The rider in the blue jacket stared critically at Micky Ryan’s bike. This was an ’84 Yamaha RD350, twin engine motorbike, painted black with the livery stickers of white twin bands across her aerodynamic tank. She was a good bike, the best of her time; but now was the age of the super bikes, those four-stroke wonders that clipped from zero to 100 in just eight seconds flat and roared smoothly, like lions…gagged and muzzled. Indeed, the old, cult RD350 was nothing comparable to the power and speed of the new engines that had become the dream of almost every man.
Four bikes were parked by the roadside, all ready to start their 2000-mile journey to the Himalayas, from the sunny south of India to the far flung, snow-capped mountains of the north. One was a BMW650 and one an Enfield500. The other two were RD350s, Micky Ryan’s and his friend Cap’s; and Cap was a veteran of many rides.
The rider of the BMW shook his head at Micky, clicked his engine to a stupendous start and commented tonelessly:
“She’ll never make it.”
“You might as well give up the idea now,” the Enfield rider added.
Two weeks later and high up in the mountains, the BMW’s rear wheel lost its alignment. They called a tow truck so he could head back to the nearest town. The Enfield almost made it to Leh Town and then its engine ceased.
Micky watched as it was loaded onto a tow and taken away. He rolled a smoke, lit up and passed it to Cap.
“Khardungla Pass?” he asked.
Cap nodded and smiled. “Khardungla it is.”
And the two men continued their journey through Ladakh, their old, cult bikes proudly conquering that 18380th foot on the highest motorable road in the world.
(c) Cindy Pereira