Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ride School

I just can stop remembering this speech from Viper in Top gun. Not to draw any resemblance but I did hear something similar :)

" Gentlemen, you are the top 1% of all naval aviators -- the elite, the BEST of the best. We'll make you better. Fly at least two combat missions a day, attend classes in between, and evaluations of your performance. Now in each combat sequence you're going to meet a different challenge. Every encounter is going to be much more difficult. We're going to teach you to fly the F-14 right to the edge of the envelop, faster than you've ever flown before -- and more dangerous."

we were not the top 1% nor we were flying the F-14 but we drove the bullet till the edge at speed we never drove earlier on a terrain like that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Himalayan Odyssey VIII painful, monotonous, beautiful, agony, focus, concentration, headache, fast, laid back

Sarchu To Rumtse

One of my close friend told me I do things in excess. I though, yeah right, I do. I go a long way to really understand before I make decision or do things which make it look like excess. Yeah I hear some of you thinking of what am I am thinking in a solitude in a desolate land and realized I could have ridden to anywhere till I was dead or till I was with sense. I was so numb and free of any baggage with me. :)

That is when I caught fever and had to take medicine to put it down.

That same feeling like when we were kid.

These are some of the feeling that you can't explain even when you understand them completely. The day passed on almost with a talk of startup with fellow rider and sleeping where

Shaibal telling me I did not zip the tent completely, I never knew If I could zip them. we felt the chilly Himalayan wind throughout the night.

The feeling of monotonicity creeped in. The pain turned onto something I can live for a while.

It was a sunken feeling that I was going to reach destination and I dreaded it.

the bike ride was never so monotonous. i was driving driving suddenly very fast and the next moment at ants speed. what's going on.

I hate destinations :( love the journey :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Himalyan odyssey VII from a High to splitting Headache

As I started to unpack my saddle bag, I felt something I was breathing very heavily. This is what everybody was talking about High Altitude Sickness. Unpacking of saddle bag took time I was worried when I could not carry it even 10 steps, I had to stop every 10 steps and catch my breath. It looked so weird, finally I managed to reach my tent breathing heavily did not know what do do I laid on the bed for minutes trying to figure out what's going on , I munched on a few chocolate and gulped entire bottle of water, after laying around for half an hour, I started feeling good and started to pace my breath. I was feeling good now.

The cold wind started taking a toil on the body and i thought of going to the dining tent, I saw KD on way and He asked "How are you doing" , I replied " Great I feel I am on High" . He asked what did I take. I replied the Height. After reaching the dinning hall the situation looked a little different, people were all trying to cope up with the lack of oxygen , the height and the bitter cold. Tea was the only good thing in that dinning place. I knew I was feeling something different but I was not sure if I was unfit. I was eating properly, getting exhaust after walking a small distance was the only big problem I saw but est was OK. Shaibal and me retired back to the tent and by that time it had started snowing. Go why did I ask for snowfall, I asked only a little bit not to be covered by snow in snowfall. God has always given my every thing that I have asked for in plenty. so I had to accept it.

The truck with our luggage arrived, we went back to collect the luggage and we had to ferry the luggage to most of the people since they were not feeling well. All exhausted we retired once agin to the tent and I could not sleep well through the night, I has all kind of weird dreams and the cold was just getting unbearable. I started thinking of the Everest climbers, on how they do it. I was in a far better situation with a tent to save from wind and a sleeping bag with two blanket underneath and two on the top.

I woke up with the dawn light and wanted to use the attached toilet. To my amusement the water in bucket had turned Ice and I was left with no choice but to use that. Damm it felt like something cutting down your hand while touching that icy water. I wanted to get out of there and suddenly I figured that I am having a splitting headache, the kind of the one you want to tighten the head with your two hands. Shit I am having Acute Mountain sickness now. Nothing around was giving any solace I just wanted to sit back on my bike and ride, that's the only comfort I could think of.

So much of pain and so much of suffering and I looked at the snow capped mountains, they were so beautiful that every inch of that pain was worth it. Its amazing that I was back to enjoying terms than to be subdued by the pain.

