My first Bike ride to Lansdowne, UK, India

Re-sharing the 10 years old memory of my first ever bike trip.

In my company there is a group called Maverick, which is basically a bike club whose job is to organize bike trips. Last week I got a e-mail that they are making a plan for a ride to Lansdowne, I was eager to join the club and I joined it.

The plan was to leave on 30th September 2006 at 4:30 AM from one of our office at Gurgaon and at 5:30 AM other guys will join us from Noida. So the night before the trip I put on 5 alarms of 3:45 so that I can wake up and can go. But there was no sign of sleep in my eyes as I was very much excited for the trip. I went to bed at around 10:00 PM but was able to sleep only at around 12:00. In the morning I wake up at 2:45 instead of 3:45 and turned off all the alarms as they all were of no use. I passed my time watching TV and listening to the songs, and was waiting for the time to come.

DAY 1
I left my house at around 4:15 AM and joined the crew standing outside my office. I was very excited and a little bit nervous as it was my first bike trip ever and I was the least experience rider among all other riders(Just got my first bike 3 months back). We left gurgaon at 4:40 and reached noida at around 5:30 AM. The scene outside the noida office was totally different, there were 40 Bikes and around 60 riders all of them were full of enthusiasm. All of us were given HCL T-Shirts with a word “UNBEATABLE” written on the back side. We stood there for an hour and took part in the photography session and left Noida at around 6:30 an hour late than the plan or you can say right time according to the IST.

Imagine the scene when 40 bikes rocking the road (Brrrrrrr Brrrrrrr……….) with riders in a dress code. Whenever we crossed any city our thumbs were on the horns with a fixed pattern sound i.e. 1-2-cha-cha-cha. The city residents were really terrified and amazed to see a large group of 40 bikes. In starting there was lack of co-ordination and communication as all of us except 1-2 were strangers to each other, but as the time passed the co-ordination grew more and more. We stopped at 9:00 AM at a dhaba in merut and had a breakfast of aloo-parantha, the dhaba owner got scared on seeing 40 bikes at his dhaba. After having the breakfast we began our journey again with sun’s cream lotion on every face.

The next stop was at 12:00 in the noon at Beraaj, where we all took a bath in the Ganga River. Every one out there enjoyed each and every moment of the bath as water was really cold and the environment was hot. We left that place in an hour, after that I stopped at a shop to buy some chewing gums. When I started my bike after buying those chewing gums it produced a really bad sound and acceleration of the bike was not working well. I was not at all worried because we had two bike mechanics with us in the troop, but my tension grew when I found that all of troop was ahead of me. I thought that I can catch them if I drive fast towards them, I started my bike tried to catch them but was unable. Then I called one of my friends and told him my situation and location, and said him to stop where he was and also stop that mechanic so that I can reach near them and get my bike repaired, but due to disturbance in the line the message conveyed to him was that my bike is not able to move and send the mechanic back to me. Due to all this miscommunication I reached my friend and mechanic reached the place from where I called, but at last when he came back after 10-15 minutes we all laughed and got my bike repaired.

At about 2:00 in the noon we reached kotdwar from where the hilly area began. Lansdowne was just 42 Km from kotdwar. It was my first experience to drive on a hilly area where at one side there are rocks and on other side there are valleys. The road had blind turns and when you want to take a turn you are bound to give horns to be on your safe side. It took us 3 hours to travel 42 km as at every 10 minutes ride we took a break for next 10 minutes for photo shoot. Lansdowne is famous for the base of Garhwal regiment; its name was on the name of General Lansdowne. After reaching Lansdowne we have to travel 2 more km to reach our camps at jungle resort, but the usual road was not there, it is just a track full of mud, stones and rock pieces. But was really an adventurous and interesting place to drive on.

Unfortunately my bikes front wheel got stuck into the mud and I fell down from the bike, as the speed was dead slow, didn’t get hurt. We reached resort at around 5:30, still some bikes were behind so we were waiting for them, and there we had lunch and tea. At around 7:00 PM we got the news that one of the bikes fell down from the road. And the two on the bike got some fractures but were out of danger and were taken to the hospital on the ambulance we had hired. All got upset and were in a state of shock but soon all were back to there senses. In the night we all were sitting around the bonfire near our camps, and were enjoying. I was given a nick name ‘Samaaj’ by other people, which persists the whole journey.

