Royal Enfield Reunion North 2014 at Manali – Travelogue

  • Aug 19, 2014

When you hear the word, ‘Manali’ you tend to imagine snow clad mountains and the ‘Beas River’ gushing through the city located at the foothills of the Himalaya. Over the past few months the busy work schedule meant that I have been day dreaming of many quiet weekends up in the mountains. Perhaps, there was a time when Manali was a sleepy town but now it seems to have caught on the hustle and bustle of a modern city. But, as far I was concerned, an opportunity had presented itself in the form of the Royal Enfield Reunion North 2014 and I could hardly wait to get on the road.

Day 1 – 1st August – Ride to Manali

Royal Enfield had given a Continental GT Café Racer for this journey to Manali. Having taken delivery of the motorcycle the previous evening, I reached the Royal Enfield’s Saket dealership by 4.00 am. The ‘Reunion North’ weekend long event at Manali from August 1st to 3rd. The event took place at the Citrus Manali Resorts located few kms before the city. It saw participation from over 100 people from across New Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Ludhiana amongst others cities.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Briefing before the ride began from the showroom"]Royal Enfield Saket Showroom[/caption]

The ride finally began after a short briefing at 4.30 Am and it took us a while to exit Delhi. We even had to stop for a Railway crossing on our way out. Soon, the ride settled in at a good pace but it had taken us an hour just to exit the metro. It wasn't long before we pulled over for a stop at Rasoi Dhaba. It was a bit too soon given we had hardly covered any distance. I wanted to ride longer and faster on the straight roads to Chandigarh as I preferred to spend more time at the mountains.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="First pit stop of the day at Rasoi Dhaba"]Royal Enfield Delhi[/caption]

Fortunately for me the Dhaba stop didn't take long and I caught up with colleague (now back with and fellow Auto-Journo, Shantonil Nag at Rasoi Dhaba. We decided to make good time so we can spend more time at Manali by reaching sooner than the rest of the pack and bid goodbye to the group to ride on our own. Having ridden to Manali before, we knew our way there. The stiffness of the suspension and insufficient padding on the seat resulted in an uncomfortable ride quality. We realized this fact rather early into the ride and a bit of worry crept in, however we kept riding for that’s all we wanted to do. The sweet sounding thump from the engine kept me company and I enjoyed the exhaust note with every twist of the wrist.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="A quick pic together after breakfast at Zhilmil Dhaba, GT Road, Karnal"]Meghan Naik and Shantonil Nag[/caption]

As per plan the breakfast stop was scheduled at KFC, Karnal but having reached the destination rather quickly thanks to empty highways and a good cruising speed of around 110 kph. We skipped KFC for the healthier option of Aloo-Gobi Paranthas at the adjacently located and famous ‘Zhilmil Dhaba’. By the time we were done with breakfast many riders had checked into KFC but since it wasn’t open for business they ate at Sagar Ratna. We decided to ride on our own to Manali and left Karnal.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="639" caption="Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer looks good everywhere!"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer[/caption]

We crossed Ambala quickly and took the left towards Ludhiana and then right towards Rupnagar via Ropar. The route was good all along and we were happy to leave the four-lane highway for two lane one. The traffic density had increased but we made good time. After a quick Dhaba stop for some water, we proceeded towards Rupnagar, bypassing Chandigarh city. The route was good and quite scenic in parts. At Kiratpur Sahib, Shantonil and I had to make a decision of taking the left turn to Una to bypass the terrible Swarghat – Bilaspur – Ner Chowk route or go through hell. Eventually, we decided that hell it would be!

