Initial impressions of my Kawasaki Ninja ZX10R

June 8th 2019

Scheduled delivery day. I obviously had no sleep the previous night month. My excitement had rubbed onto my little Miss A. My brother and his son picked us (V, lil miss A and me), and off we went to Kawasaki. A friend joined in for the event.

The delivery experience was smooth. I had to sign a few documents, bike was kept ready under covers, a cake was arranged, the electronics were explained and off I went, followed by my fan club of little munchkins in the car.

Hello there!

And immediately, I was in traffic. ๐Ÿ˜

I had mentally prepared myself for this though. This litre bike was destined to live here. So, like the humans who live here, she can choose to moan, or just get used to it. So we sat there, being stared at by other motorists.

Flash news: my zx10r is the first zx10r I have ever sat on. Ever. But it wasn’t my first bike, naturally. It wasn’t the first litre bike I have ever ridden either. Back in 2007, I had ridden a 2003 Yamaha R1, in Thailand. My brother and I had rented 2 polar opposite motorcycles to ride around in Thailand. A suzuki intruder 1800 and a Yamaha R1. That was some experience. Last year, I had the opportunity to ride the 2018 BMW S1000rr around a race track for 5 sessions. Phew! Talk about getting hooked! Now I had my own. She was going to be touring and heading to the track. She wasn’t going to be commuting to office though. I ain’t that crazy.

So the first stop was the fuel bunk. Filled her up and waited for the car to catch up. Had two, young, well mannered enthusiastic boys with cameras, requesting me if they could photograph the bike. I better start getting used to this, I thought.

Once my fan club in the car arrived, we headed home, but first…

For a safe and fun ownership… ๐Ÿ™

Pappa’s first reaction was “Looks like your 250.” Hmm, she is a compact motorcycle, that’s for sure. It’s tightly put together. Unlike my 250, this one announces her arrival, both in colour and sound. Less Ninja like.

The next morning, brother, friend and I took off for a breakfast ride. Put her on Low power mode, traction control in the mid setting, my rain gear and some random TShirts in a kreiga (don’t ask me why. Ok I’ll tell you why. I wanted to test the kreiga tail bag on this bike. And I’m crazy. The test was positive though.) and we were off. I was finally giving her some room to breathe free. Left the traction control on the mid setting, since it apparently doesn’t allow the front wheel to lift. Switched from Low power to Mid and then Full. The Low power mode is 70percent of the power. That’s about 140horses. ๐Ÿ™„ I was comfortable with the power in all modes though. Errr because I didn’t really cross 7k rpm.

Siblings

With the touring test rig

Prior to picking up the 10, I had spent months, watching every single video on the tube, including those from Thailand, Japan, Czechoslovakia, ulambator , Tonga islands etc etc. Many of those videos complained that the zx10r is a little baby below 8k rpm. Maybe these guys live on the race track. Or have villas by the autobahn. The zx10r does 150kmph on the top gear at 7k rpm. That’s barely awake for the bike. BUT, that’s already way too fast relatively speaking. Relative to everything else on the road.

She isn’t growling and yanking her chain from 2k rpm and (as I learnt eventually) becomes this big beast with purple eyes, breathing fire and spitting venom after 8k rpm. This is, in my view, a good thing. She is rideable when you want to chill and ride sedate. Very very friendly if you treat her well.
I had done about 300kms on day 1 of ownership. My lower back hurt, my neck hurt but I had an un-wipable grin. I needed to get fitter. And spend more time on the seat.

So mid week, I took off alone to a close by hill. Some twisties. But there was too much traffic and my fun was restricted. Funny changing times. On a weekday, at 6am, the place was full of self drive rental cars with noob drivers and young college kids doing a photoshoot. Decided to just head back home. Nevertheless, that un-wipable grin was back. The back pain, not so much.

The following weekend, a friend and I took off again. This time the target was to do 400kms. Charted out a small route and left home really early. But my friend had forgotten his wallet at home and we ended up leaving the city at 5am. It was a fantastic ride. Some beautiful roads and the 10 was getting more and more comfortable for me.

