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Rumble In the Hills With Boys Best Friend

 Motorcycling is usually a solo activity. But it becomes a lot more fun when you share the road with like-minded friends. Riding as a group, be it on a short Saturday morning ride or on an organized motorcycle tour, easily gives any individual rider an unparalleled sensation of pride and superiority. Words cannot really describe the strong camaraderie that develops in a motorcycling group and the ultimate feeling of attracting hordes of on-lookers with that constant roar of engines reverberating in the air. That’s what a group ride is all about – having a string of motorcycles snake through the hills in front of you or seeing a friend on the mirror following close behind, with a grin that matches yours. Similarly, I have had my fair share of riding together with various motorcycling groups. And boy, has it been fun! But I have to admit, with the motorcade usually comprising of the commonly available Indian motorcycles, on-lookers have usually taken us for protesters of some cause rather than riders genuinely set out on a ride. Co-incidentally, taking out motorcycle rallies in Nepal also happens to be a political party’s or an organization’s infamous way to protest or celebrate a cause! But consider doing the same with a bunch of premium Sports Bikes in a place like Nepal. Now, a single superbike is enough to have most people go head over heels and gape in awe. Imagine what happens when these bikes roll out in a group. Forget the guaranteed celebrity-level attention, but the rumble created together is enough to wake even the dead from their graves.

 

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So when Johnny Dai from the Yeti Motorcycle Club shared with me their plan to rumble down the highway towards Pokhara from Kathmandu via Butwal and Palpa, I immediately decided to tag along. But I had probably lost my senses in the excitement and forgotten that all I had in my arsenal to keep with the 600cc+ big boys was a little KTM 200 Duke. Nevertheless, trusting my quick and nimble KTM to not set me hours apart from them during the ride, I showed up at their workshop in the premises of AutoSpa on the day. Though an early start was planned, we got moving only after 9am in the morning. We were a sizeable group with three Ducati Monster 796, a Honda CBR600RR, Ducati Monster 696, Ducati Hypermotard 796, Suzuki GSR 600, my KTM 200 Duke and a Mitsubishi Pajero GLX as the back-up support vehicle.

 

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As the bikes fired up, a symphony of sweet rumble immediately shattered the silent morning. We then rode in tandem towards Naubise, generating celebrity level attention all along the way. I cleverly disguised myself in the middle of the group as the KTM’s good looks made it easier to blend in and be wrongly assumed for a big bike to most of the unaware on-lookers outside the valley. Also the loud roar of the big bikes made sure that the mild sputter of my bike was easily drowned in their rumble. We passed through Naubise and rode non-stop towards Mugling, stopping only for the much needed lunch, before taking the diversion towards Narayanghat. So far, I had managed to keep riding along at the speeds the big boys were setting up at the front.

 

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But once the hilly roads came to an end and the long stretch through the jungle near Narayanghat approached, it was time to say good bye to the fast riders in the group. Though I had my KTM 200 Duke completely revved to the max, the Ducati’s and Honda easily disappeared into the horizon at the blink of an eye.

 

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Having already seen much of Narayanghat and Chitwan on previous visits, we didn’t bother to look around and continued to ride ahead. It was a relief to see the mountain roads again as we ascended towards Daune. Keeping up with the big bikes was easier on these stretches as it offered very little road space for them to go full throttle. We then stopped by to regroup for a quick break at Daune, a 65km ride from Narayanghat. After the brief ride around the hills through the well laid twist and turns, it was again time to speed through the plains for the last leg of the day’s ride to Butwal. With minimum traffic movement on the road through the jungle and clear vision stretched till the horizon, most of us made the best of the rare opportunity and raced ahead on full throttle, closing on our bike’s respective top speed figures. We made it to Butwal before sunset and rode through town attracting a huge bunch of enthusiastic on-lookers. After checking into our hotel, we freshened up and headed out to the Nanglo West outlet for a heavy dinner. A mild session of drinking followed and we called it a night.

 

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The next morning, we started for Pokhara. After the pre-ride check rituals were done and the bikes refuelled, we got moving. We decided to grab our breakfast en route at Tansen, Palpa. My first long distance ride a few years back had brought me to Palpa, and ever since I have always enjoyed the fine mountain roads that lead to this popular hill-station. So it was really gripping to be charging through these corners yet again. We reached Tansen in about an hour and after riding through the town’s maze of steep, narrow and winding alleys lined with Newari style houses, stopped by for breakfast. The usual crowd generating session followed with on-lookers inspecting the powerful motorcycles. After a fine breakfast at the local Nanglo West cafe, we continued on the 125km ride to Pokhara through Syangja.

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