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Sponsored feature: Mountain biking

2nd Sep 2015 1:05 pm

Sponsored feature: For their 8th ride, the Wanderers head up into the mountains in Himachal Pradesh.

Hero Karizma ZMR Wanderers is an ongoing monthly online contest. All participants are asked to answer some very simple questions and at the end of the contest every month, three winners are chosen. These lucky bike enthusiasts win an all-expenses-paid 2N/3D ride on three Hero Karizma ZMRs. Rides are planned well in advance and cover several beautiful locations across the country. Those interested in participating can enter the contest on Autocar India’s and Hero MotoCorp’s facebook pages. The contest and rides are organised and conducted by Autocar India and Hero MotoCorp.

There’s no road for the last 5km to the top of Jalori Pass. The muddy trail has always been littered with rocks and works as a perfect spot to check how the Hero Karizma ZMRs will perform when they’re deep within the Himalayas. After a couple of rides in Sikkim, the Wanderers were now in Himachal Pradesh. The passes were open and the time to wander in this magnificent state could not have been better.

After picking up the bikes from Chandigarh, our Wanderers, Prakhar Rastogi, Ejaz Takey, Yajnadutt Bhutia along with Autocar’s Vir Nakai headed off to Shimla. The two-lane road with its sweeeping curves and smooth tarmac, when the traffic is light, is a biker’s delight. The Wanderers were riding on long, winding stretches through a dense pine forest. The air was cool and fresh. The open road, perfect.

When the Wanderers arrived at their first stop, Narkanda, they were informed that a short 8km ride to Hatu peak would treat them to some great views. They weren’t disappointed. The ride itself was spectacular. The narrow, steep road cut through a forest of spruce and pine. A light drizzle dropped the temperature a little and views of low-flying clouds hugging the mountain side just added to the charm. The best part? It ended with a panoramic view of the majestic Himalayas.

The next day, the Wanderers rode off the highway to the pristine Banjar Valley via the Jalori Pass. While they were on the highway, the tarmac was brilliant. Once they turned off it, the road, though smooth, became very narrow. The Wanderers had to ride carefully as this road had many tight turns, villages and some traffic. After a gradual climb, they hit the last 5km ‘off-road’ stretch to Jalori Pass. The Hero Karizma ZMRs really came into their own here. They tackled the mud and rocks with ease. The 223cc engine never felt low on power.

At the top of the pass, the Wanderers made their way to one of the dhabas. There, they found the most perfect kadi and rajma chawal. The Wanderers enjoyed a superb meal under a brilliant blue sky. As they started to make their way down to Banjar though, they heard a loud crack and suddenly, the sky darkened. Typical unpredictable mountain weather. The ride down from the pass was a mud track and the Wanderers didn’t want to get stuck there in the rain. But 10 minutes later, the heavens opened up. The next 45 minutes found the Wanderers under a rain shelter watching the rain pour down. And then, as suddenly as before, it was bright again. The hardest part of the ride behind them, the Wanderers made their way past Banjar and towards Tirthan Valley and Gushaini where they were to spend the night. The river through Tirthan Valley flows freely and is one of the few devoid of any industrial presence. The Wanderers spent the evening fishing for river trout but the two they caught were too small, and so, were released back into the river. They spent their evening in an apple orchard around a bonfire, under the stars.

Although they’d have loved to stay there longer, the Wanderers had to make the ride back to Chandigarh. They hit the Manali-Chandigarh highway at Aut, and then followed the well-ridden path to Manali. But being Wanderers, of course, they couldn’t do that. Near Ner Chowk, they asked a policeman for the road to Una. They’d heard of a new road and wanted to find it. It’s something only the locals know about. It turned out to be phenomenal. No trucks, no buses. Just a new, almost-empty road. 

The Wanderers had it all to themselves. It was an extra 40km, but that was no problem for the Wanderers. At Una, they turned right, hit the highway and headed straight to Chandigarh.

When they arrived at Charisma Goldwheels, the Hero dealership at Chandigarh, they met Mr Singh, a ZMR owner and swapped stories about the rides they’d experienced. And so, another glorious adventure for the Wanderers came to an end.

When I heard that I’d won this ride, I was really excited. When I arrived for it, my excitement doubled. Everything was really very good. The people I met were wonderful. Vir was very helpful and always had interesting stories to share. The accommodations were excellent. The route chosen was superb. The curves made the ride fun. Going off-road was amazing too. The bike handles really well on all surfaces. There was always enough power, the riding position was really comfortable. I ride an old Karizma, but this one is even better. I experienced no pain or discomfort even after riding long distances. It’s an experience I will cherish forever. If it’s possible, I would love to go again.   - Prakhar Rastogi

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