A Himalayan in the Himalayas?
Words from Australian Motorcycle News.
Who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to ride a Himalayan in the Himalayas?
The Royal Enfield Himalayan gets tested in the Himalayan.
Story by AMCA // Australian Motorcycle News
When the invitation first came through to ride a Royal Enfield Himalayan in the Himalayas, it included an ominous warning: “The ride will start from Leh, which is at 3500m/11,000ft above sea level and will go up to 5350m/18,300ft!”
High altitudes can induce mild symptoms like shortness of breath and dizziness, which are hardly conducive to riding a motorcycle, while more severe symptoms can leave a person completely incapacitated. I’ve suffered mild altitude sickness before, at only 4800m, so if I was going to ‘Moto Himalaya 2022’ in three months’ time, I would first have to get into shape… and research what pills to pop to minimise the chance of getting crook.
Royal Enfield advised that a suitable fitness level for the trip would be being able to “complete 50 push-ups and 5km of running (muscle power and endurance) in under one hour”. Five kilometres? No worries. 50 push-ups? Dreamin’. Nevertheless, I got to work and could do 30 of the terrible things before a bout of Covid ended my training regime. I declared myself fit.
The lead-up to the Himalayan adventure was packed with filling out medical and indemnity forms, insurance policies, visa applications and generally more paperwork than you can poke a Derwent HB at. I was one of four Aussie motorcycle journos slated for the trip, and we’d be joining a bunch of riders from Indonesia. One of the Aussies was a late scratching, meaning there would be a spare bike in the back-up van, aka the Gun Wagon.
After three years without international travel, I was a bit rusty with the paperwork when I got off the train at Sydney airport; I wasn’t even allowed to join the Air India check-in queue until I’d fumbled around for a pen to fill in an obscure form requiring the name of a contact person at my destination and details of the accommodation booked. This was to be the first of many bureaucratic hoops over the next two weeks.
The flight from Sydney to our overnight stay at New Delhi took around 12 hours, before a 90-minute flight to Leh the following morning. The airport terminal at Leh is tiny (a new one is under construction) and chaotic, and we weren’t allowed to exit until we’d been subjected to a PCR test, despite having Covid-vaccination certificates. Once out the door, we met the jovial and excited Indonesians who would be riding with us, as well as our tour leader Aakash and tail-end Charlie Jitin. We were ferried off to the Hotel Lakrook and instructed to avoid alcohol and to take it easy for the rest of the day to acclimatise to the altitude.