North by Northeast ‘3 – Roadside Dhaba Near Udhampur to Sonmarg’

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Roadside Dhaba – Udhampur – Ramban – Toofani Nalla Camp – Kangan – Sonmarg

Distance this period: 343.51 km Total Distance: 1152.74 km

Udhampur – 24.37 km (Day 11)
Ramban – 84.98 km (Day 12)
Toofani Nalla Camp – 55.06 km (Day 13)
Kangan – 134.90 km (Day 14)
Sonmarg – 44.20 km (Day 15)

It was a rainy night at the dhaba, my bags were wet but then it was going to be a short ride today. Found a hotel in Udhampur, washed The X, cloths, myself and rested whole day, it was raining anyway. Stay – Hotel Sasan.
Kms covered – 24.37
Total expense – Rs. 765/-

Laundry day at Udhampur.

It rained on n off and in the morning too. I went out to have tea, owner tells me about the blockage after Patni-Top and traffic wasn’t allowed to pass from here itself. I saw an opportunity to have fun on the empty roads. I started in the rain, passing the long line of vehicles.

It was a yatra season (Amarnath Yatra) so traffic was heavy and continuous rain made it worse. I was gaining elevation as soon as I left Udhampur. But the good thing was no traffic, pleasant weather, and roadside Bhandaras. Made it to the top pretty early, so decided to continue on the downhill; a bad decision. Traffic was blocked for two days from both the sides due to a landslide; as I was enjoying the foggy breeze on downhill, something worse was waiting for me. Traffic was open by then, a huge jam, slippery slush, and long array of bloody trucks honking shouting like they just got released from prison or something. One hell of a ride, made it to Ramban. Booked one unmaned hotel.
Kms covered – 84.98
Total expense – 610/-

On the way to Patni-Top. a beautiful gentle climb.
When you get tired on a climb, all you do is experiment with various stuff. Trying photoshoot.
After the slushy ride on Patni-Top downhill. Dangerous yet fun.

Now I was in a territory where you see army everywhere. Banihal. Then on my way to Jawahar Tunnel, I met one guy on cycle going to Amarnath cave. He started from Jabalpur and in 25 days he made it here, he was staying in temples, Lungers/Bhandaras. So it was going to be my first stay on Lungers/Bhandaras at Toofani Nalla camp meant for Yatris, just before the tunnel. Though we tried to pass the tunnel but army turned us back; it wasn’t possible to hold the heavy traffic for us.
Kms covered – 55.06
Total expense – 50/-

I wanted to skip the touristy Kashmir & head straight towards Kangan, but the view of Dal Lake was so inviting that I ended up circling the entire lake.
Beautiful sunny day towards Banihal. Sky so clean, lovely.

Next morning we crossed the tunnel, beautiful Kashmir Valley was waiting for us other side. One could clearly feel the difference; Jammu side was bright, sunny and Kashmir was cloudy, a little bit warm. Downhill starts just after the tunnel, again a huge traffic was there. At Anantnag (he called it Chhota Pakistan) departed from the guy and continued to Pampore, then Srinagar, circled the beautiful Dal Lake. Made it to Kangan for the night.
Kms covered – 134.90
Total expense – 630/-

Its been 9 days of ride without a rest day, so it was going to be a short ride to Sonmarg today; where I decided to spend one extra day, resting. but it took ages to cover those 44 km. In between the ride, I washed my bike ‘The X’ on a small river, took a nap by roadside; a sunny day today. I needed a rest now, 9 days of continuous ride was no fun. Finally Sonmarg, booked a room for bloody rs. 700/- after much bargaining.
Kms covered – 44.20
Total expense – 890/-

It rained again, the owner tells me road is blocked from both the sides of Sonmarg. A disaster waiting for me.

Washed The X on this chilly stream.
And after the wash, rested and got bored pretty soon so experimented with the camera.
Nearing Sonmarg. And so tired and messed up.