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="It gets attention the moment you park from everyone, everywhere!"]Royal Enfield Continental GT[/caption]

Averaging a decent 50 kmph until Kiratpur Sahib which reached sometime around 11am our speeds dropped to half that quickly as we made way through Swarghat. The road after Kiratpur Sahib quickly turned bumpy and broken resulting in a back breaking journey. The tyres on the GT were great on smooth tarmac however on the loose gravel and sand we had to be careful as it was beginning to slide. Having ridden more than 1100 kms/day with long hours on the saddle on various multi-day rides across the country, the ride on this section meant my butt went sore and lower back and arms felt every bump, undulation, potholes and changes in the tarmac.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="The only good section of the route - Swarghat - Bilaspur"]Continental GT at Bilaspur[/caption]

We stopped for a couple of pictures along the way and mostly for butt-breaks. The route was scenic as we climbed up the mountain but the road condition was just terrible. What made matters worse is that the GT had its rear suspension setting at its stiffest and it was just a painful journey towards Mandi. Kiratpur Sahib to Mandi is a distance of only 137 kms but it felt like it was going to take forever to get there. Just before Bilaspur we managed to click a couple of pics of the Sutlej River Valley and it was beautiful.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="A picture of the Sutlej River Valley enroute to Bilaspur"]Sutlej valley[/caption]

Soon after it started raining heavily, we geared up for it and continued to ride. A few kms down I lost track of Shantonil as I was managing to keep the pace up and he fell behind due to the rains but as it would turn out later his bike also suffered a puncture which delayed his arrival.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Prayer flags are a common sight as you near Kullu-Manali"]Kullu[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="The mighty Beas River"]River Beas Manali[/caption]

Riding in the rain was fun and I was somewhat enjoying it as it wasn’t too heavy but at the same time I was loathing the fact that my pace had dropped so much. Soon I came across some bad sections with a bit of slush thrown in for good measure. It was fun sliding the GT as I made my way through it. Shantonil was nowhere to be seen and I was getting tired of the bad stretches and bumpy ride and decided to make a push for Mandi.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Enroute to Kullu from Mandi"]Mandi to Kullu on Royal Enfield[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Enroute to Manali from Kullu"]Near Manali[/caption]

It took me a while but I reached Mandi, left a message to Shantonil and waited there for him. He called me shortly informing me of the tyre puncture and I decided to keep moving slowly so that he can catch up. The ride to Kullu from Mandi was much better and I was making good pace. I ate some chocolates that I was carrying and bought some more as I needed some energy but I still didn’t feel the need to have a proper meal.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="A bit of sun and shadow as I enter outskirts of Manali"]Manali[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="By far one of the most beautiful bikes in the market today!"]Manali on Enfield Continental GT[/caption]

The beautiful roads leading towards Kullu was fighting for my attention. I did stop a few times for water and to enjoy the views but kept moving forward. The last leg from Kullu to Manali was largely smooth except for a few bad patches thrown in. I stopped for a few pictures and gave directions to some Enfield riders from Amritsar and Hoshiarpur who were heading towards Citrus Manali Resorts. By 6.15 Pm I had reached Citrus Manali and was happy to park the bike and get myself registered so that I could check-in to the room for a well deserved hot shower!

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Even the sun has to set but not before a beautiful pic of the same!"]Sunset at Manali[/caption]

Riders slowly started coming in after 7.30 PM and this continued till about 9.30 Pm. Royal Enfield announced the plans for the following day and the day ended with a party, dinner and some music along with a bonfire that kept everyone warm as the cold wind blew over the city from over the Himalaya. I couldn’t wait to get to sleep as I knew the next day would be a long one and I would be on my feet.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="The registration desk for Reunion North 2014 Participants"]Reunion North Registration desk Manali[/caption]

Journey continues on Page 2

Day 2 – August 2nd – Royal Enfield Reunion North 2014

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="The parking lot was taken over by Royal Enfields from all over the country!"]Royal Enfield[/caption]

The day began on a slow note as many riders who were tired from the previous day’s ride remained asleep till late in the morning. Those few who were up and about early in the morning decided to head to Rohtang Pass for a quick ride up the mountain pass situated at an altitude of 13050 ft. There were also some new riders who reached the venue in the morning for the events taking place. In the meantime the cloudy skies opened upto some sunlight and changed the view from our room completely.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="The view from my room when I woke up!"]Manali Reunion North[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Same place a couple of hours later"]Manali Himalaya[/caption]

