Day 5 – Manali to Shimla

Apropos my communique yesterday, the order of the day was to go to a new hotel on the other side of the river, called the Sterling.

All of the rally members checked in there so as to have all of the participants together.

We were sorry to leave the castle ( The Himalayan) but it’s a team thing so all in together.

We whiled the day away, taking a taxi into the Manali township to an eating place called  Johnson’s burgers. Great western style restaurant with food alike. Open courtyard and the sun was out.

We walked, a group of seven of us around the bustling township. Shops were selling all sorts of cheap ware, ice creams, souvenirs, food and the like.

We all took a Tuk Tuk back to the hotel late on the afternoon and readied for dinner at Seven. Tuk Tuk’s are a hard ride, but cheap.

Steve had “crashed” and didn’t attend dinner but an announcement was made to advise that we were to leave the hotel for Shamli at 5.00 am on the next morning.

Great news but Steve was unaware so had to rouse him to let him know.

As most of you would relate to, when woken it’s hard to get back into slumber, knowing that you needed to wake at 4. Generally sleep is light.

Everybody was up and ready to go at around 4.30am rearing to get underway before the locals got on the road.

We were to travel in convoy and not let any locals come between the cars.

Tall order.

The local drivers are so persistent when passing they don’t care where or how they pass. Oncoming traffic doesn’t worry them at all.

Once on the road all went well, though the road surface was just terrible. Slips of rocks all over the road and we ducked and dived to avoid damage to the cars. Some of these rocks were the size of busses.

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The distance is 280 kms but it took us 10 hours of careful but hard driving.

Our convoy was police led so that we had good road access to a cable swing bridge that crossed the river that had damaged the bridges we had crossed the previous day. It was  about an hour south of Manali. About 30kms.

This swing bridge was apparently opened for traffic(cars) for our escape. All of the other bridges were closed. Some of them very substantial bridges.

Our cars were allowed across one at a time due to weight restrictions. The bridge was very narrow so car to ensure that accessories such as chrome strips were not removed. Some cars who didn’t take care did have strips missing on arrival on the other side. Of course the bridge did swing and it seemed unsteady. Good to get across in one piece.

One by one they gathered on the other side ready to trip down to Shimla. The lager and heavier cars were left to cross last. Not a comforting thought for them.

Denise’s navigator had omitted to uplift the route chart at the hotel. So no driving directions!!! How dumb!

Asked if he could take a photo of someone else’s instructions was the only way to get the instructions.

To begin with we got horribly lost on the wrong side of the river going south. Of course there were no bridges to allow us to cross they were all closed.

We had to innovate so as to find the way back and found a way across some 22 extra k’s.

Stress!!!!! Stress!!!

The day was not a competition day and the only formality was a Passage Control to ensure that every team was on course.

The navigator tried hard to follow the instructions from the photos taken of the route guide. Most difficult on a small screen, that didn’t stay live for long and disappeared at a moments notice when desperately needed. Very hard work indeed though we didn’t get lost.

The trek through the mountains was not helped by the fact that many of the roads, tracks, were not were they were supposed to be and the main road disappeared from view as it melded in to look like a secondary road. Which one to take??

That’s rallying though. The roads were atrocious. We hammered our way through some interesting countryside though looking away from the road ahead could be lethal.

Car drivers here don’t care when they pass another. They go when they like and blind corners just don’t seem to bother them.

They think that you should move out of the way once they commence their driving manoeuvre.

It’s so stressful. Some of the rally teams cars had been damaged by passing cars but none seriously.

So on and on, over car and backbreaking roads we went. 280 k’s in 10 hours. Hard work and draining.

We got into Shimla, not quite last.

It didn’t matter from a competitive view so no points lost.

We are staying in the Oberoi hotel in Shimla.

A very nice pub in the middle of what seems nowhere.

So all in all a very exciting adventure albeit that it was a rough trip on both the car and our bodies.

