Sunday 18th September 2016
This was the last day of our ride and understandably all of us were a bit somber & low but then as all good things come to an end, our ride had to end too, we took this into our stride and were ready to rock & roll on the last day as well! The ride had gone on very smoothly and we were all excited to end it on a high too.
Today was going to be the longest day of our ride distance wise, as we were slated to cover 550+ kms this day. So we were up at 5 AM and ready to start at 6 AM. After clicking early morning pics of the pristine scenes at Prini we started at 6:30 AM through the small towns of the Kullu region.
Our pace was quite brisk, thanks to the zero traffic and good roads. After crossing about 80-odd kms, we stopped at 8:20 AM for a quick butt break. We had the Beas River for company throughout the early morning stretch and we were chomping away the distance with quite some élan.
We had the first long break of the day when we stopped for breakfast just after Bilaspur. Another round of Aloo Paranthas and Hot Tea were in order. We did the needful and started the next leg.
We finally bid goodbye to Himachal Pradesh and entered Punjab which was a big milestone as the last 8 glorious days were spent in Himachal and it was quite a memorable moment to finally bid this beautiful state goodbye.
Our next stop was the Gurudwara at Kiratpur Sahib. I always wanted to visit this Gurudwara and while designing the itinerary of this ride, I knew I had to include this while coming back. I Harsimran and I paid our obeisance at the Gurudwara, sought blessings from the almighty and thanked him for such a beautiful & safe ride so far.
The weather was getting very hot and after the subzero temperatures at Chandrataal which we experienced less than 36 hours before, riding in 35+ degrees weather was quite a challenge. I just could not tolerate the heat so decided to remove my riding jacket and tied it on the top of my bag. It was such a relief to feel the wind hitting me and making me cool! Adit wasn’t very happy with this decision of mine considering the safety aspects!
We stopped at Heritage Haveli located on the highway at Khabra in the Ropar District and enjoyed a long & much deserved air-conditioned break. I had quite a comprehensive meal which started with a cold lassi, followed by Golgappe, Papdi Chaat, Pao Bhaji and ended it on a sweet high with a delicious bowl of Kheer! The service was slow but the delicious food made up for it. And I guess that is the guess with all the Haveli restaurants I have been to.
We had the last group photograph of the ride in bright sunlight while our eyes were asking for some cover!
Adit had to attend a family function so he bid us goodbye and left for Delhi solo. I thanked him for all his help & support and wished him good luck for the solo ride ahead.
George, Harsimran and I started the last & the most boring part of the ride together. Plus NH-1 is quite a boring highway for me personally having been on this stretch for innumerable times, I have never enjoyed this stretch. To make matters worse, the 2 worst accidents of my motorcycling life have happened on NH-1 so I am always a bit anxious riding here.
We had a Ganne ka Juice break at 4:30 PM and re-hydrated ourselves and I gulped down 3 glasses of one of my favourite beverages! Ah, the pleasures of riding on highways! Ganne ka Juice makes it even better.
And then disaster struck! Suddenly my bike lost power and stopped without any prior warning. I was actually quite surprised when it stopped like that because it was running perfectly and thought it to be a minor issue which I could take care of easily. I tried kick-starting my bike but it was in no mood to start. I tried that for 15 minutes and gave up after I was sweating like a pig!
George had gone much ahead and he called me after he had crossed the Panipat Flyover and he could not see the 2 of us in his rear view mirror. I told him to move forward as there was no point waiting. I knew I was in for a long haul. Fortunately Harsimran was with me and that was a huge relief. Both of us were stuck on the highway and to make things worse, the nearest town was some 5 kms away so I could not even push my bike to get it repaired.
Harsimran went to the nearest town – Shahbaad to get some support but today wasn’t my lucky day! It was a Sunday and all mechanic shops were closed. He called me and gave me the terrible news. But he didn’t lose hope and tried his best to get hold of a mechanic. And luckily he found one shop of a Bullet mechanic which was closed but he asked some people to get the contact number of the owner and somehow got it. The mechanic had gone for some religious function and promised to come an hour later, after attending the ceremony.
