Riding over the Himalayas – Pt 3

O.k, so each day we’d get up around 6am. Drink some ‘Masala  tea’ (milky tea with 15 sugars) and wait for breakfast at 7. By 8am we were suited and booted ready to roll. We had a 5 min briefing and off we went. Meet up for lunch somewhere along the way and then head off again until the hotel.

That was the script.

Let give some details of some the challenges we faced.

Hotels /Guesthouses/Home-Stays.

For me, the accommodations are what spoiled the ‘adventure’. I am no snob (honestly) but I do expect a certain level of standard. Especially when I am paying premium prices. If I can stay on the QE2 for £50 a night, then I am sure the budget for accommodation on the trip would cover something a lot better than we were given.

Reminds me of home – in Iraq.

Most of the time there was no hot water. Some of the time there was no water at all. On the few times we had electricity, it was for a limited time only. Wifi? Forget it. 8 days with no cellular/data network.

o.k, so the tent had a good view.

One of the hotels was ‘acceptable’ – but still not a place I’d stay if it were anywhere else in the world. On the last day when there was wifi – it didn’t reach my room so I had to go to the lobby to connect. Even then it was dog slow.

The bathrooms…well… let’s not go there. No… let’s do. Here are some photos of the Toilet and the Shower. I know I am short, but even I couldn’t get under that (cold) tap.

The toilet or the shower?

Roads

The majority of the roads were gravel/stone. There were some days where it was nice tarmac – but mostly it was gravel. This would send shocks / vibrations up your arms for hours. After a days riding – you certainly felt it.

o.k… so they were not all bad.

Ever get your knee down on an Enfield?

We passed many locals on the side of the (mountain) road – breaking rocks. With sledgehammers. All day, just smashing up the big rocks and turning them into smaller rocks. If you ever think you have a bad job – then spare a thought for those poor bastards.

Hard day at the office.

Crossings

We got caught in a few storms – which lead to some land-slides. One afternoon there were several sections of road which got washed away. We had no choice other than to cross the section which was now a flowing river. It was tough. Real tough.

Riding through flowing water with no idea of where the rocks were beneath. I went through the water and hit a rock. I couldn’t see it and the bike was going nowhere. Several attempts to free the bike were unsuccessful. Exhausted as gasping for air – I had no choice other than to hand the bike over to a fellow rider and go catch my breath back.

15 mins earlier – that was a road.

This was normal. Some were fortunate to not get caught on the rocks. Others got stuck. As a group, we all pulled together to help out.

Once me and the bike were across. I’d park up and walk back into the water/mud and help out the next person who got stuck. This for me was actually quite a good part of the trip. All working together no matter how wet, muddy and cold we got. No one was left behind.

There were other crossings which were dry – bit still an absolute nightmare to cross. Just large boulders and rocks where a road should have been. The bikes took a real hammering. Amazed they made it.

Going nowhere

Food

Everyone on the ride all got the shits. That was – except for me! I avoided most of the food.

Breakfast was safest. Toast and Marmite. Vegemite for the Aussies. Can’t go wrong with that. Load up as much as you can so you’re not hungry come lunchtime.

Lunchtime was usually a regroup for everyone. We all descended on a roadside stall/café. There was no way in hell I was eating that garbage. I’d watch the old ladies cleaning plates from a tap using just their hands… no thanks.. not for me.

When asked if I wanted lunch – I politely told them to shove it.

I would instead chow-down on Cereal bar. You can poke your Dahl and whatever shite was on the menu.

Dinner was usually served at 8pm. By this time we were all hungry. 8 out of 10 nights it was Dahl on the menu. Rice of course and some other poo coloured crap. Again, I’d swerve all that and grab any bread that was on offer. There were nights where I just walked away from the table in disgust. Surely they could have put on a better offering? A good way to lose a few kilos though.

Altitude

We climbed to over 5500 meters . 17500 ft. Not much oxygen up there. Very hard to breath. Small things like putting on your socks would see you get out of breath. Sleeping? Hell.. I thought I was suffocating all the time. Horrible. Unpleasant and I didn’t like it.

When will this be over?

Didn’t really notice it when riding along – unless you got stuck and had to drag your bike over a rock. I did see the Doctor with a large oxygen tank and was hoping he’d give us all a shot on that but he never did.

The Bike Gear

I got fully kitted up. The helmet was my Union Jack lid! Easy to spot in a group. Drone footage and photos – I wanted to stand out a little. The usual tough waterproof gear with protection. Great set of boots and extra body armour for good measure.

Our luggage was carried in the Support vehicle, so I made a point of packing as much clothing as I could. 12 pairs of socks, 12 pairs of skiddies, jeans, shorts, t-shirts etc.. I didn’t much fancy having to wash my clothing in the local river like the rest of India.

Always be prepared!

My plan paid of tenfold. Many of the group had to wear wet, dirty clothing from the day before as there was no means to wash or dry their stuff. As all boy scouts… I came prepared.

Navigation

We were given the GPS coordinates which were downloaded to my iPhones. I carried the 6+ to use as a GPS and the iPhone X for my camera. Neither were any use as a phone or internet access up there.

Day 1 – when I pulled over for a rest with some other bikers… a little car pulled up with two Indian chaps and called out to us. Our Indian leader approached the car. I didn’t like the sound of this – as I thought they’d seen one of us break down or even crash.

Amazed I was when they called my name! Turns out that my iPhone 6 fell out of my pocket and landed in the road! Several 100 cars and lorries drove over it – as the screen was cracked. It still worked though! Luckily, in the cover I had a business card and also a photo of a bike on the screen – so they must have put 2+2 together and realised I was a foreign biker and pulled over when they saw us.

Of course I gave the guy loads of Rupees for being a good Samaritan. – The phone still worked and you couldn’t notice the screen when looking at the GPS. Lucky boy! I got the screen replaced back in HH for 2500bht. (bargain!)

Where the fuck is my bike?

I think you get the idea of that it was all about.

I have some other cool pictures which I’ll share on my next instalment.

Carry on

 

 

 

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