Friday, May 4, 2012

The Central-Eastern Round Robin Charity Ride - In Ever Loving Memory of Robin: The Good May Die Young; But They Live On Forever…

By Aggie Rider
Spring, the transition time between winter and summer.  The King of Seasons in some cultures.  A season that brings life after the long cold winter.  In Bhutan, spring is usually windy but not wet; warm but not hot.  And the perfect biking season for us bikers in the club.  The April ride to Trashi Yangtse and Lhuentse was to be perfect – warm and dry.  We start our ride a little later than planned, but that was ok as we are never on time.  All went well until Chazam after crossing Pelela Pass; nothing out of the ordinary – couple of flat tires, falls and a few stops.  So we are late.  So what if we are late, as Toxic Rider says “the journey is not in the destination but in the procrastination”.  And then it starts raining after we get to Chazam; let me take that back – it starts pouring.  We expected it to go away; hey, it does not rain during spring in Bhutan.  But it did not stop; even the best rain gear could not keep us dry.  Not a lot happened on the way to Trongsa.  Let me rephrase it, nothing out of the ordinary happened on the way to Trongsa.  More flat tires, Swiss Riders damn tires again.  Change in plans, dinner in Trongsa as Bumthang was another 70 km away and we still had to ride over the Yotongla Pass.  We were all wet but the dinner was nice and warm.  We continued the ride after dinner.  Mind you, it was raining even harder.  It was difficult to see as visibility was low due to fog.  We were all wet and freezing and all I could think of was a nice warm bed.  Nonetheless, nobody complained.  It was a wonderful to see the guys in good spirit.  I guess, like in life there are times when nothing goes as expected and it is depends on how you respond to the situation.  There was a lot of mud at Kikila about 10 km before Bumthang.  A lot of falls but we made it through.  And then, as if on cue, the rain stopped as we got to Bumthang. 

We continued the ride next day toward Mongar.  This was another long ride.  The road between Bumthang and Mongar is probably the most uninteresting in Bhutan.  Tedious and mind-numbing at best, it makes me feel sleeping just thinking of it.  The highlight of the ride - Thrimshingla Pass; 12,400 ft.  I did not see a lot out there except fog, dirt and more fog.  Oh.. and before I forget, it was raining and we were all wet again.  Additionally, one should not leave out Namling Bra.  This stretch of road; I take it to be around a couple of kilometers is fucking scary.  The road is no wider than 5 m is hewn on the rock.  One mistake and you are off the road; you’d be lucky if they recovered your body.  I rode on the inside almost hugging the rock praying nothing would fall from the top.  We arrive a little late in Mongar; Swiss Rider’s tires again.  Well, Swiss Rider suffered a total of 7 flat tires during the 9 day ride.  Other honorable mentions; Bap Rider fell 8 times; TT Rider quite number of times as well but less than Bap Rider, Toxic Rider’s motorcycle (parts kept falling off along the way; think the motorcycle’s a true chopper now), and many fucking days of rain. 

Day 3’s ride from Mongar to Kanglung was rather uneventful other than Swiss Rider’s tires.  Quite a few mudslides and road blocks on the way.  But we were used to this by Day 3.  It is much easier to take in in stride.  We were going to get to Kanglung no matter what.  It was a wonderful lesson we were learning on this ride.  There are times when nothing goes on a planned and we have to keep adapting to changes.  We get to Kanglung eventually and camped the night there after distributing helping Shoe Vival distribute shoes to the Sherubtse College Social Service Unit.  Sad news on Day 4.  Our friend Robin Joshi has passed way suddenly.  He was a genuine human being.  Always giving.  He completed the Snowman Trek (one of the toughest treks in the world) more than any other person I know off.  The ride to Trashi Yangtse felt very long.  The guys lit butter lamps for Robin at the Gomkora monastery.  Rode to Trashi Yangtse after lunch.  Did rounds of Chorten Kora with Swiss Rider.  The last round we did in silence in memory of Robin.  After Chorten Kora, we rode to Toetsho in the rain.  Got there late as usual.  Did Charity the next morning.

Started early on Day 5 as it was a long ride to Lhuentse.  The ride to Lhuentse was very beautiful.  The road is along the river with enough short straights alternating with the twists and turns that is characteristic of Bhutanese roads.  Speeding on the straights, slowing down while entering and accelerating while exiting the turns felt wonderful on a the motorcycle.  And then as they say, the heavens let loose; damn rain again.  Wet, wet, wet again.  Got to Lhuentse late – night halt at Hotel Shangri-La; wonderful name but that is about all.  Don’t want to talk about it.  Worst night of the ride; Toxic Rider may write about it.. good luck Toxic.  The next morning we took a day trip to Dunkar; the ancestral home of the Bhutanese Monarchs.  The ride up was rather forgettable – 40 km of rough road but Dunkar is beautiful. 

Returned to Bumthang of Day 7, Punakha on Day 8 and to Thimphu on Day 9 (will leave it to Toxic and the others to give a more descriptive account of the trip).  Personally, this was the longest motorcycle trip I have ever done.  It was exciting when we started the trip, frustrating and exhausting along the way and now I am sad that it is over.  9 days I will not get back but 9 days I will cherish.  A lot of things did not go as planned.  It was not the easiest of ride; was actually quite hard.  In the end, we all pulled through.  Met the challenges before us and came out on top.  It all worked out.  I know in life, there are many unknowns.  I just hope, I can pull through the challenges and come out on top as we did on this ride. 

*Robin's Photo And Landscape Courtesy Rebecca The Reb

(^) Love To Ride; Ride To Love - {{{::::::::::::>>>

1 comment:

Gyembo Namgyal said...

loved this as well.