26th September 2014, Friday………………Jispa-Amritsar, 572 km.
Got up to a beautiful morning at Jispa. Stay and food at ‘Himalayan Homestay and Greenland Camps’ was quite good. By 8 o’clock I hit the road thinking of riding all the way to Amritsar.
Sun was shining brightly, sky was azure blue, road was good too, riding was a sheer pleasure. Soon I reached Gramphoo, the place where I stood few months ago while riding back from Chandertal and Spiti Valley.
Picture clicked from Gramphoo, the road to Kunzum and Spiti which eluded me for the last 20 years until June this year when I rode solo through the entire length and breadth of Kinnaur and Spiti. This road from Gramphu to Kunzum has to be amongst most challenging one’s.
Reached Rohtang Pass in no time, the face was bruised and toned but the spirit was very high. The feeling was of a winner, for after leaving the bank, at the age of 52, I could ride solo on an ordinary bike through dreaded Sach Pass, Pangi Valley, Khardungla, Pangong Tso and Changthang plateau, without any trouble, fully rejuvenated and jazzed up.
Posing like a winner on Rohtang Pass one more time this year. The first time this year was in June when rode from Kunzum to Amritsar. I waited for 20 long years for this to happen, dreamt about it when first time I rode to Leh on Yamaha RX100 in 1994.
Sun continued to shine brightly, weather was wonderful and ride a pleasure. It was 12pm afternoon, everything was on course by then when I saw a long queue of vehicles lined up along the road near Palchan. I sensed trouble, for I have never crossed Rohtang Pass without trouble. On each of the four times being on this pass, I have had trouble.
First time, my RX100 burnt its clutch plates in the evening very close to Rohtang Pass while riding to Leh and I had to push back my bike to Manali in the middle of the night in 1994. Second time, met with a minor accident with a bus while returning back to Manali during night in 2003 on Maruti 800. Third time, a landslide occurred minutes before I was to cross Rohtang in June this year when I was riding from Spiti. I had to wait till midnight when the landslide was cleared.
Beautiful mountainscape from Rohtang-Manali road.
So this was fourth time. An army truck had gone down near Palchan, the road was blocked to lift the truck. Initially we thought it would take 2-3 hours for completion of this exercise but to our amazement it took 6 and 1/2 hours. The blockade was lifted at 6.30pm and after being stranded for more than 6 hours, I was able to ride again.
Manali arrived quickly, lights were on, full night had fallen. I was in no mood to stop at Manali though. So after some refreshments and a little walk on the mall, I was back on the road, thinking, might stay enroute if felt like sleeping.
I was feeling good and enjoying. From Mandi I turned right on NH 154 and rode through Jogindernagar-Palampur-Pathankot to Amritsar. As I was riding deep into night, riding was becoming more and more enjoyable. I have always enjoyed riding in the night, stopping at dhabas for tea, food and chit chat with night riders.
It was almost morning when I reached Pathankot. Riding became little irritating thereafter as I was feeling bit tired and sleepy. Took few breaks for rest and tea to freshen up and finally reached Amritsar at 8am morning exactly after being on the road for 24 hours and 572 kilometers.
Reaching home after such a challenging ride is always a pleasure especially meeting my wife and children.
So after soul satisfying ride for 3021 kilometers in 17 days solo on some of the most challenging passes, tough roads and lonely valleys, I was back home with lot of wonderful memories, high spirit and huge boost to my self esteem. This ride opened up my heart and mind for even bigger challenges and a hope to pursue my dreams even more passionately…………………!!!