Ride Log | Mar 20, 2016 | FJR1300AE | Burnt Mountain, GA

March 20, 2016
Start Odo: 5308
End Odo: 5397
Miles Covered: 89 (Inching ever so slowly towards the triple digit ride day!)
Destination: Burnt Mountain, GA
Weather Outlook: High: 54°F, 12°C | Low: 39°F, 4°C | Light clouds and Windy
Ride: Yamaha FJR1300 AE

Unless the ride days are planned and set in stone, I tend to let the weekend mornings slide. I should really Plan the Ride and Ride the Plan, to avoid reducing the riding time available and thus making sure I can put in some longer triple digit rides. The weather forecast called for a cool windy ride. The FJR1300AE was fuelled up and ready to take flight. The plan was to head over to the Burnt Mountain lookout point. One of the stops when I rode with the WeekendRiderz Group on Sept 28, 2015. There would be one stop along the way. At Stancils Store. One of my favorite locations to take pictures of the bike.

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Short Videos using the Splice iOS App

Mobile apps make it so easy to create. Whatever your passion or interests may be. Shooting videos has became so easy. iPhones, well OK – Smartphones – (can’t have the non-iOS folks feel left out, can we?), cameras with video capabilities and the ever popular GoPro. Videos in the droves. However, until recently, editing the videos, enhancing them to tell somewhat of a story meant huge software  programs in the computer. With the advent of the smartphones and tablets and the associated apps, the complete life cycle of a video – raw to finished, published (read as YouTubed) product can be completed entirely on a mobile device. And with that the Splice App.

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The Valley Green

 

Mountain range surrounding Leh, Ladakh; As seen from the Shanti Stupa, Leh

The day after we arrived in Leh, we had the morning to ourselves. #PoshGoondas were free to amble around town; try and get some Indian money out of the ATMs (that’s another story for another day); or do a bit of sightseeing which Jatin, I and Kalpesh decided to do. Nimish was off Snow Leopard spotting.

After visiting the Leh Palace, we went up to the Shanti Stupa. A nice, serene, spiritual location. Although walking barefoot on the sun baked tiled floor was a task. Perched at an elevation, we could look down on various sections that made up Leh, ensconced in the Valley. With it being a dry day, the skies were pristine blue, the clouds snow white and the land saturated in arid browns or lush green. The view of the fertile greens snaking along the valley, appeared to look like a tree lined river finding its course as allowed by the Mountains, as if standing guard. And this scape overseen by the snow capped mountains in the yonder. Such stark terrains, coexisting. Perhaps in co-dependence. Another of Ma Nature’s tapestries.

“Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.”
/Theodore Roethke

Snow capped Sentinals

 Mountain range surrounding Leh, Ladakh.

We rode into Leh the previous evening. The general feeling on reaching the hotel was bittersweet. Glad that we had an amazing experience leading up to arriving into Leh and without any mishap or untoward incident, more importantly. Saddened to a degree since Leh was the ‘end’. A couple of days and we would need to fly back to reality. To the concrete jungle. To the rat race. This was, in my opinion, the measure of the quality of the time we spent, on our own and with each other, over the previous few days. Either when riding, or just gazing in amazement at what Nature can really get up to.

Nimish and I were up early(ish) armed with our cameras. I found Nimish on the terrace of the hotel building. The terrace afforded a clear view of the Leh Skyline on one side. The other side looked towards the town but was shielded by trees and hotel/homes reaching up two maybe three stories. Needless to say our attention was drawn toward and captivated by the ‘Skyline’ side. And what a breathtaking skyline it is. We kept swapping lens, positions, zoom in, zoom out whatever we could to try and capture what we were seeing. I don’t believe the images do justice.

Amazing how Nature can take a handful of colors – just the Browns and Blues and the intermittent White – and create such an indelible painting. It was wonderful to see the wind blowing wispy clouds over the peaks, gently caressing the Snow, as if trying not to smudge the painting. A picture of gradients rising from the dark, arid rock merging into the soft white snow through to the wispy white and finally to the vivid deep uniquely blue skies. The image may not fit into the ‘photography rules’ – rule of thirds, leading the eye etc. But it is striking nonetheless. Hope you like it.