A good nights rest and we’re good again.

It’s another rest day today so we can spend some time reassessing the car and having a look around. The area is famous for its narrow gauge railway and its “Tudorbethan” architecture.

There may be a rally planned for tomorrow around the local area, but due to the disruption from the rains a few days ago we will likely return to the planned rally on Saturday. Shimla to Mussoorie 269 kms. Apparently Avery arduous trip.

So long for now.

Day 1 – Delhi to Chandigarh

Denise was allotted a 12 minute past 10 o’clock start. Exciting now as we go under the start gate and push the trip meter to Zero on entering the arterial route from the hotel.

Traffic was surprisingly light for this time of day compared to our experience on previous days taxiing through Delhi.

Following the route book exactly the task of getting out of the city was relatively easy, as Steve quickly learned how to drive like the locals. Weaving in and out of the traffic, giving way when necessary and following the navigators instructions!

Sounding his horn and blending in on the scene.

We were happy to be on the road and underway for the event.

Accuracy of the route book information enable a pleasing result to this voyage.

Our halfway point at Karmal, 119km north of Delhi was without incident and we could appreciate that the local driving methods were really quite effective. There was no need for slowing traffic hold ups of any sort. Slow traffic was “politely” horned out of the way or advised of our presence.

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It seems unruly but works like a charm.

We complain at home when we see foreign visitors from India drive like they do over here, but this is how they earned their driving licence. They don’t know any different.

It works here and without it the country would grind to halt.

Fuelled up at Karmal, just in case, and headed up north to Chandigarh. Same old for another 140 kms. Really nothing to comment on.

Denise hummed along at a steady 80-90 kms. No issues.

Out of one city traffic chaos and into another at Chandigarh. Again the accuracy of the route charts aided us to our destination with ease.

We were about the eighth to arrive at the Taj hotel and parked on the grass in a prime spot.

During the trip Steve had felt a slight rumble, through the steering column somewhere on the left side of the car.

He removed the wheel and discovered oil on the inside of the rim.

He decided to dismantle the brake and axle mechanism, like a surgeon. It all came away like it should revealing an oil seal leak. Not a bad one but he decided to innovate and apply another seal onto the axle plate, if that makes sense, with some red paste/sealer.

Reversing the process putting everything back, again with surgical cleanliness and care the wheel was back in place and all was good. It was good.

Shower and change ready for a few cold drinks, then a great Indian dinner! Fabulous.

Better than it looked and we all most likely ate more than we should have.

Then bed.

Unfortunately,  the opportunity for photographs of interesting scenes didn’t come up. The townships were hovels of tin and wood on dusty unkempt streets and sidewalks.

We didn’t slow down to shoot photos and all of the voyage was on motorways. Good ones too in most places.

 

Day two has us starting at 9.23 am.

Hope we get some better driving excitement.

We are heading into the foothills of the Himalayas.

Ready to go

Just a brief note to advise that all cars for the event were uplifted this morning and driven some 57kms back to The Imperial hotel in preparation for the start of the rally tomorrow. (Friday 21st).

Denise perked up quite nicely when started and all looked well. All was well.
We had been given a tulip map to direct us to our destination. It was hot and in some serious traffic Denise got hot too.

We survived the traffic turmoil with Steve practicing on the horn to warn others we were coming. He was good! Horn worked well and we blended nicely into the chaos. Our first foray into the traffic that is Delhi.
Upon our arrival back at the hotel we adorned Denise with a floral tribute and to celebrate our rally through India. It’s how it should be.

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We were later issued with the traditional route and map books, quite some volume, and the first official amendments for the first days competition

We are ready to go.
An official dinner tonight and tomorrow we’re off and on our way to Chandigarh north of Delhi.

Delhi Temple

India, specifically Delhi, has so much to discover. Apart from the natural features, it has a numerous mixture of religions that dominate the daily activities of its peoples.

