And he’s off.
The traffic was mad. Why the guide would set us off into lunchtime traffic in the city is beyond me. To add insult to injury, it started pissing down with rain 5 mins before we set off. This was shit.
The weather got worse – and we hit fog. All we could do was follow the bike in front. The biker at the front of our group was following ‘Samba’ – the lead guide. He was a local, and rode like one. Over-taking as many vehicles as possible, no matter how dangerous. Which meant us lot had to ride like the clappers to keep up.
Of course, no one wanted to say ‘hang on a minute, this is a bit tough isn’t it’? – in fear of being ridiculed by the rest of us. At least that’s how I felt.
We hit the guesthouse several hours later. We were told that soon there will be no cellular or data network, so make the most of it.
Russ by this time had his visa and was heading to the Dubai airport to catch the overnight flight. A car was picking him up. By the next night – we’d be reunited with him.
The hotel may have been a nice hotel in the 30’s… and was still (locally) referred to as a plush hotel. For me, it was shite. Food was shite, service was shite and the room was shite. There were Monkeys outside sitting on trees. Even they preferred a tree to one of the bedrooms easily accessed via the open windows.
The following day I had a positive attitude. The rain had stopped and I cleaned my bike. Positive attitude.
As soon as we set off it pissed down with rain. The fog came in, the traffic was horrendous and the roads were shite. So much for positive thinking.
Another challenging day trying to stay alive.
When we arrived at the hotel after a days riding – Russ was there waiting. Looking fresh, dry, clean and relaxed. The only one in the 17 strong group. The rest of us looked like we’d been living rough for the last few days.
I later found out what living rough was really all about.
With Russ now in the team – Russ, Huggy and I decided to ride together going forward. The rest of the group also split up into their little packs/teams.
Each morning we were given a 5 min talk about what lay ahead and where the rendezvous point was. We’d be told about a check-point where we could get lunch (And re-group) and where the next hotel was. Apart from that – we were pretty much left to fend for ourselves.
We set off. After 5 mins of being stuck behind Huggy and Russ – I nailed the throttle and gave it some beans. And when I say beans… 110kph is all the Enfield had to give. Still, going around hair pin bends and over gravel, it was quite hairy. I soon caught up and over took everyone. This gave me chance to stop off at various places, take some snaps of the view and also the other bikers as they rode by. For this reason, I have many snaps of other bikers – but none taken of me! No choice but to take selfies.
After lunch – the Aussies asked me if I wanted to join their group on a fast ride. The roads were gravel/stone.. hard terrain. The tour guide kept everyone else back as he didn’t want them following us – as we were identified as the better riders. He was worried the other might over-stretch themselves and fall off. So with our new riding skills firmly acknowledged – off we went like scalded cats.
The Aussies were good. Very good. They were moto-cross riders with great bike skills and no fear. I was purely running on ego. I rode in second position, making sure I was filling up the leaders mirror. The guys behind me we not far off. It was good riding and very tough.
When we hit the black top road, I found my mojo… hanging off the bike, scraping footpegs as I hit the apex of the bends…. I was showing off. It was great! When we came to the checkpoint – they said ‘good ride Rossi’! I had earned their respect. But man, these guys were good.
Later that day – the rest of the group met up with us at the camp. I told Russ and Huggy that I’ll not race off again – and that we can ride together and share the experience. They just need to speed up a little.
Hotel / Guesthouses were now getting lower in quality. Internet had gone – but we could use our Cellular Data on our phones. Hot water was now a luxury in the evenings.
Next day – we were getting into the Mountains, less traffic but larger vehicles wanting to run us over.
I can’t remember the full scenario – but a lorry was bearing down on Russ.. he took evasive action and clipped a big rock. He went down and twisted his ankle. We picked him and his bike up. He seemed o.k. I told him to man up and just walk it off and off he rode. All in his stride.
Turns out it was a little more serious – and he was unable to stride by the end of the day! So much so that he could not walk on his foot. A few of us had to carry him to his (now) tent where the Doctors examined him and told him it was a bad sprain. We asked for an ice pack – which arrived 4 hours later.
Russ couldn’t walk – and certainly couldn’t ride. Once again he’d be in the car and one of the support guys would be riding his bike. 25% through the holiday and the support guy had done more riding on Russ’s bike than he had.
Russ rested for a day and a half. With his bike boots on, he was able to limp enough to get around so was allowed back on a bike. For any river crossings – he’d give up the bike and have someone else cross on it. There was no way his ankle would support his weight and the bike in a river….
And so it went on like that for the next week or so. Tough rides. River crossings, land slides, dirt roads etc… crap hotels.. no water.
You have a rough idea of what the days were like. For the next post, I’ll detail some of the challenges instead of giving a day-by-day account.