Nomination:
With this image I nominate a determined spirit, a great person, and a wonderful photographer, Siddharth. We spent a day together as we rode, or rather, ‘traveled’ out together from Kaza. Enough for a bond to be created. His images are truly inspiring.

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing”
/Barry Finlay

The Spiti

 
Along Spiti River, just before Kaza, Himachal Pradesh. India.

This shot has been a favorite of mine on many fronts. The memory surrounding it primarily. The composition. The colors. Usual suspects that make up an image. But for me, specially so.

We came to this point on our #PoshGoondas ride after a fairly wet, drenching ride from Nako, via Tabo Monastery. As we ate up the kilometers, the skies cleared up to show off the uniquely blue tint, white clouds and some decent but dirt/gravel roads. The arid, yet mesmerizing landscape we passed through practically tore us between enjoying the ride or stopping every minute to capture Nature as we had never seen before. This particular spot was where the Spiti River was at its widest. As we turned a corner, the world opened up. Spirit River in a wide delta area with sand banks and rocks interspersed, dotting the waters and creating mini wakes, as the water flowed around, past and over them. The road along one shore, and mountain along the other, lined with lush green Trees along bottom. Suffice to say, we spent quite some time enjoying the vista, trying to capture as much as we could into our mind’s camera.
It was easy to cross the river on foot at most sections along sand banks and rocks. The elevation still left us breathless on any sort of exertion and we tread slowly but surely towards the middle. Beyond this point the river flow was stronger and deeper. This spot was about the furthest I could go – trying to get close to the middle for a good composition. Taking a picture low over the water and looking out through the valley; I had to get a shot. I had to bend low and compose the shot through the the tilted LCD screen. This pressed on the lungs and added to the breathlessness caused by the elevation. Few quick shots and I was done! That or being prone in water gasping for air.
In my mind this shot really does justice to the expansive mountains, valleys and the enormous skies! Add to that, the smooth – almost machined smooth – rocks on the river bed. The brown dull waters, the shinning smooth colorful rocks, the lush trees leading the eye through the valley with its brown arid mountains and up to the blue skies protected by the white-gray blanket of clouds.

The spot; vivid and memorable.
This image; a favorite for years to come.

“There will always be rocks in the road ahead of us.
They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones;
It all depends on how you use them”
/Freidrich Nietzche

 

Food for Comfort

So finally after months of planning and putting the plans into action, the adventure is over and we all are back home. Most of us are either re-living the adventure or suffering from some of the effects. I have the pleasure of having both my hands in slings each night owing to some nerve damage to my wrists because of constant vibrations and pressure from handling the bike. Losing the dexterity of your hands is no fun and can lead to some awkward situations, but that’s not what I am going to blog about.

It is beyond doubt that most of us participated in a once in a lifetime adventure. I can confidently say that on this occasion the journey surpassed the destination, which considering the natural beauty of the region is no small thing. I will leave it for my fellow riders to describe about our journey and the places that we travelled through. I, on the other hand, would like to present a series of stories of my observations and experiences along the way as side dishes to the main course.

It’s said that the quickest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, which probably also means that a satisfied stomach gives you comfort and security.  Whether we deliberately seek for this satisfaction or sub-consciously adopt our behaviour, we often fall back on this approach when in an unfamiliar place.

Two of us, Kalpesh and I, arrived in Chandigarh (our base camp) by separate flights a day before the other two Goondas arrived from US. Chandigarh is a modern city laid out along grid pattern which is different from many of the other major Indian cities.  Having checked in a nice comfortable hotel (a little luxury is allowed) we then try to figure out what to do.  Even though Chandigarh is a relatively green city, considering the outside temperature of 36*C I doubt if anyone would be mad enough to do some sightseeing.  So instead we decided to explore the surrounding area for something decent to eat while taking a stroll in the midday sun. After just walking for few hundred meters it would have been difficult to distinguish if we were sweating or if we had emerged straight from a shower.