Suddenly like a ‘Yamdoot’, Irfan Ali who was the leader of the group announced that “we are leaving back next morning”. The mood got spoiled and every body out there got frustrated, because a tour never means going some where enjoy bonfire sleep in the night and move back. This all looks like a dance party without a dance. We argued a lot that we don’t want to go back, this discussion broke down the group into two subgroups one those who want to stay back (I was in that group), and other those who want to go back. Various reasons were given to make people go back like Ambulance is going back because the injured require it, the bikes from the royal Enfield has to go back as they are with us only for one day, and the mechanics have to go back because they also belong to royal Enfield. The main point was that there will be no back-up for the one who is staying back, and they have to stay back at there own risk. Some of us decided not to go back the next morning and tried to enjoy the rest of the night. Then the antakshari round started and was like a war among the one who are going back and the one staying back. We sang many songs and enjoyed all the remaining moments. At around 1:30 in the night I went to my camp to sleep.

DAY 2
Next morning when I wake up, I found that the injured people who fell from the road were there at the camp, they were couple (Pankaj and Pallavi). Pankaj got some injuries and had broken 2 of his ribs, and Pallavi had a fracture in her hand and stitches on her forehead. But overall they were fine. At around 9:00 AM in the morning around 45 people with there 32 bikes returned back, leaving 15 of us with 8 bikes behind. The people out there were Ashish (Samaaj), Abhishek, Ankit (mini Samaaj), Akshita, Aastha, Nitin, Gaurav, Neha, Umesh, Vivek, Reddy1, Reddy2, Sadanand, Garima and Mayank.

Our first step was to book a lodge as we have to leave our camps; all of us took breakfast and shifted our self to the rooms. After that we hired two cabs to go to Tadkeshwar temple as we can’t go there by bikes because of two major factors. First reason was, the road to Tadkeshwar was really bad to drive upon. And the second was the lack of availability of petrol at Lansdowne. We moved toward Tadkeshwar at around 12:30 in the noon, we had to travel halfway to kotdwar then take the road to Tadkeshwar. That road was the worst to drive on as the road was full of pebbles and stones which could make a bike slip easily, and if unfortunately any one would have slipped neither he would have been back nor his dead body. It was about 60 KM from the resort, and it took us 2 hours to reach there. In the way we saw clouds touching the ground and making the way invisible, what a great feeling it was! When we were 1.5 KM away from our destination I gave a suggestion to go there by foot as it will be more adventurous and every body agreed on it. The Tadkeshwar temple was a heavenly place where there is TAD trees all around which do not have branches and are straight and really very long i.e. more than 30-40 feet.

The place was famous because of a tree which is just behind the sculpture of lord Shiva, which had branches in the shape of a trishool. It was very beautiful and there were bells all around the temple (approx. 1000+), producing mesmerizing sounds. After staying for some time, clicking photos we returned back to our resort. Our cab driver is of very young age but was very mysterious as he didn’t even uttered a single word during the journey, we tried a lot to make him speak but all in vain. Any ways we reached back to our resort at around 7 in the evening. We had tea break and 9 of us decided to go on trekking and rest 6 decided to take rest. The resort owner warned us that going for trekking at night is dangerous as leopards were there in the jungle and they might be out in the search of there prey. But we believed in ourselves and were eager to go so we didn’t bothered and took sticks, a torch and a local person named ‘Bahadur’ as our guide with us.

On the way to the trekking we went downhill on a plane track which contained many dangerous and wild plants, every body had a fear in his/her mind that what will happen if we encounter a tiger! Moving on our way suddenly my hand touched a wild plant named ‘Gajar ghaas’ that caused itching in my left hand, I washed my hand with water wrapped it in my hanky but still itching, didn’t stopped. Never mind, we continued our journey again, After an hour we decided not to go further as the jungle was getting denser and seems more dangerous. We stood there for a while and again had a photo session, then we returned back on the same track but it won’t be fun going back on same track so we decided to take different way through the mountains. It was really a great thing to do. The track we were moving was just 15-20 inches wide, a little mistake could cost a life. But nothing could come in the way of adventure. So we continued and had photo shoots on the way too.

On the way, there was a long tree which had fallen on the rocks, thus grabbed our attention and became a place for more photo shoots. After that point I handled the torch and helped others to step rightly on the track. We returned back to our lodge by 10:00 PM, and then there was bonfire we 15 people sat around the bonfire and started singing songs, cracking jokes (especially on the previous leader). Then we had dinner out there and we sat there sharing the memories of this trip. We made the plans for the next day. At around 2:00 we all were back onto our beds for a sleep as we have to drive again the next whole day.

