Every day, when I wake up, I have an awesome view of the mountains – the very same mountains we will have to pass by bike – the so-called Rohtang Pass (3,978 m). The name literally means “pile of corpses” and this originates from a time, long ago, when the roads were in such a poor condition that people would be stuck there due to bad weather and sometimes freeze or starve to death.
Here, from the bedroom view these mountains look extremely high, beautiful but at the same time also scary. I wonder:
Unfortunately, by around 8 a.m. this awesome view is already covered by clouds and rain due to the fact that it is monsoon season.
We have to wait for the monsoon season to pass and we decide to check out the bike shops in the city to find the best available deal and service. After searching for a while, we finally find one, but the bike owner scares us a little, telling us that we shouldn’t do the bike trip by ourselves, that we should join a bigger group or even go by jeep to Leh since there may be ice on the road, or possibly a tyre could burst and there are other dangers we could face on the road.
Disappointed and quite confused, we leave the shop and go for a walk in the city to buy some warm clothes for our trip, like skiing pants, scarves, waterproof shoes, gloves, etc. During our shopping trip, we meet more people and everyone is quite curious and wants to know where we are going. Again, they “scare” us and say the same things as the bike guy said previously: don’t go alone, it is too dangerous, it is really cold at the moment, etc.
When I arrive at the hotel, I start doing some research about the Manali-Leh highway, the difficulties, the beauty, the danger and also which items are required if you want to embark on a trip on this road. After having done my research, I am feeling better, even though I am aware of the fact that the trip will be dangerous and we will have to be very careful. I am also 100% sure that I am up for this.
During the night, I reflect a lot about fear and I ask myself, what is fear really about?
Furthermore I tell myself that, even though the locals know better than we do, they are also different in many ways to us – everybody has a different perception of how dangerous a situation really is and of our own limitations. It is not always black and white, some people are scared to death by a mouse whereas others consider it the cutest thing in the world.
In the morning we head out once again, more positive than the previous day, in order to buy more things which I discovered in my research from the previous day that we may need, such as a portable oxygen bottle (due to the high altitude we will be facing and the lack of medical posts on the way), protective motorbike equipment for the chest, protective pads for our elbows and knees, face masks, extra medicine, etc.
On our way home, this time we pass by a bike shop and see “THE Bike”, a Royal Enfield (old British bike used specifically for these kinds of tours), ten years old, 500 cc (the horsepower), turquoise in colour.
You can can feel that it has “a soul”, that it has been through something and it feels almost like it is speaking to us. Some kind of force draws us to it and immediately we go in to the shop to check it out. While having a test ride, it seems even more perfect than we initially thought; the sound it makes is amazing – like a purring cat.
Just to have a comparison we also try another bike, a brand new Royal Enfield – it is also great but kind of “too perfect” – if you know what I mean! Even though the old and the new one would cost exactly the same, we hire the old one immediately and name it: Angelo, which in Italian means “angel”.
To celebrate this, we go to eat at the Italian restaurant and prepare ourselves mentally to head off tomorrow early in the morning…
I can’t wait!
|Vew over Rohtang pass||Isabel Scharrer||CC BY-SA 4.0|
|Angelo, THE bike||Isabel Scharrer||CC BY-SA 4.0|