The Royal Enfield Tour of Uttarakhand took us through the scenic route of the lesser-known parts of the Himalayas
After 13 days and 2,535km, I am back at my work desk. From riding through the dense forests of Kerala and the mountains of Uttarakhand hiding in the clouds, I am back in the urban jungle, amongst the skyscrapers reaching for the heavens. After riding alongside wild elephants, deer, jackals, monkeys and fox cubs, I am back, feeling like a stranger amongst the urban cretins. Though the Kerala story remains for some other day, here’s an account of the eight days of the Royal Enfield Tour of Uttarakhand, exploring the lesser-known parts of the Himalayas.
During the briefing session I got acquainted with the rest of the riders. Amongst the 20 riders (excluding the lead and the sweep), 10 were Malaysian nationals, who ensured that we weren’t void of entertainment, even in the most difficult situations. From Classic 350s and 500s to Thunderbirds and Interceptors and Himalayans, we had a whole fleet of the RE line-up.
Oh, my ride for the trip? The Himalayan Sleet, loaded with the braced handlebar kit, panniers and the touring seat. My grouse with the Himalayan has been the non-switchable ABS and Royal Enfield was kind enough to lend one without the ABS. And then there was the special aftermarket RE exhaust.
Every morning would begin with a briefing session about the terrain, food and fuel stops for the day’s ride. A booklet with the details of the route, including the altitude and details of the hotels were shared with us, in case we lose our way, a remote possibility, as we had a sweep and Royal Enfield’s badass crew van, the Gunwagon, that stocked almost every spare part, except for the chassis. And the luggage? Well, RE took care of that as well with a luggage van that would take our bags to the destination of the day.
The first four days were about getting to the highest place on the itinerary, Munsyari. From well-laid stretches of tarmac, to broken tarmac and even no tarmac, we experienced all kinds of terrain through this trip.
The routes chosen were well thought of and offered exceptional scenery and sometimes varying climate. Landslides were a common sight and riding through them made it all the more adventurous and fun.
On the second day, I even came across a couple of fox cubs playing around and like a four-year old, got off my bike to join them. Needless to say, they immediately disappeared (sigh!).
All these days I had been admiring the mighty mountains on the horizon that disappeared into the clouds and on day four, I finally had the chance to scale one of those mountains.
On day five, we started our journey back towards Dehradun. As the temperatures began to rise, we began to see more settlements. Now, though every hotel we stayed at had a view to die for, it was our stay for the last two days that will be cherished the most. Why? Because it isn't every day that you get to wake up to the chirps of exquisite birds, and the cacophony of monkeys playing right outside your window. Not every day that you get to stay in the jungle!
On the seventh day, our stay was near Jim Corbett National Park and on the last day we went out on the safari. Though we couldn’t spot any tigers, we saw a couple of jackals and deer, which was a bit disappointing. Anyway, we had a 250km ride ahead of us.
The last day’s ride was a hard slap back to reality. No more good roads or peaceful environment of the mountains. It was hot, dusty and crowded going through Uttar Pradesh back to Dehradun. Surprisingly, we took barely four-and-a-half hours to complete the 250km.
Was it all hiccup-free? Hell no. Dead batteries, punctures, crashes — we faced all sort of problems with a couple of rental bikes, but there was nothing that our mech couldn’t fix. And during all these stops, the Malaysians kept us entertained by singing old Bollywood songs, dancing to Tamil songs and even teaching us a bit of Malay.
Nine days later, I was on my flight back home, staring at the skyscrapers, back amongst the urban cretins. But this time, I have memories, experiences and most importantly, I know of a place that I can escape to, away from this mundane urban life. The Himalayas!
Thank you, Royal Enfield.