No SMS from KD. We were at Sarchu, Sachin said at breakfast " This place has a a weird thing about it, You get all kind of weird dreams and dreams that you cannot talk about with others" The after effect of the thump of bike for last several days and when you sleep by the side of mountains with the silence thats what you get.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Himalayan Odyssey VI Snow fall ---> Snow Storm.

The sun was out with gentle sunshine spreading in the hills, the snow on mountain looked bright rather than cold. It was a great morning weather The Campsite made it look even more beautiful with the monastery going up the hill and river flowing down surrounded by mountains on either side. These are some of the places you dream of waking every day of your life with a hot cup of tea.

But then we were in Himalayan Odyssey, we had to ride to the thump. We started of from to camp to join the rest of our riders at the hotel compound. We had a tough talk from Sachin for the number of falls we have been having. The ride today was supposed to cross the second highest pass Baralach la and after that we camp at Sarchu.

Now we had to get into a team structure to help each other ride, I tagged along with Shaibal, Abid, Vikarm . Actully when we started we were 8 in the team but looking for 8 people was getting tough so we split agian and that how I got into the team. I asked Abid before I joined, " I don't drive too fast, if you guys drive fast let me know I 'll find another group". Abid said, " No we will drive smooth". Eventually We did some of the fastest lap in worst of the mountain roads after that. You see what Abid thought about his adreline rush.

We got a group of malasyian riders trying to ride BMW from nepal to pakistan. ALong the way we got a couple of water crossing through towards baralach la and Damm the boots they were again water logged. While doing the accend we witnessed snowfall again yeah I started dancing. This was for long and real cold. The boots started getting colder. We put on the raincoats. Suddenly we lost track of Abid and Shaibal. Me and Vikram started the accend and then suddenly out of a blue the beautiful snowfall turned into a snowstorm. It started getting real tough will the lack of oxyzen, high altitude, snow on the roads and to add to the misery was the trucks coming from opposite direction.

It was getting difficult to drive in the snow and we tried to cross the pass as soon as possible. On the way we saw Harsh and Sachin enjoying the snowstorm. How could they? I wanted to just speed off. Then and there we hit the road block. Traffic jam on second highest motorable pass. A truck was stuck on the road with ice wall on one side and cliff on the other. I think God must had pity on US and he threw sunlight, wow the landscpe looked amazing for a while. Well in the traffic jam we had a pajero as well, which much to amuzment of the passenger served as hot bonet to dry our gloves.

After a while the truck managed to find its way and so did we, but I guess god had mercy only for the stop. It started snowing all over again, we reached bhartpur our lunch re-group point with chillness up to the bone. The first thing I did was bought some warm clothing and tried helplessly to dry my boots. The tea and the food finally gave some hope of warmness but the sight of snow storm outside kept giving chillness. We waited till all of us crossed the pass and started for Sarchu.

We started of in the snowstorm which turned to mild rainfall by the time we decended. The road were terrible and then something happended that I was not expecting. My bike started giving up for moments within the run. I prayed for the bike not giving up completely and rode the rest of the journey with blips on the power. We finally reached Sarchu , our campsite. I'll need some oxygen before I tell you what conspired through the evening. night through the morning.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

himalayan odyssey V enjoying arak in Lahaul valley

It was very cold in morning opposite to what I had been witnessing in last few days. Arun woke up earlier than me and got ready, I waked up lazily checking out my driving gear which look a wet from the rain yesterday.

The daily ritual started with tieing the saddle bags, having breakfast and tea at Goodricke canopy. The briefing today was a little tough with the number of falls we had yesterday. KD and Sachin breifed us about the day. The traffic would be bad with people going to Rohtang for the snow. We would climb down after Rohtang to Lahaul valley. This was our first high alitude experience Rohtang at about 13,051 ft .

We started up our climb after refueling, and guess what we found long queues of traffic vehicles, we manged to go past we were on bikes after all.

Here we hit our first regroup and time to get some food.

All of a sudden the climate stared changing and we were about to witness a snowfall, wow my first in this life, this made the riding very difficult, not that broken road with heavy traffic was any good.