Fantastic weather

Lovely roads

The 10 was surprising me with her mileage. I was getting 17-19kmpl depending on how much throttle I was using. And how I was using that throttle. With a 17ltr tank, I was looking at a fuel range of about 230-250kms. Not bad at all. While the range wasn’t a problem, the quality of fuel was. She was picky about her go-go juice.

Post this ride, I was about 240kms from the first service. Completed that the following weekend on a solo morning run. The body pain was diminishing. That un-wipable grin though..

It was time for service..

Traffic again ๐Ÿ™„

Those titanium pipes!

Belly full of fresh oil, a new radiator guard later, it was time for a trip.. will cover that in the next post though.

We were bonding big time. I name all my bikes, this one was no different. After every ride on the 10, I kept saying ‘bloody missile!’ and then on the way back from my solo ride, It dawned on me. “I’m gonna take care of you Miss.Isle!

TLDR. Bought 10r, completed 1000kms in 2 weeks, service done, super happy, named 10r Miss.Isle, going for a trip next.

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When do Dreams Expire?

Dreams.

An interesting topic. All of us dream when we sleep, well, I guess most of us do. And some of us dream when we are most wide awake, defining what we think and do every moment of our days.

One of my dreams dates back to way back when. A short, curly haired school boy in the early ’90s. My school bag covering my shorts, a lunch basket in one hand, a football in another. I used to take the school’s back gate on the way back home just to get a glimpse of a fancy Green Superbike parked inside a house. Everyday I used to be excited to see that bike. Then one fine day, I did not. and that made me sad. I guess the owner moved out. Who knows!

A few years later, all of us kids were loaded up in the back seat of Pappa’s Fiat. Amma in the front seat, listening to some old Hindi songs. We were driving down Bangalore’s famous Brigade road when I saw a Blue Superbike parked on the side. It’s long haired owner sitting on the bike speaking to a friend. Amma asked me to tell him that it’s a Nice bike, so I put my head out, gathered the courage and screamed!!

“NICE BIKE!!”

I remember the guy smiling and saying “Thank you!” when Pappa drove off.

A few more years later, now a pimple faced teenager in Pre Uni, my brother’s friend had imported a Honda CBR 600 F4i. The year was 1999 (20 years ago!). I had gone with my brother to have a look at this fancy new bike. It had come in a box. from Dubai! Black in colour with a splash of orange. My jaw dropped. I ended up writing a letter to myself, mentioning how I had fallen in love with this new “babe” in town. ha! Teenage! This friend ended up dropping me to my tuition class once on that bike and then a few years later insisted I ride that bike around the block too. Those two events happening a few years apart.

I remember every superbike I ever encountered in my life. The ones that blew past me when I was riding my Royal Enfield. The ones that came in to the same garage where I took my RD350. The ones that were parked outside coffee shops on weekends. Every single moment, reminded me of the school boy staring at the green bike parked inside that house.

These bikes were SO out of reach, that it didn’t make any sense to aspire. But dreams are strange.

In November 2013, Triumph made an entry to India. Of course, I went to the showroom to see the British beauties. And there she was. My new obsession.

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Some day baby. Some Day!

Now an earning adult. 30 years old. Married. I could afford it if I wanted to (Bank loan and all) but, priorities. So the next few years, this was the target. A seemingly achievable dream. A superbike of my own. I sat on my hands and continued finding excuses as to why I should wait. I gifted myself a test ride of this bike for one of my birthdays. The dream was almost real. Almost.

in 2015, I decided that the financial burden of a new Triumph Daytona was not something I was ready for. I was sitting on my hands for way too long. So the Ninja 650 came in to my life. Life was good. I loved that bike and used her every day. But I still wanted a Daytona. So 2 years later after about 20000kms on this Ninja, I sold her to a friend. I had to save and buy the Daytona. I was getting too old for riding a super committed Motorcycle and it was about damn time! And then, Triumph decided to pull the plug on the Daytonas. YEah, Life is like that.