North by Northeast ‘2 – Kangra to Roadside Dhaba Near Udhampur’

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Kangra – Dandiyara Bungalow HPPWD rest house – Papri Camp – Basohli – Roadside Dhaba

Distance this period: 318.55 km Total Distance: 809.23 km

Kangra – 0 km (Day 6)
Dandiyara Bungalow HPPWD rest house – 98.24 km (Day 7)
Papri Camp – 52.82 km (Day 8 )
Basohli – 55.62 km (Day 9)
Roadside Dhaba – 111.87 km (Day 10)

Rest day at Kangra was without any events, just rested in hotel room, washed bike & cloths.
Kms covered – 0
Total expense – Rs. 575/-

Resumed next day ride pretty early, after 13 kms took right turn at Shahpur on a freshly tarred all uphill road. Nice view from the top, very less traffic all the way up and then down to Sihunta. Touch the bridge after that bad surface starts to Lahru, then road up to Kakira, follow the steep down road to main road, Tanuhatti and 2 kms up to Dandiyara Bungalow HPPWD rest house on Banikhet road. I was not sure about this rest house, one gentleman told me about this @Kakira over a cup of tea. Today was one hell of a ride, spent more than 10 hrs on the saddle. Stay at Dandiyara Bungalow HPPWD rest house.
Kms covered – 98.24
Total expense – Rs. 600/-

Banikhet is further 10 km up, sharp left turn at the check post and you are on a fun ride. Khairi, zooming all the way down 23 kms, hit bridge, hit another bridge and you are into J&K. Police check post there, had a long chat with them. They advised not to go towards Bani Sarthal due to militancy, rain, road blockage etc. suggested Dhar Road. Registered my details and thanked them, packed some fruits from nearby stall, 14 km uphill ride to Papri was waiting for me. Tea at the top and took right towards Bani ignoring all advises policemen gave. But surface wasn’t good; after 2 km I gave up on the road and camped by the road side. Wow! first day of camping, fearful & excited. Kept my knife close by. Stay – camp near Papri.
Kms covered – 52.82
Total expense – Rs. 105/-

It rained all night, gave me a little window to pack my stuff in the morning. It rained all throughout the day; caused two back to back punctures on front, I was zooming on nice downhill surface couldn’t figure out the bad patches on those numerous water crossings. Made it to Busohli by 2 pm. Phone stopped working today and it won’t until I hit HP again on other side of the hill. Hotel – Hotel Ambica near bus stand Busohli.
Kms covered – 55.62
Total expense – Rs. 390/-

I was on a link road today so as expected its a single lane bad road till Mahanpur t-point; where I joined nice Dhar road, less traffic, all downhill. Crossed a bridge, ordered food at roadside dhaba and stayed there for the night. Cyclists love freebies. Stay – Vaishno Dhaba by roadside.
Kms covered – 111.87
Total expense – Rs. 140/-

First view of Kangra.
Lovely road, perfect weather for riding.
It was a tough climb to Bharwain from Mubarikpur.
Beautiful climb. I was panting on this climb, stopped and saw so many eyes staring on me from this bus.
Now it will be a routine; climb the hill to top and let the air soak all sweat on zooming down, hit the bridge and repeat again.
Greenery around
Road passing through small villages
A different kind of traffic.
No traffic road, just keep your eyes on the road and free the bike.
Took SH 28. I was thinking to go Chamba via Jot and continue to Sach Pass but looking at the weather turned towards Tanuhatti.
They would wait for me and then chase barking like maniac. As soon as I stop they too stoped and look around. And start again..
Tough climb to Banikhet. Spot the HPPWD rest house at the left.
On the way up to Papri. Even this guy is wondering what the hell is wrong with me, why sweat when you can sit inside the car and have a beer.
Khairi.. Other side of the river is J&K.
Busohli approaching.
Waiting for rain to subsidies some.

North by Northeast ‘1 – Delhi to Kangra’

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Delhi – Karnal – Ambala – Nalagarh – Amb – Kangra
July 2nd to 6th 2015
Distance this period: 490.68km Total Distance: 490.68km

Original plan was to leave Delhi on 1st but then planning is like journey itself. Couldn’t leave on 1st, there were so many memories to leave behind. Finally 4 o’clock next morning I was all set to leave.

