October 2011 month was almost about to end as Dry Month for Bike Trip. Even it was more disappointing for our rider group as we had dropped the idea of Spiti Bike Trip few weeks back.
Diwali festival is the time when everyone runs towards their homes, so did I. And I planned a bike trip. With insufficient number of holiday (five days), I made a plan to take my route in such a manner that I am able to cover some of the best routes and best places.
My ride started on 23rd Oct from Nangal. Weather was pleasant with low temprature in early morning at Nangal. Riding towards Una till Mubarakpur (approximately 50 KM) is the most horrible road. It spoils the entire rhythm of ride. The road is under construction from last more than 2 years and shameless government is sitting like puppet in Shimla.
By the time I crossed the horrible stretch of my ride and reach Mubarakpur, clouds have started gathering above me. I could see layers of thick cloud coming down far ahead of me.This time I was not ready for Ride full of rain. However destiny had to shower its love on solo rider. It started with criss cross wind trying to push my helmet from one side to other side. Lately I could see some drops of rain falling on visor of the helmet. In no time, there was hardly a space of my visor to see out.
I must confess that though I love to ride in rain but rain of this season is too harsh, even lightest rain can come out to be big challenge for a rider. My mantra of Riding hard in rain also seemed ineffective, because riding hard here means hitting hard yourself.
Cold temperature outside made its way slowly to enter me through gloves, Jeans, Shoes and to some extent through small gaps of helmet. In an hours ride in rain, the situation exactly felt like childhood days when we use to play for hours n hours in snowfall and come back shivering like crazy in search of bonfire at home.
My hands were cold, legs were shivering and face was insensitive. There came a time when my DSG Biking Jacket also failed to protect me from cold weather.
I started scouting for a Dhaba for breakfast and to take shelter from rain. In the meantime I happen to arrive at Pong Dam. Coincidentally I have crossed through this dam three times on bike and every time It was raining heavily. However the thrill of riding over Pong Dam Bridge is awesome in rain. The bridge goes above Dam and the feeling of so close to water is thrilling. It is even more thrilling when water level is higher.
Few kilometers after Pong Dam and I spotted a Dhaba. Entering inside Dhaba was very soothing as it protected me from cold winds. From backside of Dhaba, I could see serene view of Pong Dam with pure blue water. Greenery around Pong Dam looked fresh as rain had washed it to its best.
By the time I resumed my ride, the rain had stopped but not fully. The drops of rain were falling here and there with wind going in every possible direction. It again made me remember those Snowfall days when snow use to fly in rhythm with wind.
By 2:00 PM I had not reached even Banikhet, and I had taken almost shelters at five different places to hide from rain and cold. My last stop was at PWD Rain Shelter near to small temple where I was alone hiding under that shelter along with my bike in other corner of shelter. It took me almost an hour there, but rain was in no mood of mercy on me. After all I started my ride in rain and moved ahead.
I still had to ride almost 160 kilometer to reach my destination. It seemed difficult, so by the time I reached Banikhet, I decided to end the day at Dalhousie. The view of Banikhet and valley around it looked fully winter season to me. As I rode further towards Banikhet, the temperature had further gone down to large extent. Though people have come out on roads after long rainy day, but it was all too cold.
My hands were in worst conditions, so was the case with legs. I so desperately wanted a Hotel now. I still had to ride another 10 kilometers, and those 10 kilometers proved to be the most challenging for the day. The temperature had reached Zero degree, fog with almost no visibility made it more thrilling.
Finally I reached Dalhousie at 04:00 PM.I looked for hotels around. Oak Valley was first and last hotel where I inquired about room availability. Wait of ten minutes for hot water felt like years. After two hours, I got some heat back. I never realized when I slept.
Late in evening walk in dense forest of Dalhousie was spectacular. Now that cold weather and sharp wind was feeling so good. Spent few hours sitting in cafe, reading some blogs, chatting with friends and most importantly that hot coffee made with lot of sugar in it. The evening was so calm and soothing that I wanted it to last longer than normal.
The benefit of solo ride is that, one feel its own presence all over. The rider is the king of every decision or move. Every time I ride alone, it makes me more closer to me than earlier. It make me feel my importance more.
The day in Dalhousie was different from one more aspect that I was in no hurry to get up early next morning.