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A big shout-out to all those who help strangers on road

My bike has always been a trustworthy partner on my road trips. It has taken me to numerous solo trips including trips to Leh and Kaza. There had been challenges from weather, roads and other things, but my Royal Enfield Thunderbird always carried me through on tough roads.

Solo rides are always risky, there can’t be any doubt about it. However one might prepare oneself for everything, you never know the unseen. Worst things is, if you are struck in middle of road, you have to look for some help, when the problem is beyond your capacity. 

My bike has always been trustworthy travel partner for a decade now!

I have had my shares of mishaps, falls et al but never the serious ones. On the other side, I have met many others stranded on the way for one reason or another. I remember, when I was going to Leh, right in the middle of More Plains, I met a group of young bikers working on a bike. It had a flat tyre. I stopped. They were looking form some puncture repair tools. I had some, but it didn’t work. 

Then I told them that I have a spare new tube, which can be used in the tyre, instead of trying to repair. They were bit hesitant, as they were thinking that if I will give them the tube, then what would I do if I need one during the rest of the trip, also considering the fact that I was riding solo. 

I assured them that I already have puncture sealant liquid in my tubes and that would save me from the punctures for a long time. I insisted them to take the tube, which they reluctantly did. They thanked me a lot there, and also days later when they reached there hometowns in south after completion of their trip.

Solo rides in mountains have inherent risk factors

Such things do happen in long road trips, and one need to take them in their stride. But still, at times, one can’t do anything without a help. That is when you need some good samaritans coming your way.

I had a similar experience recently while returning to Delhi on my bike from Shitlakhet near Almora in Uttarakhand. This is also an example of how things go bad beyond your comprehension. I might not go into the details of what happened to my bike, as this isn’t the my motive on writing this post. 

I got down from, Shitlakhet to Kankrighat through a 22 km dirt road. I stopped for some time at Kankrighat पहाड़ीपिसीनून outlet of Himalayan Flavours. 

It was quarter past nine when I left Kankrighat. I had travelled hardly five-six kilometres when my fuel tank went into reserve. Immediately after that, bike started giving some jerks and in another few hundred metres, bike engine went off. I kept kicking, engine would start but it won’t accelerate. 

It was a bolt out of blue for me. I kept trying a few things, I even called my bullet mechanic in Delhi. But on-call help has its limitations. Some time passed by, then two young bikers crossed me. One of them returned after sensing that I was in need of help. He also tried a few things. When nothing worked, he left saying that he will send some mechanic from the next workshop. 

Next town- Khairna was still about 4-5 kilometres away. There was no population around. This particular road strech was carved out of river bed, so there is Kosi river on one side and cliff on the other. I called some friends in Bhowali, if they knew any mechanic in Khairna, who could come my way. In meantime, I kept my Delhi mechanic on call. I needed a screwdriver to try open the carburetor valve. I didn’t have one in my tool box.

Road stretch from Kankrighat to Khairna on Almora-Bhowali road

I waved a biker. He immediately stopped. I asked for screwdriver, he was not having one. But, he searched in his bag for some alternate, and he found a knife. I tried with that but it didn’t work. I thanked the gentleman and let him go. Before leaving, he asked me to move a bit ahead from that place, as it was a land sliding zone and there was danger of shooting stones from mountains. 

Bhowali friends got in touch with some mechanic in Khairna, who called me but asked me  to bring the bike to him somehow. Wow! What a help, sir ji! I dragged my bike around hundred metres or so to a safer abd wider place.

An hour had already passed. I wasn’t panicking but was starting to feel nervous about the situation. Sun was beating hard and it was extremely hot.

Then came this young guy on the bike. He was also going to the Khairna side. He stopped immediately upon seeing me struggling with my bike. One thing striking about this person was, he was very reassuring. He was confident that something will work out. He was also sure that he was not going to leave me behind. 

For next one hour, both of us kept struggling with the bike, trying many things and few things repeatedly, But nothing worked. He also saw a known truck driver passing through, waved him, asked him for help, He came down, tried a few things but of no avail.

Kosi River on the right and mountain cliff on the left of the road

Then we came to the last resort- pulling the bike to Khairna, where, he said, he knew a mechanic. Initially we thought of pushing the bike by foot from behind. But we were not able to manage that. Then, he asked me whether I had a rope with me. I had a luggage cord with hooks. Using that, we tied my bike to his and started moving slowly. It wasn’t easy as my Thunderbird was quite heavier than his bike. Moreover, road wasn’t in good condition. This was the same road, that bore most of the brunt during October flash floods in the region. Incidentally, I was struck in Uttarakhand at that time too!

After covering some distance, the hooks of the cord gave away. Luckily, I had another cord with me. We then used that one. On hill roads, this is very tricky, You have to manage the distance and balance so as to avoid hitting each other and also maintain the momentum. A small bit of carelessness or miscalculation by one can easily drag other to some mishap as well. 

We kept moving ahead slowly. Due to one abrupt stop and start pressure, hooks of this cord also broke apart. We were still about a kilometre away from Khairna. I told him that I will drag the bike to some distance and then there was a slope till Khairna. But he was not ready to leave me alone. We tied the knots on the cord and he started pulling me once again. On the way, he called the bike mechanic in Khairna to make sure that he was there at his workshop.

Mechanic’s shop was across the bridge in Khairna towards the Ranikhet side. We finally managed to reach there. Mechanic, Babloo- started working on the bike. It took him more than 45 minutes to pinpoint the problem and get it resolved. Till then, that guy remained there overseeing he things. 

Since the issue was with the petrol in my bike and my whole fuel tank was emptied and cleaned, I needed some petrol to take me to the next petrol pump. One option was to get a bottle, take a ride to the petrol pump, get petrol and come back. But that guy, instead, immediately took the fuel gauge from the mechanic and took some petrol out of his bike and then poured it into mine. He even vehemently refused my offer for at least paying for the petrol. 

Kripal Singh in his social media avatar

So, when my bike was up and ready to go, we shook hands and then we exchanged names and numbers. He is Kripal Singh. He remained there until I left safely. He was with me for more than two hours, and made sure that my problem gets resolved and I am safely on my way back. Before that, when we were working on the bike at roadside on highway, he presumed I am a traveler guy and asked me, if I had a YouTube channel. He immediately opened my channel and subscribed it!

If not for him, then I would have had a tougher outing. I still don’t have any clue, what would I have done, if Kripal wouldn’t have come my way… may be some other samaritan. 

For people like Kripal, this might be part of their normal approach, but it means a lot to the person who is struck midway. Therefore, this attitude needs to be appreciated. 

There is another thing, I have noted all these years on roads as a biker. If you are on a two-wheeler and get struck somewhere or meet with any mishap, there is most likely a chance that some other two-wheeler rider will come to your help. But, rarely any four-wheeler will stop after seeing a troubled two-wheeler and offer to help. For that matter, rarely any four-wheeler will stop to offer help even any other four wheeler in trouble. 

Two-wheeler community is lucky in this respect to have people like Kripal Singh.

Have you ever been struck on a road with no help in sight? Have strangers helped you on the road to get out of trouble? Share your experiences with us in the comments sections below!

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