Indulge gives you an insider’s report on Royal Enfield’s Himalayan Odyssey
If you are a Royal Enfield fan, the Odyssey is like that yearly pilgrimage that you must make. In its 14th season, the ride through the mountains remains as breath-taking as ever. After all, you do end up covering close to 2,200 kilometres over a period of 18 days as you snake through the gorgeous Himalayan mountain range and eventually get to click that postcard-worthy picture at Khardung-La all the way up at 18,300 feet above sea level.
Most participants agreed with Rudratej Singh, President - RE, when he stated, “Every year scores of Royal Enfield riders make their way up to the Himalayas, a terrain that we consider as our spiritual home. It is a pilgrimage where riders are able to leave behind their urban monotony and appreciate real and authentic experiences and become one with their machine and the terrain while riding.”
Astride an RE Himalayan, a bike inspired by these very mountains, the journey proved to be even more thrilling than what the brochure promised! From bad stretches of tarmac, high-altitude climbs to washed out roads, the Odyssey came packed with adventure at every turn.
It sure is great to know that the brand intends on offering the Himalayan with a more powerful engine that offers a bit more grunt in the lower rev-range and is updating the chassis and suspension system as well. While the current bike did a great job, the new Himalayan might prove to be the best bike to bring back to this terrain in the future.
Tackling the terrain
The biggest challenge about the journey can be summed up in one simple word – survival. With the changing terrain and varied riding conditions, it takes a toll on both man and machine. A case in point being, the water crossing a little ahead of Gramphu. With the road washed away and trucks and jeeps not willing to attempt the crossing, the bikes still made it through! It required a good understanding of the situation and a proper assessment on the rider’s part to navigate through to the other side. With a little help, every bike made it past this obstacle and it was undoubtedly one of the major highlights of the trip!
As beautiful as the mountains are, they can be equally treacherous. Riding carefully and under the right guidance is what the Odyssey offers, however, you need to be aware of what can go wrong and how to handle it as well.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS): The low oxygen levels result in a medical condition known as pulmonary edema. The first signs are dizziness, muscle aches, nausea, a rapid heartbeat and a shortness of breath. Immediate medical attention is advised and returning to a lower altitude is a must. Some people
consume Diamox to avoid AMS; however, the best cure is to drink a lot of water.
Dehydration: It is cold and dry up there and while you might not feel thirsty all the time, keep sipping at a bottle of water. Better yet, carry a camelback hydration pack so that you can sip away even while
Protect your skin: The dry air will cause your lips to crack, nose to dry up and skin to burn. Carry lip balm, and moisturiser to keep
yourself from suffering later.
Himalayan sojourn pack list
Here is our list of absolute must-haves for the 2,200 km journey.
Gear: Proper riding shoes, a good helmet, gloves, riding jacket and pants, knee and elbow protectors are not just suggested, but compulsory for such a ride.
Clothing: Thermals, jeans, sweaters, jackets, mufflers, beanie caps, socks, quick-dry t-shirts and sun glasses are compulsory items that you don’t want to leave behind.
Snacks: The best stuff to carry are dry fruits, chocolate, cheese and cookies. Avoid aerated drinks as they dehydrate you.
Emergency kit: While the Odyssey organisers do provide medical support, it is a good idea to carry your own medical kit as well; especially if you need special medicines.
Camera: A good camera is an essential item if you intend on capturing some stunning images in hi-definition. Remember to carry a load of extra batteries though, because the cold weather sucks the batteries dry real fast.