The motor of my Royal Enfield is thumping below me as the sun goes down. The retro gauges and chrome glowing assuringly that the nightmare is over. I can finally enjoy the ride having turned off the harrowing Prithvi Highway on my way up to Gorkha along the Abukhaireni-Gorkha Highway. That first stretch between Kathmandu and Pokhara is truly treacherous. The ‘highway’ frequently turns into a gravel pit fit for tanks and tractors only!! Not being used to these Nepali road conditions and not having ridden a motorbike in 4 years left me wondering if I bit off more than I could chew.
My mind is worn out and my body tired. I wish I never have to do that stretch again but I will be returning on that route in the coming days. To sum it up, mostly the road is mostly 1.5 lanes wide with big trucks and buses going at crazy speeds, overtaking where no one in their western mind would dare. Other motor bikes are even worse. Weaving in and out between said trucks and busses with only inches to spare.
The highlight: I decided to follow another bike overtaking around a bend with traffic coming towards us. Our side of the road turned into a gravel pit while the other side (on which I was on) was tarred. The other bike just made it back across before that side dropped down by half a meter, I was not so lucky being stuck on the tarred part with no where to go. All I could do was stop and let the trucks edge past me. Surprisingly no one went crazy on their horn at me.. they must have had pity on the bloody tourist.. LOL! Once I got a gap I moved forward to a point where I could rejoin the gravel pit and out of harm of oncoming traffic.
We are so ridiculously security conscious in the west. Nepal is the opposite. A happy medium is in order. I would hate to know the fatality rates on the roads here. At the same time our ‘double demerit system’ and ‘reporting of every fatality as if it was the end of the world’.. seem so ridiculous.
Luckily the road up to Gorkha from the turn off was heaven. Nice tarred road, not much traffic and I finally got to truly enjoy the bike. It’s not fast. It doesn’t need to be. The thumping 500cc high torque engine is just the right thing for these conditions. Being able to putt along at 10km/h without having to engage the clutch all the time is gold. So is the ability to pull you over gravel pits and up mountains with no complaints. It is truly an enjoyable ride with forgiving suspension and forgiving gears.
The ride up to Gorkha has restored my faith that I have made the right decision in buying a bike for my journey. If I get more roads like this. The view you get from the saddle bears no comparison to a bus window. The freedom to stop anywhere. The ability to get off the tourist trail. I am tired and exhausted but as the Royal is thumping me to the higher grounds of Gorkha the drama of the highway is left behind.