On the road again (again)

It’s taken me 12 years to return to this part of the world on my bike mainly because of the journey to get here, it’s not a long flight, about 9hrs, but it’s followed by a 14-15hr drive (overnight bus or taxi) from Delhi on some terrible roads to reach the Kullu valley here in Himachel Pradesh. The right season for riding in the mountains also means that Delhi is an uncomfortable place to connect through… swelteringly hot and humid, and of course very smoggy. I’m happy to be back though. I have friends here. 12 years ago riding up the Rohtang La from Manali, on my way to Ladakh, early on a misty morning I met a chap on a mountain bike, Chris. He’s been living here for 30 years now.

Anyway, we stayed in touch and now I’ve finally made the effort it’s great to catch up and enjoy the company of his network of friends while doing some local exploring. Contacts also very handy for sorting things like sim cards, which because of efforts to control terrorism normally require documentation and local authority to get hold of.

Delhi. Couldn’t be bothered with sightseeing. too hot and did all that last time.

It’s good to be back in India, but I had forgotten a little bit just how the place works.. it’s an amusing place to travel that requires a rather laid back approach to life but is never dull and I do feel particularly at home up here in the mountains. It’s ace. It is also a wonderfully ironic nation. For example there is a chain of car dealerships called ‘Competent’.. so one will see many cars with a Competent sticker in the back window… I did enjoy that while watching toe-curling behaviour on the roads on the way up here.

Anyway, keeping this short… internet connection is very unreliable, just this post has been a mightily painful experience! Not sure how it’ll be on the road ahead.. so if i go quiet for while don’t worry, I’m probably still alive ;-) Leaving town tomorrow, heading east over the Jalori La, not high at something like 3400m but the 2200m of elevation gain is by all accounts something of a wall…

The locals love my Surly ECR by the way :-)

Kullu, Himachel Pradesh is a friendly, bustling, colourful town. It only sits at about 4000ft altitude so it’s a little sobering to think the high point of my planned ride will need me to pedal to an altitude more than 12,000 ft higher…
Kullu. Yesterday was a festival so riding around the local area we joined in briefly at a temple an hours ride up from town.
Tea shop in a neighbouring valley
This is Chris. 30 years a local. Super chap.
a spot of exploring on two wheels. Cooler than Delhi up here, low to mid 30’s :-)
.. and here’s a Kullu context sort of a pic, because if i don’t someone will complain that they want to see some scenery ;-)


7 thoughts on “On the road again (again)

  • Fantastic images Mike.

    Makes me miss the craziness that is India. Kind of (-;

    What camera do you have with you on this trip, and how are you processing and uploading to cafes?

    • Cheers Cass, great to hear from you. Camera is a Fuji X-E1 with 23mm and 56mm lenses. For processing I’ve got a 7″ Nexus tablet, it’s a few years old now and can barely cope with the current bloatware that is Android. Using a tiny Bluetooth keyboard for typing. It’s a very light package but only good really for a short trip like this where I’ll only do a few posts. Am using snapseed to process the files, jpgs off the camera. I’ll edit the raw files when I get home, its good enough for a blog I figure and I won’t cry if it gets nicked or dropped.. or wet etc… :-)

      • Ah – I’ve heard those two lenses are peaches. I’m sure you will put them to great use. Do you think the Fuji system is a notch up from M43?

        Anyway, tech aside, look forward to the rest. All the best!

        • yes they are, I picked them up a few weeks ago. Up until now for the last couple of years have been using a Fuji X100S, also fantastic. As for the difference between the fuji and m4/3… hard to say, technically I would say yes by default because of the larger sensor… but real world it would be hard to tell the difference with good lenses. One downside to the fuji raw files is that Adobe stuff doesn’t do brilliantly with them, well, on really minute inspection anyway, I’ve been using a 3rd party raw converter called Iridient, it extracts a fantastic level of detail.

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