Day 2/15 – Delhi to Mandi – 500 kms – 3 AM to 8:30 PM
It was 2:30 in the morning. Those in the bed got up and joined the rest in the final packing and loading. Refreshing and gearing up, we bid goodbye to our sweet host Imran and officially started the trip with a delay of 1 day. Kiran led the way through the dark city streets to a fuel station. We filled up all tanks to the brim and continued our search for the highways. Kiran and Allen led the way, with Apar and I following the two. This pretty much remained the same order throughout the trip for various reasons at various times. I didn’t have a great map on my GPS, but I had setup a user trail from Delhi to Chandigarh, that helped me follow the route to a fairly good extent.
All excited, we forgot to worry about the sleepless night that we just crossed and continued to gradually improve speeds and started munching miles. After about and hour of riding, we had reached the proper highway where Apar and myself chose to pick up the faster options. At some point, we stopped by a dhabha only to realize that Allen and Kiran were missing. We called them to find out that they had stopped a little earlier as Allen was sleeping and was finding it hard to ride. We decided to halt at a nearby ‘Jhil Mil’ dhabha to get some sleep. We spoke to person there and got some space to take rest for about an hour and a half. I can’t forget to mention the fact that we shared the space with some truck drivers!
When we came out of that space, it was bright and sunny. Apar and Kiran were watching the bikes and bags for us, while Allen and I had got ourselves some sleep. We reenergized with some tea and packed our saddles again. The idea was to reach Manali for the night.
After crossing Panipat and Ambala, we were riding focused towards Chandigarh. On the way, we met another biker, Pankaj, heading in the same direction. We were excited to know that he was riding to Leh as well. His original plan was to ride with a couple of his friends, but they couldn’t make it for different reasons. He tagged along with us, as we entered the region around Chandigarh. There was a speed limit of 60 kmph enforced on the highway with cameras and cops strictly monitoring the traffic. We were warned multiple times by Kiran and Pankaj about it, and it took us quite some time to cross the city.
By that time, Apar and I were going down on energy without proper sleep. We decided to go into the city to get some Red Bull, when the others would proceed through the highway. The two of us went in and figured out a shop to get 4 cans very quickly. But then, we realized we had got ourselves lost inside the city. The GPS was a little helpful in getting us back to where we started. But we had to reach the highway from there to sync up with the others. The people of the city themselves seemed so confused with the routes that they kept guiding us in opposite directions. We finally managed to get back on track and meet with our other half at a dhabha for lunch. Meanwhile, Pankaj had parted and moved on. His trip was much shorter than ours and therefore didn’t have much time to lose. We wrapped up lunch pretty quickly as well thinking of the time we had lost thus far.
Apar and I stuck together all the time, though we had no idea about the other two most of the time. We were moving towards the evening as we slowly started experiencing inclination on road. We had a feeling we were nearing the foothills. At a small town called Ropar, there was a deviation to head to Manali. It was closely followed by a railway crossing where the two of us waiting for the train to pass. That was when we got a call from Kiran telling us that his bike was fuming under the tank and had stalled. Not so happy to hear the news, I got his location and headed back to that point. I instructed him to get hold of Allen and bring him back as well. On the way, I mentally registered any opportunity for s mechanic and was happy to find positive signs. At some point, I saw Kiran standing on the opposite side of the road, pretty terrified.
He explained to me that he just filled up his tank and that it was fuming from under. He switched off the ignition and was thinking what to do. Allen arrived meanwhile and we tried switching back the ignition. Fumes reappeared. Allen went to get hold of a mechanic while the three of us moved the bikes and luggage to a much shady location. After quite a while Allen returned alone saying that nobody was ready to come over to fix a faired bike. We were left with no choice but to try fixing the issue ourselves.
With the knowledge and experience we had, we put some team effort to strip off the tank and analyze the root cause. We found that the fuel level sensor had a short. We snapped it out and insulated it to fix the issue. Putting things back together, Kiran was ready to ride again, except that
his fuel level indication wouldn’t work.
We crossed Ropar together and started to ascend. We were nearing sunset and it had been a tough ride so far. The only thing that kept exciting us ware the small valleys that kept exposing themselves now and then. Taking breaks more often than we ever wanted to, we pushed it hard to reach a place called Mandi. This place was a 100 kms before Manali, which was our intended destination. Unable to ride any further, we found out a nice place to stay for the night. Food was decent, but I hardly remembered its taste due to the tiredness. Finishing it quickly, I put all the gadgets for charging and hit the bed.