Preface I did my first motorcycle ride in the Himalayas in 2016, when I rode to Ladakh along with another friend. Riding in the Himalayas is a serious addiction as I figured out. Unfortunately, for people from the south of India, it is not easy to plan a trip to the Himalayas. It takes a lot of preparation, commitment and more importantly the number of days off from work. In the early part of the year, I had made up my mind about a ride, either June or Sep. The Spiti circuit was the preferred choice. I had heard good things about it from many of my friends who had been there, even though some consider it a poorer cousin of Ladakh. There was something mystical about this remote place and I was keen to experience it first hand. A change of job around the middle of the year meant that June was not happening, so it had to be September. I left the planning a bit late and started planning in earnest only in late July. My Ladakh trip was with just one other co-rider and this was not going to be any different. It always helps to have a fellow rider, to have someone to talk to and also in case any help is required along the way. I checked with many of the riders in my circle. Some were interested, but was too short notice to take that many days of leave, a few others had already visited. Eventually, I was left with two choices - either postpone to next year or go solo. For me, the choice was obvious. The smooth ride to Ladakh two years ago had given me enough confidence to attempt a solo ride on my second outing in the mountains. Planning a trip to Spiti is not as complicated as planning one to Ladakh. It is a no-brainer to start from the Shimla side, through Kinnaur, Spiti and end at the Manali side. I planned to take my time covering the Kinnaur side adequately, apart from the usual places in Spiti. Beyond that, I did not really plan anything at a minute level of detail and decided to take it as it came. This time however, I decided to ship my motorcycle to Delhi instead of Chandigarh, as the train connectivity to Delhi is much better and my motorcycle would not have to spend any extra days lying in the parcel office. It would also give me an opportunity to try the Delhi - Chandigarh highway, about which I had heard a lot. Unfortunately, a medical emergency in the family meant that I had to replan my trip at the last minute, after I had already shipped my motorcycle. I eventually flew into Delhi on the morning of 13th Sep and my motorcycle ended up lying in the parcel office for 9 days. Day 1 - 13th Sep (Thu) Distance covered: 277 kms I had booked a ticket on the early morning flight to Delhi. The flight was delayed by 2 hrs, the saving grace being Indigo informed me about it the night before, giving me 2 hours of extra sleep. The flight was uneventful, as was the taxi ride to the New Delhi Railway Station, where my motorcycle was waiting for me. Locating the parcel office, however was a bit of a challenge and I had to search for a while, along with my luggage, before I could find it. Before you know it, the touts at the parcel office are all over you. After finishing the formalities, I got my motorcycle in about 30 mins. Touts were readily available to unpack the motorcycle and I heaved a sigh of relief to find it intact. For some strange reason, the touts didn’t have any petrol with them, like is usually available in other railway stations, which meant that the motorcycle had to be pushed for about half a km to the petrol station. Perhaps it was a wise strategy from their side, as it cost me Rs.300 to have them do the pushing. I realised that mid-Sep in Delhi is still summer. It felt like 40 degrees and I was sweating profusely by the time we reached the petrol station. It felt a lot better once I started the ride around 1pm. It didn’t take me long to find my way to the ring road and then towards the highway to Chandigarh. There are numerous dhabas along the highway and many of these are a lot bigger as compared to the ones in the south. All set for the ride Lunch stop was at the very popular Amrik Sukhdev dhaba at Murthal. The dhaba was quite posh as well, something you don’t see much in the south. Each paratha that I ordered came with about quarter kilo of butter on top! Paratha and butter The highway was initially moderately crowded and unremarkable. But near and after Karnal it became more scenic with lush green farms and water bodies. A few cranes also appeared along the way, by the roadside. It was easy to maintain a healthy speed on the good, wide highway, even though there was road work happening at periodic intervals. After a tea break near Ambala, I continued the ride even after dusk, with the intention of getting past Zirakpur (Chandigarh). My original plan was to stop at Solan, but that was too far away and I didn’t want to ride in the winding roads of the hills after dark. Hence I decided to stop around Pinjore or Parwanoo. A brief spell of rain added a 15 mins delay, but I continued on, crossed into HP and stopped at Hotel Paradise at Parwanoo. As soon as you start climbing a hill you know you are in HP.