Saturday, June 25, 2011
The Eleventh Ride: Chronicling the Motorcycling Dragons
The 11th charity ride was another roaring success and a special one at that. A ride filled with memories amidst terrific weather, warm-hearted village folks and breathtaking scenes.
A ride that made our dragon hearts bigger and closer to one another that took us back to our roots in the villages among our fellow brethren, and made us yearn to go back again. It was a ride that made us proud to be in this sacred land of ours and which tugged at our heartstrings and stirred our souls. It was yet another maiden entry for the dragons and another notch up the dragon's tail yet again.
Day 1 (May 12) - Gathered at the clubhouse. Checked our equipments. Said a silent prayer for all good things to come and the dragon took off in its usual fiery fashion. There were 10 bikes in all. The riders on tour were XR, SR, TR, PR, BR, MDR, BR, Tashi, Dorji and Wangdi. The support staff were Mon Bdr., Sanu Bhai, Jimpa and Tenzing. We stopped as usual at all the usual dragon pit stops and made it to Chuzomsa late as always. There was no restaurants there serving lunch so we had to make do with the ever-present 'Koka' noodles. We stocked up with 'refreshments' for our campsite and hit the dirt road to our campsite above Nishoka Village.
But surprise! There was a 'pretty' reception party in Samtengang Village to take us to our campsite. We went through a new feeder road that was cleared by the villagers, as there had been a few blocks due to rain a few days before. There were more surprises in store for us as we were basically greeted by the entire village at the campsite with local tea and snacks! We couldn't quite make out who was more excited to see whom. Village elders, children, and young folks alike all came to greet the dragons that they heard were on a charitable mission to help their village kin.
The campsite setting was surreal. Our wonderful camp crew set up camp and cooked up a storm. The villagers didn't quite like the idea of us retiring early and helped in building a huge bonfire and danced and sang with us till around midnight.
Boy we had have fun. The new prospects did us proud with their dancing skills and vocals. Thunder rider was a sensation, as for the other riders; well we mingled with the folks and shared bike and horse riding yarns. I think the 'refreshments' did us all in eventually. We were also honored by the police superintendent of the district (good friend of the dragons) and Bhutan's famous actor and singer Rinchen Namgay. The charity recipients (three of them. One was sick and couldn't come) from Dangchu also arrived at the campsite and shared our tents.
Day 2 (May 13) - Woke up a bit drowsy. Had a hearty breakfast (the dragons always come back a little heavier from each ride) and proceeded with the charity. Seven recipients minus one. The charity was sponsored by our fellow dragons from Australia (Aussie Rider & Highway Star Rider); helmets off to them for their burning passion and generosity towards our club. All recipients were given 50kg bags of rice, 15lt tins of oil, gumboots, rain gear, blankets, mattresses, gho, kira and solar lights for the village folks from Dangchu (there is no electricity yet in their village).
MD Rider, as always, delivered a sound speech and the tears and smiles on the faces of the villagers said it all. Every single cent and mile that we spent and rode was worth its reward in gold.
The dragons then took off in all directions exploring the valley and all its beauty. We caught up later near a beautiful lake in the village of Samtengang and lazed the day away with some local refreshments, songs and games. Met the locals and heard fascinating tales of yonder about the village and its legends of yore and went back to the campsite for a rather late lunch, and were taken aback when we were invited to the village for dinner. And what a spread it was; local wine, local eggs, organic vegetables fresh from the gardens, milk, cheese and on and on. A sight for sore eyes Aggie Rider would have been in seventh heaven Village elders sang for us and the debate (village style in verses) between a village elder and Bap Rider took the cake. Everyone laughed till they cried. It was simply hilarious. Thunder Rider presented his g-shock watch to the elder who we heard was boasting about it to the entire village the next morning although I had a suspicious feeling he couldn't quite read the time. We retired to our tents late once again.
Day 3 (May 14) - Bid our farewells to the villagers who came to see us off. We were all touched by their hospitality, simplicity and the love they showered upon us all through our stay there, short as it was, they made us promise that we would visit them at least once a year and we gladly accepted their offer. We were sad to leave them and found it difficult to part. I think each rider left a bit of his heart behind and as for me; I have come back a changed man.
Was glad to see Swiss Rider who came from Thimphu to join us at Chuzomsa on our ride back; a true dragon. We made it back to Thimphu in the evening, late as usual after our pit stops, again.
I would love to have written more but as per the club adage goes - 'what goes on the ride - stays on the ride!
Some special moments however were Swiss Rider's problems once again with his cables and conversation with locals. Thunder Rider's rain dance. Born Rider's rocket bike. X Rider's angelic bar. Tashi's Hit' stamina and pipe. Dorji's disappearing act. Bap Rider's jokes galore. Mdr Rider's 'fly' tent, youthful energy and iPhone and Pale Rider's (well that's another story best told around a bonfire).
Many thanks to Ghost Rider for his valuable contribution towards the charity, X Riders exceptional team and the camping crew. Many thanks to Lopen Wangdi for his assistance, Aggie Rider for greeting us at Dochula Pass and to all our members who couldn't make it yet sent us their wishes and prayers, and lastly, many thanks to the local deities who protected us once again all through the ride.