Takeaway

Bikers ready to roll

Partha Pratim Sharma | Updated on May 31, 2019 Published on May 31, 2019

Long road ahead: Few of my friends can sleep well before a trip, even though they (and I) know how important it is to have a good night’s sleep before hitting the road   -  Dipankar

A trio of biking enthusiasts breaks away to the hills in search of a thrill — that of doing something for the first time

When a long-distance motorbike ride seems a long way off, I scroll down travel sites on my mobile phone. Some visuals catch the eye and disappear, but a few get bookmarked in my mind. One quote by American author John C Maxwell — found on a site — had been prodding me for a while. “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” it asked.

So, encouraged by those words, I called up two of my biker friends and we decided to meet at a riders’ café called — no surprises there — Throttle Shrottle on the Faridabad-Gurugram expressway. What’s up, we asked each other — and almost in one voice, we said, “Let’s do something we haven’t done before.”

We wanted something that would take us to the edge of an adventure. And we sat down to plan a trip for a long weekend that was coming up. Tea was ordered and, as we sipped our masala chai, old stories came tumbling out. When the server asked us for our dinner order, we realised we had been sitting there for two hours, just recalling old times.

For a biker, the thrill lies not just in the destination, but also often in the planning of a trip. We thought of all the new things we could do — but we had, over the years, tried out everything, from trekking and camping to just motorcycling down a highway.

For a biker, the thrill lies not just in the destination, but also often in the planning of a trip   -  ISTOCK.COM

 

Four hours of brainstorming later, we were done with dinner — and still hadn’t decided on our next venture. Let’s just meet in the morning, we told each other. The idea was to gather at 4 am under a foot overbridge in south Delhi. When we have a long ride ahead of us, it is important to start early. That’s the only way you can avoid heavy traffic on the road, and enjoy your journey.

I can never sleep well before a trip. The nitty-gritty of the travel keeps me awake for a long time before I doze off, and I wake up an hour before the time set on my alarm clock. Few of my friends can sleep well before a trip, even though they (and I) know how important it is to have a good night’s sleep before hitting the road. But I suppose the thrill of the unexpected keeps the adrenalin flowing.

The interesting part of a sleepless night is that you don’t feel its effect when you are on the bike. It is only when you reach your hotel the next evening that fatigue overtakes you. But to battle exhaustion, it is important to keep yourself hydrated while you are on the road, and we always remember to do that.

Of course, it is important to stay fit, too. Because of my long rides, I make sure that not just my bike, but I am fit, too. A regular 4-5 km morning walk keeps me physically and mentally agile, and helps me stay fit enough to combat rider’s fatigue. I also stay off rice if I can in the afternoons.

This time, the mind refused to switch off. I got fed up of trying to sleep and decided to stay up instead. I cleaned and washed my Bullet for an hour, had a bath and reached the foot overbridge well before time — to find my friends Dhananjay and Narayan already there.

At 4 am, we were ready to zoom off. The two had decided we were going to Mukteshwar in the Kumaon Hills. I agreed — I hadn’t for long been to a place where the mountains touched the clouds.

Mukteshwar is 345 km from Delhi. A popular hill station located at an altitude of 7,500 ft above sea level, the Uttarakhand town is well connected to the Capital by road and train. If you are travelling by road, you can take the route from Delhi to Rampur, Haldwani and Bhimtal. The hills start peeping out from Kathgodam, which is also where the train station is.

There is, however, no direct bus from Delhi to Mukteshwar. You can travel up to Haldwani and Kathgodam, and then take another bus or a taxi from there. A cab ride from Kathgodam to Mukteshwar, 65 km away, takes two-and-a-half hours. A shared Jeep ride from the Haldwani bus-stand to Mukteshwar will cost you about ₹300 per person, while a bus ticket will come for ₹100 or so.

We went up to Kathgodam, and decided to drive up to Naukuchiatal and Bhimtal — two of the most serene lakes in that area. I think the ride from Bhimtal to Mukteshwar was one of the most magical trips I have ever taken, surrounded as we were by pristine nature. Winter had ended, and the rain and thick clouds posed a surreal picture. The sturdy roads were lined with pine and deodar trees and apple orchards. And then there were the Himalayan peaks.

Ten hours after we had started from Delhi, we were in Mukteshwar (after a few pit stops). There is a KMVN hotel, but you have to book a room in advance. There are a few other hotels and homestays in and around Mukteshwar. We checked into a homestay that was perched on the slope of a mountain on the topmost end of town. The owner, a local man, offered us tea, and we had an enjoyable conversation with the young ex-serviceman, who was equally fond of adventures and exploring new places.

The evening walk in the hills was memorable. A cool mountain breeze enveloped us, along with the incessant sounds of crickets. We had tried to plan our trip — and ended up with no plans at all. But with an unplanned trip, we had actually ended up doing something for the first time.

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Published on May 31, 2019
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