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A trip of a lifetime

October 3, 2018 October 2018 No Comments

Brothers Joe and Chris Howells, now both in their 60’s, grew up in Cologne Street, Martinborough. In August this year they joined a group of 15 people who motorcycled over the world’s highest roads in the Himalaya Mountain Range. Joe and Chris joined a 2 week Motosaga Expedition which took them to the disputed border between India and China. 

Riding Royal Enfield 500 motorbikes over several high altitude passes, the ride culminated with the world’s highest moterable pass, Khardungla, at 18,000 feet (5,600 metres). Everest base camp is about 17.600 feet and Mount Cook NZ is 12,218. Joe and Chris rode over a cross section of the famous Himalaya Range of mountains, on what they describe as “the trip of a lifetime”. 

Royal Enfield Motorbikes are early 1950’s technology, still manufactured in India today. Both Joe and Chris were amazed at how well the bikes stood up to the thrashing they got on the sometimes very rough, high altitude roads. Joe commented that he rode the motorbike through a river ford at 15,000 feet altitude, with water coming over the petrol tank. The bike stalled. To Joe’s great astonishment it started again and he powered out of the river. Whilst some roads where great, some were atrocious, pushing the riders to the extreme of their experience. 

Precautions meant that none of the group of 15 experienced altitude sickness, though both Joe and Chris found the going difficult at 18,000 feet above sea level. “We were at that height for about 20 minutes at a time and were glad to start the descent, finding it quite hard to get sufficient breath at high altitude”. 

Whilst both Joe and Chris had travel insurance which ostensibly covered them for the ride, an accident involving one of their group from Calcutta, India,  made it clear that emergency back-up was minimal. No cell phone coverage, no Westpac Rescue helicopter, no Wellington Free Ambulance, just the support Jeep to “pick up the pieces” and take one to the nearest hospital, which could be up to 300 km away over rough roads. “Safety first” took on a new meaning!

Chris has lived in Brisbane, Australia for the last 40 years and retains a love of old British motorbikes. Joe recently retired to live in Martinborough, and has ridden motorbikes and push bikes all over the world. Whilst nowadays he is more inclined to ride a mountain bike locally, Joe really enjoyed the Himalayan expedition. Both Joe and Chris agreed it was “a trip of a lifetime”. 


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