There are only few riders who visit Ladakh as if it is a Mecca for them. These restless souls then head towards the peaceful and mesmerizing places which the comfort seeking people never opt for. One such person is Narendra Kumar Gautam, the well known scooterist who puts the ‘Cubic Capacity’ obsessed riders into shame when he shares his photos of his rides. On a hot day as we sipped Coke, he was delighted to answer to some of our questions.
♣ As expected by you, the first question, why a Scooter?
NKG – My primary objective to choose a scooter was to make others aware of its potential to reach every place where a bike can reach. Other factors that make me choose scooter were its affordability, easy to repair and a stepney (spare tyre).
♣ How do you plan the journey, do you take a new route everytime?
NKG – I plan my journey to bring forth new routes and new places for everyone to see, explore and ride. I generally include a new route everytime. In 2013, I crossed Pangong-Chushul, a complete off road section on my scooter. In 2014, I crossed deadly Agham-Shyok section on my scooter. In 2015, I explored a bit of Suru valley on my scooter and in 2016, I took most famous difficult road of Kishtwad-Killad and reached Ladakh.
♣ This has been your most tiring journey, you lost a few pounds, two breakdowns, how was your overall experience?
NKG – Yes, in 2016 ride was very tiring and roller coaster ride with two breakdowns and some nasty weather. But the urge to see unseen places and some encouraging words from my better half and help received during breakdown kept me charged and spirited and I could complete my ride successfully and I achieved the objective of the ride. Overall experience of 2016 ride is highly gratifying and I am highly content after this year’s ride.
♣ This has been the apex of all your rides, you finally conquered Marsimik La. Tell us about it.
NKG – Yes, this year’s ride is very special for me. I was trying to scale Marsimik La for many years but somehow failed for various reasons. But this year, everything fell in place and after initial hiccups, I was finally able to ride till Marsimik La top and offered a prayer in small temple built on Marsimik La pass. Road to Marsimik La is very steep and I was riding alone towards and after loosing the way for a few times on sharp stone filled track, I found the right track and reached at Marsimik La top. It was very overwhelming feeling standing on the top alone and listening to the fast blowing cold winds, fluttering flags and seeing the 18953 ft. board was pure adrenaline rush in stomach. Pure satisfying and peaceful moments in my riding career.
♣ Can you share your earlier pursuits to achieve it?
In 2013, I was not issued Marsimik La permit. But in 2014, Marsimik La permit was issued after very hard tries and representation before Asst. Commissioner. Marsimik La permit was issued to me but at the last moment at ITBP post my riding partner backed out and I could not go to Marsimik La in 2014. Finally in 2016, I could achieve the Marsimik La solo. This achievement of mine, makes this year’s ride special for me.
♣ You never gave up on your pursuit for the Marsimka La pass, you achieved Mana Pass, Sach Pass, Pensi La . How is Marsimka La Pass is different and important for you?
NKG – Pensi La and Sach Pass are easily reachable and are not that remote. Roads are generally good but bad in few patches. Sach pass too is near some habitatio and on Mana Pass, army jawans escort you so that you don’t feel afraid. But Marsimik La is totally different, its very steep, no clear vision vision of the roads as you start climbing up and its very near to Aksai Chin area bordering China. There are army bunkers everywhere near Marsimik La top and en route. Its a complete no-man’s land in last 22-24 kilometers after you cross ITBP post at Phobrang. Loose sharp edge stones rule the last few kilometers to the top. One cut in your tyre and your dream can shatter. Thankfully nothing happened to me and my scooter. I would say Marsimik La is the baap of all passes.
♣ How has been your experience with the locals?
NKG – Generally, it has been very good. Locals are nice, helpful and cooperative. I respect them for their delicate behavior. Local’s help can also be credited behind my successful ride.
♣ Are scooter parts easily available in remote parts?
NKG – No not at all. According to me, scooters are now becoming extinct and so their parts are difficult to find. I had to carry scooter parts from my home. Because of the broken brake drum of the scooter, it took me 2 days to reach 100 kms from Manali to Keylong. Scooter parts are not easily available there and so my advise to other scooterist is that they must learn scooter repairing and they should carry all the necessary parts with them if they are planning
a remote adventure ride to remote places on their scooters.
♣ What have these Rides taught you?
NKG – All my rides have taught me to remain calm during crisis. My rides also enhance my endurance level and I feel much more mature and satisfied person after these rides.
♣ What are your future plans? Any future ride?
NKG – My future plan is to organize a Scooter Group ride to Ladakh and i want to make all the 2-stroke engined scooter riders about the capabilities of a scooter that they too can scale down any type of tough terrain and they can also do long distance tours.
Cheers to all, cheers to spirit of travelling. All the Best.
Photo courtesy- Narendra Kumar Gautam.