About the contest: 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 Hero MotoCorp and Autocar India’s facebook page. The contest and rides are organised and conducted by Hero MotoCorp and Autocar India.
Ask any motorcycle rider about the ride that must be done at least once in their life. Almost all would tell you that it is the ride to Leh. And that’s where the Wanderers were going this time. An epic 10-day ride from Chandigarh to Leh and back.
Early one morning, Wanderers Bobin James, Argho Mukherji and Shree Vighnesh, along with Autocar’s Vir Nakai, geared up and rode out from Charisma Goldwheels, a Hero MotoCorp dealership in Chandigarh. Instead of taking the usual route that’s blocked with hellish traffic all the way to Bilaspur and dealing with bad roads, they, not surprisingly, decided to wander off to a different route. They used the new, two-laned, smooth ribbon of tarmac that goes all the way from Una to Ner Chowk. Though longer, this route is a biker’s dream come true and a fun way to start the ride. And soon, the Wanderers were at Manali. There, the Wanderers checked-in at Ride Inn, a motorcycle-themed resort that offers peace and solitude, just what is needed after a long day of hard riding. The next morning, after collecting their passes to cross Rohtang, the Wanderers headed out. The local authorities have made it tough for tourists who just want to visit the pass for the day. So, the roads are mostly devoid of all traffic that plagues this region. And it makes for a great ride. Rohtang La itself is clean and brilliant. The other side down to Khoskar is a nightmare. The road is in very bad shape and the Hero Karizma ZMRs were really put to the test. The bikes took on the worst stretches and managed to come out unscathed. Their build quality and suspension was amazing and took everything they were put through. After arriving at the pass, the Wanderers settled down for a hearty rice and mutton lunch. Once fed, they made their way to Tuphchilling and spent the evening swapping riding stories by the bonfire.
The following morning, they tanked up at Tandi, the last fuel station for 350km and then headed for Sarchu. The road was superb all the way to Darcha. There were a few difficult water crossings on the way to Baralacha La, but the Wanderers and the Hero Karizma ZMRs did them all easily. They even found themselves at Deepak Tal much sooner than intended. They then rode down to Bharatpur and on to Sarchu. As they arrived there, the weather suddenly turned hostile. As if sleeping in a tent at 14,000ft wasn’t dramatic enough, they were all also treated to cold gusts of howling wind. But it all cleared up in the morning and they made a dash for the Gata Loops and then Pang. While they took a break at Pang, the weather turned again. They waited out the storm while munching on thukpa and sipping chai. When the skies were clearing up, they headed out once more. But the storm chased the Wanderers. It caught them on the More plains and followed them all the way to Tanglang La. Loud thunder and big drops of rain turned into hail and the temperature dropped. The Wanderers saw that the pass was clear, so they rode it out. The storm didn’t follow them this time. The views were spectacular and the ride down to Leh was beautiful.
After resting for a day at Leh, the Wanderers set off on the final leg of their journey — the ride to the world’s highest motorable pass, Khardung La. Everyone was up early. The weather was clear and spirits were high. It was time to tackle the mighty Khardung La. The road to south Pullu is brilliant but soon, the tarmac gives way to rocks and mud all the way to the top. The Wanderers rode effortlessly through it all. They made it up without a hitch. What a brilliant achievement for these 223cc motorcycles. In a place where there’s barely any oxygen, the Hero Karizma ZMRs never seemed out of breath.
The preparation and planning for this ride was awesomely detailed. The bikes were in superb condition. Vir is a decent and trustworthy ride leader. He knows how to pick the best routes. I was in uncharted territory so I was glad for Vir’s guidance. Every day was beautiful. Food at the local dhabas was great. The best parts for me were the Gata loops and More plains. The Hero Karizma ZMR is an awesome machine. The disc brakes add a lot of confidence. Despite the lack of oxygen, the bike performed really well. I even managed 106kph on the More plains. And even the mileage didnt suffer much. We only had to fill fuel four times over 1850km and 9 days of non-stop riding. And living the biking stories I’d only read about, was super.