Monday, April 25, 2011

A biker lost in Himayalas

Biking and Himalayas perhaps has the most complementing relationship. I always feel that the joy and fun of riding along cold breeze, green lush valleys and excitingly thrilling terrains is under explained in words. The feeling of flying against gravity and flowing along gravity with full controls in hands, changes with each curve a rider covers.

 A long weekend with Good Friday included in it was almost unplanned till 20th April 2011. Hot mercury of delhi pushed me to think of a plan to run out of Delhi. When everyone was planning to Shimla or Manali, I made a Solo bike trip plan to explore some new places beyond overcrowded Shimla. To call it a "Plan" would be the insult of word "Plan". It was total mess, infact not even mess because there was no plan and I just started the trip.

Early riser started first day of trip on 22nd April 2011 at 5:30 AM from Gurgaon with my gears on. The excitement of solo ride and riding my new Royal Enfield in Himalayas made me impatient. With full throttle on and almost no traffic on Delhi roads when I crossed Delhi City was matter of an hour. The long pending complaint of my bike was addressed to take her for a long ride, the smoothness and comfort on bike seemed complimenting my decision.

Yummi Paranthas and Delicious White butter at Moorthal filled the energy in me which was enough to ride for the day. I have ridden so much on Delhi Chandigarh highway that now I dont find it more exciting that just to keep throttle at 110kmph and thats what I did this time as well. Traffic jams at few places helped me getting out of monotonous ride on National Highway.

As the Sun rose and started running along my right side, I felt the need for full sleeve cover and goggles, but the lazy attitude to open tightly knotted bag with bungee ropes made me ride full day in half sleeves and without goggles.

In four and half hours I was in the feet of Himalayas at Chandigarh. The newly built flyover from Zirakpur, at the cost of Greenery and trees, was fun to ride. Moreover when you have seen huge traffic jams on particular road and then one fine day you get exceptionally smooth ride, gives immense satisfaction.

As I entered Himachal, my speed slowed down with increasing cold breeze at Parwanoo. I rode 250KM plus to enjoy the experience, so I wanted to live each and every moment of it. I took countless breaks for drinks and photographs. The greenery is yet to flourish in Himalayas but the view of valleys and a solo bike trip makes it all an unique experience to count upon. 

The thump of four month old Royal Enfield was completely strange for me when I started the uphill ride. It was like a small kid who want to do something really new and when he has been allowed to do, he seems nervous and quite but still he does it well.The power of bike was really big and never felt that gravity is proving heavy on it.

A lunch at 12:30 PM, then another lunch at 1:30 PM and another one at 3:30 PM proved that I was riding hard. It was my last lunch, around 30 KM before Shimla town when I made up my mind to divert my way from shimla town towards Manali highway. My stopover was Darlaghat, a village which was 60 KM away from my last lunch stop.

My College friend, Vinod Puri's house was the halt for first day at Darlaghat. As I diverted towards Manali highway, the traffic was almost absent. The road did not deserve to be called as National Highway. But Himachal is such a heavenly place that acts of corruption also could not destroy the beauty. It was so much of fun riding in the middle of pine trees that I spent two hours to ride 60KM and enjoyed the stretch completely with Sun setting behind mountains and trees.

12 hours ride of 450 KM in a day from extremely hot Delhi to cold Darlaghat was damm awesome feeling. Vinod and me met after 11 years, it was soothing after long riding day to go back to old memories of college and wonder how we use to behave in different situations. The day ended with with gossips of all old times. The sleep of that night was the most awesome sleep I have ever had with tiredness at its peak and ideal weather.

Second day, 23rd April 2011, the early riser easily turned into lazy riser and started the day at 9:00 AM. Vinod and me headed towards Shimla. Breakfast at "Ekaant" restaurant, the only restaurant in Darlaghat, with a breathtaking landscape in front of restaurant was another delicious stuff I had come across in this trip.We rode from Darlaghat to Shimla, 45 KM distance. As expected, heavy traffic in shimla welcomed us. There was no space for parking a bike, think of people driving car into Shimla. The situation was such that we cancelled our bike trips we had planned after arriving in Shimla.

