Day 9 – Mandi to Manali
The stomach is feeling much better. Still not perfect but good enough to ride. Paid off the bill and took off. The news from the mountains is still not good. But the twisties between Mandi and Manali more than make up for it. Short, very curvy corners with plenty of blind turns. Its a dream.
All these days of riding has given me tremendous control over the bike’s behaviour. I know how it handles when the weight on one side is more. When the life is sucked out of the torque. When one needs to brake to a standstill on a 130 degree curve along a 50 degree slope. Ok, I learnt the last one only today. Taking those sweeping corners and immediately shifting weight to the other side for the next corner, I learnt the importance of shorter footpegs. I understood that almost all of us underestimate our vehicles. It can go faster than we think. Turn quicker than we think. Lean lower than we think. The test really is of us rather than of the bike to handle any bad terrain. I used to blame the bike sometimes for not banking well. Now I know better. Its not the bike’s business to bank, its mine.
Soon I am in the beautiful Kullu valley. Teeming with tourists. Tourists of the sort that will keep throwing empty chips packets and banana peels out of their air conditioned SUVs. Tourists whose drivers would not consider twice before honking at a single file traffic coming from the other side on a one way traffic road. Sometimes I develop such rage against such people without even knowing them. The impunity and ignorance they exhibit.
While I say just outside of Kullu having noodles for breakfast, I noticed ambulances and fire trucks rushing past traffic. Didn’t think too much of it. About 45 minutes later, I passed by what was a huge traffic pile up. Turned out there was a major accident. A blue luxury bus, in its hurry to overtake on the outer side of the turn lost control and fell down a 60 feet cliff. The army and the police were frantically clearing the traffic while firemen worked on the bus. I wanted to take a photo but wasn’t allowed to.
At around 1.30 in the afternoon, I landed at Manali. Headed to Sunshine Cafe in Old Manali (Mr. Attorney and his friends will nod their heads in agreement). Tomorrow I go up.