Asmita Misra defines the new age independent woman perfectly! She is a Design and Content Strategist at a software consulting firm in Hyderabad. Exploring being her passion, she makes free time to experience new adventures and believes in following her instincts. She only over thinks her shopping and always packs light for her travels. Our lady on wheelfirmly believes in recycling and reuse and tries to use as little disposable items in her travels as she can so she doesn’t leave any traces of her having been there (this makes her our favourite!). You can read the details of her latest adventure at www.swaydotam.wordpress.com. Here she discusses her all women bike trip to Leh recently which is absolutely engaging and exciting!
1. You are just back from all women bike trip to Leh. What inspired you to go on this difficult trip?
I always knew that my first trip to ladakh had to be on my motorcycle. I had seen so many friends’ photos of the region that the traveller in me knew that this was an experience best felt gradually. I knew that I had to experience each level of vegetation and forest change as I climbed the altitude towards the winding roads of the mountains. And experience the transformation of the soil from fertile to almost dusty. I didn’t want to miss out on any step and just reach the pinnacle of beauty by flying there.
I became a motorcyclist about 3 years back when my brother let me borrow his Royal Enfield classic 350. It was the most amazing thing to happen to me during that year and I knew I had to extend this amazing feeling by taking multiple road trips.
2. This route is considered one of the hardest and highest in the world! How did you prepare for the journey?
I prepared by improving the physical state of my body and endurance. I joined a fitness class 3 times a week for an hour in the morning. It was very intense and just what I needed to repair my body from my desk job lifestyle. I also put together the right motorcycling gear for me. I researched online for what kinds of gear is recommended, compared prices and reviews and bought what fit in my budget. There was a recommended list of things to carry with you on the ride. My husband had already been on a similar trip before so he had some gloves and balaclavas I could borrow.
3. Tell us something about your experience with the bike before you took this particular journey.
In my 3 years of biking I estimate I had done only about 1500 kms whereas this trip of 17 days itself was more than 2500kms - that was a very exciting motivation for me.
4. What were particular challenges of this trip?
The particular challenges were to be fresh and alert at every moment of the ride. Keeping the eyes fixed on the road constantly can be a little strenuous. Other than that the route was a mix of tarmac, broken tarmac, gravel, water crossings amongst rocks of all sizes and just plain dirt tracks. I was a purely tarmac rider previously. While I loved the experience of different road types, there was a bit of a learning curve with some. The first pass that we crossed was the mighty untamed Jalori pass and it truly showed us what the roads of the Ladakh region must've been like if they weren't taken care of by the army every year. Keeping the motorcycle and body balanced between the rough patches was the best learning I took away. One of the riders verbally guided me through a particularly rough patch. She said grab the bike by your thighs, keep the rest of the body loose and never put your foot down. Just go slowly and you will reach. And so I did!
5. Any memorable moment or time you would like to share with us?
There were three most memorable moments for me:
First one was on the way to Narkanda in Himachal Pradesh. This was day Two of the ride, the roads were still good and each person was still discovering their riding styles and partners. We took the detour after Solan to go to Narkanda via the Sadhupul road. By now I had left my off-the-bike friends behind and lost track of who was ahead of me. It was pure motorcycling to be riding in the mountains solo with beautiful blue skies, mountains covered in fresh greenery of spring bloom and a beautiful barely used narrow tarmac road passing through small villages and roadside stores. This was the day I felt like a dream come true and I was spellbound. It was my first experience of motorcycling in the mountains and it was at that moment I felt like I didn’t need anyone or anything else with me.
Other most memorable part of the trip was when I would cross motorcyclists coming towards me having completed their trip to my destination. Every single time we would wave at each other or raise a thumbs up to cheer the other on or at least simply bow our heads down in a show of respect for the other’s achievements and passion. It was like a secret brotherhood (gender neutral) of motorcyclist where once you put your helmet on, all gender, culture and regional gaps disappear and every person has the same goal, the same passion and each respects and cheers the other on for theirs.
Third most memorable time was during the 10th day of the trip I had a severe fall due to an error in judgement. Although I didn’t break any bones and was able to ride immediately after, my confidence felt really broken. Where up till now I was almost the first few to reach the destination, I was almost tallying at the last rider to arrive that day and the following day. Because I had lost my confidence in riding at high speeds in that terrain, I was not even enjoying the ride anymore. The next day was supposed to be our last day of rough terrain ride after which we would reach Manali and be on the express highway for most of the time. This was the day we would pass Rohtang Pass for the second time in our ride, on our way back. I decided that this would be my last day to rebuild my confidence or I may return from the mountains afraid and never wanting to come back. That day I had the most joyful ride, the terrain from Jispa to Manali is equally terrible with the amount of construction going on on the way and the road up to Rohtang Pass is an indescribable mess of rocks and gravel. But I had the ride of my life! I even had a tiny fall because I was enjoying my ride recklessly but it did not hamper my mood and I returned truly happy and satisfied, itching to get back to the mountains!
6. You are also a trained mountaineer. Where all has this passion of yours taken you?
The last stint of mountaineering I did was when I went for my Basic Mountaineering Course at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in the Uttarakhand region in the summer of 2013. Ever since then, time and situations have not allowed me to go even for a simple hike or a planned trek in India. Although during my honeymoon in Dec 2015, my husband and I visited New Zealand and the first thing we did was a 3 day tramping trip in the famous and one of the oldest and biggest valleys – the Hollyford Valley. It was an organized trip. We also took multiple short day hikes in the South Island of NZ during our 17 day trip.
7. We heard you were in Uttarakhand during the floods. Tell us about it…..a natural calamity changes the dimensions of surviving skills…
Oh yes. Those were probably some of the hardest days of my life. It was during the absolute last of our nights in the mountains when the cloudburst happened. We were supposed to trek downhill the next day and we would have reached the road where a bus would be waiting to take us. The mere 40 kms left to the mountaineering institute where we would be back in the normal world. But alas, due to the cloudburst, all the road were washed away, all the routes were flooded and there was no bus at the end of that trek. We stayed there that night for the authorities to figure out the extent of the damage and figure out our next course of action.
Our trip got extended by 3 days where we walked an extra 80-100 kms to take the safest route possible back to the institute. There were multiple points of saturation during this journey where I felt that my body would fail me but our instructors kept helping and guiding us literally proving that they would not leave our side and ensure we get back safely. That really taught me that it’s okay to fail sometimes as far as you don’t lose your spirit!
8. What is next on your bucket list?
Next on the list is a visit to snow capped mountains to learn skiing, preferably in the Himalayas. But I also have serious plans for another road trip next, this time in the Spiti valley in Himachal.
So this was Asmita Misra, a true adventurer in making! Hope you liked and got inspired by her account of her journey so far.You may also want to read another inspiring story of three women who drove all the way to London from Delhi. Check out that post below:
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9. Till now which adventure has been the most spectacular for you?
Each of my adventures has been different from the previous and have taught me so many things about myself that I find all of them equally memorable.
10. Hey one last and very important one. When you are undertaking an adventure of this scale…..does it really matter that you are a woman?!
Not at all! The only thing that truly matters for any undertaking is an individual’s passions, beliefs and motivations. Everything is about how you prepare yourself to achieve those and your faith in yourself. This applies to both genders.