As soon as we reached Rohtang pass the scene looks pretty bad considering I thought of it as a beautiful one. It looked like a fish market with dirty snow. I didn't even have to think about stopping and I rolled on my wheel. The other side looked very promising and the ride was pretty decent except the roads and water flowing every way possible. The scenery suddenly looked beautiful with so much of emty spaces.

I had a heavy lunch sitting with waterlashed boots and weather moving towards worst. The black tea and conversation kept us awake. I was just feeling too cold, am I going to be sick? looks so. We started off as soon s everybody joined in and we raced to Keylong. . We stopped at Tandi which was the last petrol pump for the next 365 KM. Refueled and went to the campsite. The beauty of which was to be seen the next morning.

Here I met Shaibal, my roomate. He ended up carrying me and most of my nonsense throughout and for the rest of the trip.

We had a campfire and coversation going on in the cold of the weather and warmness of the fire.
The food was excellent. After having Arak and food I dosed off waking at 4:30 in morning realizing Saibal is not in the tent. I went out seraching for him and found a spectaular view of the river and a snowcapped mountain. On the opposite side i saw he wnt for a run. Man... I was fit enough to take the run through the hills and the panoromic scenery.

We had a great cup of tea coutsey Goodricke again, and after breakfast joined the other half who elected to stay in a hotel.

KD's message said "Luggage arrived at hotel. For Keylong Morning service setup )630 including general checkup of all bikes. breakfast @ 0715, we ride @ 0830."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Himalyan odyssey IV rain, traffic, ghat , cold = destination Manali

I checked the time on my mobile it showed 3:45 AM. The alarm was to go off at 4 AM, I was awake before the alarm meant I was anxiously waiting for the day's ride. It happens with me mostly when I excitingly look forward to something. Laughed at my state where I was desperately wanting of sleep a everyday in last few months and here I woke before my alarm. The morning started unfolding slowly, we had breakfast and tea at Goodricke stall. The morning looked better compared to Delhi where we started sweating at 5 in morning.

We had briefing and the points to take were "Beware of the cabs coming in opposite direction since it is Sunday and people would be coming back",and second "make sure you take a sharp right tun climbing towards Manali at Anandpur". Here we met Mr. LS Cheema from Chandigarh police who shared pretty nice moments with us on his bullet. Man, he was passionate for bullet. The flag off was little painful with all the local journalist/camera guys delaying our ride for that perfect picture which I would never see.

The ride till the anandpur turn towards manali was more of broken road and Highways in making. I drove along with Anand for a while. he was business man from Varanasi. But as I hit the ghats I just wanted to drift along alone. Stopped for a picture, sat down for a while enjoying the valley and greenery.

The re-grouping point was supposed to be in Bilaspur, I kept looking for the Royal enfield poster which swayed at all our re-grouping points earlier but could not find any, so kept moving on till I hit PD, he was also looking out for the posters, I mentioned that it was supposed to be a good 10 Km ahead of bilaspur town so we kept riding and were out for a 20 Km where we thought of calling KD / Sachin since they were also driving, we got Ashok jee who said we are way ahead and should carry on and wait at some dhabba till he call us that they started from re-group. Obviously we missed the re-group , we were earlier than expected and riding alone . PD went back to re-grouping he was loving the ride on hills. I also turned back for a while then saw Yashwant who was coming the other way. Good I was not alone. So we two drove till the next re-group. The ride was pretty much monotonous while riding at high speed, and occasional car coming head on at the turns.

I had lunch with Yaswant and chatted "what do you do ? where are you from ?" lines. He was a businessman from Pune.

We started off after a little confusion of whether we need to wait till everyone comes or ride on. The climate changed abruptly, it was shinny hot a couple of minutes back and now it started raining. I thought wow my raincoat I bought from sarojani nagar market is useful. I started riding again, I saw Yeswant wearing ho raincoat as well. Abruptly everything was pitch dark the next moment, It seems I was inside a tunnel and a long one. Damm what do I do how do I take out my sunglasses, where do I stop. Finally managed to take out my sunglasses with one hand and riding with another. Ah, now I can see something.