Mr Singh arrived at 9.30 this morning and suggested that we visit his Sikh temple. He is a man of the Sikh faith so thought that we may be interested to learn what they do.

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We agreed, and parked beneath this huge building complex and so entered the temple where there was much going on with people, lots of people doing “their thing” heading toward the main chanting area.

We were requested to remove our footwear and socks and to cover our heads with an orange headscarf. This was a sacred place.

We were introduced to a guide who related to us what their religion means. I will not repeat all she said. But it seemed interesting. She was very serious.

We walked into the ceremonial area after washing our hands and feet. Listened to their continuous chanting /singing songs from their book of scripture.

It would bore the reader if I explained through my impressions what went on there but they do it 24x7x52. They do shifts to maintain this schedule.

They feed anyone who enters and we were told  that they serve some 30000 meals a day. This doubles to 60000 on weekends and many times more for special religious occasions. Their kitchens are a continuous production line of food making. Most impressive. All those involved, and there are many, are volunteers. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts. And no doubt a meal or two.

It’s a huge operation and relates to us that this religion really does give to all who wish to enter this magnificent temple. They really do feed the masses.

Thanking all those who showed us around we continued to the purpose of our morning travels to a Delhi department store. Nothing flash.

Stephen was investigating the procurement of some “flying” carpets. Just in case.

He’s a real trader. I don’t know if or what he bought but the bartering was strong and persistent.

Then on to another modern shopping area to buy some “jingle” type car window adornments. Something gaudy and a bit of fun. Will transmit photos when cars are adorned.

I know that the afore-going is far from a car rally experience. But that will be the focus once we rev the motors onto the road.

Back to hotel for a late lunch and a rest.

Tomorrow we commence a bus trip to uplift our cars. It could take up to 5 hours we are told. Once uplifted we will follow a tulip map for our first foray into the dense traffic that is Delhi.

Looking forward to it.

Gearing up

Mr Singh came to pick us up at 9.00 (Tuesday) instead of 10.00 as we thought it prudent to commence our Morris parts buying spree whilst the day was still somewhat cool.

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Our hotel from the outside….just kidding

We headed into the morning traffic throng in the direction of a chemist that could supply some small pressurised cans of oxygen in preparation for our travels into Nepal and up to the foothills of the Himalayas.

We just might need to quell the problems of altitude sickness.

Then off to a money changer who Mr Singh said would give a better deal.

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Mr Singh

Business doesn’t really get underway here until 9.30-10am. He rang the proprietor who promptly arrived to undertake the transaction. No extra bidding the rate to our advantage, though, as expected, Steve gave it a good go.

On through the traffic which by now had increased considerably both in numbers and noise. Horns now being used in a harmony of tones to warn of their presence and avoid hitting another vehicle. Hitting another vehicle here I thought would be easy as.

As it happens, amid the throng they all miss each other. Amazing when you consider that cars are not only travelling in the same direction, they are coming at you from all sides. And Mr Singh just coolly manoeuvres his taxi in the direction of travel without missing a beat.

He was heading through the old city towards an area that dealt in all sorts of car parts and of course, and especially Morris/Ambassador parts.

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Normal wiring

We parked the car and walked the broken and dirty pavements strewn with boxes, car parts motor scooters and shop paraphernalia. People going about their daily tasks, opening up their shops.

Tooting and other signs that showed some impatience but all was well.

Stopped at a parts shop for various bits including torsion bars and cast iron fittings, boot and bonnet hinges, windscreen wiper arms and blades, steering wheel cover and a windscreen. Plus the rubbers.

Took some five hours of sorting out, but a very successful day.

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Bad wiring

All up around nz 150 bucks!

Took it all back through the traffic back to hotel.

What a traffic system. We will need to be absolutely alert when we make our way on Friday morning to escape the city and its environs when we commence the rally proper.

Lunch at the hotel now lounging on a lounger at the poolside whilst filing this report.

