Today is my 60th birthday. I know, I can hardly believe it myself. I neither look nor behave like it. And I certainly don’t live like it. But still, today marks the day I have lived 60 years. In India, when you ask someone of their age, they would say 60 or 61. 61 if you count the time you are in the womb, before being born. But I will stick to 60. A nice even number.
When my late mother was in her 80 plus she made an attempt to describe how she felt inside being 80 plus. She said: Every morning when I look in the mirror I see this old woman looking back at me. I don’t know who she is.
I totally get what she was saying. Because my mind is still young, I still feel like 20. When I fall in love now it feels the exact same way as it did back then. When I go on adventures I feel the same thrill I did back then. Inside me, my feelings still feel the same way even though my face has more wrinkles and my mind is more experienced.
As I wrote in the post one year ago, from the day I turned 40 I didn’t want to receive any presents that weren’t a sort of adventure, an experience to add to my life. This year I gave myself the gift of going on a motorbike tour to Ladakh.
We started with a one-day tryout on the mountain roads surrounding Vashisht. An important day for both the riders and the pillions to get in tune with each other and to get some understanding for the bumpy roads to come. We had a great day with great weather conditions.
According to Ashish, the guide and owner of Incredible Outdoors, we rode in total 1580 kilometres. This was the route.
Hundra in Nubra Valley
Turtuk for a day trip and back to Hundra
I was the only one in the group that actually made all the 1580 kilometres on a bike. Well, except for one time over a water crossing when the team didn’t allow me to go on a bike for safety reasons. All the others did, at some point for different reasons, join the supporting car. My two riders and I did ride in sun, rain, hail and snow, In hot sun and in freezing cold. We went through water crossings and landslides on bumpy and sometimes non-existing roads. It was challenging in many different ways and if someone now asked me I would say Yes, I would do it all again.
Not only because of the challenge but also because of the beauty one passes by. The Himalayas, the valleys, the greenery, the high altitude deserts. It is extraordinary and very special.
The most memorable thing about this tour will be, at least for me, the attitude and spirits when things got difficult. The mentality of never giving up. That there is a solution to every problem. And when you conquer the obstacles in front of you, the road ahead is much brighter and easier. To never let fear make one’s decisions.
On the second day, just after lunchtime, just after we had passed the Baralacha La, we had to stop. There were several trucks stuck on what used to be a road but was now a huge water crossing. The approximately 30 bikes that had arrived before us were just watching the water running more and more fiercely. But that didn’t stop our team.
It was midday and the glacier was melting from the hot sun. What once used to be something one would describe as a road, had now vanished. Washed away by the water charging down the hill like a wild animal. Fierce. New bikes and more trucks kept coming. Everyone scratching their heads. But not our team. They took a walk around and in the water, testing the ground here and there and before I hadn’t even started getting my head around the situation I saw Ashish driving off. The rest of us were ordered into the supporting car. Prashant, the driver on this tour, took us across safely. Nishu, the mechanic who also happens to be a bike wizard, helped a few riders get their bikes across. And it turned out Ashish was the first one to make it across. During the coming 30-60 minutes, our team helped countless trucks and bikers to choose the best way of crossing the fierce waters.
To never let fear make one’s decisions doesn’t mean one shouldn’t be cautious. But definitely not be stopped. That lesson is valid in any situation of our lives. And the 1580 kilometres we did was like a life lived in miniature. It was bumpy and smooth, hot and cold, exciting and tedious. We did use the word ‘boring’ in a sarcastic way. Because no day was boring. Every day was filled with different hurdles we all enjoyed handling. Not focusing on the problem but on all the solutions possible.
I rode all those 1580 kilometres as pillion. It is about trusting the driver. On the other hand, the driver has to trust me. Because we are a team and we have to work together to make it work. To get to the goal safely. In the evening on the second day, Ashish asked me if I had been afraid during the past two days. I honestly can say I never was. Not even when Nishu was driving. I felt safe. Both on road and off road.
I know some are afraid of dying. I am more afraid of not living a life while being alive.
Thank you Incredible Outdoors, Ashish, Prashant and Nishu for keeping me on my toes and making me feel alive. I loved every second of the ride.
Let’s see what this year has to offer.