So here I was, No Ninja, No Daytona. But I had some money, so I hoped, that one day, the Daytonas will be back and I will be ready.

2 years went by, that money was spent and I started saving again. Time was ticking.

Present day. 36 years old. The last two years spent thinking and over thinking about what next. I had a few friends I would call when on my way to work and just have these long conversations about what I would buy next. “Maybe I should forget about the superbike and just buy a tourer dude!” “Maybe the 790 duke, it’s going to come right?” “How about a used superbike da? But the way these fools revvvv at stand still, fried valves. No?” I was beginning to lose it.

One evening, speaking to a friend on my drive back, we were speaking about a new bike that was open for Pre-launch booking. It was a motorcycle I had put on my list but in the back of my mind had thought I’d never buy because of the price. Then while speaking to this friend, while he was egging me on to “Jesssst book it man!”, the same bike from a previous model year, went past me. Was it a sign?

I slept very little that night. I had to take my hands off from under me. It was finally time to take some action.

The next day, I made a few calls, asked about their cancellation policy (because I had no clue how much the final on road price would be and if I could afford it), was reassured that there was no charge if i cancel within 10 days of the launch and I made the booking. Just like that. I hadn’t sat on one, let alone ride one to know if this bike even fit me. It fit right in these past decades of dreaming, so reality should be close, right?

Then it began. A month of overthinking. How the… what the… why the F#@!$. I played and replayed all the scenarios. Here, I must say, I am super blessed to have V as my wife. Frankly, I know she thinks I am fool (I am), but she is fine with it. In more than one occasion, she has pushed me to “Jessst do it!” and I am thankful. This time was no different. She thought of me as a fool, was fine with it and said “do it!”

On June 8th 2019. Probably 25+ years from the time that a schoolboy started a dream of owning a Superbike, a dream came true.

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It has been a long time coming!

I finally, finally bought a Green Superbike. 2019/20 Model year Kawasaki ZX10R.

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Hello Missy!

So, when do dreams expire? My decades old dream didn’t. For decades, I kept it alive. Dreams expire when you stop dreaming.

Don’t!

If not now then…

When?

Ahem, It has been so long since I even visited this blog that I feel like a visitor in my own space. So there is no need to apologize for the absence i guess. My last post was 4 years ago. 4 years… Where did those 4 years go!?!

Well, I’m not sure where it went but it did go by pretty fast. Let’s do a quick flashback.

My little monkey grew up, from this:

Little Miss. A with Kimi

To this!

Not very Little Miss.A checking out the Conti

The ninja 650. Well, I sold that beauty in hope to buy something bigger, better, faster. And while I didn’t quite have the money for that something, I picked up a close friend’s Ninja 250r. Another stop gap bike! But a beautiful one at that.

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The Day she left: September 2017

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Hello Little Ninja! October 2017

The Ninja 650 left a void that needed filling. While the 250r did just great as a light weight, pocket rocket, I did miss that pride of ownership of a bigger bike. I missed that kick in the stomach torque. I missed having something impractical but something that I took to places that arm chair experts shook their heads in disapproval. This ‘Void filling’ needed big bucks and saving big bucks was taking time. Time went by slow in that sense, but I did not want to be a Born again Biker. So, I had to keep riding.

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Somewhere in those 4 years that went by, I found a new home for ol’ girl skunk.

A decade and more of memories with this one

Also in those 4 years, this happened!

Track day with a dream

Terrible picture of a perfect moment

And a long long pending dream ride with close friends to Bhutan…. AND Sikkim! Maybe a dedicated post for this ride is in order.

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Life’s journey is a fixed one. There is a beginning and then there is an end. You cannot postpone things that you want to do, endlessly.

“I will save now and travel later”.

“Not this weekend, maybe the next one?”.

“Let us postpone the reunion to next year?”.

“I will take you to the park next Saturday?”.

“I will buy my dream car/bike later”.

