BLAZING NEWS

WINTER 2015



NE India – Full Steam Ahead!

HERE AT Blazing Trails, we have been organising the finest two-wheeled Himalayan experiences for the past 15 years and to celebrate we’ve decided to add a new route to our mountainous portfolio, a tour that takes us far from the regular Indian routes. The Darjeeling & Sikkim Tour is an adventure set in the Eastern Himalaya that is high on historical interest, incredible landscapes and typically twisty mountain road riding.

An internal flight will take participants from Delhi to Bagdogra in West Bengal, before joining the Himalayan Railway for the trip up to the bustling colonial hill station of Darjeeling, where our trusty Royal Enfields and views to some of the World’s highest mountains await.

From Darjeeling the road-trip carries us into the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Sikkim, India’s least populous state, away from the major tourist trails and to within 15km of Tibet. Journeying through incredible mountain scenery, we will visit tea plantations, charming villages and the beautiful, colourful monasteries of this overwhelmingly Buddhist state.
On returning to Darjeeling there will be the opportnuity to ride the UNESCO-listed steam railway to Ghoom, enjoy views of Kanchenjunga (the planet’s third-highest mountain) and to shop, browse and eat in this lively hill town’s bazaars.

We are planning just the one Darjeeling and Sikkim trip in 2016 (November) and places are limited. Interest in this tour has thus far been high, so to secure your place do not delay. All the necessary information is on our website, but if you have any further queries, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@blazingtrailstours.com,
or call on: +44 (0) 5603 666788.

 




 

Free-Shirts

YOU MAY have noted from the top of this mail that we have changed our company logo and hope it meets with approval. Sunshine, mountains and motorcycle travel are what we are all about and so felt we needed a logo that better represented what we do…

Quality gratis T-shirts featuring the spiffing new design will be issued by courier prior to each Asian tour; for African tours they will greet you on arrival.

Colours will be limited to whatever we choose (probably olive, as salivated over by our predatory model) and there will be a range of sizes to select when you book, plus an option to choose between male and female styles.

Anyone not booking a tour, who is absolutely gagging to swagger around in this fine, high quality apparel, can order a shirt, or extra shirts, by mailing jaras@blazingtrailstours.com. But they won’t be cheap, oh no. Ordering and couriering small numbers is an expensive and time-consuming business, so a shirt to the UK will cost £18.



What Did You Think Of.... Spiti Valley?

WAITING QUIETLY in the far north of India lies Spiti, a magical valley, a place of surreal beauty that nestles against Tibet, bridging the border between Hindu and Buddhist cultures. To get there, high Himalayan passes must be crossed, precipitous roads negotiated and climatic challenges endured.

Most of us working at BT think our Spiti Tour is the best we do in the Indian Himalaya, thanks to the blend of adventure, culture and brain-busting landscapes.

Our circumnavigation of the valley begins and ends in historical Shimla. Travelling to the north, the route winds across the Himalayan foothills before following the frothing Sutlej River into the district of Kinnaur, where things get seriously steep, the road carved into the vertical rock face.

By riding day four, the road climbs through a series of crazy switchbacks, reaching 12,000ft at Nako, before descending into Spiti Valley itself, where the landscape changes radically, from green lushness to altitudinous desert where many ancient monasteries and charming villages can be visited, all linked by sinuous roads that carry you through the most other-worldly of landscapes. The huge, snow-capped, sand yellow mountains are carved-crazy by cobalt rivers, with white-walled Tibetan villages scattered among them.

At the Spiti River’s source rears Kunzum Pass, at 15,000ft the highest point of the road. There are more huge passes, rough roads and river crossings to come on the return to Shimla, but by now you’ll be a master of your Enfield...

So Spiti Valley is no pushover to ride to, but is it worth the effort?

“Reaching Spiti Valley can be quite a challenge,” says guide Adam Lewis. “Landslides can break up the road surface and you’re almost gauranteed some mud and a fair few river crossings, but it is always worth the hard work. Spiti is the real Himalayan gem, with few tourists, mind-warping scenery, huge cultural interest and the most amazing roads.”

