Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey 2014: Has the Mecca lost its charm?
Over the years a motorcycle ride to the Himalayas has become a lot easier affair than what it used to be. In fact some have even started questioning its title as the Mecca for motorcycling enthusiasts. Roads that never existed are now made; the ones that were already in place are widened. If truth be told, the mountains, in some regions, now have much better roads than what we have even in a city like Bombay.
So why then is it still on the wish list of most biking enthusiasts? I first made the trip as part of the 2011 Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey and needless to say like million others before me, I too was absolutely enthralled by the entire experience. The beautiful snow-capped mountains made for good company as we tackled insane off-road sections and crossed some high-altitude low on oxygen passes. We were all mesmerised by the panoramic view of the Himalayan Region that sadly even the best of photographers will probably struggle to capture.
Such a memorable first experience made it difficult to understand why the Leh pioneers claim that a ride to Ladakh is gradually losing its charm. So this time round, when chance came to revisit the same places with the 11th Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey, I went just with the intention of finding out if the claim was correct.
Unfortunately though, due to work commitments I just had the return leg of the journey to find the answer. On the flight to Leh a little bit of anxiousness began to take over the mind, mainly with the thought of not being able to acclimatise the way up from 46ft above mean sea level in Mumbai directly to 11,500ft in Leh. Thankfully, I didn’t suffer from AMS at all, not just when I landed but throughout the trip.