Royal En­field Un­road Hi­machal

When it is safer to ride on tar­mac, why would one take a mo­tor­cy­cle off it? Sim­ply be­cause it’s more fun. So, when in­vited to be a part of Royal En­field Un­road Hi­machal, we said, ‘YES!’

Bike India - - CONTENTS - STORY: JOSHUA VARGH­ESE PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: ROYAL EN­FIELD

Head­ing off the beaten path with the Hi­malayan

Atrip to the moun­tains is usu­ally re­plete with scenic land­scape, clean air, breath­tak­ing views and the like; in a nut­shell, an ad­ven­ture junkie’s par­adise. trav­el­ling towards Jibhi, hi­machal pradesh, i was in for an ex­pe­ri­ence that promised a more in­volv­ing ad­ven­ture — the royal en­field un­road hi­machal. this cus­tomer en­gage­ment event pri­mar­ily fo­cuses on the off-road ex­pe­ri­ence; choos­ing to cruise over tar­mac only for tran­sit be­tween the tricky trails.

an ebul­lient bunch of 15 rid­ers turned up on Day Zero at the camp in Jibhi which would act as a base for the fol­low­ing three days. i was given the key to an im­pec­ca­bly main­tained white hi­malayan that sported Bark­busters lever guards (a cru­cial piece of kit if you in­tend to ex­plore the full po­ten­tial of your hi­malayan off the tar­mac; it saves the hand levers from break­ing off in the event of a nasty fall).

pramit Dhyani and sohrab s sandhu were the rep­re­sen­ta­tives from royal en­field. they in­tro­duced us to the vet­eran mo­tor­cy­cle ral­ly­ist, san­deep Kan­war, who is a res­i­dent of Jibhi and was in­stru­men­tal in chart­ing the routes for all three days.

DAY ONE the plan for the day was to cover three trails be­fore sun­set. We set out af­ter break­fast, dis­rupt­ing an oth­er­wise peace­ful morn­ing with a cho­rus of sonorous royal en­field ex­haust notes. on the way to sajwar, we were treated to some pic­turesque trails. tar­mac gave way to ter­rain that seemed to throw up chal­lenges with each cor­ner that we rounded.

the agenda was to as­cend a moun­tain and take a break at a tem­ple on the top which also of­fered a stun­ning view of the val­ley. how­ever, our mo­tor ad­ven­ture was forced to trans­form into an es­capade of the pedes­trian va­ri­ety be­cause of a land­slide that blocked the trail. We left our mo­tor­cy­cles parked at the newly cre­ated dead end and hiked over the de­bris towards the tem­ple

af­ter let­ting the view sink in, we walked back to the mo­tor­cy­cles and hit the trail again, this time off to a new lo­ca­tion, sari. the sec­ond trail made the first one seem like an ap­pe­tizer. it was full of loose gravel, small wa­ter cross­ings, and an am­ple dose of slush which, like cream, only got thicker as more mo­tor­cy­cles whipped through it. While rid­ing through thick slush, mo­men­tum is of paramount im­por­tance. as you ap­proach the slush, se­lect a line through it and look ahead. if you look down at your front wheel or panic when your rear wheel slides, you are most likely to find your­self in the slush. un­for­tu­nately, we were un­able to see this trail through as well due to an­other land­slide.

the third and fi­nal trail of the day led to tandi and was more re­laxed than the oth­ers. a view­point awaited us at the end of the trail where we were treated to a splen­did sun­set. at the end of the first day, new­bies and sea­soned rid­ers alike got a taste of ad­ven­ture and they wanted more. although we had cov­ered a mere 40 km that day, most of us were phys­i­cally ex­hausted. Word of ad­vice: be­fore go­ing on a ride like this one, spend a cou­ple of weeks get­ting into shape. thank­fully, i did and it helped.

DAY TWO the sec­ond day saw us cover the long­est dis­tance in a sin­gle day dur­ing the whole trip (200 km). it may not sound like much but more than 150 km of it was hard­core off-road. the plan was to reach the shikari Devi tem­ple, which is be­lieved to be in ex­is­tence since the ma­hab­harat pe­riod. in­ter­est­ingly, the lo­cal peo­ple say that the tem­ple re­mains roof­less be­cause all at­tempts to build a roof over it have proved fu­tile. they also claim that snow never falls or stays on the tem­ple.

the route was thrilling, to say the least. We rode through tightly packed wet sand and a meadow be­fore ar­riv­ing at the for­est re­serve that led up to the tem­ple. the for­est floor turned

out to be a slip­pery night­mare and our mo­tor­cy­cles strug­gled for grip as we climbed the hill. af­ter reach­ing the top, some of us energetic (read “phys­i­cally fit”) folk hiked up al­most 500 steps to the shrine to catch a glimpse of the fa­mous tem­ple.

af­ter a brief lunch stop, we be­gan the de­scent, made all the more ar­du­ous ow­ing to steep and slip­pery slopes. While de­scend­ing a slip­pery slope, i tried to lay off the brakes as much as pos­si­ble and in­stead used the gears to slow down. an­other im­por­tant ad­vice more ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers gave me was to use both brakes with­out lock­ing ei­ther wheel un­less i was com­fort­able with a slid­ing mo­tor­cy­cle. per­haps, if the hi­malayan were equipped with aBs, it might have in­duced me to tackle those slopes with greater con­fi­dence.

DAY THREE

lo­cated at 10,800 feet above sea level, Jalori pass was our first stop for the fi­nal day. af­ter stop­ping at the top for a quick group pho­to­graph, we headed off towards the trails. the first set proved to be an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause, in ad­di­tion to the breath­tak­ing views, there was also the thrill of rid­ing along a trail that had a sheer drop on one side. af­ter get­ting dirty, we fol­lowed the road to a nearby vil­lage where we stopped off to savour the lo­cal cui­sine.

at the end of the ride, all of us agreed that it was more than just a cus­tomer event. the whole team from royal en­field did a com­mend­able job of manag­ing the event.

We learned a lot from each other about rid­ing off-road and came off bet­ter equipped to tackle such ter­rain in the fu­ture. royal en­field are plan­ning to con­duct more such un­road events across the coun­try in the up­com­ing months. look up their web­site to see if they con­duct one close to you.

Do you want to re­al­ize your mo­tor­cy­cle’s full po­ten­tial off the road and ex­pand your hori­zons as a rider? then events such as these are a great place to start. the cu­rated routes and tech­ni­cal sup­port of­fer you a safety net that en­cour­ages you to push your lim­its. Be­sides, do you re­ally need an ex­cuse to take a mo­tor­cy­cle and go off road?

All of us agreed that it was more than just a cus­tomer event. The whole team from Royal En­field did a com­mend­able job of manag­ing it well

RIGHT: We were ad­vised to keep a safe dis­tance from each other Xxxx xxxx xxx xx x

TOP RIGHT: Spick and span; mo­tor­cy­cles checked and ready for the ride

ABOVE: Rid­ing on the edge; quite lit­er­ally

At times, you have to stop and let the view sink in

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