The HOGs of Ahmedabad decided to take their V-twin powered cruisers on a fun filled ride to the Spiti valley for an experience of a lifetime and probably also the only one of its kind.
Snow-capped mountain peaks, tiny little villages appearing like mirages in the middle of an otherworldly landscape, lush green fields being looked over by ancient Buddhist monasteries from the surrounding cliffs and the sparkling turquoise-grey river that flows alongside on this entire route as your constant companion – that’s Spiti, ‘a world within a world’ for you. As mesmerising as it sounds, a Harley-Davidson would be your last choice of ride to conquer a trail like this, but the bravehearts from Gujarat ‘HOGs of Ahmedabad’ recently decided to explore this little piece of heaven on their V-Twin powered motorcycles. With the adventure quotient and adrenaline rush sky rocketing, here is a first-hand account of the thrilling voyage that these free spirited riders accomplished.
Ask these rugged riders why they like to play it all so rough in the first place and pet comes the reply – the thirst for living a life on the edge and knowing the unknown by putting themselves through the extremes. “Most of us were first timers for a motorcycle off-roading like this one.” says rider Mr. Vinaysingh Rajput, a textile business owner. “We are the first group on our Harley-Davidson bikes who did a road trip to Spiti. Of course, it is not a route meant for a heavy vehicle like a Harley but we wanted to live on the edge and do something which most of us hadn’t done before. Life is much more enjoyed when you are out of your comfort zone, isn’t it?” adds Vinay with a sparkle in his eyes.
Imagine a bunch of 400 kg heavy Harley bikes roaring up north on the treacherous roads of Spiti? Well, definitely not something for the faint-hearted we say! Riding them all the way there is meant only for those who inhale adventure as their oxygen. So, what exactly makes it all even trickier for a HOG? “There is a huge difference between going for an off-roading trip in this terrain on a Harley and doing it in any other heavy vehicle or a four wheeler. That is because an HD motorcycle is tough to manage and is simply not meant for riding on such topography,” opines Bhavin Parikh, who rides a Street Bob and a textile businessman otherwise. “It is like taking an elephant in the desert!” compares Parikh, but then, when there are HOGs with wheels and will, there’s always a way.
No prizes for guessing that this road trip was anything but cakewalk. The list of challenges that the riders were pitched against is almost endless. It’s a different thing that they turned it all into a party for themselves with their invincible attitude. “The ride with mud, slush, stones, water streams, heat, cold, rains, camping, music and friends were what we had subscribed ourselves for. It was a nirvana-like experience for the rider, and somewhere deep down within you learn to be modest against mother nature.” says Vinay Rajput. Crossing streams with the heavy machines was one of the most memorable experiences for Pratik Hambardiker who rides a Harley Fat Bob, and is an IT business owner by profession.
Ask a fellow rider Vikram Gahlot about what are the most memorable experiences that he has brought back from this road trip and you will hear a true biker talking. “Two nights of unplanned halts at Chaatru and Baatal were the most unforgettable for me. We never planned to stay there but nature forced us to stay back. We had to make do with what was available and survive to ride the next day. The moments we all shared by living together are what motorcycle trips are all about.” says this BPO business owner who loves living out of his comfort zone.
One of the things that all these HOGs unanimously agree upon is that their brotherhood, their zest for adventure and their never dying passion for their beloved bikes; the things that made them survive through everything in this constantly changing and challenging road trip. “I have a phobia of slides, mud and landslides. The region further from Kaza was exactly full of those and more. When I broke the news to the fellow riders that I would be heading back to Manali rather than proceeding with them to Kaza, it wasn’t welcomed for more than one reason.” says Vishwas Daswani, a Fat Bob rider and an IT marketing expert.
Narrating one of his most challenging yet memorable experiences from the trip. Vishwas says “The discussions cum arguments happened amongst us, which led me to finally stick to moving towards Kaza. I am really thankful to my HOG brothers to bring in the clarity and encouraging me to finish what I had started. Later I found out that a couple of them too had the same phobia for the slides, yet they went ahead with it and motivated me too to not to back out.” Freeing yourself from fears and thereby feeling liberated in your souls, these guys truly lived the core philosophy of the legend called Harley-Davidson.
A little piece of heaven, as the world chooses to call it with no exaggeration, Spiti comes with its own twists and tricks. The ride that these HOGs had was even higher on the excitement quotient as they have revealed before. Hear them out as they part their hard earned lessons and experiences of riding through such terrains on a motorcycle. “My word of advice to fellow biking enthusiasts would be to take a Harley to such terrains only if they are mentally prepared for it.” advises Pratik Hambardiker.
Pratik further adds “You definitely would need to have a solid group of riders to support you alongside. Without it, you will give up easily.” Vikram on the other hand says “No amount of planning is good enough for such rides. You have to start the journey and make amends as you proceed. But it is definitely not a place for the faint hearted.” “You need to be really alert and calculative in everything you do during your ride.” an important input by the 36 year old HOG rider and a businessman Harshal Patel.
Ask them what they derive out of such a treacherous biking road trip and the answers will amaze you. “I love riding because it gives me inner peace. It is like meditating on open roads.” concludes Pratik. “Along with being practical and aware about what you are getting into, be positive and just go with the flow. If you ask me, I will quote Francois Rabelais as he says “I go to seek a great perhaps.” That’s exactly my reason for riding and going through all the risks. It’s so worth every bit of it.”
An iron rider Harshal too has his own golden bit of finding from this expedition. “The most precious part of this whole ride if you ask me, would be us helping each other during tough times. We went as fellow riders and came back as best friends.” Exclaims this lighting solutions provider whose heart lies in taking the world over on his Harley. And, needless to mention that this lovely and insightful parting note of his receives happy nods from all his fellow riders.