Friday, February 3, 2017

Biker gang of IIM Kashipur's trip to Mukteshwar January 21-22, 2017

A bike trip was long overdue, as I had made the last trip with the PGP 2015-17 batch in November 2015. The new batch of 2016-18 were actually complaining that they had not yet gone on a bike trip with me. So with the planning and logistics  and the mandatory lecture on driving guidelines (25 metres apart, no overtaking, no speeding, formation driving, hill driving etiquette etc.) delegated to Rizwan of the senior batch, a veteran of many trips, we included quite a few enthusiasts from the new batch too.
As usual, the inter-campus coordination and cold mornings caused a delay in starting. We started at nearly 8 am, instead of the planned 6.30am on Saturday January 21, 2017 with 8 bikes and 14 riders and pillion for the 170 odd km trip one way. The plan was to reach Mukteshwar by late afternoon covering about 170 km and the route was Kashipur-Ramnagar-Kaladhungi-Haldwani-Bhimtal-Bhowali-Mukteshwar. The bike count was: four Bullet Classic 350, one Thunderbird 350, one Bajaj Pulsar 200, one KTM 200, one Yamaha FZ 150.
As we hit the Ramnagar highway we encountered very dense fog which dogged us over the entire stretch of more than 25km. The trucks whizzing past in near zero visibility was scary. The ride from Ramnagar to Kaladhungi was under a bright and clear sky. Breakfast at Kaladhungi, opposite Jim Corbett Museum was sumptuous- stuffed paranthas and hot tea. The onward journey from Kaladhungi to Bhimtal was pleasant, except for crossing Haldwani. From Bhimtal we proceeded to Bhowali, with a couple of stops to regroup especially on forks on the road where Google maps was of not much help! On the way we saw parasailers gliding down from the hills around Bhimtal.  
At Ramgarh we experienced patches of ice on the road from snow fall earlier that week, not much though. Snow on the hillsides at Ramgarh gave our students enough photo-ops, as did all the stops. As we were approaching Mukteshwar, problems surfaced. The clutch of the Pulsar failed and the FZ refused to start. Three hours were spent in trying to repair both, including trips up and down to Mukteshwar to catch an elusive mechanic. The Pulsar was parked with a friendly ship-owner and the FZ started reluctantly.Evening was close and we made our way to our destination Sitala, which nine km down just at the entry to Mukteshwar. These nine km were tortuous, narrow, broken and with steep downhill gradient and the gathering dusk made it difficult. Well, on the plus side, I found that my LED fog lamp worked well and marked out the left edge of the road and also worked as a day-running light, and consumed little power. When we reached Sitala, the sun had set and we were apprehensive about the location of our hotel, and its quality, back of the beyond as it was. Pathik Resort turned out to be quite spacious, clean with a wide and beautiful view of the snow-capped peaks.  
 The morning of January 22 started late, each complaining of aches etc. and post-breakfast long planning session involved of what to do with the two immobile bikes.
The food was good but the rooms were chilly and the stiff, chilly breeze did not help. 

The food was good but the rooms were chilly and the stiff, chilly breeze did not help.ning of aches etc. and post-breakfast long planning session involved of what to do with the two immobile bikes. Another hour went in getting a replacement plug for the FZ, but it could not possibly make the trip back because it was burning engine oil due to worn out rings. Finally the sick bikes were put on a small truck for onward trip to Haldwani for repairs at respective dealers. Six remaining bikes separated in to two groups, one group of two heading back to Kashipur and the other group of four decided to try for paragliding near Bhimtal and return via Naintal.

The return trip, with me taking on Chauhan (PGP 2016-18) as a pillion and Swagat on his Thunderbird with a pillion. The return journey wasn’t without incident! A car overtook us somewhere near Baelparao and one of the passengers frantically waved us to stop. He told us they had seen one bag falling off the Thunderbird and had been trying to warn us. Thanks to the warning message, the bag was found. Retrieval took more than half an hour and gave us the opportunity for a cup of tea. The journey ended around 5pm on Sunday January 22, 2017 with around 350km on the odometer. We have started planning for the next trip in March 2017.