. For the Show, and for ourselves. We all knew we were in this together as a team and each of our polar opposite personalities notwithstanding, we all gelled really well.
And that made things easier to face..all the extreme weather and terrain challenges that lay ahead in a place where the lack of oxygen owing to these insanely high altitudes often makes people cranky and irritable to an extent that it usually gets tempers soaring at the drop of a pin.
By the time we reached Rohtang through the slush and mud and thick fog causing near zero visibility, the absolute fun, thrill and madness had begun to set in and each of us really started enjoying the trip.
And by the time we reached Jispa that night, we were all almost like thick buddies. No ego or personality clashes happening anywhere.
Only two things prevailed, the first being the very aptly Quoted lines by Che Guevara at the beginning of the first episode, “What we had in common - our restlessness, our impassioned spirits, and a love for the open road,” and that’s really all that mattered to us…
And the second, being, as we will see as more episodes unfold… absolute madness and a collective crazy sense of humour leading us all, even in the most absurd, weird, hilarious and sometimes dangerous situations, to having the best time of our lives…
We were certain that this Road Trip is gonna be ROCKING! The ride ahead was long and challenging, but the party on the road had begun, as the coming Episodes will reveal…
Cheers and keep on Trippin’ with us.
November 21st 2008
Hi, If you remember, we met at RM 08. You are igniting the fire inside me. I missed going to Ladak...
your blog is a splendid behind the scenes account of an awesome show! really enjoyed viewing and rea...
Hey Anu, that really was an awesome description of the beginning of your road trip. It really was a ...
Mat @ Rahul Chauhan
That was great man ,, keep it up . hope we will ride togather some day .. ride hard but safe . ...
Long live the ROAD and the RIDERS!! Girish www.iThump.com
Awesome, Kickass, and simply mesmorising brothers..
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