“It can get a bit scary and there’s some discomfort, but the place and the trip are awesome all-round,” says Sue Dowle, who rode pillion with partner Ken on their third BT trip. “The scale, stark geographical beauty of the scenery and thousands of years’ of Buddhist history made me feel I knew little about the world. The only downside we found was the long journey to get there but the standard of food and accommodation is pretty good considering the remote location.

“Ken says he found the riding challenging, especially with me pillion when there were river crossings or mud. I felt OK, found the ride amazing and always find Enfields comfortable. There was never a dull moment, so many highlights and always something to marvel at.”

HOW FAR? 750 miles
HOW LONG? 14 days, including two down days
HOW MUCH?
From £2349 exc’ flights; £2999 with

WATCH A VIDEO OF SUE’S TOUR HERE




Product Test





Sidi Adventure Boots, £314.99

THE SPEC:
Rugged leather boots, with Gore-Tex GTX membrane, shin and ankle protection and a beefy great sole. Also has removable/washable insole and arch support. Available in black, black, or black.

THE TEST:
Nine months and 20,000km of day-to-day riding, researching routes and leading tours in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho come rain or shine. These boots have waded rivers, crossed scorching, 45-degree deserts, tackled rocky mountain trails and been subjected to several downpours.

THE TESTER:
Damon has been riding and working with bikes for 30 years. An ex-magazine editor, road tester, product tester, mechanic and despatch rider, he now travels between India and Africa as a tour leader with Blazing Trails.

THE GOOD:
My feet, being flat as pancakes and rich in odour are a trial for any boot and these Sidis stepped up to the cheesy challenge with aplomb. The first surprise was how comfortable they were from new, requiring almost no breaking-in. The next how light, flexible and comfortable to walk in they are, considering they look like they could kick down a nuclear bunker and have all the protective features of a full-blown enduro boot. Although not tested in any major impacts, the shin and ankle protection look well up to the job. Ankle support is articulated, so there’s no restriction to movement.

Having two buckle clasps and a large Velcro patch for closure, getting in and out of the things takes seconds.

A thick, ‘commando-style’ sole gives all the grip you could ask for and is nice and hard, so no tired insteps when standing on the foot pegs for long periods. All round comfort is a high point, with a first rate foot bed, good arch support and a wide enough fit to accommodate even my flippers. The heel is high and pronounced – another thing I like as at five-foot-eight they help me reach the floor on high-ride bikes and keep the foot in position on the ‘peg, making it easier to find the foot controls when standing.

Although I haven’t been sub-zero in these, the lowest temperature being around 5ºC in the mountains of Lesotho, they have been tested from there up to over 40ºC and never felt particularly hot or cold. The higher grade GTX Gore-Tex as a lining material lets the boots breathe easy, while being fully waterproof, whether standing in water, splashing through it, or enduring hours of brutal rain.

THE BAD:
As with most top quality gear, the price is steep. Apart from that I can’t fault these. I have tried my hardest, but cannot find a thing to criticise.

THE VERDICT:
Over £300 is a lot to spend on a pair of boots, but I if were going to set out from the African Cape to London tomorrow, it would be in these. Over the past decade I have gone through a pair of Sidi Dakars and adventure footwear from Hein Gericke and Forma. These are the best so far, by quite a margin.





Gear-Up With...

DO YOU ever feel a little under-dressed for riding a motorcycle? Is your kit inadequate, or somewhat out of date and unfashionable? Or just maybe you see your forthcoming adventure tour as a damn good excuse to fire up the lap-top and hit the electronic shops?

If so, then you may wish to take advantage of a discount offer we have negotiated with online bike-gear big boy, GetGeared.

On booking any tour with us, you will receive a discount code, entitling you to a pretty handy fifteen per cent off. To make use of this, go to the GetGeared site and when ‘checking out’, bang in the code – and away you go.





For Your Motorcycle Diaries

NOW THEN! Blazing Trails will be running its first ever UK event in the summer of 2015. Our camping weekend, held in Wiltshire over the weekend 5-7th August, will be a chance to meet up with old friends, including Blazing Trails staff, make new pals, relive epic bike adventures and plan new ones.

