It's Friday 16:00 and I am at work at my Chandigarh office. I knew the clock is ticking and I won't be able to cover much distance on bike once it's dark and cold wind starts to freeze me.
Initially, I thought of starting my journey from Chandigarh in early morning and reach Kasol by evening. Later, I realized it will be quite hectic and if I start in the evening and cover around 150-200 km to reach Sundernagar or Mandi and then stay there then the next morning I will be able to enjoy riding in the beautiful valley area after Mandi. Early morning scenes are beautiful and riding with fresh mind is pure pleasure. But to enjoy that I had to overcome the challenge of driving first half of the journey in the evening and find a place to stay for the night.
I was ready with my backpack, wearing my safety gears, and fueling up my tank. It took a while to cross the city area and reach highway. It was the weekend inline with new year's eve and I was expecting more than average traffic going towards Manali, Shimla. There was slow moving traffic in Kharar due to road construction but after that it's nice highway passing Kurali and Ghanauli. I covered it in pretty good time.
While speeding around 80-100 I soon realized my chin and neck area is exposed as helmet isn't covering it. When I tried to move my jaws and utter something I felt some numbness, I decided to immediately stop and put on my monkey-cap to assure there is no part of body in direct contact with cold winds. Temperature dropped more and I was finding it hard to keep going. After few km from Ghanauli I decided to stop and get some hot tea and snacks. While the tea was prepared I removed my gloves, helmet and stood near the stove to get some heat. At this time I realized that the target to reach Mandi seems implausible. The warmth of tea, noodles and wood fire was so satisfying that I was having second thoughts about continuing further.
Journey from here was really challenging, odometer of my bike was ticking slower now. Road started to go slightly uphill and number of trucks on the road began to increase. Decent engine power of my KTM Duke bike made it easier to overtake those trucks, each passing by truck was providing a gush of hot air. Although it was smoke, still it felt good as there was clear difference in temperature of truck's exhaust and that of surrounding air. Pushing each km was getting tough and Mandi was still 100km away. I decided to make small targets of 5 km and just focus on next 5 km. I stopped after every 5-10 km whenever I see group of people sitting around wood fire near a tea stall. This strategy helped and next 20-25 km of twisting turning roads passed. Along with the temperature, my average speed also dropped .
Enthusiasm gets you started, courage gives you acceleration, confidence makes you push to your limits and when all of these fail, it's the willpower that keeps you going.
Despite 3 layers of clothing, my body was shivering at times and I was feeling uneasiness in head. I strongly made up my mind to cover 25-30 km, reach Bilaspur and stay there for the night. This last stretch was hardest but will power pumped me up and I kept going without any stops. Countdown started 25, 24, 23... reading "20 km left" was motivating rather than reading "120 km covered". There were few moments when road was not turning much and I could put headlights on high beam and accelerate. Switching headlights from low to high beam was providing a sudden moment of enlightening where vision is clearer, I switched gears and accelerated till the next turn.
Reaching Bilaspur was pleasant sight, I started to see some hotels on the highway but wait a second, odometer says there are still 5 km to go. I might be on outskirts of town. I decided to drive some more to reach the center of town. Finally found a hotel and restaurant to crash for the night. My neck and back was affected the most due to weight of helmet and my backpack. I did a bit of stretching till the dinner was served.
Journey from Bilaspur to Kasol was long, but unlike last night, today the weather wasn't harsh on me. I can still feel the difference in the winds crossing me while driving in direct sunlight and while passing though shady areas. Only challenge today was to keep the stamina up and resist the muscle pain around neck and back area.
Route today was full of scenic beauty and that's the ultimate pleasure of riding bike when road is curvy and in good condition, there isn't much traffic, whether is nice, and the surrounding landscape is amazing. This combination is paradise for bike riders. All the hard work finally paying off. I reached Kasol around 16:00. Parvati valley offers lovely landscapes and the road is all along the sides of Parvati river, offering perfect spots to stop by for a while and enjoy the view.
That's all folks! This journey made me strong, tested my willpower and decision making. Also, helped me realize my limits and set new targets to go beyond those limit.
Please share your similar experiences and feedback in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and good luck on your next adventure.
- Ayush 🙂