It’s a hard life this rallying.

Tomorrow is a day off and we have arranged for Mr Singh to pick us up at 9.30 for a tutu into New Delhi where he told us the shopping was good and it is a more modern cityscape.

Delhi cont…

Steve and I had breakfast with Monte Gingery from New York and exchanged stories of the Peking to Paris rally where we first met up.

By 7.30am the temperature was making itself felt and some sweat was forming on the brow.
Great day in Delhi.
Explored the hotel, built in 1936, it is a museum hotel with a number of galleries and adorned with historical paintings, lithographs and statues in bronze and cast of the influencial people through to the modern age in India.
What a glorious history!
The Raj, Victorian and colonial intermixed architectural styling is displayed magnificently.

We thought of India as a backwater with loads of people. The loads of people is true but backwater, no.
We’ve not seen much of the place yet but I think that India will surprise us.
We spent the morning at poolside catching up a few zzzzds.
We had arranged to meet Mr Singh at midday for a short sightseeing trip that ended in visiting a number of part suppliers of Morris parts.

Fascinating the way that people here do business. Sunday is not an excuse for a day off. Little shops packed with parts and people making sales like there is no tomorrow.
Cars being maintained and panel beaten in a most basic manner. They just don’t have tools so the improvise. Really neat to observe.

Driving around here in Delhi is what might be called casual, as although there are lots of vehicles on the road no one is impatient. Horns are used, but only to warn others that they need to look out. No aggro.
Everything seems to flow, and as we saw, and to which Mr Singh attested, “nothing is impossible” on the roads.

Regarding mobile phones, the cost for a mobile phone is $400 rupees for a 12 week period. Thats $10.00 nz. Texts are free!
We are being ripped off in nz.
And everybody sports a phone. Even the beggars have mobile phones to do whatever.

Had a look at a garden park and walked around for 30 minutes. Too hot to stay longer so back to the hotel for a rest.

Tomorrow is our first meeting with the ERA to obtain import permits for the cars. This ought to be short and sweet then it’s off to look for more parts for Denise.
A windscreen, torsion bars, boot and bonnet hinges, windscreen wipers. All of those things that can no longer be obtained in nz and they are relatively cheap and new here.

So that’s the plan. We’ve a little time before we receive the cars, and that’s when the heat comes on to get the cars ready for the start on Friday.

Delhi

Hey everyone.

Got into Delhi @11.00 pm and we’re met by Mt Singh, a driver that Steve’s sister had organised.

Formalities at the airport were short and sweet. When we exited the building we were met with a wall of heat, and people.

Whisked away by car and taken to our hotel, The Imperial.

Grand and huge and luxurious. Got in at midnight and straight to bed after a shower. Had a bad neck headache, probably from trying to sleep in the aircraft seat. Most uncomfortable. Would have hated to be in the back of the plane.

Up for b/fast at 6.00. Getting hot now at 9.00 am.

Meeting Mr Singh at 12.00 for a tutu around the city. 17 million people live here in Delhi. So quite crowded.

I suspect that we will be surprised at what we will see later in the day.

Otherwise all is well.

Have met a few of the competitors already. Good to catch up. Will keep you updated.

NZ Herald. Prelude to the Himilayan Challenge. Delhi India through Nepal and back to the Taj Mahal at Agra.

boptimes photo 18-7-18

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=12088395

Taking of the Himalayan Challenge in a 1958 Morris Oxford
Bay of Plenty Times
On Monday Mount Maunganui’s Steve Partridge will farewell his well-travelled 1958 Morris Oxford. The next time he sees it will be in the Indian City of Delhi ready for a 7200km rally adventure.
Partridge and his Rotorua co-driver Corgi La Grouw are the sole Kiwi entrants in the 2018 Himalayan Challenge, a 21-day vintage and classic car endurance rally across India and Nepal, competing at altitudes of 5000m.
Organisers describe the route as unmapped roads, winding mountain passes, hair-raising highways and unrivalled scenery. The competition is on open road and requires precision timekeeping and navigation as well as reliability.
The 1958 Morris Oxford of Mt Maunganui’s Steve Partridge and Rotorua’s Corgi La Grouw during the 27-day 2016 Rally of the Incas from Buenos Aires to Lima.

