The BIG day finally arrived and we were in Islamabad, Pakistan. Ready for our adventure ride in the Karakoram mountains and Northern Pakistan.
Islamabad may not look like the most welcoming city in the intense heat of the summer and remembering its violent history, but the people we meet are extremely kind and ready to help us in all possible ways. We are now in an Islamic country and although we have two women in the group, the people we meet are virtually all men.
After settling into our hotel, it was time to give a closer look at our bikes. We saw them briefly on the arrival and with a closer inspection, they turned out even more challenging than originally thought. Knacked Suzuki 250’s, although clean and apparently serviced for the trip, held together partly with wire and duct tape – Well, we all know that wire and duct tape often do the job!
These were really not the kind of bikes we would choose for the kind of trip we were about to embark. The bikes may be great for commuting but are not designed for off-roading or long distance riding. None of the gauges on my bike worked and turn signals had a mind of their own. It was going to be a very Pakistani experience, also in respect of the bikes. A mechanic followed us along the route and his skills were needed on daily basis.
At this point it is also worth mentioning that Salman received new bikes soon after our departure, better suited for off road riding as well. To my understanding, acquiring bikes of one’s desire is not easy in Pakistan and the Suzukis were the industry standard. On the other hand, the Suzukis were familiar to Salman and his mechanic. They knew the bikes inside-out and would be able to fix anything on the road.
Heading north: Islamabad – Naran – Gilgit
A chaotic first day riding, heading out of Islamabad in intense heat towards cooler air and the town of Naran, some 300 km north. A 12 hour day on the bikes getting used to the Pakistani road culture and the bikes with a temper of their own.
Most bikes had disc brakes in the front, some had only worn drums that were very difficult to control. Drum brakes slowed down the bike very little just before locking the wheel with a screeching sound. The result was two riders down the first day, luckily without any major injuries. Continue reading Karakoram Mountains and Northern Pakistan