All of us do this. Including me. Life is happening NOW. None of us, Nobody, has seen tomorrow. Every one of us have houses to keep clean, jobs to keep us busy, paperwork that needs to be done blah blah blah. Unless we take time off to do things, it will never get done.

Set goals with an end date and go after it like it is your mission. The End date is the most important. Have seemingly illogical dreams and goals, set the date and work towards it. You will be surprised.

The Bhutan ride, for example was so long overdue that there were SO many times we thought it will not happen. Getting 3 fully grown men to keep aside their daily commitments and take a vacation was the toughest bit of the whole trip. It finally did happen and ended up being one of the best rides of our lives.

Speaking of going after dreams. I had a dream that went back a few decades. I will write a dedicated post about that but, here is a teaser…

After all, If not now, then when?

The Nilgiris twist!

Time waits for nobody. Taking the time to do things we are passionate about is a pretty tough thing to do as we get deeper and deeper into the phases of life.

Having been pretty tied up over the last year or so and having a pretty awesome machine in the garage doing commuter duties, I finally made time for a quick weekend getaway. My pal “db” and me decided to do a quick run to the nilgiris.

Work wrapped up, bikes loaded, we met on a rainy morning close to the exit of our busy busy city. The sun wasn’t up yet and db was late, “why so early dude? We are on a holiday right?”

A single lane highway, rain, terrible potholes, zero visibility and oncoming truck traffic, meant we had a lot of close calls. Bad start but we pushed on. After about 70kms, the sun was finally up. The rain had subsided too.

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Breakfast at Tiffany's

We stopped for breakfast at a little shack in a little hamlet. “Omelette idhiya?” (do you have omelettes? ) “Naavu lingayathru!!“(we are lingayaths, a pretty orthodox vegetarian community), responded the lady owner of the shack, looking both apologetic and annoyed with my question. I apologised and asked her what she has.
Stomachs full with dosas and chai, we were back on the road. Beautiful country side roads with sparse traffic. The ninjas were flying, occasionally slowing down to enjoy the views. We entered bandipur forest and saw a million cars parked near the safari office. Db and I were just passing through.

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Did i pack my sunglasses!?!

We saw a couple of bisons, one elephant and a couple of deer. “Probably placed there to satisfy the tourists” I thought to myself as we crossed the Tamil Nadu check post.

We were at the hills. Every turn had a tonne of loose gravel. Pfff, the luck! We pass ooty and start asking for directions to the estate.

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Next to the famous lovedale school.

The road gets better. I know db is smiling inside the lid.

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More of these please?

We were now away from ooty. We flag down a young local on a motorcycle and ask him for directions. “Follow me!” he says and starts zooming. He stops at a hamlet. There is a wedding and the bride’s family is getting out of their car in the middle of the road. I wait and have an audience for big green Kimi. “Must paint this bike black”, I think as I pass the crowd.
Our local guide tells us we need to ride through a forest next and then we need to ask for directions again. We thank him and ride on.
What follows is a lovely ride through a very thick and lonely forest. Every single time I find myself riding through a forest, I think I’m being stared at. By some big animal. Hiding behind that tree. Probably hungry. Probably scared too. That feeling is a constant. That feeling is awesome, so long as that animal doesn’t decide to pounce. I keep checking my rear view to see if db is following. We stop at a section we think is safe. A quick stop. Pin drop silence. A few crickets at a distance. Spooky!

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Are those eyes behind that tree mate?

The forest section is over and some tea estates start. The views are breathtaking!
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Planet earth!

We reach a little village with one bus stand, a couple of houses, a shop and a hotel. Lunch time! We park our bikes and order a lot of food. The locals gather around to see the clowns. “Whose bike is this?” asks a little girl, pointing at db’s bike. We engage in conversation with this confident 6 year old. “Your English is really good!” says db. “Thanks! Why are you wearing that?” she asks, pointing at my balaclava. We chuckle and tell her it’s for the dust.
We finish our lunch and head to our place for the night. The accommodation is pretty basic. The views though!