The breakfast was sumptuous and left a smile on everyone’s face. The sleep really helped as Shantonil and I (coincidentally roommates at Citrus) felt quite fresh. the  There wasn’t much to do after the breakfast apart from waiting for the events to begin. Royal Enfield had a slew of events planned and it would start with the ‘Krav Maga’ session.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="319" caption="Krav Maga Session"]Krav Maga[/caption]

Krav Maga is a form of self defence taught to the military in Israel which has its techniques derived from various forms of martial arts. The session on self defense lasted 2 hours at the resort lawns and the participation was limited to 20 people on first come first serve basis. By the time Krav Maga was over with several riders who were exploring the city were back at the hotel for Lunch.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="This is a common sight during season time in June-July"]Traffic Jam Manali[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="View of the jam enroute to Palchan, Manali"]Palchan [/caption]

We were getting quite restless from staying put at the hotel so we decided to make a quick run to Solang with some friends for company. However, the traffic jam courtesy poor road conditions at Palchan, few kms from Manali ruined our plans. We turned back, found a way to the Beas riverbed and spent some time clicking away before heading back to the hotel.

Beas River at Manali

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Two Continental GTs are better than one!"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer[/caption]

It was time to eat and so we did. Post lunch the events began and it started with the ‘Slow Race’. The event saw a large number of participants trying to cross the finish line in the slowest way possible. Some participants had excellent balance while others went across their line and were disqualified. The excitement amongst the crowd grew with the first event as it set pace for the rest of the competitions to follow. It was great to see such enthusiasm amongst the riders.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Royal Enfield Slow Race Event"]Royal Enfield[/caption]

‘Carry Your Bike’ event was the next in line. It was an event which required the participants to work in teams consisting of groups of four members each in it. There was a lot of energy in the air as the crowd went wild as one of the teams nearly ran across to the finish line carrying the motorcycle in the first round. It was one of the toughest events as the participants had heavy machinery to carry through the finish line. Soon we were done with this and moved onto the next set of events.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Royal Enfield Carry Your Bike Event"]Royal Enfield[/caption]

‘Figure of 8’ in my opinion was one of the best events as it tested the ability of the participants to expertly maneuver their motorcycles without putting their foot down or running their bikes on the line. Many participants failed to manage this as they lost their balance or went out of the grid. But a talented few managed to do it properly and in very little time.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Royal Enfield Figure of 8 Event"]Royal Enfield[/caption]

Last but one was the ‘Arm Wrestling’ event which attracted a massive crowd of onlookers and observers from the Royal Enfield fraternity. Other patrons in the hotel even joined to see why everyone was hooting and cheering. Some of the bouts lasted a while as the participants were equally powerful while the others didn’t for more than a few seconds. The crowd cheered wildly and motivated the participants to do their best. It was an event that brought out the best from everyone present there.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Royal Enfield Arm Wrestling Event"]Royal Enfield Arm Wrestling Event[/caption]

‘Beer Drinking’ competition followed Arm Wrestling and saw a lot of enthusiastic participants entering the event to drink the most beer in the shortest period of time. Once the final event was over the prize distribution was held after a short break in the evening.

Royal Enfield Reunion North

Meghan Naik

Continental GT

During this time, Shantonil and I headed out again to get some pictures but we just needed an excuse to ride the bike. The smooth roads made sure I enjoyed the GT. It handled well on some of the wider corners leading upto Palchan, where we took some pictures before heading back to the hotel.

