Snow. I think it is one of God’s best creations. When I saw Frozen with my 8 Year Old Niece, I wanted to have the power of Elsa – The power to create snow. Yes, I wanted to have the power a Disney Princess has just so that I could create snow whenever I wanted. Anyways, since it is a fairy tale and I can not possess that power, I make it a point to go to Himalayas each winter to play in snow.
I have done it alone as well but most adventure I gave had in snow and on bikes is with the group called Where Eagles Dare (WED). Started by a passionate adventurer and my dear friend Tilak Soni, WED let’s people explore new places, experience extreme adventure and learn how to survive in tough conditions. I have done two bike trips and one hiking trip with them and every time I experienced something very new and unique.
Snow Storm is an Annual bike expedition organised by WED which lets riders ride in snow. This year, for Snow Storm 2017, the place to go was decided to be the Holy Town of Gangotri. Now you must be wondering – My grandparents went to Gangotri, so hard can it be. And you would be right. In summers, the town get’s lots of pilgrims of all ages. It has hotels, pretty decent road and amenities that one might need. However, come winters, the town is closed down under blanket of heavy snow. During winters, Goddess’ Idol shifts to Ma Ganga Temple in Mukhba Village, which is 20 kms dowstream. Not that it’s a easy town to get to. This village too gets covered in snow.
This trip was planned and rider list fixed since October. It is necessary to plant the trip in advance as special permissions are needed from the government to get there.
Now I have been doing Adventure touring for a while and have used my Pulsar for that. This time, I had tasted blood but I could not afford the meat. I had ridden the Royal Enfield Himalayan. I had ridden it to Ranikhet, done some offroading and was pretty impressed. Now what could be a better time to really test the bike. I called up Royal Enfield and they were willing to lend me the bike for the trip. Thank them for it.
So, the final week arrived, I collected the bike, checked everything was ok, did my packing and was really excited. My excitement grew when a friend of mine – Shelly Thukral, a grey haired young man of 51 years, called me and said he too wants to join. I asked him to confirm from WED if they can accomodate one extra rider. Thanks to Tilak, Shelly was on-board. I had ridden with Shelly last year to Badrinath (with WED) and was really impressed by his energy. We were to leave on 14th January, Saturday. I received a call on 13th evening from Shelly and he did not sound happy. His bike was stalling and he thought the ride was over before it started. Now I knew that my Pulsar would be parked at home. I would rather have my beloved in the hills and told Shelly he can ride it. He came to my place at night and took the bike so that there is no delay in the morning.
This was the itinerary:
Day 1: Delhi – Uttarkashi.
Day 2: Uttarkashi to Dharali.
Day 3: Winter Riding Training at Dharali. Tips to ride in various winter conditions and riding practice around the town
Day 4: Dharali – Gangotri – Uttarkashi
Day 5: Uttarkashi – Delhi.
This is what is to come:
Day 1: We were trying to coordinate with the group to start the journey together but with riders coming from different parts of the country and with different itinerary, it was just me and Shelly who started from Delhi together. We met at India Gate at around 5:45 and after giving final adjustments to our luggage, started the ride.
I know people from Mumbai hate Delhi (everyone hates their smarter sibling) but they would fall in love with Delhi if they saw it in foggy mornings. Anyways, with thin traffic, we soon hit the highway and took the road to Meerut via Raj Nagar Extension Road. There the RE Himalayan came to life with easy cruising and decent handling. Thankfully the fog wasn’t dense and we were making good progress. In no time we had crossed Meerut bypass and passed Moradabad bypass without any hassle. The Pulsar and Himalayan were maintaining their pace without mush fuss. A friend of mine – Vivek Sharma – with whom I did my bike tour and several others, was coming as well – towing his Yamaha WR450 in a neat little trailer behind the Thar. Many riders retire from riding after marriage but not him. He was coming with his wife and 8 year old son. They were ahead of us and we decided to meet on the way wherever, we cross them.
We were maintaining pace and plan to stop for lunch (we were already well past breakfast time) kept getting postponed. When we crossed Rishikesh, we met with two riders on their Royal Enfield’s and realised they were our travel mates who were coming from Gujrat – Darshan and Himanshu. In a bike ride, the more the merrier. So we now were four riders, leaning and riding our bikes on beautiful tarmac on way to Uttarkashi from Rishikesh.
Now I am a foodie. I can not stay hungry for very long. Soon my hunger got better of me and I decided to stop at Narendra Nagar. I called Vivek, and he said they are just ahead of Narendra Nagar and I asked them to order some Parathas as we made our way there. We had our first major stop since morning, enjoyed some sumptuous paranthas and couple of cups of tea.
Left to Right: Me (Dhairya Gupta), Himanshu, Darshan and Shelly
We started riding again and soon came to this beautiful spot and finally our cameras came out for the first time.
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