Through the Roads of Northern India
We got the chance to talk with Bradley (@intrepid_motorcycle_club) about his most recent solo-trip throughout the Northern parts of India on the Royal Enfield Himalayan. He brought along our TONUP riding jeans on his route that stretched through various terrains leading to new places and faces.
Hey there Bradley! Care to share with us some details on your journey? Curious to know how you decided on this region.
I wanted to explore a part of the world that would be culturally engaging and diverse geographically. India has the motorcycle heritage and an ever changing landscape, the northern states were an obvious choice.
I started the month long solo ride in Chandigarh and headed North, eventually reaching the village of Turtuk close to the Pakistan border. The route covered over 1500km and took me over some of the highest mountain passes in the world. The Khardung La pass is over 17600ft.
What drove you to take on this trip?
A question I get asked a lot and something I still find hard to articulate. Motivation used to come from exploring the landscape mountains, deserts, jungles but now I think I'm motivated more by the human element. Being able to connect and build relationships with people I have nothing in common with, that’s what inspires me now.
There’s a vulnerability to riding a motorcycle, especially through the mountains. You’re exposed to the elements, it can be dangerous but because of this, people are more engaging.
You took the uglyBROS TONUP riding jeans with you. Any reason for choosing it?
On a motorcycle, there’s no room for excess, You carry what's necessary, it's part of the attraction. You have to pick clothes that offer maximum versatility. I’ve had the TONUP jeans for about 3 years, they were the first riding jeans I bought. I like how casual they look. I can wear them while travelling through the airport, out in town, or on the trails. The protection is discreet.
What were some challenges met on the road?
As always, the weather caused a few problems. It was so varied. I rode out of Chandigarh in a monsoon it was 32 degrees and 72% humidity by the time I hit the Khardung pass it was -6 and snowing. When you’re in the Himalayas, the weather changes rapidly.
The terrain was diverse and extremely challenging - loose shale, soft sand, mud, deep river crossings and eventually snow. I pushed my technical ability everyday.
I had planned to ride back to Chandigarh but Himachal Pradesh was hit by the heaviest rainfall on record. huge landslides destroyed the roads. I wasn’t able to make it back, sometimes things happen on the road out of your control.
Travelling alone adds another dynamic: it can be physically and emotionally taxing.
The stand on my bike broke off. There was nothing to lean the bike against. For a full day, I couldn’t be more than arms length away or it would fall over. I had to lean the bike against my back while I pissed. I sat in the saddle and ate. I rode all day before I reached a town with a wall I could lean the bike against. I couldn’t do anything apart from laugh about it.
Some cool things you've seen on the road?
Arriving a Pangong Lake. It’d been a long challenging day. It had been raining for the last hour, but the weather cleared as I arrived, the sun was setting and the atmosphere was incredible.
I was waiting for a permit to be approved so anticipated a quiet day stuck in Leh, but I met a few guys at breakfast who were riding to Lamayuru Monastery. I didn’t need a permit to go that route, so agreed to go with them. It was a spontaneous ride. We ended up riding over 300km that day, half of it off road. Lamayuru is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monastery’s in Ladakh and is absolutely beautiful.
So what are your plans once finished with this trip?
I think I’m going to park the solo trips for a while. I'll need some help with what I want to do next.
Electric motorcycles have captured my imagination. I’d like see how far the technology can be pushed through adverse weather conditions.
Ice and electricity...