In at the deep end


February 16, 2009

“Don’t gossip! Let him drive!”
Wow, even the road signs are chauvanistic round here!
It was two days ride from Amritsar on the Indian side of the India/Pakistan border and the first day took me past Jammu and into the foothills of the Himalayas, where I met mountain monkeys for the first time since my trip to Sri-Lanka as a kid, bloody dirty bastards that they are!
 The next day took me through Srinigar, which is the capital of Indian Kashmir and sported roadsigns to Muzzafarabad in Pakistan-Kashmir which I’d tried to ride to on my way up the Karakoram and failed due to Pakistani beauracr… buearac.. paperwork…

Eventually I arrived at Tangmarg, at the bottom of the mountain road up to Gulmarg, my final destination. “13Km to Gulmarg” read the signs, I mentally spat on my hands and rubbed them together and began the climb. As I as ascended the evergreens became more prevalent and the grass gradually gave way to snow. The back wheel skidded and slid and I repeatedly saved myself from near disaster until I foolishly crossed a track of snow compacted by cars and slammed unceremoniously onto the snowy tarmac.
As I was struggling to pick the bike up an army truck rolled up behind, all 18 vertical feet of it adorned with gun-toting, motorbike helmet wearing privates and well kitted out with four wheel drive and snow chains.
Out the leapt and helped me pick the bike up, giving me a push until I could find traction and followed behind as I ever so slowly crawled to the top of the mountain.