The journey was slow, uneventful and gorgeously scenic as the sun slowly set. We were still some way from Shimla when we were met at one of the stations by the Blazing Trails crew. Apparently it, time was getting on and picking us up by car was a lot quicker than waiting for for train to get to Shimla! After a somewhat scarey road trip through the hills in the dark and fog (lights are optional it seems) we arrived at Shimla and settled down for the night.
The next morning we had our introductory talk before setting of on a practice ride to get used to the 500cc Royal Enfield Bullets we were going to be using for our journey. As well as having to get used to a right foot gear change the bikes had the interesting characteristic of having a gearbox that seemed to have more false neutrals than actual gears! I eventually developed a system for changing down; To get from third to second I would change down to second, (which would often be a false neutral) then to first and then back up to second again. By that time I would probably have slowed to a stop so I'd have to change down to first again to get going. Ah, what fun! It's what bikers call 'character' in a motorcycle.
The following day we set off on our two week journey through the Himalayan mountains. The scenery started off as steep forested hills, but as we got further into the mountains the terrain became more mountainous and barren. The first night stop was at a the Bhimakali temple complex in Sarahan. Take earplugs; the music from the temple speakers starts at about 5:30am!
Back in 2005 I got a call from a friend about a trip he thought I may be interested in. Was I! It combined several of my favourite things; Travel, motorcycling & mountains. The trip was organised by a company that specialises in motorcycle holidays in India, Nepal and recently, South Africa. The company is called Blazing Trails.
After an overnight flight from Gatwick, with a change in Dubia, we arrived at Delhi at first light. A local representative picked us up from the airport and transported us to the main train station in Delhi where we caught a train to the end of the line at Kalka. There we trnsfered to a narrow guage railway for the long trip up through the foothills of the Himalayas to Shimla, the winter retreat of the old colonial government.
After breakfast we continued on into the mountains along hair raising roads to stay the next two nights at a campsite in Sangla. This wa where I broke my bike! Trying to cross a stream on the way up to a village near the Tibetan border the primary chain broke and trashed the alternator. Jamal, our mechanic, was brilliant and was able to patch up a repair.
After a pleasent day walking to the nearest village and beer round te campfire we set off the next day for the longest ride so far; to the village of Tabo. The start was early and the air chilly in the dawn light.