The six of us on our four bikes were ready as we would ever be on the morning (more like 3 am at night) of the first day. There were rumors that due to heavy snow fall the roads were not open in some parts but we decided to take our chances as rescheduling would have been impossible.
This is the day that we covered the longest distance of the trip, over 450 km on the very first day, but that by no account implies that we were on the road for less than 10 hrs any other day. You learn, the difference between theoretically and practically while you ride in the mountains!
We reached Panchkula for breakfast, well in time at our parent’s house, this was our first halt. Some yummy chana-puri-halwa was a great start to our trip and that was the last home cooked Punjabi meal for the next few days.
Delhi to Chandigarh took us about 4-5 hours and we hadn’t even reached the foothills yet. It was warm and dusty but this was soon about to change.
Within an hour of leaving Chandigarh we hit the winding roads and the cool breeze. The road to Manali was still being repaired and we found ourselves in some long traffic jams, which we got ahead of since we were on bikes. One should count their blessings – Right!
By the end of the day my back side was aching, the battery on my ipod had run out and my body’s battery needs some charging. We stopped short of Manali at Mandi, as we had been riding almost continuously for about 10-11 hrs and were sure that another 45 min was going to just stretch us out. All I could think of was the famous quote by Donkey from Shrek, “Are we there yet ?”
We stayed at a nice clean budget hotel (about INR 2500/night/room) called Hotel Valley View, Mandi. The service was decent, there was hot running water and had a 24 hr Restaurant & Bar.
An early dinner and we were off to bed, and trust me it didn’t even take us a minute to fall into deep sleep. The painkiller I had must have also kicked in too, not that I needed it too much, but prevention is better than cure.
Dreaming of day two, is all I could do.
(c) Photographs by Sharninder Khera and Nitin Joshi