Royal Enfield Reunion North

The prize distribution showed the camaraderie of all the riders that rode to Manali to be part of the Reunion North. The prizes were given to the runner-ups and 1st place winners. It rained and therefore there was no bon-fire. Nevertheless, spirits ran high amongst the riders and quite literally as the DJ spun some Punjabi music that had everyone upbeat and dancing away.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Some of the winners at Royal Enfield Reunion North 2014"]Winners of Royal Enfield Reunion North 2014[/caption]

Royal Enfield had tied up with ‘Ride Inn’ – a new Biker Café and Guesthouse at Shanag Village, Manali to serve some delicious starters on both the nights. The new Biker Café serves as a destination for bikers in Manali as it is made up of motorcycle parts and offers a peaceful abode for travellers. Apart from serving starters from its stall at the event it also hosted the RE staff at its guesthouse. I was quite keen on staying here after my ride to Rohtang on the day that was to follow.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Ride Inn Stall at Reunion North"]Ride Inn Stall[/caption]

However, the night stretched on as I had some great company around me forbidding me of any sleep. We stayed by the dance floor talking away into the night, much after dinner time. Even shooting some pictures and sharing stories from our lives, travels and adventure on motorcycles. As usual I managed an hour’s rest before packing away for the day that seemed to have dawned as the night quietly faded away.

Journey continues on Page 3

Day 3 – August 3rd – Ride to Rohtang La

I wasn’t keen on missing the breakfast as I didn’t want to ride on an empty stomach today. Shantonil was to headback to Delhi and we parted ways soon after we had our bikes checked by the RE mechanic. By 8.30 Am I was on my way to Rohtang Pass. The smooth roads ensured an easy ride and I was slowly but comfortably riding on the Manali-Leh towards Rohtang. I preferred not to stop frequently on my way up and shoot pictures of the route on my way down. It ensured I would reach the Rohtang top quickly just in case there was any traffic pile-up enroute.

I took a right from Palchan towards Kothi and from there towards Gulaba. I was aware that I would need permits to get to Rohtang La (“La” means “Mountain Pass” in Tibetan) and the same would be procured at Gulaba Check-Post. For Rs. 50 and 5 minutes of waiting I managed to procure my permit and proceeded further. The taxi drivers, truckers and a small Army convoy were kind enough to let me overtake them on the narrow and dangerous highway.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Marhi Checkpost as you look down during the climb to Rohtang La"]Marhi, Rohtang, Manali[/caption]

The beautiful mountain roads had me captivated. The weather wasn’t comfortable although my fingers got a bit cold. It had been two years since I had ridden up Rohtang Pass. The GT showed no signs of slowing down and had ample power in the low and mid-range to keep me going comfortably. After Gulaba you reach Marhi. It has a checkpost that monitors the traffic going to and from Rohtang. But with the peak tourist season having come to an end there seemed to be no issues in going up or down. Traffic density was relatively low and it was an easy run to the top.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Rarely does one see a Wall of Snow in the month of August at Rohtang La"]Walls of Snow - Rohtang, Manali[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Can you see the snow melting away?"]Continental GT Himalaya[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="A section of the famous Rani Nallah enroute to Rohtang La"]Rani Nallah[/caption]

On my previous trip I encountered a number of challenges with heavy traffic and a lot of slush. But, this time the roads were very good. BRO (Border Roads Organizand pration) had done a fantastic job resulting in a relatively easier climb. I felt like the challenge that Rohtang used to be is no more. However, during season time it would still play havoc. There were some sections which had quite a bit of slush but GT remained well balanced.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="There were some bad parts but not as challenging as before"]Rohtang Pass[/caption]

The only issue I faced was the tyres which were happily sliding around in the slush and I had to ride more carefully. Approaching Rani Nallah, I was pleasantly surprised to see the road in relatively good shape. This was the worst part of crossing Rohtang La earlier but now parts of it has been paved resulting in a climb up to the top which was easier done than previously imagined.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Continental GT Cafe Racer looks beautiful anywhere and everywhere!"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Road winding down from Rohtang La. You can see the route to Leh as well as Spiti below!"]Rohtang Pass[/caption]

Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer

Just a little over 1.5 hrs from leaving the hotel I had made it comfortably to Rohtang top. I felt I was welcomed back by the signboard on top of the pass. But I didn’t stop there for more than a minute and proceeded towards the other side of the pass. There is a spot where you can walk down a little to the rocks and there’s a big drop. I stopped the bike and went down for a few pictures and sat down for sometime thinking over how awesome life is when you are on the road on a motorcycle.

Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer

Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer Reunion North

Rohtang Pass

Panorama of Rohtang Pass

[Panorama of the other side of Rohtang Pass]

After a while, I moved back and found the trail to get off the road and on the slightly flatter regions of the pass itself. The stiff suspension didn’t bother me as I had no time limitations and could slowly ride along the trail for some beautiful pictures. There is even a lake on Rohtang La but isn’t easily noticeable off the main road.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Dhabas at Rohtang Pass. There are more during peak season time!"]Rohtang Pass[/caption]

But, I decided to catch some lunch and proceeded back to the summit where there are a few dozen Dhabas. Rohtang La’s official altitude is 13050 ft but it is infact a little higher as you proceed towards Gramphu before the road winds downward.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Continental GT Cafe Racer is a beautiful sight at Rohtang Pass"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer at Rohtang Pass[/caption]

Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer at Rohtang Pass

Beautiful Rohtang Pass

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="This is where I had been and it was a lot of fun!"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer at Rohtang Pass[/caption]

I met a couple of bikers from Bangalore and who were on their debut ride to Leh. I spoke to them about my earlier trips as we had some hot Maggi and biscuits together. By the time we were done with Lunch, clouds took over the Rohtang Pass and reduced visibility completely. This didn’t allow me to ride to the small water body on top of the pass and forcibly head back to Manali. When I started my ride back I had already spent 4 hours on top but remained completely fine. I did however drink lots of water to reduce any possibility of symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) that can occur at high altitudes.


[Another Panoramic view of Rohtang top]

The ride down was easy and the fact that Rohtang had excellent tarmac on top made the ride on the GT a lot more fun. Despite the altitude the power loss wasn’t as much as expected as the Fuel Injection was quite sorted and fueling remained smooth. The only issue was start-ups which took some time and required multiple cranks to get it thumping again. It wasn’t a cause of concern but the fact that the spring holding on the side stand had come-off during the climb up and the side stand was hanging loose and dragging on the tarmac caused me some agony. Every single oncoming vehicle and people overtaking me pointed out or shouted about the side stand and I had to give a thumbs-up, nod my head or yell that it’s broken.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="When the clouds took over at Rohtang La"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer at Rohtang Pass[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="A little bit of slush"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer at Rohtang Pass[/caption]

The ride down was slower as I stopped for some photography. There was a moment when some paragliders went right over my head as we made down the hill. Looking at them flying in the air I really felt like trying it out. But, I proceeded downwards to Manali as I just wanted to keep riding. That’s the thing about motorcycles, when you are enjoying your ride it becomes very difficult to take a break.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Surreal Surroundings!"]Manali Himalaya[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Even the horses stop to look at the Continental GT Cafe Racer"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer[/caption]

I stopped along the way for some pictures when I came across a few horses. They were shy and it was hard to get close for a picture. After a couple of attempts I proceeded towards Manali. There were some niggles on the ride such as the braking wasn’t upto the mark but there weren’t any major issues. Nevertheless, I felt the need to get the motorcycle checked thoroughly once I was back in town despite the Continental GT being very reliable throughout.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="One of the many waterfalls enroute!"]Rohtang Pass[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="A view of the climb to Rohtang pass enroute to Manali"]Rohtang Pass[/caption]

I reached the town and called up Godwin from Ride Inn informing him that I will be checking-in to Ride Inn as soon as I get the bike sorted out. He gave me the directions to the Royal Enfield dealership and I carried on. Once there I found out that the front disc brake pads were completely worn out to the metal and the oil level was on the lower side. Contrary to what the RE personnel in-charge of the media bikes had informed earlier in the morning.