DAY 3
This was the most amazing and surprising day of the whole trip, as the way back to our homes was totally unplanned. I personally feel that planning should not be there for such adventurous trips as there are no surprises and there is no space for flexibility and one can’t enjoy to the fullest in restrictions.

I got up early in the morning at 7:00 AM when every body else were still sleeping. I was having a headache because of the tiredness, so I went to the canteen to have a cup of tea. And stood at the end of the mountain, which was just 20 meter away from our rooms. It was a real beautiful scene, the sun was rising behind the mountains and greenery every where. At around 10:00 in the morning every body was ready and had their breakfast, and was deciding either to go back following the same route or to go via haridwar. But every thing was still undecided as the path to haridwar was unknown to all of us.The first day when we started our journey I was alone on my bike, but now the whole scenario was changed as number of bikes reduced so have to take one as a pillion. On the way back my pillion was Akshita, as she was afraid of the way Abhishek droved so she changed the bike.

At 10:30 AM we left the resort with lot of enthusiasm and passion. The route was same till kotdwar and was hilly area so we maintained a speed limit of 30-40 km/hr and reached kotdwar at 12:00 in the noon. Here comes the first surprise of the trip, we decided to go via haridwar. We were taking a shortcut to reach haridwar and the road was not that good as it passes through some villages. After traveling 20 km we reached a really small village which was having not more then 10 houses in all. The villagers told us that now we have to pass through a jungle, a real jungle. They also gave us some instructions before passing through the jungles like if we saw some animal like elephant in our way stop where you are never blow horns or try to click photos as it can scare them and they can attack us. The second thing they told us that never stop in the way for strangers as there can be some dacoits.

The wave of fear was in every one’s mind but everybody knew that fear is a part of adventure, so we started our journey again. There was no road; it was a track of big round stones and mud, so we have to drive very carefully. It was really a difficult job to drive, but we were enjoying that. My bike got stuck in the mud once and was unable to move so have to get off the bike. The jungle journey was 12 km in length. In our way we saw a giant Iguana that looks like a lizard but 100 times bigger than a lizard, commonly known as ‘GOH’ was sitting in our way. We stopped our bikes then he ran away into the forest and we moved ahead. Then came the most fearing moment of that jungle ride, three mysterious men were standing on the road in the jungle, firstly they looked really suspicious but later on we found that they are some innocent villagers.

When we reached the end of the jungle we stopped our bikes and started clicking photos, villagers gathered and surrounded us as it seems like shooting of some movie was going on. As you all know time is a big constraint so we have to leave that place. We reached haridwar at around 4:00 PM; we kept our bikes at the bike stand. Then took bath in the holly river Ganga, the water pressure was very high. After that we ate famous ‘Poori Chole’ of haridwar and drank full glass of ‘Lassi’. Then we picked our bikes, suddenly I found that my bikes right rear view mirror was missing, someone had stolen it. I love my bike and felt very bad on knowing about the mirror, Now bike driving will be more difficult for me as I had never drove without a rear view mirrors, but somehow I managed.

Now the road back to gurgaon was in front of us, the time was 6:30 PM; we bought petrol and moved ahead. The sun was not there in the sky, the headlights of the vehicles where on, and the driving conditions became terible. But we have no other option, so we continued. The road was a highway with no divider and there were lots of trucks on the road. We took many tea-breaks to avoid sleepiness, so that we can reach safely. At around 11:30 in the night Ankit’s bike got punctured, we found a puncture wala and got the tube replaced it took approximately an hour. When we began again there was sign of sleep in my eyes, which could be dangerous because I was driving my bike, so I tried my level best to keep my eyes open. The co-ordination between my eyes and my brain became very weak, so every thing was ‘RAM-BHAROSE’. By the grace of god every thing went fine and we reached noida at around 2:00 in the night.

Now we were only at an hour distance from our houses, so every body just accelerated there bikes to the fullest. We reached gurgaon at around 3:15 am; the last two words I heard before reaching my home were ‘BYE SAMAAJ’. I reached my home and found that the doors are locked so I rang the bell and my land lord opened the door for me. I just ran inside my house didn’t even bothered to change the clothes just went to sleep. The next morning I got up at 10:30 in the morning with a severe headache and sleepy eyes, got ready and went to office for yet another day………….

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