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Chilling

After a pretty ordinary dinner and night’s rest, we head back. The route is slightly different. Better twisties, A LOT of weekend traffic and gorgeous views.
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This was the first over nighter on Kimi. Impressive bike. Not the best of handlers. Needs the pilot to be putting his back into the corners. But the torque is addictive, masks speeds really well too. Loving it!

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We are back home by evening. Tired and refreshed! Funny feeling. Need more of this, need to head out again. Soon enough!

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Year end run – teaser

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Reaching up

The last few years have been slow. Fewer long rides than I would like and some of my motorcycles have not seen much(any?) action. But few big awesome life changes and loving life nevertheless. I managed two rides recently. Some fabulous country roads and great company. Hopefully I’ll find time to write in detail soon.. For now, enjoy this teaser!!

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Visibility minimum, memories maximum?

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Stopping for lunch with a view!

More later!

Living with a Ninja!

Almost 3 months now since Kimi came in to my life. Kimi who?

Hello!

Hello!

Kimidori, the Ninja!!

The initial few days were a little, ummm, demanding. A Big bike in Whitefield traffic isn’t exactly ideal. But over time I got used to it. So used to it, that Iย use Kimiย now, like she were a Vespa.

Err, what now?

Err, what now?

The good thing about the 650 motor is that it can trundle along at 25kmph with no coughing and can build some serious speed when given some beans. A very calm motor, super smooth and quiet (stock exhaust),ย grabbing no attention. Very “Ninja” like. And then you see the Green!

No "Ninja" here.

No “Ninja” here.

No matter where I park, this green big Ninja will get some unwanted attention. I wonder how much a good quality gloss black wrap would cost.. hmmm!

Kimi did see more than traffic in the past few months too. Not much in terms of distance, but some of the routesย weย uncovered were sweet! Highway manners are pretty damn good! This Ninja can haul some serious ass! Yes, she is no litre class bike, but in the real world (or unreal Indian highways!) this bike can ride with smaller and much bigger bikes with equal ease!

Green day!

Green day!

With Big cuz, Z1000

With Big cuz, Z1000

I think i found my perfect tourer!

I think i found my perfect tourer!

An offroad trail we chanced upon!

An offroad trail we chanced upon!

I am yet to take Kimi on a multi-day trip. Life’s been too routine! Need to break that and go on a little open road adventure. Until then, keep the rubber side down!

Cheers!

Kapil

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Out goes the Orangutan, In comes….!

So yes, the duke 200 has made an exit. It has been about a month since she left and the void remains. I dunno if I should have just kept the duke. I guess I will never know. But I am happy I sold the orangutan. She was supposed to be a “step up” bike when i picked her up in 2012. But she was faaaar from it. Took me to the Himalayas, Dhanushkodi, Coorg, Ooty, Mangalore, Kodai etc etc.. And what fun! 27000kms of pure, raw fun! each km I put in was awesome. My daily ride in Bangalore’s horrible traffic-off road circuit, rain, shine, snow, sand and what nots! Great bike. But I had to let her go. I hope the new owner enjoys her as much as i did. But she will be terribly missed.

Goodbye Friend!

Goodbye Friend!

So what could be next? What could possibly replace the duke and take me a notch (or more) higher in terms of performance and handling? I SO wanted a daytona 675. But If money grew on trees and wishes were horses, i would probably be riding a matte black daytona 675R to office everyday and office would have been at the end of the pacific coast? So the daytona wasn’t happening. It will have to wait.

In the beginning of this year, i was thinking of “waiting” till i could afford the daytona or if magically, the duke 690 comes along here in India. But “waiting” sucks! So no, no waiting.