Gulaba, Manali

The Manali RE dealer was more than helpful in getting the bike sorted out but unfortunately had no spare set of front disc pads. He hadn’t even received a Continental GT for test rides yet and had few GT replacement parts in stock. The rear disc pads were worn out as well and were replaced and I hope that the metal on the pads wouldn’t grind into the disc too much as I had a long ride back the next day.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Getting ready for another ride!"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer Service Center[/caption]

It took a couple of hours of waiting for the parts to be fitted and the bike was also cleaned up a bit. I had the rear suspension setting changed and the ride quality softened by 1 notch. This improved the comfort marginally and I hoped that the ride back would be much easier. Once I was done with work at the service center, I left the dealership to a recommended handloom weaving factory to pickup a locally made handloom item as a gift for my wife. By the time I was done it started drizzling and I rushed towards Ride Inn Café and Guesthouse.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="340" caption="The name says it all!"]Ride Inn Biker Cafe & Guesthouse, Manali[/caption]

‘Ride Inn’ is a special place for bikers with its motorcycle themed Café set a few kms north of Manali at Shanag Village. The place was easy to locate as the directions were clearly marked on the Manali-Leh highway. The approach road is bumpy but you are in the land of adventures and hence tend to laugh away at the prospect of riding a kilometer bad stretch of road after crossing a narrow bridge over the Beas River. If you are a traveler, not necessarily a motorcyclist, once you get there you fit right in!

Ride Inn Biker Cafe & Guesthouse, Manali

Surrounded by Apple Orchards, Ride Inn is owned by Snehal and Godwin D’Cruz, former hairstylists hailing from the city of dreams – Mumbai. After a 6 month sojourn across India and Nepal they are now living their dreams with their own place in the foothills of the Himalaya. Their abode is part of the guesthouse which has 5 beautifully done up rooms available at an affordable tariff. There are also a couple of tents pitched amidst the orchards. Everything is spic and span and well maintained. The parking lot has ample space for motorcycles.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320" caption="Welcome to Ride Inn"]Ride Inn Biker Cafe & Guesthouse, Manali[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Fact!"]Ride Inn Biker Cafe & Guesthouse, Manali[/caption]

Prior to the ride I have been in touch with Godwin and we caught up at the Royal Enfield Reunion as well. But, to be hosted by the lovely couple at their guesthouse was a great experience. The Café had books on motorcycling to keep me occupied when I needed my solitude. A hot shower was extremely relaxing and a warm glass of Ginger-Lemon-Honey really hit the spot. A ton of discussions followed as Snehal and Godwin kept me company while managing their place.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Traditional Himachali Dinner"]Ride Inn Biker Cafe & Guesthouse, Manali[/caption]

Traditional Himachali dinner was served and the portion size made me feel like royalty! After a heavy but healthy dinner consisting of ‘Himachali Kadi with Potatoes’, ‘Raajma Curry’, ‘Gheri Sabzi (Zucchini)’, Himachali flat bread made of Wheat known as ‘Sauda’ and Rice. That’s not all as there was some delicious ‘Kheer’ to be relished at the very end. I crawled into bed with a full stomach, with a promise to not wake up with an early morning alarm. There was no rush to get back and I was targeting a 12 hour ride back home. I knew I could manage it on the GT provided I had ample rest and I slept like a log!

Journey continues on Page 4

Day 4 – August 4th Return to Gurgaon

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="View from Ride Inn Cafe"]Ride Inn Biker Cafe & Guesthouse, Manali[/caption]

The day started slow as I woke up around 8.30 Am, packed my stuff and headed upto to the café for breakfast. The breakfast was as good as the dinner and left me with an everlasting smile. Because, it was the only meal I would be eating for the rest of the day. It consisted of the usual ‘Aloo Paranthas’ but it was wonderfully made along with a traditional Himachali breakfast known as ‘Siddu’ made of Potato and Walnut stuffing in Maida flour, steamed and served piping hot in ghee with Chilly –Tomato Chutney on the side. As a foodie, it was one of the most delicious breakfasts I’ve had in these parts of the country.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Traditional Himachali Breakfast - Siddu"]Ride Inn Biker Cafe & Guesthouse, Manali[/caption]

After a quick photo with the couple, Snehal and Godwin, it was time to say goodbye and leave Ride Inn for Gurgaon. By 11 Am, the bike was warmed up and I was on the road back home. I had a long journey ahead of me and I was leaving at a time that I generally consider really late in the day. However, I was on the road and that’s all that mattered to me!

