Women Only Himalayan Motorcycle Expedition continues … I’m getting used to the bike and riding on a mountainy road again, which basically means I’m still stiff and slow (in comparison to my more advanced girlfriends). For the past four years I’ve been used to riding in a desert or just in a city traffic and I need to catch up quickly! Luckily I’m getting more confident with every kilometer and since views are not really spectacular yet I can focus on the road and my technique.
Day 2, Banjar – Kalpa ( 220km )
It was a long day. 220km on Himalayan roads means 11h before you can get off the bike (with all the stops and a lunch break). We started at 1350m and finished our day at 2900m, passing through the highest point of that day – 3200m.
Morning yoga session in that case was a perfect way to recharge batteries before hitting the road. Perfect start of a day!
I loved first section of the ride. Muddy forest road, greenery, the smell of trees, mystic fog at some point, small mountain villages. It all reminded me of my enduro experience in Romanian Karpaty mountains or French Pyrenees.
Unfortunately, that pleasure lasted only for around 50km. For the rest of the day we were following National Highway No. 5. Don’t get fooled! Highway doesn’t mean comfortable and an easy ride… Good quality road sections were a rarity.
By the end of the day we were driving through a valley, along a river, where ‘highway’ offered us an off-road experience. On top of a standard traffic, we mostly had to watch out for holes and stones. Dust was unbearable! It became green again only for the last approximate 10km, when we were climbing up again towards our destination.
On top of being focused on the road and still getting used to the bike, I just haven’t seen anything worth taking picture off, so there are none from that section.
Sunny first half of a day turned into rainy afternoon. After lunch we had to put our waterproof clothes on and rain accompanied us all the way to the Guest House. We were all very happy to jump under the showers with hot water (taking advantage till it’s still available)!
After very yummy diner we had time for masala tea and some discussions including a plan for the next day.
Day 3, Kalpa – Tabo ( 178km )
Day started again with a yoga session. Our bodies needed a good stretch after yesterday’s 11h of riding.
Today we had to get the permits allowing us to drive through Spiti Valley located in Lahaul & Spiti District (that we reached by the end of the day). We managed to deal with that until midday, visiting town of Kalpa and doing some ‘shopping’ while waiting for documents to be ready. Hats typical for Kinnaur District, ended up being a hit!
Today’s scenery continued to be rocky and grey for most of the time. Road quality remained also poor. I started wondering how proper off-road roads look here, if highway is bumpy, dusty and full of loose stones…? I decided it’s better not to think about it!
I had to focus on the road and pay attention to stones shooting form underneath other vehicles’ wheels or falling from the rocks above my head, and focus on driving along the cliffs on narrow, not secured roads. Pure fun! No much time for pictures…
Apart from a lunch break, by the end of the day we also stopped to visit a small Buddhist village ‘Nako’ located at 3625m, near the Indo-China border. A point just 200m higher was our maximum for that day.
From the moment we enterted Spiti & Lahaul District riding conditions have become much better. We left traffic behind and I finally had time to actually look around and enjoy the views and the ride itself. I got more relaxed and had some fun on turns and loops, saw first snowy mountain tops and enjoyed the quality of air, fresh and dustless (happiness didn’t last forever though, I think I must have paid for that dust as a part of a trip package!).
The last 20km were challenging not only due to a road quality, that got worse again, but also because we reached our Guest House after dark. Note for the future: take spare pair of protection glasses that are not tinted (agghhrrr)!