‘We spend our lives trying to become something. To prove ourselves worthy, and important. Until we stand still, one day, facing the mighty nature. It is moments like these when we truly realize, how petty, how insignificant – human condition actually is’
I found myself struggling with these boundless thoughts, quite often, during my solo bike expedition to Spiti Valley – a trip which made me believe, in just 9 days, that everything falls into place when you really want it to. Once you embrace the true spirit of the journey, it reveals itself to you. It was a beautiful experience now that I think back.
A road trip to the world’s one of the most isolated roads in Spiti Valley is a tough experience. You need to drive for long hours, look after your ride, calculate kilometres, and take many survival decisions. And doing it solo, is somewhere at the next level. Perhaps that’s what compelled me to try it out, at first place. Now that I’ve I managed to complete the journey in 9 days and while camping each night, I thought why now share my experiences all in one place.
Is It Risky?
If you’re driving under the safety of a group – it’s not. Because then risking any technical issue or a tyre puncture doesn’t matter much. You’ve got a group of people to look after it. But when alone, you’ve got no mates to look after, and this realization makes a difference!
But if you’re driving something, which is overall in shape, you’ll be fine. And don’t just run after a Bullet. I did it on Pulsar 200, and it turned out to be just perfect. Unless you’re riding a motorcycle which is over 180cc it should be good to carry a little luggage along with you. Just carry a few spare parts and your ride’s tool kit, in case of any minor worn-outs.
Roads on the other hand, keep changing throughout the year, so you cannot get 100% accurate information in any of the blogs, unless it was written yesterday. But on a bright side, roads are getting better. To get a big picture, however, here’s what to expect…
From Shimla to Wangdu (190Kms) the road stays pretty much in good condition throughout the year. From Wangtu, however, it becomes a long moody stretch, wearing an uninviting face for most of the time, to all the way to Nako (128Kms) and further ahead to Kaza (80Kms). From Kaza to Kunzum la (75Kms) – it seems no better than a dirt-track, before it turns even more nasty all the way to Gramphu (61kms). At Gramphu you merge with the happy traffic of Manali-Leh (65Kms), and the road is pretty good here.
Things To Carry Along With You
Since luggage is most common among any kind of traveler, it would be great to always have a list of things to carry with yourself. It would certainly be extremely handy when the plans were abrupt and you decided to leave in a night. I have therefore compiled a list of few important things that you must carry with you for the trip. As long as you’ve them, and own a basic knowledge regarding how to play with them, you are good to go:
- Medicine and First Aid Kit
- Tool Kit
- Clutch and Accelerator Wire; and a spare Handle for both
- Rear Tube or Tubeless Puncture Kit
- Air Pump
- Clutch Pads
Fuel Availability In Spiti And How To Deal With It
If you’re coming from Shimla, you’d find your last petrol station on the National highway near Rekong Peo. From here, to all the way to Kaza, which requires you to drive almost 200 Kms – if you’re not going off the main road there are no petrol stations. From Kaza to all the way to Manali there are no petrol stations, again for a distance of 200 Kms, so do your calculation accordingly.
For me, since I was on a Pulsar, carrying extra fuel was not required. My tank offered 18L capacity. For a Bullet and other bikes, with low mileage, and a smaller tank, you might need to carry a couple of Jerikens along with you.
Now, if the odds are against and you still end up running out of fuel, then in that situation – take a lift to the nearest town and ask local people if you can buy some fuel. People in these areas sometimes keep a stock of spare fuel. And if the town has a BRO camp (Border Road Organisation, the organisation which builds the roads in these areas) then you will definitely find some fuel.
Is It Worth The Risk And Going Solo?
It is said that safety is in numbers. But do you really want to be safe? If you do, you should possible be warming your couch right now, drinking beers and swiping right in Tinder. But if you want to take the adventure quotient of your ride a notch above, from where it is right now, go solo. Sure a true “brotherhood experience” would be great, but solo riding is where the serious stuff comes to the surface.
With no support vehicle and no fellow riders to watch your back, one wrong step can result into a potential failure. And that feeling makes your journey more adventurous. Here failing is strictly not an option. When you do not have the expertise of a mechanic at hand, or the luxury to have someone else ride your machine, during the time of fatigue – you soldier on. No matter what. And such an experience is far refreshing, and a lot more addictive!
[Also Read: How To Plan Your Next Solo Bike Expedition To Spiti]
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