KERALA TO LEH - THE RIDE OF MY LIFE
As riders, we always day dream about going on a long motorcycling road trip with like minded people, exploring the world without a worry.
But some of us manage to juggle our passion for riding with our jobs, routines and responsibilities. Some of us manage to live the dream.
Arjun Raju is one such rider. Last year, he realised that he had been day-dreaming about taking his Himalayan from Angamali, his hometown in Kerala, to Leh for way too long now.
‘What’s the point of making plans, if you’re never going to do it? So I decided to stop planning and start doing.’ recalls Arjun.
Once you start doing, there’s no stopping. Plans were put in place for the epic journey with two other riders who were itching for an adventure.
‘I’d met them at a Royal Enfield ride, and we had been talking about doing this ride for a while. We finally decided to take a break from from work and daily routines, and charted out the journey quickly on a con-call.’
After the plan was locked, Arjun had about a week to get ready for the ride. This included getting leaves sorted out, getting the motorcycle serviced and prepping his gear.
When the day finally arrived, Arjun and his friends headed out from their hometowns in Kerala with their compass firmly pointing north. Thus began a 20-odd day journey from one end of the country to another.
Since the three riders had explored most places in their vicinity, they skipped any stops in the south. They took pitstops at Bengaluru, Goa, Pune and Mumbai before crossing into Gujarat and Rajasthan. Throughout the ride, they relied on fellow riders from the community to get help on accommodations, places to eat and general queries along the way. They finally reached Delhi, where their motorcycles started giving them a bit of trouble.
The trio spent a couple of days in Delhi, explored the city, got their motorcycles looked at, and proceeded on towards Chandigarh. They faced some trouble with the motorcycles again, and looked for a Royal Enfield service station. Since it was a Sunday, they expected the garages to be shut. However, they were helped out by a kind service centre owner in Chandigarh, Harbhajan Singh, who got their motorcycles fixed for free. Harbhajan also supported and encouraged them on their long journey and shared his phone number with them in case anything went wrong along the way.
‘Part of journey like this is to meet people like Harbhajan Singh - kind souls who make motorcycling truly feel like a community.’
They moved from Chandigarh with the Himalayas on the horizon, and rode up to Manali. In Manali, they spent a couple of days exploring the unique culture and lifestyle of the hill town and exploring the natural beauty of the Himalayas on some off-road trails. From Manali, they made a short journey to Keylong, soaking in the views along the way. Keylong was their last stop before their destination of Leh, and Arjun was jittery with excitement.
He was also jittery on the day of the ride because the journey from Keylong to Leh turned out to be a cold, rough one. While his Khardung La V2 riding jacket kept him safe from the elements, he struggled to ride in the snow.
‘It was extremely difficult to ride with snow and ice on the road. We struggled to make ground and eventually reached a dead-end. The road to our destination was closed due to heavy snowfall.’
To say that Arjun was disappointed to be turned back on the last leg of his dream road trip would be an understatement. But he did not let that disappointment dampen his spirit for adventure. He had a few days left before he had to get back to work, so he decided to head to explore the Himalayas more.
He experienced the breathtaking beauty of Parvati Valley in Kasol, before riding through Haridwar and Rishikesh, where he quenched his thirst for adventure with river rafting and bungee jumping.
Refreshed and reoriented from his epic journey, Arjun transported his motorcycle back to Kerala from Delhi to make it back to work on time. Now, back in his daily routine again, Arjun is glad that he took an impromptu decision to do the journey of his dreams.
‘Buying a Himalayan was the best decision I’ve ever made. It has changed my life, given me plenty of memories and introduced me to people I will cherish for the rest of my life. Taking it to its natural habitat in the Himalayas had always been a dream for me. Now, I can proudly say that I’ve been there, done that!’