Now if any of you have read my blog completely, I had made a post on what I thought of a Ninja 650. It made sense, that bike. It was FAST (200-210ish kmph top whack), comfy, looks ok ok and a great highway machine. So that very bike that i rode came up for sale and since we are pretty close friends, Ravi was willing to sell it to me at a very good price. Initially when he told me, I did not even think about picking it up. I was still in “Wait till I can afford the daytona” mode. But then one day, I snapped out of it and thought “Why wait?” and then this happened! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hello You big bad err... green bike? :D

Hello You big bad err… green bike? ๐Ÿ˜€

So it has been less than a week since she came along. Two outings on her so far (to office, but that involves a bit of highway). I am still getting used to the bike. It is a BIG bike (compared to what i have owned so far atleast). I hit about 155kmph without really realizing it, I reckon “touring” should be fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

More on the ninja as I pile more miles on this beauty. Yet to name her and definitely not regretting “Waiting!”. The Daytona will probably happen in a few years, or maybe the duke 690 is next? But I think, this Ninja will be in the garage for a long time! ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh Yes, the lights suck! Need better bulbs.

Ride Safe! Ride Long!

Cheers!

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Roof Ride: Day 11. AMS and the back up rider

5:30 am.
I walk groggy eyed into the bathroom to freshen up. Harsha, Ati and I had decided to catch the sunrise by the lake. Harsha asks me to wake him up after I am ready. He has a bad headache and is feeling weak.

The water from the tap is SO cold that I alter my plans of “Freshening up”. Ridiculously cold. I silently thank Joseph Gayetty. I brush my teeth and wash my face with exactly 7 drops of ice water. Ridiculously cold.

Harsha, Ati and I wear layers of clothing, cameras in hand, we head out. She is everything you see in pictures and more. The sun shows up and Pangong changes colours with every passing minute. Hues of blue and green. The clouds get dramatic and we go trigger happy with the cameras.

Harsha and I

Harsha and I

The "Three idiots"?

The “Three idiots”?

Mingur had told us about the Buddhist practise of stacking stones. The practise symbolizes building a place for the soul to rest after the body dies. The three of us build ours among a million others.

No, not mine :)

No, not mine ๐Ÿ™‚

Harsha, isn’t feeling well. AMS has hit him. He decides to jump in the Fortuner on the ride back. Ati is extremely happy that he gets to ride. “I have been wanting to ride since Delhi da” he says as he squeezes himself into Harsha’s riding gear.

The hostel incharge tells us Shah Rukh Khan and a film crew are scheduled to arrive the next day for a film shooting (Jab Tak hai Jaan?). Imagine running into a movie crew when you travel to a remote Lake in the midst of the Himalayas. Phew! All of us head back to the lake for some more Pangong. ๐Ÿ™‚

AMS man Harsha

AMS man Harsha

Steve and I @ Pangong

Steve and I @ Pangong

Steveruk Khan

Steveruk Khan

Me. Image credits: Harsha

Me. Image credits: Harsha

The ride back is the same as yesterdays’. Ati is seemingly enjoying himself. We are in no hurry today. We know how far we need to go and what to expect.

First we ride on the moon’s surface:

Ati and I. Image Credits: Harsha

Ati and I. Image Credits: Harsha

This must be the way? Image Credits: Harsha

This must be the way? Image Credits: Harsha

more gravel:

Bye Pangong! Image Credits: Harsha

Bye Pangong! Image Credits: Harsha

We have more time on our hands today, so stops are plenty.

"Have fun Ati"

“Have fun Ati”

Happy to be back on a saddle since he bid goodbye to his CBR600rr

Happy to be back on a saddle since he bid goodbye to his CBR600rr

Beautiful Changthang

Beautiful Changthang

Mystical Dancing sand

Mystical Dancing sand

Orangutan chillin in Changthang

Orangutan chillin in Changthang

We regroup among the residents of heaven.

Ahoy! you see me? I see you!! Image Credits: Harsha

Ahoy! you see me? I see you!! Image Credits: Harsha

Hmmmmm, Steve smells goooooood!

Hmmmmm, Steve smells goooooood!

Ahh, I knew they could fly!

Ahh, I knew they could fly!

Hello friend!

Hello friend!

Race you to the next tourist?

