Myself and two friends, Dave and Jeff, flew out to Delhi to rent Royal Enfields and explore the great Himalayan circuit. What followed was an amazing adventure, made up of a number of much smaller Indian adventures. This was our first real long distance bike trip, and it was quite clear throughout most of it that we had no idea what we were doing.
We rented three motorbikes from Lalli Singh, the same rental company my two brothers had used a year earlier. There were 350cc and 500 cc Bullets, and a 350cc Thunderbird. Jeff took the larger bike, Dave the other Bullet, and I took the Thunderbird. We left Delhi at 4am to avoid traffic, with a guide to help us navigate our way out of the city. June-July 2013
Dave got pretty ill after we left Shimla, so ill we thought he might need some professional help - unfortunately by this time the next hospital was about a 5 day ride away. By the time we got there poor Dave was in such bad shape that he needed a couple of days in the hospital and 9 drips to rehydrate him. Whilst he was bed bound we used the opportunity to explore the local area.
After Dave recovered we carried on North, heading towards Leh, the northernmost town in Jammu & Kashmir which would mark the halfway point of our journey. Getting there proved to be far more difficult than we thought. Arriving at the beginning of summer meant that the snow at this altitude was only just beginning to melt away. This led to some pretty hairy but exciting moments where we came across roads completely covered in snow and ice drifts, turning around wasn’t an option so we had to make it through by any means possible.
We finally made it to Leh, where we spent a couple of days catching up on some sleep and meeting up with some friends who were also in Leh at the time. We then used a hotel as a base as we fixed the front brake on my bike which had started losing brake fluid. At one point I was running without a front brake with only the rear to stop me from crashing. Coming into one corner too fast, my rear wheel locked up and I was heading off the road and down a steep ledge, I ditched the bike which slightly caught a rock and came to a halt without any damage to myself. The only thing that was damage on my bike was the rear brake pedal, so we had to take off Dave’s rear brake and put it onto mine, so we limped into Leh pretty slowly. Whilst my bike was getting fixed we went off to Pangong Lake for a small camping trip. When we returned my bike was ready and we then took on the Khardung La - “the highest road in the world”.
After Leh, we headed towards Srinigar, the riding was slightly more comfortable than it was on our route north and we really enjoyed a more relaxed approach to our trip. We camped in some amazing green hills as we came out of the rocky mountains in the feet of the Himilaya. Whilst camping we met some incredibly nice locals, who lived as shepherds in the summer months living in small huts, returning to Srinigar in the winter to escape the cold.
We finally found ourselves in Srinigar, a city famous for its beautiful lake. We arrived in the town and met Ahmed on the side of the road who insisted that his houseboat on the lake was the best available. We weren’t too interested in arguing so followed him to his houseboat. We had nothing to compare it to, but we were more than impressed with the place so booked ourselves in for a few nights. Staying on the houseboat was pure luxury. During the day we would fish, read our books, lounge in the sun and play chess, or take a row around the lake. At night we would have an amazing meal cooked up for us washed down with beer - just the ticket.
After an amazingly relaxed few days, we left Srinigar and headed towards Amritsar, where we planned to put the bikes onto a train to avoid the craziness of trying to find our way back to Lalli Singh through the terrifying traffic of Delhi. On our way to Amritsar, Dave’s problem from the beginning of the trip came back to haunt us, to such an extent we actually put Dave on a train early and said we’d meet him in Delhi. Jeff and I carried on to Amritsar, before getting on a train ourselves and finally catching up with Dave. By this time we were exhausted and ready for home. Two days in Delhi signalled the end of an amazing adventure. We vowed to do something similar again soon, which was the birth of mine and Dave’s trip to China.