Asking around for directions and some false calls, we end up in a huge shopping mall. The comfort of being an air-conditioned environment was too tempting to even consider any other alternatives. Once inside after going through the airport style security, it very soon becomes apparent that even though we may be India, most the stores in there are familiar names from back home, including the eternal symbol of British shopping centre – Marks & Spencer.

Anyway, the hunger starts imposing itself and we make our way towards the Food Court on the top floor. With the choice of restaurants and eateries we are walking around in circles, looking at menus and wondering what we should eat. We do a couple of rounds but keep returning to the same place, and ultimately decide that’s where we are going to eat. The Mall had some tantalising and mouth-watering places to eat, but like I mentioned earlier, when we are in a unfamiliar place we tend to opt for something familiar and comforting, and that is exactly what we did.

WE WALKED INTO PIZZA HUT.

All the spicy aromas and intriguing dishes failed to tempt us against the simple thing that reminded us a bit of home. And to follow it up, the next day when the other two joined us, we ended up in NANDOS for a Peri-Peri Chicken. So much for the adventure and trying on new challenges.

The Checkpost

Day 11 | Leh to Pangong Tso

About an hour out of Leh, near Karu, where we fork left off the main Srinagar Kyonon Road to head to Pangong Tso. This was a forced stop at the almost countless CheckPosts where we had to show permits, passports and record the Bike license plates. All of this information is collected manually, handwritten (in triplicate probably), painfully slowly and then that much awaited nod/shake suggesting we were good to roam free towards our destination.

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5000 Milestone passed.

Our website has crossed well over 5000 views/visits since it was let loose on the InterWebs. As at writing this update, 5818 to be precise. Thank you all for your support and encouragement.

We expect that the count will rise significantly once the Daily ride reports roll in and get posted. There has been a little delay in getting around to it. Jet lag, back to life, work and other distractions just forced their way in. To add to that I had to do a little trouble shoot with the loading time of the site. On web as well as mobile, readers had complained that it just took too long to load. After a few days of checking the nuts and bolts, we were able to identify the culprits and remove them forthwith. The site loading time should be much faster now.

More to follow soon.

5000image: mimo.eu

The Ride | Pictures Videos

Back to Life; Back to Reality! This was my Facebook update this morning. Right up to a few days back our ‘reality’ was suiting up, starting the engines, navigating through river crossings, riding on non-existent roads and reveling with open throttles on the few good tarmac roads! All this seemed to evaporate in to the thin air with the ‘Thud’ of the aircraft wheels touching ground as I landed 54in Atlanta on Saturday. Left only with vivid memories of the Ride and the memories shared and created with friends, old and new.

Now comes the task of managing, curating, assimilating the Gigabytes (probably Terabytes) of media we have collected over the 12 days of our ride and add the non-ride related media before and after the ride was done. Media collected in form of images from iPhone/Smartphone, DSLR camera and the GoPro cameras. Multiply this with seven riders altogether (including Vir Nakai) and we have a mountain to go through.

The intention is to get all the images and videos into a central cloud folder. All seven of us upload our media to the folder creating a pool and then each one of us can download images/videos from the other riders, that we would like to keep for our collections.

We are currently leaning towards Dropbox as the best option right now. But I would like to throw this out to all our followers and friends and look for suggestions of options besides Dropbox that we should consider.

Please share your suggestions in the comments below.

 

Day 11 | July 15 | Leh to Pangong Tso II

Leh to Pangong Tso | Multi Terrain | Decent riding

I posted another video of the same stretch taken from the Helmet mounted GoPro. This video was taken with a GoPro 3 facing me while heading up to Chang La  (5,360m or 17,590 ft) from Leh (3524m or 11,562 ft) to get to Pangong Tso (4,250m or 13,940 ft). Nice stretch with warm Sun, clear skies, cool breeze, me and The Steed.

I have attempted to add some background music using GoPro Studio editing software. Music from: BenSound.com

Location:

Video: