The endless wait was getting to me. I’d been waiting ever since I got out of school for the day when I’d set out riding to one of the most heart-achingly beautiful places on Earth - the Himalayas. Leh, Ladakh, the high and mighty mountain passes and the excruciating yet joyous ride that connects all these places simply existed in my imagination, stored in some brain cells and on A4-sized prints on the walls. Every year, year on year, somehow things didn't fall into place and the wish remained unfulfilled. On each and every one of the previous visits, I had used my own two feet to get around and look at the surroundings, I could only imagine how incredible a motorcycle would be on terrain like this. Lots of communication with the one above, a few good deeds here and there and a deep unrelenting desire for a run to the hills eventually bore fruit this year. The clearance had been given. Oh the joy!
Hurried prepped up, barely crammed all those things in no less than 5 full-sized bags and signed up for touring duty at the 2010 Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey. What resulted in the next 15 days of riding can be, at best, described as a bittersweet experience. Imagine getting a big injection while having a lot of Cadbury’s finest in your mouth and you’ll get the idea. It’s a tough, unforgiving and harsh world which has little margin for mistakes but in the end, you realise that, without the struggle to get there, all the surreal vistas, tranquility, thought-provoking moments and peace you experience later don’t make sense. I had the time of my life riding the Classic 500 through the mighty hills; an experience which was every bit as fantastic as I imagined it would be years ago. It’s a must-do for any motorcyclist; something that should be included in every touring calender. The first trip to the hills simply leaves you wanting for more. And sure enough, this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to get back! Since I’ve already started to suffer from Acute Himalayan Withdrawal Symptoms, I think I’d better start planning right away. Heck, I’m still using my sleeping bag back home! Must. Act. Fast!