So am back after 10 days with more of ride stories/ travelogues. I feel proud to share that I have successfully completed the Mighty White Spiti Bike Ride this February 🙂
We were 7 core riders of my Motorcycling Club THE BULLET CAFE who conquered the White Spiti. We were planning to do White Spiti since 2 months and trust me it is not an easy task. We were on a goddamn mission.
On 25th Feb 2017 we started our journey from The Bullet Cafe. Our Tactical Gears, Bikes, Helmets, warmers, jackets and 3 layers of winter gloves were ready to cover us up in the extreme climate of Lahaul & Spiti. It was -18C there xD
We took our first halt at shimla and then we stayed @ Bhabhanagar (Kinnaur) on Day 1. We reached here at 7:45pm and it was too late for us to find a place to lodge in. We did not book any hotel or rest house in advance. Luckily we found a HPSEB rest house and with the help of a very sweet person named Anurag Kashyap (from Mandi) booked 3 rooms. He was with us the entire night and then next day until we left for Spiti circuit.
Day 2: We continued our ride via Rampur, Reckong Peo, Nako, Chango, and stayed in BRO rest house at Sumdo. Our target was to reach early and stay at a hotel in chango however we got late and took shelter in Sumdo. We were in No Mans land. Local residents of Lahaul & Spiti don't go out of their homes after 4pm as it is very unsafe. It was around -15c that night and there was no heater in the rooms. We took 2 rooms and stuffed up in the rooms with 4 people in one room and 3 people in another. Our body heat kept us warm that night. Thankfully we had our sleeping bags with us which also did the trick. Next morning we woke up at 7am to start our day. But the start was not that easy. The washrooms were locked and were for the BRO officers only. We had to go out in the open place to answer the nature's call. It was bone freezing but we had to do it.
After taking breakfast we started our journey to Tabo the most beautiful village of Spiti. On our way we went to Gue monastery which is located inside the base camp of the ITBP. There is a mummy of a lama in Gue monastery which is believed to be more than 500 years old. This mummy still grows its nails and hair. The monastery was covered in snow and we had tre up from the ITBP base camp to reach the monastery. As oxygen level was too less (123000fts elevation point) we were gasping for oxygen. Our lungs were under pressure and we were suffocating. During our short stay at Gue the ITBP jawans served us milk, mango juice, cookies. They were so happy to see us in their camp as according to them nobody comes to meet them their. To resiprocate their gesture of helping us we danced for them. We performed Bhangra for them. The smile on their faces made our day. They packed some tetra packs of juice and cookies for us so we can eat them during our way. We continued our journey from Gue and reached Tabo at 4:30pm and made our base camp at my uncle's (Mr. Rajender Bodh) ancestral home at Tabo. Tabo monastery was just at walking distance from his house. We went to the monastery and it was such a beautiful historical monument. It was built in the year 996 (almost 2000 years old) :O
As Rajender Uncle was away on a business tour, his wife took good care of our posse. Hot Drinks, food, snacks to warm rooms she managed it all to give us a Class 1 service. Their hospitality can we well witnessed if anybody goes to Tabo or Ranrik as they have 2 hotels here (Dewachen Retreat Tabo & Hotel Grand Dewachen Kaza). Aunty is also the President of the Tabo village governing body hence she had the entire village at our service. We got a VIP treatment during our stay at Tabo.
Day 3: We started our journey to Kaza & Key Monastery. It was around -18C today and there was a sign of snowfall but we had to complete our this day of adventure and motorcycle ride. Local residents of Tabo stopped us from going on bikes as it was extreme cold and nobody comes on bikes during this time of the year. But we did not stop. Spiti on bikes was on our mind. Chilling Winds were piercing our bodies, 3 layers of thermal gloves failed to stop the bone chiling effect of the weather. My team was slowing down due to the acute weather. I quickly pulled the entire ride and instructed them to keep their hands on the cylinder kit of our bulls as this will give some warmth to our fingers which were numb due to continuously driving the bikes. We kept repeating this practice every 5-7kms as the warmth would go away by then. We reached Kaza at around 10:30 am. Kaza is so freakin beautiful i cant even tell you. It was snow everywhere.The view kept us holding there for a longer while. Dont forget the oxygen level is very less there (height was about 12000fts).
