I wasted no time in deciding that I was just leaving my bike here and moving back to the tent of the people I had just met. It was not may be just a bit more than couple of kilometers away and I could walk. I took my sleeping bag, water bottle, medicines, rain coat and some munchies that I had on me. But before I walked back, I wrote a note on a piece of paper. ‘ My Name is Venkat Ganesh from Mumbai and this is my bike. It is not running and I am staying with the people who are collecting dung a few kilometers away. It needs to be repaired and I will look into it tomorrow. My phone number :##########”
And I started walking downhill. I had hardly taken ten steps that I realized that I had forgotten something. And to this day I do not remember what I had forgotten. As soon as I got near my ‘beauty in red’ I saw the note that I had written and I forgot for what reason had I come back as an overwhelming feeling of not trying hard enough swept my face. I cannot give up so easily, I thought to myself. I unloaded all the luggage and walked some meters up hill until the next hairpin bend and put it there. That task alone left me breathless. Then started the long and arduous pushing of a 150+kgs of bike on an ascent until the point where I had left my luggage. The point of doing this was giving one last try. Also the place where my bike had stalled was right in middle of road that was uphill. I thought I could give it my last shot and then if not at least I will park it on one side of road under a small bushy tree on a relatively flat piece of ground.
I tried once again and VVRRROOOOMMMMM!!!! The engine roared to life. I revved up the engine and then quickly loaded all my luggage. I did not have time to celebrate. The slight drizzle had just got a bit stronger. And once again I was riding. All the while hoping that the engine would not stall again. As I got closer to the Umba La top, I met an a couple of on coming trucks of the Indian Army. I waved a hand and asked them to stop.
“Hello sir! How far is the Umba La top” I was polite
“A couple of kilometers” the officer answered.
“How are the road conditions. Can my bike negotiate it”
“Yeah! Should not be a problem if it has come until here”
“What if my bike breaks down?”
“After the Umba La top as you descend on the other side there is BRO camps. They’d be able to help you”
“Thank you very much sir! Thank you very very much” I thanked them as much as I thanked the heavens.
I rode further and drizzle turned stronger. And winds fierce and piercing cold as I approached the top. It was becoming difficult to balance the bike as I shivered owing to the chill.
Thankfully without any further incident, I descended to the BRO camps. As I descended into the valley after riding through the deserted village of Umba , a green landscape with a roaring river greeted me. I was elated at being able to make it and got a glimpse of how adventurous and exciting a solo journey could be. And I was also happy that nothing more could go wrong after this and it would be an easy ride. I was mistaken.
Just around the corner I came across a stream flowing across the road in its full flow. It was close to 6 in the evening which meant that all the snow that had melted in the afternoon was making its way down. The water would be bone chilling cold. And I was alone on that stretch of road. I waited for a few minutes to see if some vehicles comes along that will cross the stream giving me an idea from where I should ride through the water. But no one turned up. I had no choice, but to cross it myself. Which meant first I had to take off my shoes and step in the chilling water and find my way across and then do it again carrying the unloaded luggage across lest it may get wet if I fall while riding. Fortunately, all went well except that for the numb legs.
And just a little ahead after crossing the stream was a small shop beside the road. The kids shouted and waved as they saw me and I stopped to talk to the villagers gathered around to check whether it was the village of Sankoo. It wasn’t. Sankoo was still 5 kilometers away but there were no further hicupps as the villagers confirmed. And finally, a few minutes later I was in the village of Sankoo. I breathed a sigh of relief!
PS : Since it was drizzling , I could not take out the camera and click some pics. Hence no pics for the post.