6th July, 2008.
Route: Chandigarh – Bilaspur – Mandi – Aut – Kullu.
Distance Covered: 280 Km’s.
The Day marked the start of the tour. We had planned to start early by 5.30-6, but finally we managed to leave 7-7.30. The day involved riding bike mostly through the highway between Chandigarh and Manali. A distance of around 320 km’s in comfortable 10 hours of daylight.
Shantanu had been looking forward to the famous Jallory Pass, the steepest climb in India. Others were not that keep, but deep inside had a feeling that the bike’s performance on climbing this Jallory pass will have indication of the things to come in the next 15 days of the tour.
The morning was pleasant, the weather was just perfect, not cold, not hold, slight presence of rain in the air, a perfect start to the tour. We crossed Chandigarh and Mohali, and soon we were on the Manali Highway.
Manoj was in the lead followed by me, Sudhakar and Shantanu. Sometime around 9.30-10, Shantanu called up Sudhakar to tell that he has a flat rear tyre. The tube had literally cut, no chances of repairing. All the tools were with Manoj and since he was leading he sped off and there were no signs of him. After sometime Manoj came back thinking of some problem, but by that time Shantanu had found puncture shop pretty close by. The Puncture guy, removed the rear wheel for replacing tyre but couldn’t fit it back correctly. Sudhakar, Shantanu and Me helped him put back the rear wheel. After loosing an hour and half or so we started again.
The progress was slow, not because of problems, but we were enjoying the beauty of the nature and partly Shantanu became very cautious while overtaking trucks. Sometime in the afternoon the rains started and there were no signs of stopping, reducing the progress speed. The rest of the day was uneventful. The Road was in superb conditions, with no potholes and double lane the speed was very good.
Somewhere near Bilaspur, we stopped for Lunch. Ordered Aloo paratha’s and Lassi as punjabi’s eat. The waiter asked whether we need butter or dal along with Paratha’s. We ordered dal and 3 butter. The guy came back with 3 NutraLite butter packets(200ml). Sudhakar was stunned. We promptly returned back 2, the remaining 1 also we couldn’t finish.
Even though the progress was good, with innumerable breaks for taking photographs and general tiredness, we could only reach Kullu by evening. We decided to halt at Kullu for the night.
Tomorrow being the day of bike checkups we were relaxed. We did cross some ghat sections, but the much awaited Jallory Pass did not show up or we forget to realize its presence. Later locals confirmed that we had to take diversion near AUT from the highway to reach Jallory Pass. We passed through a tunnel near AUT, the tunnel kept going on and on. After coming out of it, it clocked 2.8km’s on odometer.