The day was spent having food and roaming around the places in Shimla. Vinod left for the day in the evening and I finished the day early at 9:00 PM.

Third and last day, 24th April 2011, was unexpectedly long riding day. Exception to early riser was only 23rd April, so started the day at 5:00 AM. The ride started down hills of Shimla town from hotel which was covered fully by pine trees. The road I took was also fully covered with pine trees and realised 10 Km down that I had opted for wrong way. Unlike time I could reverse those 10 kms and started on right track.

As I came out of Shimla town and took the throttle to full, freezing cold forced me to keep a watch on speed. In an hour of ride and my stomach started calling for some intake. One, two, three roadside dhabas and no one had anything ready at that time. Finally spotted the right place and another yummi parantha and chai at dhaba with Akaashwaani Shimla station on radio palying sufi songs.

Ride after parantha was smooth with some rash car drivers going left and right of my bike. As the sun rose and dosed in some energy in my body, the only thing I loved the most was the play with Shadow. I never loved the shadow so much. That posture on Royal Enfield looked so royal that I was wondering whether it is me or someone else is riding along me. The shadow going 360 degree around me reminded me of the song "Tu jahaan jahaan chalega tera saaya saath hoga". The hide and seek with shadow under Pine trees was even awesome.

The heaven ride came to an end at Parwanoo as I started feeling the heat. I was wondering whether the world   is small or man kind has made this world feel so small. In a ride of a day one can see the extremes of weather, one side early at 5:00 AM I was shivering with cold freezing weather and on the other side extreme hot weather of Delhi.

I reached Chandigarh in 3.30 hours from Shimla and met Vivek Ganatra who was to accompany me for rest of the ride from chandigarh to delhi. The day was growing hot. Despite all the effort to leave early from Chandigarh we could leave at 1:10 PM, when the temperature perhaps was highest for the day.

Vivek's excitement and happiness helped me riding in hot conditions. Exit from Chandigarh was very hot with signal lights at every mile. We took maximum number of stop overs and it was never a boring ride. With all the gossips of the world we finished 4 hours ride is 7:30 Hours.

A Juice break in the middle of nowhere, a fruit break at unknown shop and an unplanned lunch break at dhaba for more than an hour, this was all about the ride. We thought and we stopped, we photographed, we laughed, Vivek cried :), we ate, we slept at roadside dhaba and lot more fun. Cripping slow moving traffic from Karnal to Panipat was torture for both of us. The ride from Panipat to Delhi was damm smooth and awesome in relatively cool weather of evening. The pollution was unbearable, especially when one comes from Himalayas it feels even more.

Vivek's "Self motivation" always going to bring a smile on my face. More than that I was very satisfied and happy to ride with Vivek as he desperately wanted to do this and his happiness was an energy dose for me. We parted at Kashmiri Gate in Delhi from where I rode solo to Gurgaon. By the time I reached home I was completely tired, but the sad part is that the weather of gurgaon never let me sleep the way I slept last two nights in cool weather of Darlaghat and shimla.

This trip brought me real awesome experience of solo riding, meeting old friends, riding with friends and more than that a sense of self satisfaction. It again proved that I am the owner of my decisions and thoughts. I do what I like to do and never let anything else dictate my decisions.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Another toy I added to my kitty - TREK 3700 Cycle

My new TREK 3700
My plan to move out of Delhi to Himachal on new project ignited the zeal to purchase a Cycle to explore thrilling treks in Himachal Pradesh. I googled all the brands of cycle available in India and decided to buy the best brand with moderate price range. Finally I concluded to buy Firefox based on reviews written by Firefox owners and price range of few brands which I had selected on internet were between INR8K to 10K.

