Raid-de-Himalaya is considered a tough event by all. Many a potential participant baulks at the thought of having to drive so many kilometers of tough Himalayan trails in conditions that are ever changing and can be very harsh and punishing. In short the event has a reputation.
Shortage of breath, fuel, sleep, food, warmth, bed space – in short – shortage of every comfort is hall mark of the Raid. What is available in excess is bravado and sheer hardiness of the competitors.
On the other hand come May all motoring enthusiasts start checking each other on various forums and blogs on when the entry lists is going to open. The entry list is fully subscribed within month of its opening, in June itself! And the Raid actually takes place every year within opening days of October.
The actual event itself comprises of three distinct categories:
- Extreme Bikes (less said the better about these souls with bent mind and noses)
- Extreme Cars (those mad men in the mad machines)
- Adventure Cars (those who would be fool hardy to believe organizers that this would be less strenuous)
Running from Simla and making its way past upper Himalaya, Lahual, Spiti, Zanskar and Ladakh regions the Raid covers distance of ~1800 kms with punishing schedule of 300~400 kms a day. Come rain of sunshine, warmth (unlikely) or chill, rain or snow the schedule pushes competitors to take a start each day with prayer of finishing the day on their collective lips the whole day.
The Raid competitors are one side of the story. The other side comprises of scores of officials who make the whole run possible and over see that none of the demented participants come to any avoidable grief. This bunch of people attend to self inflicted injuries of the over enthusiastic drivers and even recover the people flying off the precarious mountain roads rescued. They ensure that roads are clear of traffic and man a radio network covering the head and tail of the rally.
Generally an officials day (if it can ever be called that) start about four hours in advance of the actual competitors start and ends equally late in the night. With unremitting alarm bell jingling him awake for the next days start in the eerie darkness and cold the next morning.
With this series of articles I am going to share a log of an official. You be the judge of who is more off the rocker – the enthusiastic competitor or the invisible official on the Raid.