Race you to the next tourist?

Ati doesn’t leave the side of the bike. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ehh! Over eh? Can we ride now?

Ehh! Over eh? Can we ride now?

The magic continues. Horses, pashminas, Yaks, marmots ( Saw one, just one!).

Scenes from Heaven

Scenes from Heaven

The road starts ascending again. Border roads Organisation (BRO) has some pretty cool boards up.

Won't!

Won’t!

The breeze gets cold again. I feel the chill inside my leather gloves. I keep stopping to warm my hands. Chang La ahead.

Image Credits: Harsha

Image Credits: Harsha

Water crossing. Easy Peesy! Image Credits: Harsha

Water crossing. Easy Peesy! Image Credits: Harsha

By now my hands are getting numb. I want to stop. But I must get this over with. We pass the car and get to Chang La. I remove my gloves and see purple fingers. I freak out. Ati asks me to keep rubbing my hands while he gets some hot tea. I hold my palms around my bike’s cylinder, which is of no use. I begin to think that the Enfield was probably a better idea to ride up here on.

Frozen fingers

Frozen fingers

That tea helps a great deal.

You getting no heat from me!

You getting no heat from me!

Ati with Yeti!

Ati with Yeti!

We start descending and I stop a few times to warm my palms. It gets better. I can move and feel all my fingers! Yay! ๐Ÿ™‚ Harsha is feeling better too! We stop at Thiksey, but all of us are too tired to walk up. Some thing for next time.

Thiksey

Thiksey

We reach our accommodation and chill out for the evening. Tomorrow, we start the return leg. Need the rest. Need a warm blanket and a good night’s sleep. Heaven IS a place on earth.

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Roof Ride: Day 10. Riding through heaven

“Sir, Aaj Pangong jaa rahein ho?” says an Army Jawaan as we load up the bikes outside the camp.

Mingur, our handsome Liaison officer is ready and greets us with a “Juley sir!” The Dalai Lama is in town today and he tells us we can expect traffic for a bit.

Not much to cover today. About 200kms one way to Pangong Tso. I’m excited and can barely wait to see the beauty through my eyes. Again, countless hours spent on the internet gaping at pics of this lake, hoping “someday” I will ride there too.

We ride towards the Indian Oil Petrol bunk in Leh to fuel up. The fuel cans are on both bikes and we fill them up a little too, just to be safe. A few Enfield riders chat with us for a bit, general biker banter. The Dalai Lama’s posters are everywhere and traffic is dense. We navigate out of the mess and wait for Ati and gang. Riding out of Leh towards Chang La today, we pass Shey Palace, see Thiksey monastery at a distance and ride on. The road is a nice wide highway. We stop at Karu for some lunch. The usual “Thukpa”. I’m beginning to miss having a choice but well, “Thukpa” it is for now.

We start ascending, on a road carved out on mountains. The sun is up but I feel the chill breeze. We are on a pass. A BRO board welcomes us to Chang La.

Freezing Chang La

Freezing Chang La

Look who is here too

Look who is here too

Harsha and I recognize the bike parked next to the BRO board. It is “John Doe”. The solo rider from Chennai. We chat him up and he tells us he is headed to Pangong too. He is obviously bored and is seemingly happy to have found some company.

We come across a few water crossings and navigate them with ease. Passing small villages called “Durbuk” and “Tangtse”. We are in Changthang Valley. Heaven.

This mystical valley takes me away from reality. A stream flows along side the road. Flowers on the banks of it. Horses grazing nearby and of-course, the mighty Himalayas line the landscape. Harsha and I ride on taking it all in. The fortuner and John Doe are behind us.

Spirit grazes in Changthang

Spirit grazes in Changthang

Down the road, we see a lone shepherd. Her Pashmina sheep grazing close by. We stop. We must.
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Heaven. Every few hundred metres a stream crosses the road. The road gets covered with sand. Fine sand. Which dances with the wind. Showing us where we need to go. We play along and follow. Heaven.

