Riding a Royal Enfield in Ladakh

Name: Carl Nickel, Male, 24, USA

2008 Royal Enfield Electra – Vintage California Edition

How long I’ve been riding?

My dad bought my first bike for me and my younger brother when we were 9 and 7. The three of us grew up riding and racing motocross together until we were about sixteen – when we got into other sports. So in short, I’ve been on a bike on and off for fifteen years. A little about me I grew up in Colorado, USA and our family had a good bit of land. My brother and I – along with neighborhood friends were out in the yard building a bmx – turned motocross track from the time we got our first bikes until we moved out of the house. At one point our garage had something like six or seven bikes, a four-wheeler, and two mini bikes. It was a great way to grow up.

Where do I ride?

I like getting out in the middle of nowhere. The more remote. The better. Highlights of this trip have been Spiti Valley and the surrounding villages of Kaza. Komic, Demur, Mudh, and Dhankar were incredible.

Where have I ridden?

Growing up it was at the house during the week, or a couple of local tracks we went to on the weekends. One of my favorite memories was heading out to Moab, Utah for some riding with friends and family. Now that I’m traveling through India I’ve ridden in a loop from Dharamshala to Manali, Spiti Valley, and up to Leh. I just saw Pangong Lake, and plan to hit Nubra Valley, Zanskar Valley, Kargil, Srinigar, then back to Dharamshala.

How many bikes do I own, details?

I own one bike, and it’s the Enfield carrying me through Northern India. She’s a sweet ride. Although she can’t come with me to China, I hope to pick up another bike while there.

Favorite ride so far?

My favorite ride through India. That is tough. Pangong was incredible, but a little touristy. If we’re talking destinations, hands down Dhankar. If we’re talking ride. Has to be Sarchu to Leh. It was by far the most trying ride I’ve had thus far. Close to 10 hours, but didn’t leave until 11.30 due to a blown bridge. If you’ve ridden in the Himalayas you know it’s best to leave early in the morning to hit the river crossings before glacier melt raises the water levels. 250km and washed out roads from flooding. Rain, hail, snow, cold, night riding, and most importantly the best views I’ve seen in my life. It was an epic ride.

Carl Nickel, Pangong Tso, Ladakh, Royal Enfield, Riding in the Himalayas, Adventure, Motorcycle tours

What do I think about riding in India?

One word: Liberating. Northern India is one of the most expansive, diverse, harsh, and beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. There’s no better way to see it than on a bike. Total freedom. There’s something incredibly liberating about putting yourself in some of the world’s harshest environments on your own, and being entirely at peace with the risk you take. When I return to India – and hopefully soon – I’ll be on a bike again. There’s simply no other way to see this country.

A face in the countryside of Nepal

By: Omar Londono_MG_5705Taking the road on a bike means that you are probably going to a certain known destination but it also means travelling through the unknown. On a journey of 3000Kms from the desert in Rajasthan to the mountains in Nepal many faces appear to you and some of them are particularly attractive. I was crossing west Nepal, imagine the scenario: green fields, mud houses, colourful people and smiles by the side of a long flat road that crossed jungles, blue rivers, endless fields and ended up in the powerful mountains of the Himalayas. I had to stop due to some issues with the chain cover, and soon two local guys saw me on the side of the road trying to fix it.  They offered me help and we ended up having some lunch together.  They then took me to a beautiful lake only a few metres away from the road in the area which I would have missed had I not stopped to fix the bike. I became their guest, they invited me to spend the night in their farm house, I met their families and had a good time with them. Talking to the elders was a matter of using gestures and body language – well I can’t speak Nepali yet! Smiling, pointing, and saying random words I learnt was enough to make some kind of brotherly bond, get close to them and they to me. The lady in the photo is the grandma. On her face the lines of a life, the story of a family, and the pride of a land. Her family made her laugh while I took the shots and I realized she wanted to smile at my lense but at the same time hide those missing teeth the years had taken away from her. Isn’t she lovely?


A Face at the Mela

Rajasthani BoyFollowing our own Faces on the Trail portrait, we’d like to share other faces with you, captured by other talented artists here in India.  Where better to start than with a wonderful shot by our very good friend and photographer Rohit Lal?


A Face at the Fort Gate

Every face has a story.

A story etched on the palette that is the face.

Catching a glimpse of a face may not unveil that story.

But it’s the beginning; a spark to light the fire of imagination.

Rajasthani Portrait

A face from the desert in Rajasthan. From the indigenous gypsy communities that have dwelled there for centuries.

A face that shines in contrast to the dusty, sandy backdrop of Jaisalmer.

A face with an open heart.

An artisan face that makes traditional jewellery, and whose husband makes Rajasthani Ravalahara (violin).

A mother’s face, reflective of her children’s happiness.

Photo: Omar Londono