Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Paradigm shift

A little bit about my history with motorcycles is as follows. My beloved Mom (who was accused of 'spoiling' me back then) bought me my first motorcycle when I was 15. I've been riding 2 wheels from the time I can remember anything for that matter. I used to ride to school and upgraded to a motorcycle when I started high school. It was a faithful old 2stroke Suzuki. 2 Strokes, You gotta love them. Engineering, the perfect partnership between physics and design. A tangible record of mens greatest achievements, created out of necessity, perfected with technology and built to endure the test of time. The world is altered by these creations, and engineering is a complex, mysterious and ingenious idea brought to life by invention. In short, some are a mechanical masterpiece, and cannot be made redundant. The 2 stroke engine is one such masterpiece. There are no valves, there are no CAMs, no chain tensioners. The explosions inside the cylinder generate power and momentum like no other machine, in 2 stages vs 4, and the exhaust, well thats a musical instrument.

I grew up with NSR500 and RZ500 GP bikes as wall posters. 2 strokes are very close to my heart. My love for them continued till they were literally eradicated in India. My Basic assumption of motorcycles was shattered. I continued to own many and even raced a few. The motorcycles I owned were : Suzuki Samurai, Suzuki Shogun, Yamaha RXG, Yamaha RD350 - All of them 2t.

Post the 2 stroke era, Life happened. I started work after undergrad and things got a little wacky and I went and bought me a Royal Enfield Machismo 350. Later, I got myself Kawasaki ER-6F and then the mighty Hero Impulse which you keep seeing in this blog.

So to say, Its been a long journey on the roads and now dirt tracks of India, my basic assumption of motorcycles was shattered again. With a lot more bikes and people emerging to show their love for 2 wheels, people very clearly were getting blinded by Marketeers and Harley Davidsons. Now thats just terrible. More and more folk are starting to love "non real world" motorcycles. All them have Range Rover's for backup and some even have 'backup' riders when they are tired. Evan and Charley boorman are utter dicks to have imbibed this culture. In the middle of all this mayhem, There was this short guy trying to sell his XR650L, a simple, Air Cooled, 4v SOHC motor with a carb and plenty of suspension travel !  It just made sense to sell my road bike and make this my new project.

Welcome to the Asylum

I was just lucky to get my hands on this one. I'll be posting my experiences with her and she's called the B&WPiGG (black and white pig, even though she's red now). It doesn't get more real world than this, especially in India.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Rest of the story

This year, Until now I have been preoccupied with all the preparations; planning and building the bike, testing and crashing, route plans and frequent updates on road conditions, logistics, spare parts, travel gear etc. Another project in the making, and that’s the way I went about it. But, Back to what happened last year from where we left off.

We had a few days to kill in Leh and rest much. It was entertaining with the Football World Cup on big screens. It got a little strange after a day or two of not riding. It was very impulsive and we just met with a bunch of friends who had ridden 10000+ kms all the way from the tip of the peninsula up to where we were. Little did I know, that the next 5 days will be spent in great places, bad weather coming our way and a lot more of adventure. We had no idea where we were heading. All that was spoken was, we were going to be in Nubra for a few days. So, we packed our tents, sleeping mats and bags and swiftly on our way, all 5 of us.

Camping did'nt go really well on Day 1 I must say. We were wandering a way bit too late and it was almost 9pm and it became dark in a flash. It lead to camp in an abandoned sand quarry with no food, no fire, no water. It was freezing cold in the night at some 16000+ ft and barely slept. 

Day 2 of camping did'nt go too well either. Just like how sand quarries are terrible places to camp, so are river beds, and river beds where it rains balls at night. Again, barely slept that night. Now we are at Turtuk, some 200+ kms away from Leh, where it doesnt rain as much as its in a rain shadow region. But guess what, Not so much in Turtuk.

With most of our riding gear wet, and all of us a litte tipsy, I lazed in my tent for another 45 minutes. The only option was to leave the comfort of my sleeping bag, put on my cold, wet riding gear and crawl out into the slight drizzle. Mornings like that really were what an adventure was all about. Enduring. Enduring fatigue, malnutrition, being cold and wet. Finding the mental strength to get up and out when the body resists. The reward is priceless. Only for the mind though, for the body it was more of the same and we decided that "camping" really was not our cup of tea given the weather and our present condition. 

There's a storm brewing !

Thoise Airbase
We spent the next 3 days riding and exploring. Found a hot spring in Panamik and took a bath with a Japanese guy, stayed at local home stays in the valley, ate some great food and ran out of fuel. After a little bit of begging on the road, we got some fuel (thanks unknown german guy whose name I dont remember !) for my crazy friend who had ridden his old stroke all the way from home. Like some 10000+ kms away. 
Diskit Buddha

The historic silk route from Summur

It was time to part ways and it all happened a little too quick. We were back in Leh, and I left solo from there riding to Srinagar from where I'd ship my horse and fly back home. 

The road from Leh to Srinigar was all Tarmac. The infamous Zojila pass was joke after riding thro Spiti. It was all too easy and comfortable. The journey is extremely picturesque and Kargil, Sonmarg are indeed charming. Its a switch in terrain once you hit the low lands. There was paddy and lots of familiar sights ! The mountains in the rear view mirror, It did'nt feel all that good. 

I reached home the very next day and it was a gruelling wait for the horse to come home, which took a good 2 weeks. When I woke up in by room, in my bed, I felt like a stranger. True story. But, nevertheless, I gotta keep doing boring stuff when I am not doing awesome stuff and for me, life's such a fine balance, as I was already dreaming about a Winter Spiti and test my luck to spot some wildlife. 

Up Next - The Winter Chronicles ...