Bikes, buddies and mountains
By Money Sharma
Since the middle of last year I had been planning to ride up to the mountains but somehow couldn`t get myself to chalk out a plan because well, life, you know. But this February, the day had finally come when my fellow "Highway Players" riders and I embarked upon this long-awaited motorbike journey - to Pangot, a tranquil little hamlet tucked away in the touristy hill station of Nainital.
It felt like an early birthday gift from God.
At the crack of dawn on February 11 - just three days before my birthday - seven of us "Highway Players" riders gathered at a crossing near Delhi`s iconic Akshardham Temple and kick-started our ride north.
An hour into our chilly morning ride, our group leader Parveen Kumar made the wise decision to stop for a much-needed tea break - thank God for that! While I do have proper riding gear, the icy wind chilled my bones since the fleece of my jacket somehow went missing thanks to my dear friend and rider too, Yogi, who, let`s say, kept it somewhere extra safe. So safe it couldn`t be found.
I showered him with a hail of profanities but couldn`t help finally letting him go since he`s a brother. And you know what they say - brothers, can`t live with them, can`t kill them either. I kid!
After another stop for breakfast and tea at Kaladhungi, we started off with my favourite part of a bike ride to the hills - the ascent! Man, I just love it - the curves of the winding mountainous roads, the incline and decline, the throttle and sound of the beast, the exhilarating nip in the air and the mesmerizing view. And that`s exactly why I ride. It`s my time, it`s my meditation.
We finally reached Camp Mehi in Pangot by afternoon. It was exactly the kind of place we were looking for - nice clean tents with attached bathrooms, a bonfire spot, amazing food and most importantly, my crazy rider brothers.
After a scrumptious lunch and some shut-eye (at least for me), it was time for drinks around the bonfire. We called it a day after a few hours of jokes, quips and friendly banter.
As the bright rays of sun shone through our tents the next morning, we all decided to go for a walk around the picturesque area, which is famous for its variety of beautiful Himalayan birds. Good walk, some sunlight, beautiful view of the snow-covered mountain range and a photo shoot.
After breakfast, all seven of us packed our bags with lunch and water and set off for an amazing seven kilometer-trek through a forest to Cheena Peak -- the mountain peak we could see from our camp site. The first thought was "how the hell are we going to get there?".
Batra ji and I initially struggled to walk uphill thanks to our well-fed bellies, but got a much-deserved ego boost when I noticed that I was faring way better than those 10 years younger to me! But of course, the joy was short-lived after I saw my friend Tarun - a ripped, fitness freak my age who sports six pack abs - zooming up almost effortlessly.
After about three hours, we reached Cheena Peak which is at an altitude of 2,611 metres (8,566 feet). At the top, it provides you with a bird`s eye view of Nainital, making it a must-visit place.
The trek ended at dusk - we were dead tired and in desperate need of piping hot tea and some rest. The evening was another long session of gossip in my tent and we called it a day with drinks and dinner around the bonfire.
The next morning we were all set to head back to Delhi but not before paying a small visit to Nainital. Why? Because Tarun`s wife wanted a gift. And man, if he ever wants to go on another ride with his boys he dare not refuse his dear wife`s wishes.
All charged up with the deep dug-dug rumbling of the bikes our background score, we headed towards Delhi, passing through the mountains in perfect symmetry with Parveen leading our group and me at the tail end, as usual.
I absolutely loved the sight of our Royal Enfields heading into the mountains and manoeuvring turns on the curvaceous roads, feeling like show-stoppers as people stopped to look at us in awe as we wrapped up another successful "Highway Players" adventure.
That’s all for now.
See you in the next blog, till then:
BE SAFE AND RIDE SAFE