The good news is: I’m fine, and the bike dilemma is solved

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know I’ve been having numerous problems with the bike and was considering switching to other means of transport. I was also undecided where to go next from Shimla: further into the hills (Kullu or Dharamsala), risking more wet weather, or back down to the plain.

This morning I got up early and decided to head for Kullu. I set off at about 0730, successfully navigated onto the right road, and was feeling confident.

About 5km out of Shimla, I was coming down a slight incline and curve in the road. I braked, wobbled, slid on the slippery surface and toppled over. It was at slow speed, and no other vehicles were involved.

I’m absolutely fine: apart from a tiny graze on my elbow, totally unscathed. I’m not even feeling shaken at all, just a bit embarrassed.

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Bike problems

The front of my Royal Enfield Bullet has Hindi words written on it, in vinyl stickers, thus:

It reads “Jay Shri Ram”, roughly translated as “Hail Blessed Ram”, or something along those lines. But this does not seem to have persuaded Lord Rama to help out in any way, by ensuring the bike’s reliability and good running. Here’s a run-down of the problems I’ve encountered so far:

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Delhi to Nainital

Well, I wanted adventure, challenge and the unexpected, and by god I got it. Today is not a day I’m likely to forget for a while.

This person has no idea what’s about to happen to him

It started well, up early, packed and loaded, and setting off from Delhi at about 0730. The bike was a bit tricky to balance at first with everything on, but I got the hang of it quickly. I also learned another lesson: the ruck sack strapped across the back seat provides a handy back rest for long journeys. But only if you don’t put the knobbliest objects right where they jab you in the spine.

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Third day in and out of Delhi

I had a bit of trouble kick starting the bike this morning. I’ve never had a bike that needed kick starting before. Although that’s just a specialised case of the general fact that I’ve never had a bike before. But the bikes I’ve learned on have always had electric start. The Bullet has electric start too, but first thing in the morning it needs to be kick started, and then can be electric started after that. I struggled with the kick start this morning, quickly building up a sweat in the Delhi heat, to no avail. Then I tried the electric start, and it worked.

I rode back to Karol Bagh with Sadhana: my neighbour’s sister and the person whose family I’m staying with in Delhi. We stopped at Tony Bike Centre, and I asked them to take a look at the kick start. They confirmed that the problem wasn’t with the kick start, it was with me. So they showed me a few more times, and I practised, and started to get the hang of it. I also got them to adjust the back brake lever up a little, more as an excuse for turning up than anything.

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Second day in Delhi

After a delicious South Indian style breakfast of dosa (rice pancakes), daal and coconut chutney – I’m not in danger of starving here, but maybe of being forcefed until I burst – we changed Traveller’s Cheques and got a Vodafone prepay SIM card. Having left my iPhone at home, I’ve now realised the utility of having a smartphone, so tomorrow I’ll try to get a cheap one for email and GPS/maps. No time for that today though, as I had to get the bike.

Tony Bike Centre was the place recommended on a lot of forums for foreigners hiring Royal Enfields, and I’d arranged the bike in advance with the proprietor, Rajesh, by email. On arrival, the 2010 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Machismo, with luggage racks fitted, was ready and waiting:

2010 Royal Enfield Bullet 500cc Machismo

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