Day 14: Spello to Jalori Pass, 210 km, 10 hours
Any plans for sight seeing today were thrown out of the window because of yesterday’s accident, our task was now to get back to Manali as soon as possible in order to start the second leg of the Indian trip up to Leh and the Khardungla Pass.
Before I woke up, a team from Motorcycle Expeditions had arrived and delivered a new bike for Moti to ride. They had traveled overnight, only being held up at the police check at Akpa which obviously isn’t a 24 hour operation.
One of the things that lightens a long day in the saddle are the things you see at the side of the road, and thanks the the Border Roads Organisation – the Army unit that keep the roads open – there are hundreds of signs at the side of the road that cheered me up. Not sure Moti appreciated the number of times I stopped for photos, especially when I stopped and rode back to catch a sign that made me laugh. Some of them celebrate the achievements of the BRO, some of them offer safe driving advice:
- ABC of Safety – Always Be Careful
- Divorce your speed, not your wife
- Mountains are for pleasure if you drive at leisure
- Safety first is safety always
- Drive slow and enjoy the scenery. Drive fast and join the scenery
- Safety is not expensive it is priceless
- Don’t Gossip, Let Him Drive
- After Whiskey, Driving Risky
- It’s not a rally, Enjoy the valley.
- The best drivers are aware they need to beware
- Enjoy my curves, drive slowly
Some of them are funny because they are spelled wrong! This one should read “BRO Brings people of remote areas to the mainstream” Others were misspelled as “Main Stream”
I defy anyone to read this sign and not be impressed… definitely an ‘Adventure’ if you are riding ‘The World’s Most Treacherous Road” given Moti’s exploits yesterday and the state of the road (my views on National Highway 5 were detailed on Day 9 of this India trip) I’d be inclined to agree.
Shortly after these photos were taken Moti had his second puncture of the trip, again a nail in his back tyre. No worries though, we know what were doing… wheel off, tube out, new tube in, replace the trye… replace the trye… replace the tyre… no chance, try as much as we could we couldn’t get the tyre back on the wheel, we bent and ruined both tyre levers trying. I had a brain wave – the jeep that delivered the new bike was following us, it had a mechanic on board, why don’t we just wait for him to do it. Phone calls made, sit back and relax. It all felt a bit Ewan-n-Charlie – waiting for the support crew to come and help, what would we do without them?
Problem though, the mechanic couldn’t fit the tyre either! Moti and the mechanic working together could fit the tyre, however much they huffed and puffed. My solution (doing my best Sahib impression again) was to fit the wheel from the crashed bike that was on the back of the jeep – which is what we did, And on we went.
The delays turned a potentially long day into a very long day. Moti’s aim was to get to a homestay on the other side of the Jalori Pass in Sojah. To be honest I’d had enough by Rampur (130km) but Moti wanted to press on an extra 80km. We didn’t argue as such, but we came close. He could tell I wasn’t happy, but I also didn’t want to let him down. He offered to stop in a city called Ani (180 km) but when we got there, I didn’t fancy it, so yes, let’s carry on to the Jaroli Pass. It’s a tough, off road, ride up the 3135m pass – I’d say 20km off road. It would be a laugh on an Enduro bike, but on a Bullet… no fun.
Of course, once you finsih a ride like that it’s worth it. The cup of chai at the summit was great. And the short off road ride to the homestay whizzed by. And by 18:30 (11 hours of riding) we were there in a fairly innocuous looking village called Sojah and a fairly innocuous looking house to stay in. But when the porter took us around the back to the rooms we were staying in, my jaw dropped. Simply stunning. Swiss style log cabins with sun setting views of the Parvati Valley, the Great Himalayan National Park and the 6000m Deo Tibba mountain, covered in snow at the back.
Day 15: Jalori to Manali, 110 km, 5 hours
After the mammoth ride the day before today was a doddle, but still I didn’t want to leave the homestay in Sojah – in fact I think I could have spent several days there. But time waits for no one and we had to make tracks… The ride to Manali was fairly uneventful, although we did enjoy stopping to watch some people white water rafting on the River Beas
We took the bikes to the garage for a much needed once over by the mechanics and I had the chance to spend the afternoon in Manali and preparing for the next leg of the ride up to Leh. I spent much of the afternoon frustrated by ATM’s in Manali – the 3 or 4 run by the Bank of India were all out of action, which meant there had been a run on the few others in town and all had run out of money (the following morning, Monday 15th June) there were queues / scrums around cash machines in the town as armed security guards turned up to fill them up).
I managed to lose myself in the back streets of Manali and came across the local hospital – the Lady Willingdon Hospital – made me think about work and how lucky we are to have the NHS in the UK. I’m sure it is better than it looks, but it felt like a 1960 film set for Carry on Matron!