Royal Enfield Himalayan FI: A Sceptic Gets...
- Mar 30, 2019
- Views : 4643
For as long as I remember, the idea of building the bond of brotherhood through bikes is synonymous with British bikemaker Royal Enfield. So the prospect of exploring the majestic Himalayan mountains on a motorcycle that's named after the range itself, along with like-minded riders, was quite poetic. That said, before this trip, the only memory I had of the state was of its emergence from the partition of Uttar Pradesh. But after finishing the tour, I not only realised how incredibly beautiful the state is, but also emerged a better rider. Here are the things that made this epic ride memorable.
The ride was headed by Royal Enfield’s expert riders Rohan Pimpley, Barath Janakiraman and Arun Joshi. The recce was done three months in advance and these riders knew the route like the back of their hand. However, nature had different plans for us at a number of sections along the route (read water crossings and landslides). Despite all the predicament, they showed us the way in a very reassuring manner, and made sure everyone makes it to their destination at the end of the day.
The support van, called the ‘Gun Wagon,’ had a two-member crew: a driver and a mechanic. The rule was simple: riders should not fall behind the Gun Wagon, and fortunately none of them did. Rahim, the mechanic, had infectious energy coupled with impressive skills as he scurried from one motorcycle to another at the end of the day’s ride, making sure the bikes were in flawless condition. As indispensable as they were, the Gun Wagon really gave us a sense of security every single day of the ride.
I’d be lying if I said I got to socialise with all the riders at the beginning of the trip. The actual moment of peering into each other’s lives happened at the end of the third day, where we lit a bonfire at our hotel in Chaukori. We shared our experiences of exploring places with our motorcycles, talked about our careers - all interspersed with plentiful banter as the burning embers provided us warmth at 6,458 ft above mean sea level.
One of the riders was an Australian who has permanent residency in India. He was more local than the rest of us, with surprising fluency in Hindi! There were also two experienced Malaysian riders who had come to the country for the trip. Among the Indians, there was an entrepreneur, doctor, writer, engineer, stockbroker, government employee, to name a few. Though we had an extremely diverse mix of people, the burning desire to explore new places and the passion towards motorcycling cemented our friendship. I have also been to other unofficial rides by Royal Enfield, and from my experience I could say - you meet the nicest people on an Enfield.
The water crossings, the sights & the landslide patches:
On day 4, we rode from Chaukori to Munsiyari. This is a stretch that I’d be happy to ride multiple times in the future as well, because of its scenic beauty and slightly challenging terrain. The last 40km stretch leading up to Munsyari was where the real fun started. As I climbed higher and higher, clouds and fog enveloped the road ahead almost completely. All my rain gear amounted to almost nothing. We were under the mercy of Lord Indra himself as the rains pounded relentlessly. With only 10km to go, we came across a slightly deep water crossing. Fortunately, one of the riders decided to gauge the depth and then ride over. We followed suit, and shortly after that we reached the hotel. We stayed at Milam Inn, where the night was spent witnessing the traditional Chholiya dance.
The next day we woke up to a breathtaking view of the mighty snow-capped Panchchula range of the Himalayas straight from our hotel balcony! The caressing clouds over the Panchchula range of the Himalayas slowly faded out as the sun kissed the snow-covered mountains. It was truly a sight to behold, as I stood there contemplating how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.
About 33km from Munsyari, we encountered a rather large water crossing section. As usual, the group I was riding with were the first to reach there and we had no idea how to cross it. The lead rider took the middle section. It was properly rough as there were huge rocks underneath the deceitfully shallow-looking flowing water. I followed suit, and went over the water-y patch successfully. However, I lost momentum at a steep, rocky incline that joined the road, and ended up tipping over the motorcycle. WIth help, I picked the bike back up and gunned it across. Lesson learnt: No matter how intimidating the terrain is, do not lose momentum. Keep the pace steady and the handlebar towards the right direction and you’re good to go. I applied the same rule on the following landslide-hit slushy sections and it worked tremendously well.
Wrapping it up, the kind of route Royal Enfield selected really made Uttarakhand come alive, all the while being not as intimidating as to discourage newbies. Top it off with the safety and support from the brand itself, coupled with like-minded, fun company of riders - the package was as wholesome as it ever got.
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