Vehicle: Royal Enfield
Start Point: New Delhi, Delhi 110001, India
Start Date: 21-April-2012
End Point: Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh 172114, India
End Date: 23-April-2012
The Journey: Delhi – Shimla- Narkanda – Ramnagar – Spillow – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Spiti
Ideal Time to Visit: The month of April is a good time to visit. June and July are brisk months for business, so riding assumes a very commercial edge in these months. The weather changes every 15 days and is quite unpredictable. For about a week into the trip, a lot of water bodies will have to be crossed.
Entourage Strength: We were one group consisting of 3 riders. Ideally, you should not be in a group of more than 10 people on this route. Large groups should divide themselves. The bigger the entourage, the tougher it is to handle.
Preps: Before you hit the road have your bike serviced. Other preparations include getting the bike hauled up for a service. Carry extra engine oil, tube, a puncture kit, spare spark plugs, bulbs for the headlamps or tail lights, and wiring. Just the spares that you carry, will weigh 20-25 kilograms. Get a few extra lights installed on your machine and check if your headlights are nice and bright. Some people are prone to acute mountain sickness. Carry provisions that’ll help you cope and acclimatize yourself before going higher. Alcohol is a big no-no and that is a hard and fast rule.
For our ride to Spiti, we took 2 months to work out all the preparations and plan the trip.
Once you’re done getting mentally prepped and having your machine ready, drop a message home before you set out. Carry a map.
Assistive Gizmos: We were carrying with us a DSLR camera and lenses, a GPS tracking device and a compressor that was connected to the motorbike and filled air – it does work.
In case you haven't got a Scala – concentrating on the rear view mirrors should keep you going.
Road & Traffic Conditions: Beyond Narkanda there is hardly any traffic apart from army trucks, and soldiers ready to help travellers in the event of a landslide.
Best & Worst Stretches: About 10-15 kilometres ahead of Nako is army territory, carved out of a mountain beside the river. At a certain point, the river starts to look like as if it were made of steel. Even though the ride is steep and risky, the road was amazing.
Nako to Tabo is magnificent, and the backlanes of Kaza river were breathtakingly beautiful. Narkanda was completely different. We made an overnight stopover at Tabo monastery, 50 metres ahead of Kaza. Must say that the food there was delicious. There are a couple of guest houses in the area but so far the place appears homely and welcoming as opposed to being commercial.
Weather Encountered: The weather remained unpredictable. If it rained one day, the next day there would be bright sunshine and the very next day could bring a thunderstorm or hail storm in its wake followed by snowfall within the next few minutes.
On reaching Kaza, you might feel like you could wear your shorts but the wind is chilly – it’s the kind of weather which confuses you and if you are not careful enough, you might fall ill.
Food Joints & Stopovers: Our first grub-stop was after 50 kilometres into the ride and we had reached Murthal. We decided to have Dal Chawal, Punjabi Thukpa and then detox the tastebuds with some boiled water.
Bike Care: I sincerely believe that a clean bike is a clear indication that the bike has been sat more that it has moved. Push a bike to its limit and it goes along with you when you pay it due attention every now and then. As mentioned before, carry extra engine oil, tubes, puncture kits and headlamps etc. and change them before your machine experiences serious damage.
Locals: Locals along the route are very warm and friendly. Even if you hang your valuables, somewhere in the middle of the route, you can rest assured that they will remain safe. But you might want to speak with the locals so that they can fill you in on the dangers of a leopard or other wild encounters!