Argentina2 18-7-18
The Bay of Plenty duo are experienced endurance rally competitors. They drove the Morris in the 2013 Peking-to-Paris Rally and the 2016 Rally of the Incas in South America. They also competed in the 2015 Trans-America Rally in a 1961 Ford Galaxy convertible.
The Oxford is being shipped next week ahead of the rally start in September where a field of 40 cars — ranging from a 1907 Itala to a 1975 Mercedes-Benz 280 Coupe — will assemble in Delhi. The route is so challenging that the organisers, the UK-based Endurance Rally Association, have limited entries to teams that have experience in previous events.
The 1800cc Morris Oxford is by no means the fastest or most powerful in a field that includes Bentleys and Porsches. But it’s a proven endurance rally car.
”It’s a great car because it’s so simple and easy to fix if anything does break,” said Partridge.
The 1958 Morris Oxford of Mt Maunganui’s Steve Partridge and Rotorua’s Corgi La Grouw during the 27-day 2016 Rally of the Incas from Buenos Aires to Lima.
They are self-contained on the rally without a service crew. The Morris boot carries a workshop trolley jack, spare axles, tubes, rubber bushes, a distributor and a spares kit including gaskets and suspension parts.
”The best thing about the Oxford is everything that fits on the right also fits on the left so you only have to carry half as many spares.
”It’s easy to pull the floating axles out. In South America we blew the head gasket and I changed it and we were going again in 90 minutes.”

Argentina 18-7-18
The Morris has a roll cage and a sump guard and is required to have a fire extinguisher and full medical kit. Navigation gets some modern assistance with two GPS units and a digital tripmeter and in the interests of long-distance comfort the Oxford has some Mercedes-Benz seats with armrests from a Range Rover.
”It’s a really comfortable car with lots of legroom and headroom. We put our suitcases and spare tyres in the back seat,” says Partridge.
Partridge bought the car in 2012 from Wellington and prepared it for the 2013 Peking-to-Paris Rally, a triennial rally that re-traces the route of the epic 1907 Peking-to-Paris.
”My old man had a few [Oxfords]. He was a car wrecker and I knew they were a reliable car. The other reason was 2013 was 100 years of Morris.”
They finished 17th out of 100 entrants in the Peking-to-Paris and then Partridge drove the car to England and shipped it home. The next outing was the 2015 Rally of the Incas from Buenos Aires to Lima.
”It’s had a bit of a rebuild since South America and I took it to a rally in the South Island to run it in.”
The Oxford has conquered some tough terrain in its rally career.
On the 27-day 2016 Rally of the Incas from Buenos Aires to Lima. Photo / Gerald Brown/Endurance Rally Assn
”I’ve driven it through dry river beds in Mongolia, the Gobi Desert and across Alpine passes in Switzerland,” says Partridge.
”We broke the windscreen in Siberia and I swear we ended up with 100,000 mosquitoes in the car. We drove with goggles for a couple of days and then I made a temporary windscreen out of some plastic from a shop front.”
On the Rally of the Incas, Partridge and La Grouw were presented with the award for being The Most Self Reliant Crew, a prize that reflects their Kiwi can-do approach.
”They call me ‘Jack Fix-it-all’,” says Partridge.
”We’re like a couple of hillbillies from New Zealand and some might laugh at us but I think we have one of the best cars.”

Denise Lima 18-7-18
The Himalayan Challenge starts on September 21 in Delhi and loops through northern India and Nepal. The finish — with the backdrop of the Taj Mahal at Agra — is on October 11.