After 250 km of a rather trouble free trip, our team has nearly reached Chandigarh. Indian highways always have their share of surprises; amongst them, the trucks driving on the wrong lane are not the least. “I'm very happy about this first day”, said side-car driver and idea man Jean, who had the first chance to test his creation in real life conditions, fully loaded with luggage and his son, by temperatures far above 30 C. “The side car is very well balanced and with the new gear ratio I can stick easily with the traffic". Our team had the joy to discover Delhi's traffic and its rather unexpected urbanism, where it's difficult to distinguish, besides a couple of jewels, the new from the old and the renovated from the work in progress. It's amazing to see how the side car generates sympathy everywhere it goes and we encountered countless cars driving by our side to film us.
In the side car, Gene-Vincent found the uplifted riding position very comfortable and recalls two emotional moments from this first day. The first one at 5am with a taxi driver who wanted to drop us at the airport under any circumstances. The second one was a guitar lesson with the Indian family who helped his father during a trip last year. A very emotional moment that ended with a side-car test-drive for the entire family. Side cars are definitely unmatchable when it comes to bringing people and generations together.
After a first day where we nearly managed a 60 km/h average speed, we got to the part where the top speed would be a mere 25 km/h, when everything goes well! After the first couple of kilometers on the “Himalayan Highway”, the road keeps getting narrower. Heading North after Chandigarh, we entered the Himalayan foothills and its magic sceneries. Beside cars, trucks, buses and bikes, the road also hosts cows, monkeys and even a big snake that managed to stay alive only thanks to Jean's riding skills. "The side car is still perfectly balanced and a pleasure to ride", said Jean after hundreds of kilometers of mountain roads, "I just need to be very careful due to the right hand side pannier facing the traffic in turns where trucks and buses get very close, but otherwise the trip is a pure joy so far".
Sitting next to him, Gene-Vincent shares the same view: "That's true, I find myself so close to trucks and buses in some corners that it's pretty scary but I enjoy being a risk-taker", said our guitarist-adventurer who wonders if it would be possible to put stickers of his band “Natural Mighty” everywhere and become a local star!
The closer we get to Manali, the stronger the torrents and rivers shape the spectacular valleys while the snow makes its first appearance on the surrounding summits. Human beings, and in this case bikers, feel very small and fragile while heading through this ancient landscapes, but that only gave us more will: tomorrow, we'll cross the Rothang Pass!
Follow the adventure in the next episode of the Adventure Royal Enfield Side Car in the Himalayas and find out how the crossing of the Rothang Pass went.
Catch up on Episode 1 of the side-car project here.
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