It rained slowing as I climbed through the hills towards Kullu. It was awesome to be in cold again. The landscape made to think for a stop at every single minute to take pictures. I resisted it for a while but could not do more. I had to stop. I took a few beautiful pictures and then as a contrast the scene changed I was in middle of a traffic jam in narrow road of manali. We reached the hotel after struggling for a while.

I met Arun and Abid here, Abid was supposed to be god father for the rest of my trip through the mountains. We had a cup of hot tea and chatted about the exciting day with so many contrasts. The evening was cold and exciting with roaming around for a tea ( you don't get tea at night in manali) , luckily we found one and them roamed around the place. The place just amazes me with the crowd, there are people almost everywhere. I searched for the bitter ladoo and sweet samosa I saw in one of the episodes of highway on my plate unlucky again. I went back to the hotel had a dinner and slept off to wake for another day of ride. heaven!!! you look forward for the next day.

KD's message said "Truck arriving with luggage @ 2200. Please collect your luggage from the truck itself. Morning: Truck loading @0700 breakfast @ 0700, start time - 0800; lets avoid the morning traffic. Rohtang will be cold".

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Himalayan odyssey III 100KMPH

Driving out of New Delhi onto the highway was some short of relief from the traffic that early morning. Trip has started I said to myself and then thought of the re-grouping points KD had told in the last evening briefing. Rasoi dhabba first one just around 59 Km from Delhi. We drove in slow pace and were mostly in groups and reached the dhaba pretty soon. I had 2 parantha and tea, there's something really good of Punjabi dhaba on how they make food. The stomach full and all set to ride in summer heat. I remember Sachin saying last evening " Your stomach and tank should always be full". The sun was going over the head and the temperature rising, I rode at around 60-70 Kmph I reached the next re-group at karnal. It was a royal enfield showroom, we had refreshment and badly needed water. Now I understood why all guys were carrying a camelbak. Reaching there I saw most of the biker already there, now how fast are these guys driving is what was going through my mind. I should be traveling a little faster I thought and when we started from the re-grouping I started zipping very fast trying to be in company of fast ride and man we would be riding somewhere at 100-105 KMpH. The speed made us reach Ambala very soon where we had another round of refreshments. I saw we were only a few riders, now I was driving normal. I had never driven my bullet so fast in the last two years so this was the first adrenaline pumping ride. We had to wait for all the riders to turn up at the re-grouping from where we had to go directly to the hotel for the night stay. We started in 2x2 formation again so that we do not get lost in Chandigarh. Chandigarh was pretty beautiful city. We stopped at hotel where the first thing to get done was get the bike serviced. I checked the bike and the only thing bothering me was the self start which was gone. I asked KD if that could cause problem, he said no. So carried onto hotel room. I was very tired the hot sun has taken its toll on me. I planned to sleep of the evening when my cell rang. It was KD asking me if I wanted we could get the self fixed and asked me to come down at the service camp, where this time I thought against getting that fixed. this was the third time of not using it properly it was the Gati courier guys who screwed this up. As soon I turned back Sachin asked me what's the problem I told him the self is gone and I don't want to get a new one. He asked to get the self removed "that would make your kick easier to use". I jumped on the idea and went to the service station to get this done and I got a chance to drive around Chandigarh. It was a calm evening with heat very much in the bearable range. The removal of self really made the kick smooth but ther was no respite for the horn. Yes I was driving without the horn at 100+ K mph on the highway.

Came back at around 9 after roaming around lazily and had Hyderabad biryani, goodness me !!! Time to retire early to bed as we had to wake up at 4 again. Waking up early wasn't a problem anymore since I was looking forward to the day. Overall the day marred with punjabi parantha, high temperature, high speed riding.

KD's message said "bike service will be setup @0500 hrs. check your bikes and get pending work done. Goodricke will setup hot tea @ parking @ 0500 hrs Truck loading @ 0530 Breakfast @ 0530. We ride at 0630"