 I visited the Firefox distributor in Gurgaon on 13th April 2011 in Plaza Mall at IFFCO Chowk. There the Firefox cycles did not appeal me much and the one I found quite exciting was of INR 30K which was not the value for money for me. I happen to meet a cycling enthusiast in his early forties, who helped me with pros and cons of various models available. We came across selected range of TREK cycles with the same distributor.

Trek 3700 on a cycling terrain
TREK's sturdy looks attracted my attention towards TREK 3500 with a price tag of around INR 16K. Then I learnt about Trek 3700 which is the upgraded version of Trek 3500 with front shockers. The price I told was INR 18.5K. I had come with a budget of maximum INR 10K and an extravagant devil inside me was taking me towards INR 19K now. Trek 3700 on display was of Pearl White color, the moment I saw Black color model with little shade of military color, I made up my mind to take this toy home.

Trek 3700 came to me the plenty of features which are :-
  1. Aluminium black frame with sizes as per riders height. I bought 18 inch frame. The another frame available in this model was 19.5 inch.
  2. Bontrager 550 tyres are the real beauty of Trek 3700. Ideal for off road mountain biking
  3. 21 Gears from Shimano. Quite smooth to change but I read lot of reviews wherein people are not comfortable with its Gears, I am liking it because I have not tried any other cycle with Shimano gears.
  4. Mechanical disc brakes makes the ride comfortable.
  5. Seat design is beautiful and comfortable. Moreover its height can be adjusted as per comfortable level.
  6. Front tyre shockers are the real soldiers for off road biking.
As I rode the cycle out from Plaza Mall I felt the difference of riding Trek 3700 and a normal cycle. Its thick tyres with Shockers makes the ride smooth and comfortable. Even it rides well on mud and off roads.

The only thing I did not like about Trek cycles is that you need to add some basic accessories to it such as side stand, a lock and bell. All comes at extra cost.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

India against Corruption - Revolutionary Anna Hazare

Forbes Magazine's April first week issue published an interview with Anna Hazare with a title "I asked PM whether his team shares his values" wherein he talked about Lokpal bill and his plan to go on fast unto death on 5th April 2011. As I read the interview It looked really weired to me and somewhere in my conscious mind I said no body is going to hear you Mr Hazare and most importantly today's Indian media is not going to waste time on you, rather they air some comedy show or some horrific and baseless forecast about the end of this universe by 2012 . Moreover I did not have any history till that day about Anna Hazare. After that I just forgot about it till 5th April 2011 when everywhere on TV it was Anna Hazare at Jantar mantar.

Anna Hazare's initiative to end corruption will appeal to masses was unexpected and what people like most about it was his non violent way to show anger to corrupt system. His simple and calm attitude reminded everyone of Gandhi's way to reach freedom. Once again it proved that non violent way to get your demands fulfilled is most effective and harmless way in democratic world. I see this initiative as good as anger of people in Egypt and Libya, the only difference we had last week was to demonstrate unhappiness in harmless and dignified way.

Anna Hazare, a 73 year old man who served Indian Army as driver for 15 years and then a social activist who played an instrumental role in Right to Information Act is true inspiration to young people of India and a slap to groups who believes that violence is the only way to achieve their objectives. Anna's fast for almost four days attracted well known people from various societies, young professionals, Students and children.

As true Indian we have a responsibility towards Anna Hazare that we expose the corruption, corrupt people and corrupt system. This becomes really easy as Indian media has shown huge unexpected interest in it.

The fight against Corruption is not an easy battle, it has yet a long way to go, it will take years but the foundation has been laid down. Now it is up to the citizens of India, whether we keep this initiative alive or becomes another page of history and find a place in books only.

If democracy allows freedom of speech it also has its disadvantages. Now it is up to everyone who give up against corruption and keep this initiative alive.

Let's be united and fight this dragon together to end this with its routes.


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