Note: This is going to be a pretty informal blog post while jotting down the conversation I am having with my inner self. The idea is to recall, relive and enjoy the beautiful memories I have accumulated in the past couple of months.
Prior to starting the ride, a fellow group member got in touch with me regarding my plans. Later on, I came to know that he is from Ghaziabad and currently working in Pune. I sent him a message stating that I plan to stay in Delhi for a day or two. I wanted to see a few places that were on my wishlist as I had 2 days of spare time. Rest of group members were riding from Pune and I was supposed to join them in Chandigarh on 22nd June 2018. We had a chat and decided to ride together directly from Ghaziabad to Shimla. He also offered me to stay at his home and that both of us can start the journey the next day. At first, I was planning to book an Oyo room but after giving some thought I gladly accepted the offer. Why? Well for starters the very next day we could ride together without wasting time. But more importantly, being a foodie I would be getting home cooked food. Such a shameless bhukkad I am. 😀
While all this was going on, I was still contemplating as to whether or not I should embark on this epic journey that traverses through some of the most dangerous roads and treacherous terrains. Ah, and thanks to the human psyche, I felt more perturbed reading the messages and looking at pictures of practice rides that were shared in Spiti Expedition Whatsapp group. And here I was going on a ride, unprepared, had no idea how am I going to even ride alongside experienced riders let alone complete the whole circuit.
D Day | Gorakhpur to Lucknow
I packed all the excitement, nervousness, curiosity in my tail bag and started the journey on 21st June 2018 at around 5-5:30 am from Gorakhpur. Upon leaving home I went to Guru Shri Gorakhnath Temple. I took the Gorakhpur-Lucknow highway and reached Lucknow at around 9:30 am. Upon reaching Lucknow, I rang an school time friend as he was in the city to attend a wedding function and was staying at one of our batchmate apartment. I reached the place, freshened up and we went for lunch. If I recall correctly, we ordered Kadai Chicken, tandoori roti, and pulao. Had a nice lunch, yummm.
We had a nice lunch, I went to meet another friend of mine who played an instrumental role in this journey and his guidance helped me a lot. He told me to reach Decathlon Store. Walking into the Decathlon Store, I was absolutely flummoxed by the facility and range of sporting products. I wanted to buy winter gloves and he also suggested me to get a hydra bag as it will help me to keep hydrated without taking frequent water breaks. Pretty quickly I realized the importance of hydra bag and having mentorship of experienced riders. After purchasing gloves and hydra bag, we went to a nearby restaurant and had a good time while sipping Lassi. I reached back to my friend’s apartment and took a power nap. Later on, I had dinner at a nearby restaurant and returned back for some good night sleep.
Day 2 | Lucknow to Ghaziabad
I woke up at around 4 am, took around 30mins to freshen up. In the meantime, I also messaged my friend enquiring about the location we were supposed to meet. I started the journey at around 5 am and reached Krishna Nagar Metro Station which didn’t take much of time as there was no traffic on roads. My friend came to see me off and there we had a nice get-together. I resumed the journey and my first major destination was Agra for the day. However, in all this, I forgot to refuel in Lucknow and at that time was carrying around ₹1500 cash. Now I have a very bad habit of not carrying sufficient cash. Time and again overreliance on cashless has got me into the real dicey situation and this time was no different.
I took the Taj Expressway and covered fair distance because of pleasant weather conditions. However, I looked at the instrument cluster and lo and behold the fuel indicator was blinking. I started to look for a petrol pump and as of now, that’s one of the main pain points of Taj Expressway. I exited the Expressway and some locals told me about the petrol pump which was around 6-7kms. I went there and enquired whether or not they accept card payment. Petrol pump attendant told me “Sir hum cash ke siwa kuch nahi lete“. I refueled and resumed the journey. After some time I reached the first toll naka and was quite baffled as for two-wheelers one has to shell out ₹290. Now I am not quite sure why these guys don’t accept Card or e-wallet payment.
I reached Agra at around noon time and the first thing I did was to take out some cash and refuel. After that, I took a break at a roadside dhaba and asked for water and curd. I resumed journey towards Ghaziabad taking Yamuna Expressway. I was maintaining a speed of 90-95 km/hr. It was afternoon time and heatwaves were making it quite difficult to ride and that’s when boredom started to take over and I was feeling quite sleepy. I decided to take a break at a restaurant as I was in no mood to ride in the afternoon time. I took a halt, asked for fruit salad and water. After that, I took a power nap and decided to ride in the evening as I wanted to see the Buddh international circuit. I then resumed the journey at around 3 pm and went to see the campus of Buddh international circuit. Usual visitors are only allowed to see the campus, not the race track. After doing all the fun things and masti I reached Ghaziabad and the location that was shared with me safely. I took a quick shower and had zabardast dinner. At the dinner table, we had a nice discussion and that gave us the opportunity to know each other. I came back to the room and I was thinking about the nice and friendly people I am getting to meet and interact with. Let’s be clear guys, I had a couple of interaction over Whatsapp with this group member and he offered me to stay at his home. Uncle and Aunt treated me really well. It was quite an emotional thing for me. Thanks for having me, sir. 🙂
As I was recollecting the good memories, I didn’t know when I fell asleep.