Suddenly one of my team member Vikram played the song Nakka Mukka (Tamil Song) and we all started dancing like crazy. It was one moment which we cannot forget for the entire lifetime. We were dancing in -18C low oxygen and every step we took made it hard for us to breathe. We were gasping for oxygen but we did not stop. People coming on the kaza highway were looking at us like we were fools in the winter. Yes we were foolish enough do to the crazy things we wanted to do just like we planned to cover the mighty white spiti when nobody goes out of their homes. This is madness, this is adventure and yes this is what the riders do xD
On the way to Kaza we were lucky enough to find the trail of a snow leopard. Then we asked the locals if we can get lucky to witness a snow leopard. They told us that you can certainly find one in Kibber Village. We couldn't go to Kibber as the route was closed and it was damn risky to go on bikes. Snowfall, snow on the road, black ice, shooting stones we saw it all during our journey from Reckong Peo to Kaza. We all decided to go till Key Monastery. On our return Snowfall started and we had to rush back to Tabo before the route gets compromised. It was snow on the road and temperature further drop causing us to worry more about our well being. While we were carefully scaling down the world's most treacherous road the clutch cable of my Royal Enfield snapped. Oh Hell! i was in a state of shock. Only thing that came to mind at that time was weather I should stop to fix the cable or should i continue my journey bcoz i had 6 boys with me who would stand by me no matter what happens. But this would put us all at risk by getting stuck in the midway. There was nobody nowhere who could give us shelter or even fix the snapped clutch cable. I took a hard call i decided to continue riding by bike. I did not tell any of my team members that my bullet's cable is broken and we have to rush down before it gets dark. I called one of my tail marshall (vikram) and told his about this. He was shocked too. I instructed him to bring the boys slowly to Tabo while i will rush down to reach our base camp before it gets dark. Astonishingly i drove down my bike from Kaza to Tabo without a clutch cable. I was rushing like a mad fury bcoz while our way up there was a huge hump of gravel and stone which was the biggest hurdle i had to cross. And you know without a clutch cable downhill how risky it can be. Finally i reached Tabo xD and parked by bike on the gate of the village. Lit my cigarette and with a deep breath thanked the almighty for my well being. Guys reached 10 minutes after and their first question was 'Commander Saab why were you rushing down the hill so fast'? My Answer was "Sorry guys i left you behind but my bike's clutch cable snapped and i had to complete this leg before sunset". Their eyes were wide open. I drove downhill about 50km without a clutch cable LOL
The boys hugged me one by one and said you could have told us about it and we would never let you go alone. Well, that's what the family members do 🙂
We stayed in Tabo that night and Day 4 was approaching when we had to start our journey back to Chandigarh. I planned to repair my bike next morning but unfortunately i did not bring the screwdriver with me nor any of us had the long screwdriver to open the gear box of my bike. Shit. I had a spare clutch cable though. Another mission on my way!!!
We decided to continue the journey again without the clutch cable downhill on the rough and the most treacherous road. All I had in my bucket that moment was blessings and prayers of my family, my wife & my 4 months old son Hayaan. They all kept me in their prayers which kept me safe up there. I drove down another 60kms and reached GREF Base Camp Sumdo. So in total i came down 110km with a freaking clutch cable. No worries coz they say When the going gets tough the tough gets going. In Sumdo we found the entire tool kit from a truch driver and I repaired my clutch cable. We started our journey and reached Tapri on Day 4 night. We stayed in a Govt Rest House in Tapri where we celebrated our victory of completing the White Spiti Bike Ride mission. We were feeling blessed to have this tour completed without any accident or major breakdown.. Cheerz Boys after all that WE DID It. I shouted it loud.
Day 5 we started our journey from Tapri to Chandigarh.We reached home at 9pm and fjnished our journey happily.
Now we have so many memories of the lifetime. Am attaching some candid pics of my motorcycle tour to Spiti this winter. Hope to see this blog up on your portal so that many of my bike brothers read it and learn how to survive in the extreme conditions of the tribal valley Lahaul & Spiti. I hope my this blog will help them in making preparations for their travel to Spiti if and only if they are daring to do Spiti during Winters.