He came back and then we started the endless wait for the mechanic to come. He came after 80-odd minutes and we were so happy to see him! While we were waiting, we also got hold of a person, who agreed to transport the bike to Gurgaon. We wanted to keep that option in hand, in case repairing the bike wasn’t possible.
The mechanic came, checked the bike and found out the fault quite quickly. With the help of my Leatherman Torch and some of my tools which I was carrying, he got the bike up & running within 15 minutes. The issue though quite minor was almost impossible to find out so quickly. The CI Engine RE riders can understand this – there are 4 nuts on the top of the Tappet rods in the head-cylinder assembly as seen in the pic below. If one nut falls off and 3 nut remains, the bike would still function but if 2 of them fall then the bike would stop and there is no way it would start. As he opened the head assembly, we saw 2 nuts were intact, one had fallen off and was nowhere to be seen but luckily one of the nut was just sitting there! He quickly tightened the 3 of them and that ensured that the bike started. I thanked God for getting this done as I was really worried about spending the entire night on the road!
I thanked the mechanic for taking out time for us on a Sunday that too when he was busy attending a personal function. I was so lucky to get hold him and infact the entire credit goes to Harsimran for not giving up and finding him out!
The mechanic advised me to ride slowly and not cross 60 kmph under any circumstances and also to stop every 50 kms to cool off the engine because of that one missing nut. I was still 180 kms away from my home in Gurgaon and it was already 8:30 PM, I knew I won’t be reaching home before 12 or 1 in the night. I got my senses together and started the painful stretch towards home. The traffic was very heavy considering it was a Sunday night and it looked like all the residents of Delhi were rushing back home!
Harsimran was riding behind me to ensure that he stayed within close proximity in case my bike conked off again. I was riding with utmost caution and never went beyond 50-55 kmph. It was painful and outside of my riding-comfort zone but then I had no other option than to remain slow & steady.
We had our dinner at Karnal Mcdonalds which was choc-a-bloc with people who had come to end the weekend. We were treated to shocked looks from a lot of people as were looking so dreary & dirty. But then we are used to such looks during our bike rides. I had 2 Chicken McGrill Burgers which are my favourites of the McDonalds Menu and they tasted even better because I was having them after a really long time plus I was damn hungry too.
We stopped at around 11 PM for a short tea break, both of us were completely drained out and had to really gather all our strength to make it home safely. It was a tough and testing time for both of us.
I finally heaved a sigh of relief when I crossed the Delhi border because I knew that home was now not too far away!
I stopped at the legendary “Landfill” site and waited for Harsimran to join. I clicked the last 2 pics of my bike and thanked God for getting me here without any further hiccups.
Both of us parted ways, I took the road towards Gurgaon and he took the one towards Noida. We hugged each other and bid goodbye. Then I rode across the “Ring Road” of Delhi reliving my younger days when I used to be a regular on this road! My Graduation institution – “Rajdhani College” is also located on this famous road!
I finally reached home at 12:50 AM. Bandita and my younger niece Samyukta were waiting for me. I was so happy to see them.
I clicked the last pic of the ride which always is of the speedometer showing the final reading and it is a tradition I have always followed during all my rides.
Inspite of the 3 hours breakdown, I was in high spirits thanks to the sense of achievement on successfully finishing the Lahaul Spiti Ride and that too without any major breakdowns or accidents! As expected I was completely tanned which is one of the rewards of a long ride!
I covered exactly 560 kms during the day. The day started on a perfect note with beautiful weather and perfect roads, got really tough with the rising temperature and ended with an unfortunate breakdown coupled with physical & mental exhaustion! But the joy of reaching home and seeing the family took care of all the tough moments gone by.
The final distance count of the ride was 1879 kms across 9 days. What a crazy time we had! The Leonines were absolutely incredible and we had a ball “OntheRoad!
I would finish the travelogue of this ride with an Epilogue post which I would publish in few days time; please keep an eye for it.
Day by Day Travelogues of the Ride:
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…