11th September 2014, Thursday….Solo Bike Ride to Ladakh 2014
It’s not for nothing Ladakh, the land of high passes, is called mecca of bikers. A bike ride to Leh passes through some of the most rugged, breathtaking and awe inspiring landscape in the world. Riding to Ladakh is a dream for the bikers all over the world.
I love to ride my bike when I just want to be myself. For me riding a bike is like flying, all our sense are alive. When I bike through the himalayas the scented air that kiss the face is just heavenly. For me biking through those high mountain roads is freedom.
Its my good luck that my Red Knight (Glamour 125) and I were just in right frame for the ride to this fairy land. Early retirement from the bank, blessings of parents, support of wonderful wife and above all the way my childern are conducting themselves, have made this easy for me.
I had been there on bus (1987, when I was 24) and on my Yamaha RX100 (1994, when I was 31) still the hunger was not over……..’The Last Shangri La‘ was beckoning me again. So on 11th September 2014, afternoon, I bade farewell to my wife and son and was off to the moonland (Ladakh)…….solo on my red knight, at the age of 52.
It was a mixed feeling when I left from my home this afternoon. It was difficult going solo as I would always love to have my wife along. She likes to travel but she is more of luxury traveler and doesn’t like long distance bike rides. I knew I was going to miss her again.
In recent times, my father was not keeping good health and needed hospitalisation. He was all right now and my doctor friend S. Vajinder Singh Bajwa gave me green signal that I could go ahead with my ride without any tension.
Biker’s usually follow one of the two routes to ride to Leh….Manali-Leh or Srinagar-Leh. Due to floods in Kashmir, Amritsar- Srinagar-Leh route was closed. So for me the option left was Amritsar-Manali-Leh route. There is another route Amritsar-Saach Pass-Keylong-Leh route, which is much less frequented. I did not want to ride through Rohtang Pass instead chose to ride on this less treaded route which bypasses Rohtang Pass.
I have been driving on this route for ages and never really get bored of it. The Amritsar-Pathankot route which used to be busy and boring is now replaced with a beautiful toll road and most of the towns on the route are bypassed. Madhopur, meeting point of three states, situated near River Ravi, has always been a wonderful picnic spot and pit stop for travelers to Jammu and Kashmir.
The road from Madhopur to Dhar is less frequented and is all along River Ravi. At Dhar, the road meets the main Chakki-Chamba/Dalhousie road. Since I started very late from Amritsar I wanted to reach as close to Saach Pass as possible. I reached Bathri at around 7pm. On enquiring, I was told that there was no place to stay till Bairagarh and it was wise to stay at Bathri itself.
I checked with PWD rest house at Bathri and was lucky to find a nice cozy room. The caretaker of the rest house was a very nice man. He cooked simple food for me. The food was very nice, homely and very well served. I loved eating the food.
So this was the end of the first day of my solo bike ride to Ladakh 2014!!!