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="A pic with Snehal and Godwin before departure from Ride Inn"]Snehal, Meghan & Godwin at Ride Inn, Manali[/caption]

I made good time to Mandi, where I tanked up on some petrol and immediately left to Ner Chowk. I wanted to cover as much distance as possible when I was energetic and before the ride gets uncomfortable. However, the slightly adjusted suspension ensured that my back would take slightly lesser beating than from the previous days.

Royal Enfield Continental GT - Beas River

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Ner Chowk to Kalkhar"]Ner Chowk to Kalkhar[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Ner Chowk to Kalkhar"]Ner Chowk to Kalkhar[/caption]

From Ner Chowk, I deviated from the horrible Bilaspur route to Kiratpur Sahib and instead proceeded towards Jahu. 14 kms of narrow single lane road from Ner Chowk to Kalkhar kept me cautious as it had several blind curves and few trucks and cars would come at my way without warning. It was also very bumpy causing a bit of discomfort. However, from that point onwards the roads turned into a race track. Super smooth and the curves were nearly endless. The only downside of the route is that it is longer by around 50 kms and has mind numbing number of twisties.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Did I leave the national highway for the Buddh Circuit??"]Race Track from Jahu, Bhota, Una, [/caption]

Race Track from Jahu, Bhota, Una,

Race Track from Jahu, Bhota, Una, Himachal Pradesh

When I reached Jahu, the roads disappeared for a couple of kms but then it resumed again all the way till Bhota. Once again roads disappeared for the length of the town and I was back again on the race track to Una. The only issue I faced in the route was that my arms were tiring out. The GT handled great but the not-so-flickable motorcycle ensured I had to work it to put it through its paces on the tight corners. The two lane highway was an absolute blast. I loved the curvy route and was glad to be on a bike that could take such corners with poise.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Absolutely gorgeous roads and scenery!"]Race Track from Jahu, Bhota, Una, [/caption]


At Una, I took a break and ate some biscuits before resuming towards Anandpur Sahib and eventually to Kiratpur Sahib. However, the rain gods decided to step in with a cloudburst and I had the wettest ride of the season. But the downpour cleared the roads of traffic and only few trucks and buses plied on as I rode slowly through the rains. The weight of the bike coupled with the tyres ensured there was no aquaplaning as it cut through the water logged highway. The following is the last shot of the day as the sun began to set and I continued to keep the pace high.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="The clouds that I escaped from!"]Cloudburst Punjab[/caption]

I rode non-stop to cross Ambala and continued the pace in the dark towards Delhi. The traffic wasn’t that bad and I was able to do triple digit speeds comfortably. A re-fill of my hydration bag and a packet of biscuits to manage my hunger and I was back on the saddle. Nearing Sonepat it started raining again but I was in no mood to give up, hence I continued riding.

It rained till the outskirts of the ring road at New Delhi. By 11.00 Pm, I had reached my residence at Gurgaon having clocked 664 kms in the day on the Continental GT Café Racer in just 12 hours flat. The adventure didn’t stop there as 2 kms from home the GT suffered a front tyre puncture but I managed to reach home before a complete flat. All in all, it was not just a quick ride but also one of the best rides I’ve had in a long time. I also observed the Continental GT Cafe Racer fuel efficiency hovering around 26 kmpl during the course of the trip that lasted approximately 1450 kms.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Getting the puncture repaired before returning the bike on day 5"]Royal Enfield Continental GT Cafe Racer[/caption]

Royal Enfield Reunion North was a successful event and saw participation from various enthusiastic Enfield riders. The brand organizes several of these events along with adventure trips to exotic locations. Reunion North showcased the camaraderie of the riders along with the iconic motorcycle brand’s ability to bring their customers and fans together and line-up exciting set of events for them. If you are an Enfield Enthusiast you may want to consider heading to the Rider Mania in November and enjoy all these activities and more in a single place along with thousands of other Enfield enthusiasts.


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