Our tour rep on the 2016 Sideburn x Helmet Stories Pangi Valley trip, Anthony 'Co-Built' Brown relives his memorable adventure
Riding and camping in the Himalayas was epic. The Royal Enfields keep things right. 450 enduro bikes would have been fun but I am sure some of the riders would not have returned if we had faster bikes. The Enfield’s become asthmatic as you climb, stops are regular not for fuel but to re attach parts that fall off. Geoff (my Co-Built partner in crime) had packed a ton of cable ties and he took his exhaust repairing skills to new levels attaching pipes to frames with cable ties on an almost hourly basis. This isn't because the bikes were badly prepared or unsuitable, but because the riders were hitting bumps and rock twice as fast as any local on their own bike would.
Those who have driven or ridden in India will know the horn is a major part of driving over there. A thumb hovering over the button becomes a constant and all the riders in the group picked up the hang of the horn pretty quickly. A couple of short beeps to approach anything and a kind of 'Thank you' bip once you have passed whatever it was..
Riding in a large group is not for everyone and I was pleased that as the ride took shape people set their own pace. Our crazy mate Nick the plumber was always at the front grinding through the brake pedal on every tarmac corner and going through parts quicker than underpants. Positions in the mid pack changed as people stopped to take photographs or a leak while staring across a valley at the mountains. It was nice to feel you could set off ride with a friend for a while, then stop and continue riding with someone else.
I am not going to write lots about the route, because one of my favourite things about the trip was that Vir and Harsh didn’t tell you too much about what was coming. It was like a surprise, the scenes unfolded in front of us as we rode. People asked questions (some more than others). The answers were never rude but they did a brilliant job of keeping things simple and not building up expectations of what was to come. I will say the ride is epic. If you want to know details discover it for yourself.
Regular stops were a key part of riding, they enabled people to take a rest but also let the riders get a real slice of mountain village life. 18 riders descending on a small town or village is a big deal but I never felt unwelcome, in fact the opposite everyone was really welcoming. Paul's photos are brilliant at capturing that part of the trip.
Travis Newbold was on the same trip. Click to read his take on the Sideburn Himalayan adventure.
BOOK NOW FOR 2017
STOP PRESS: At the time of writing there were two places available for the 2017 Sideburn x Helmet Stories Himalayan trip through the Pangi Valley. The dates of the trip are 10-18 September (see details below. Email us for details before booking flights.)
The price of the trip is Rupee 125,000.
This trip is run by the highly experienced Indian-owned company, Helmet Stories.
All payments to Helmet Stories.
50% deposit on booking.
25% three months before trip
25% one months before trip
The trips includes: Royal Enfield 500 Bullet bike rental; meals and drinks on the road; all accommodation (twin sharing in hotels, individual tents when camping); sleeping bag; guides; back-up truck; full support of mechanics and catering staff.
Not included: Personal insurance with repatriation cover (essential); Flights to and from New Delhi; any accommodation before the 11th or after the night of 18th; transfer to Delhi railway station on day 1; Internal flights if you choose those over the organised transfer; Riding kit (bring your own); Tourist visa; Damage to the motorcycles
You must be in New Delhi on Saturday 9 September 2017 to be able to catch a train at 7.40am on Sunday 10th*. Fly home on 18 September 2017**. Helmet Stories can suggest hotels if you wish to arrive before or leave later to have more time to acclimatise and relax.
TO BOOK Contact email@example.com
* It is possible to get cheap internal flights, to avoid the train journey from Delhi to Chandigarh (though the train is a good experience) and the very long taxi journey back to Delhi (which is not such a good experience).
** Your flight home is dependent on choosing the road transfer (included in price) or booking your own internal flight back to Delhi. Vir at Helmet Stories can help advise internal flights.
Photos: Xxxxx xxxx
Photos: Paul Leeson