About 18kms from the lake, she shows herself. A striking blue. Or is that green? Blue, must be blue. Harsha and I smile and stare till the fortuner catches up. The road ceases to exist, but we hardly care any more. We have been at this for a few days now. Long days on the saddle, the body adapts. The bikes are almost built for this. So we trudge on towards Pangong.

Hello beautiful!

Hello beautiful!

Akhil Weds Vidya

Akhil Weds Vidya

Tourism and bollywood have left their scars here. There are permanent “resorts” being constructed called “Rancho’s” (Thanks to the famous “Three idiots” bollywood film). We need to get to Spangmik for the tents. There is no road. We just ride along side the lake. The fortuner is put to the test. She passes. The bikes breeze through. We book rooms in the J and K tourism hostel. It’s freezing cold. Almost 14000 feet above mean sea level. AMS is bound to hit one of us…

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Roof Ride: Day 9. Back Up.

Morning at the army camp. Hot pooris and sabzi and eggs and coffee later, Harsha and I start a little ahead of the fortuner.

The clouds were out and we wanted to try and cover as much as we could before the rain came down.

Image credit: Harsha

Image credit: Harsha

Well, we didn’t. Just after the Hunder dunes, we get a steady downpour. Harsha and I get into our rain gear and ride on. Back home, riding in the rain is a mess. The city’s drainage is on your pants, shoe and socks. The road looks like a river and traffic comes to a halt. It goes without saying, I absolutely hate riding in the rains. Not today though.

snow capped mountains and a desert in the same frame

snow capped mountains and a desert in the same frame

Riding in the rain on a solitary road among the mighty Himalayas, I smile inside my lid as an Army truck drives by. We ride through the beautiful lush green landscape of Diskit, the humongous Buddha towering above us. The raging (Shyok?) river by the road is a little more apparent to the senses today. She seems off mood and threatens to eat the tarmac by lunch time. I twist the throttle a little more to get out of her way.

Rain

Rain

Harsha and I stop at North Pullu for some lunch and order the day’s special, Maggi Noodles. ๐Ÿ™‚
We meet a rider (henceforth referred to as JD – John Doe) from Chennai on his CBR250. He is alone. He seems bored and tells us he has been on a solo ride from Chennai. We wish him luck and bid goodbye.

The climb back up towards Ktop is a repeat of yesterday. Lovely winding broken roads, deep gorges in the distance and the cloud kissing the top of our helmets. Then suddenly I see white flakes. We obviously stop and do a jig. Two south Indian boys who have never seen snow flakes, don’t judge. ๐Ÿ™‚

see the flakes on my hiar? No?

see the flakes on my hiar? No?

We reach Ktop again. No victory feeling this time. Veterans now. cough cough We have a few cups of the awesome karakoram tea at Ktop.

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Lil Orangutan in the Sky

Lil Orangutan in the Sky

Descending towards Leh, we come across a huge line up of traffic. Landslide getting cleared ahead. A useless excuse for a human foreigner relieves himself right in front of my motorcycle in full view of his giggling friends in their cab. I cringe, but don’t let him ruin my thoughts. I think about the landslide ahead, about the heroes clearing it for us and the huge drop an inch away from my riding boots.

idiot in the car on the left of the pic

idiot in the car on the left of the pic

Long way down.

Long way down.

Harsha and I cross the traffic mess and acknowledge the road workers as we pass them. They smile and wave back.

The ride back down is uneventful, save a hero on an enfield out to prove his bike is faster and the mileage little orangutan returns on the descent (of over 30kms).

No i wasn't rolling down on Neutral.

No i wasn’t rolling down on Neutral.

We reach Leh and freshen up. Ati and gang aren’t too far behind. We decide to go for an early dinner in town. Food was not that great. The company on the other hand, was pretty damn awesome!

"where's my roll da"

“where’s my roll da”

“Machha, so tomorrow we go to that colourful lake eh?” Steve says as he blows his nose for the 38th time in the past minute. “Pangong da Steve!!”

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