Day 1 Delhi to Naggar ( 536 kms )
Up at 2.45 for chai at 3 and departure at 4. We’ve all been required to stay at the Natraj hotel so that the rollcall will find out if anyone is still in bed. By Delhi standards the traffic is light, and we seem to be able to stay together as a bunch of 30 riders. We go through red lights but it seems to be OK and may be they have to get a bit redder before anyone thinks about stopping. Sheer mass enables us to push through the roundabouts which are generally a free for all.
All loaded up. Indian flag with IAA logo proved useful when trying to find other riders, but I would have liked a TEAM AUSTRALIA one.
I haven’t a clue where we are but as daylight comes, we are on a main highway lined with an assortment of industrial buildings and small workshops, all of which is pretty ugly and unplanned. It’s a 2 and mostly 3 lane road but there are clapped out old trucks running at about 40 kph in the far right lane so there’s no European style lane discipline here. At the chai stop I ask what is going on but am told that it would be a waste of time trying to get these drivers to stay in the left lane and if they did get fined, they wouldn’t pay !!!!!
At times the motorway comes to an abrupt end, and you drop off on to a side road which is then intersected by crossroads. Who is meant to give way? Seems the least daring driver.
We stop for an hour for lunch – nobody’s in a hurry to move and then half an hour later are told to refuel. Since there’s only one attendant on the pump and he has to do the filling and collect the money, refueling 30 bikes takes nearly an hour and I’m a bit perplexed at the sense in doing it this way. What about a third of the riders stopping at successive fuel stations but I keep my mouth shut.
At the end of the plains and the start of the climb to Manali, the twisting road, is an opportunity for the tintop drivers to really show how daring they are, so coming round a corner you meet up with cars on your side of the road. Somehow you manage to get over to the left verge to avoid being taken out, but it’s pretty scary stuff and I’m not used to it. It seems to go for hours and it’s almost dark before we make the turn off to Naggar, near Manali, where our hotel is. The road becomes a goat track. It’s been a long day. A bike guide I spoke to before we left the Delhi hotel, who had just brought back a group of dutch riders back, thought we were crazy trying to do the 530 kms in one day. However the thought of a hot shower seems to be enough to make you happy.
FYI -That’s a dhabba, a small roadside shop, and they sell Chai and often Indian style food. The food handling practices manual is nowhere to be seen so…………..
As we climb higher, and it gets colder, it’s great to be able to get inside and out of the wind, but this is a low level one as evidenced by the greenery on the rocks. And that’s Jebez
Arkash has booked rooms in a 2 starish hotel, but it’s very suitable for our needs. It’s arranged that you will share a room with same guy every night and I end up with Jebez, from Malaysia, who is the only other person who can’t speak Hindi. He’s a nice guy and we get on well for the two weeks. He introduces me to the Indian poet Tagore, carrying a book of poems with him. Who said all bike riders were boofheads. He doesn’t have any Diamox and I have plenty so I offer him a daily dose. It’s a drug with possible complications so it has to be at his own risk.