Day 13 August 20, 2010, Friday

Kullu to Chandigarh

We woke up to rain and I wasn't much bothered mainly because we had been blessed with really good weather in the parts of this trip where the roads were bad. Ahead of us lay mountainous but good roads nonetheless- better than in many metros of India!
The last hotel in the mountains

As we started to leave at around 10, the rain started to die off. We started off in a single file- all 6 of us and the view of this line from the back was excellent. We came across many saffron/Sikh-brigade-like people being all reckless on motorcycles from both sides- perhaps some sort of festivities were on. It's really sad to see people being reckless on motorcycles, esp in the name of religion- we had seen several of Kar sewaks doing the same all around in and outside Delhi too before we had left. We encountered lovely twisties with lovely views of the river and waterfalls next to them- at one point, we were just a few inches over the raging waters of the Sutlej!

Just before we approached the town of Aut, we went through a 2.8 km long dark tunnel that blinded most of us because it did not have any bright lights inside- I & Beni had to just lift our helmets' tinted visors while Suku decided to ride blind with his shades on- at one point when I was following him I thought he was going towards the headlights of an oncoming truck till he moved away at the last moment! We did not drop speeds by too much but we were very careful because the tunnel was curving a few times and there was no divider between us and oncoming traffic.

Dev had become a bit reckless on these open roads and was overtaking at the wrong spots, especially around blind bends and his bike wasn't really responding well to accelerating uphill in any case. It reminded me of Long Way Down when the riders remarked how riders get complacent as they start to approach more "familiar" roads and get  closer home. When we had a late breakfast stop at Mandi at around 12, I felt it to be my duty to caution everyone of such hard-foolery and taking unnecessary risks.

Ahead of us lay some really good roads and the rain did visit again and KJo decided to stop to wear his rain gear- he did not catch up with us for a long time and the rains had finished within 5 minutes! The roads were good and I stayed ahead of the lot for a long time till I decided to wait for the rest at a bend. The sun was beating down hard on the mountains so we decided to have a pit stop at a fuel station where KJo finally caught up. We continued our descent but very soon disaster struck KJo- a stone had come hurling at him from under a truck in front and bent his rear brake- plus, his rear tire seemed like it had a flat. We somehow managed to ride on to Bilaspur where he decided to get his bike fixed. While Bijoor san and Dev stayed back with him, I and the other Pegus decided to try and make it to Chandigarh and get to the Bajaj service before it closed. And then began the push.
One last picture in the mountains

The roads were good and our pace quick. Our bikes were doing very well but the slow trucks ahead of us were making things tough for us. We really savored the last bit of twisties we would see in a very long time and when we finally hit the foothills, my heart sank because I knew that it was the end of the mountains for us now. It was very disappointing to be back in the plains on normal straight roads with mad traffic- and then, just as a little consolation prize, we hit really smooth 6 lane expressways. We enjoyed some high speeds on these relatively empty stretches of tarmac and were interrupted frequently by diversions due to continuing construction work. After a little while, we decided to stop for some lunch- it was 5 and we were hungry! The restaurant that we chose to stop at had only lassi and no solid food- but something was better than nothing. We gave our bodies and bikes some rest and contemplated. Beni even spoke to Mr Singh who was very glad to hear from us. We promised to meet him tomorrow. And soon after, we moved on.
A pensive Suku as we feel sad on getting back to the plains

When we arrived at a railway crossing, Bijoor san caught up with us. We even saw the Israeli "guitar couple" from Nako who were amused to see us too- they had been coming from the other side as we did at Nako. Anyhow, once the gates opened, we started off and soon Dev and KJo also caught up with us- in real bad traffic towards Chandigarh. The moment we hit the city, just like the first day, rains came pelting down on us an we stopped somewhere to ask for directions to some guesthouse. The Israeli couple wanted to stay where we were going to stay but we somehow lost them in the rain.

As Bijoor san and KJo left to follow a local who was going to help us, the rest of us lost them because Suku's bike had to be push started again. After that, it was a wild goose chase trying to find where we are going- and the city traffic was going crazy at the same time! We finally regrouped (sans Kjo) but since all the rates so far were really high, we continued looking- because the point is to travel and not blow money. Bijoor san finally found a semi-decent place called Star Palace in sector 22-B (?) where we all washed up before dinner. Dinner was again at Singh's Chicken and we OD'd on chicken- butter, kadhai, tandoori, everything! We even met a Assamese dude and Beni and Suku chatted with him by the end of the meal- this kid actually got these guys beer from a nearby shop. They all nearly fell asleep before the beer but since it was the last night together they decided that they would have it. Bijoor san was the first to retire and slowly, we all slept, for one last time in this trip. Tomorrow, we get to home- we are very close.

Total Distance Covered= 282 kms approx.
Total cost= Rs. 770
[Breakfast=90 + Lunch(lassi)= 30 + Dinner= 300 + Stay=350]

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