After a really bad patch of road, we were treated with some really good tarmac, so we decided to cover up some distance as quickly as possible. But there was something wrong, a weird noise started coming from my rear tire. So I thought of looking over to check if something was stuck, but before I could do that my rear tire suddenly locked up and the bike started skidding!
We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. Barbara De Angelis
A Beautiful Morning
My alarm went off at 5:00 AM in the morning and groggily I looked at my phone to acknowledge the alarm. As I was doing that I looked around and realized why I had scheduled such an early alarm. So I turned over and told my lazy friends it’s time to witness the majestic sunrise of Sonamarg.
Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as Heaven whispers, do you like it? I did it just for you.
And that’s what we did, we dressed up and walked right out to witness this beautiful place. For a moment we were just mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the landscape. Last night we had arrived rather late and we were not able to really see where we had arrived. But we had heard so much about the beauty of Sonamarg that we decided to wake up at 5:00 AM to see the Sunrise.
Taking all of this beauty in we forgot about all the pain we had in our bodies and we were rejuvenated for the day’s ride. We returned back to the hotel and started packing up to leave for Leh which we targeted to reach early in the evening.
Google was telling us that Leh was 342 KM from our hotel which seemed doable at the moment as we were all pumped up and ready after watching the beautiful sunrise. But God had different plans for us that day.
A Tough Ride
After doing about 10-15 KMs from our hotels we got on a road which is the stuff of nightmares for motorcycle riders. What initially seemed like a bad patch of the road soon became the longest section of Off-Roading that we did on the entire trip. This fateful location was called as the Jojila Pass which was simply the worst road we had ever seen until then.
“If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way.”
― Terry Goodkind
There is no way words can explain how bad the road was but I will still try. First of all, what I am calling as a road was not actually a road it was simply an Off-Road trail as there was no tarmac at all! And we had to climb up on this road which was extremely scary as there were large rocks on the road all over. The bikes soon started struggling over them but we have to give it up for the Royal Enfield they never gave up on us.
Since it was a sunny day this so called road became a bowl of dust which made it difficult to breathe properly as we were inhaling lots of dust. Then there was an extra long convoy of Army trucks coming down the pass towards us and on this single lane road which had an extraordinarily deep canyon on one side, it was one scary affair.
So, summarizing, this patch of the road had hundreds of rocks and pot holes, long lines of trucks which we had to overtake. Then there were glaciers melting right on the road, steep climbs and even steeper descents which made it really hard to control the bikes and anything could have gone wrong. But somehow we made it through this treacherous patch of over 20KMs.
Something is Wrong!
After another 30-40 Kms, we arrived at the Jojila-Kargil Checkpoint where we were stopped by the army to make our entries in their register. Thankfully this final patch had amazing roads which again got us in a good mood, so we took a much-needed break at the checkpoint. We ate a couple of protein bars as navigating those bad roads got us really hungry.
This bad patch of road and the unexpected break caused us to run later than what we had planned, so we decided to cover up some distance quickly as long as the roads are good. So we started from the checkpoint at really good pace but all of sudden I heard some weird noises coming from my rear tire. Before I could check it out the tire locked up and I started skidding.
I am a decent rider but when the rear tire locks up even the most experienced rider gets scared and so was I. But I took control of the bike and stopped it somehow on the safe side of the road. No, not the left side of the road, remember the extraordinarily deep canyon it was on the left side. Thankfully, Piyush was riding right behind me and he saw this happen in real time. Just as scared as I was he stopped in front of me and came running asking if I was okay.
I was Okay!
Which I was as I was able to control the bike and get it to safety, but this issue was a real problem and we had to fix it before we could move on. So, we decided to go back to the army checkpoint and take a thorough look at the issue. After a couple of tries, we figured out that the chain cover of the bike had broken and got stuck in the chain itself. The bad roads of the Jojila pass had caused the chain cover to loosen up and eventually it got loose enough to touch the chain itself which caused the whole issue.
Due to my experience and ability to regain control of the bike in that condition and the company of really good friends, we averted a real disaster. But sadly this was not the end of our troubles that day, which is evident from the fact that we were not able to reach Leh that day as we had planned. We ended up staying in Kargil that night after spending over 4 hours at a mechanic’s shop. Let’s take up that story in the next blog as it was another experience in of itself.
Have you ever faced something like this? Share the experience!
I hope you enjoyed reading this incredible experience that we endured and survived. If you have endured a similar close call or witnessed one please do share your experience in the comments below.