First day first show, made it to Karnal on flat road, rode 145.53 kms (longest, record of the tour) in about 8 hrs on a damn hot day. At Karnal bus stand found one hotel, called Hotel Dreemz. It was a long ride today and crashed after dinner.
Kms covered – 145.53
Total expense – Rs. 990/-

Second day; flatish road continued. nothing unusual. Before Ambala cantt. witnessed something cheary, army mens going and coming out of the bushes. On close inspection found some ladies down there doing their business. 😉 LalKurti is the area in Ambala Cantt where you get cheap hotels, I found one, Hotel Sunstar.
Kms covered – 74.49
Total expense – Rs. 600/-

On third day I was riding on foot of the hills, which was pleasant. In Himachal, you must try tasty kadi-chawal on a local dhaba or roadside tin-shed eateries manned by a woman. Made it to Nalagarh, Hotel Shrikant.
Kms covered – 93.00
Total expense – Rs. 660/-

At Nalagarh, got news of Sach pass being open for traffic and also came the first change on original route plan, instead of going towards Swarghat, wished to visit Nangal Dam. So, continued towards Anandpur Sahib, famous Gurudwara. Had lunch there, the lady at the counter was not happy that it took me 4 days of cycling to reach here. Nice. Then it rained heavily. Found one raodside dhaba at Amb and a night stay there.
Kms covered – 96.21
Total expense – Rs. 370/-

Today was 5th day of riding. Lots of ups and down, the killing climb of Mubarikpur, had fruit chat at the fruit chat corner. Skipped Bharwain; I had promised a friend that I will meet him at his home but his nummber was not reachable so skipped. Made it to Kangra. Hotel Jai Maa.
Kms covered – 81.45
Total expense – Rs. 670/-

After 5 days of continuous riding, took a rest day at Kangra. Its my Birthday today.
Kms covered – 0.00
Total expense – Rs. 575/-

Photo-shoot of the gear
One of my such nights to come. for RS. 200/- it was a deal. The best way to find a cheap hotel room is to ask around for Bus stand or Railway station.
After two days of humid and hot ride, now I was headed to foot of HP hills.
First change, headed towards Bharatgarh, to Kiratpur Sahib. Placed nice parantha at dhaba, the lady at the counter offered it for free.
The X resting.
Some Gurudwara on the route
After crossing the Nangal Dam, some climb and back to HP. Crossed the border and entered Una.
Roads were beautiful, so was the scenery.
Tunnel Time zz
Litchi time. Refreshing after such a hard ride.

Epic Bike Trip – North by Northeast

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Its been a year; more than a year actually, but as they say ‘better late than never’ so publishing the travelogue here now.

It took about a year of planning this tour. It was one big plan but there were hell lot of changes in route like cut short the trip by 2 months, returned from Guwahati by train etc. etc.

Planning phase –

Tracing the foot of Himalayas was a long dream; this circuit was due for a long long time.
Planning took almost a year, reading logs, blogs and checking google maps, making notes on kms to be done per day, staying options etc. etc. In Feb informed office and July 1st was set to freak-out.

List —
Bike ‘The X’
Racks 2 (front & back)
Computer 1
Bottle cage 2
Mudguards
Lock 2
Helmet 1

Carrriers
Set of rear panniers
Handlebar bag
Rear underseat bag
Plastic bag 3

Tools & Spare
Allen key set 1
Tubes 4
Puncture Kit 1
Pump 1
Tape 1
Gear Cable 1
Brake Cable 1
Stiching Kit 1
Plastic Ziplock Bags 10
Chain lube 1
Small knife 1
Spare tyre 1
Front light 2

Camping
Sleeping Bag 1
Tent (2 Person) 1

Cloths
Riding shorts 3
Shorts 1
Lowers 2
T shirts (Half sleeves) 5
Shirts 1
Arm Warmer
Waterproof Jacket 2
Waterproof Lower 1
Socks Pairs 2
Under Garments 3
Towel 1
Shoes 1 Pair
Sandals 1 pair
Warm Jacket 1
Hat 1
Hand Gloves Full 1
Goggles 1
Spare glasses 1

Photography
Gopro camera
Camera Olympus
Camera & Phone Charger
Cellphone 2
Solar Charger 1

Medical
Bandage 5
Volini 1

Misc. Items
Toothbrush 1
Toothpaste 1
Comb 2
Compass 1
Voter ID card
Photocopies of ID & permits
Maps
Books 3
Pen 2
Notebook 1

The Man –

The Man

The Machine & The Material

The Machine. Surly Cross Check; I named it “The X”

The Plan – Part1

Route Map- part 1. This idea of mapping came from http://ultralightcycling.blogspot.in
Route Map- part 2. Thanks to http://ultralightcycling.blogspot.in for the valuable inputs on light bicycle touring.

The Plan – Flip side