We aim to have a barbecue, bar and band on the scene and will attempt to set up a screen for video and slide shows.

We are currently working out the pricing, but we’re not going to run this as a money-making venture.

While there will be plenty of camping space, those wanting to gaurantee a spot should contact david@blazingtrailstours.com well in advance.



Suzie Says

AN ESPECIALLY big thank you goes out from us to those who took part in our Nepal tours this year – and, of course, to the team responsible for running them under challenging circumstances: Adam, Jamal, Jev and Javed.

The run up to the tours could hardly have been less auspicious – first the earthquakes, then the border disputes that cut off fuel supplies and further disrupted the lives of ordinary Nepalis, who were already struggling to make a living since the quakes and the virtual collapse of the essential tourism industry.

Knock on effects of all this included constantly shifting airline schedules, not just by minutes and hours, but whole days. This resulted in us having to re-book flights (both international and domestic, without recompense), hotels and in the case of Nepali businesses damaged by the ‘quakes, some destinations had to change altogether.

Then the border dispute erupted. With barely any fuel reaching the country, severe rationing was instituted and black-market prices went through the roof – especially in Kathmandu. Frantic phone calls through the night had our Nepali contacts stockpiling what fuel they could get their hands on and our Indian staff cramming tanks and containers before bringing the bikes over the border. Amazing efforts all round.

Despite all the hard work and rearranging we were forced to crop a day from the tour, for which we were sorry. Nearly all the tour participants chose to have their refund for the lost day donated to the Red Cross’ Nepal Appeal, adding £750 to the hundreds already donated by BT and its clients.

Feedback from the tour has been excellent, so overcoming all these obstacles seems to have had its rewards. So again, and on behalf of our Nepali friends, partners and their families who got some much-needed business, I thank all involved for your patience, perseverance, generosity, courage and good humour. Hopefully all will be back to normal by next season...

Suzie I’Anson, Company Founder



Upcoming Departures

Date

Tour

Country

Availabilty

January 9th, 2016

KERALA

India (South)

Yes

January 11th, 2016

CAPE CLASSIC

South Africa

Yes

February 8th, 2016

TASTE OF THE CAPE

South Africa

Yes

February 28th, 2016

CAPE CLASSIC

South Africa

Yes

April 30th, 2016

NORTHERN SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa

Yes

May 17th, 2016

JO’BURG TO CAPE TOWN

South Africa

Yes

May 28th, 2016

HIMALAYAN FOOTHILLS

India (Himalaya)

Yes

June 11th, 2016

SPITI VALLEY

India (Himalaya)

Six Bikes

June 25th, 2016

MANALI TO LEH

India (Himalaya)

Yes

July 9th, 2016

LADAKH & ZANSKAR

India (Himalaya)

Three Bikes

July 23rd, 2016

LEH TO MANALI

India (Himalaya)

Yes

August 27th, 2016

SPITI VALLEY

India (Himalaya)

Yes

September 7th, 2016

CAPE CLASSIC

South Africa

Yes

September 10th, 2016

HIMALAYAN FOOTHILLS

India (Himalaya)

Yes

September 24th, 2016

HIMALAYAN FOOTHILLS

India (Himalaya)

Yes

October 3rd, 2016

TASTE OF THE CAPE

South Africa

Four Bikes

October 15th, 2016

NEPAL

Nepal (Himalaya)

Yes

October 29th, 2016

NEPAL

Nepal (Himalaya)

Yes

November 19th, 2016

DARJEELING & SIKKIM

India (Himalaya)

Six Bikes

 

THANK YOU

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Safe Riding,
Suzie & Damon I'Anson (BT Owners).
 

PLEASE NOTE

Blazing Trails is a UK company, bonded and insured according to UK & European law. Any company offering bike hire and accommodation from the same must also be bonded and insured, regardless of flights, to prevent your loss in the event of their failure to deliver for whatever reason.
Copyright belongs to Blazing Trail Tour Ltd (UK). Unauthorised reproduction of words or pictures forbidden