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Chandigarh, Punjab & Haryana to Theog Himachal Pradesh, India

(March - April 2012)

Outside of Chandigarh, the narrow gauge railroad ride to Shimla begins in Kalka. The entire trip takes five hours on this slow little train, but the views are fantastic.


Often there are good places to free camp around train tunnels.


For the first time in months, we are riding in mountains again. It's slow going but good to get back in cooler temps.


The tarmac is smooth heading into the hills.


Small towns dot the hills outside of Chandigarh.


Outside of the Sikh temple in Shimla, the knife sharpener sets up his bicycle powered knife sharpener.


After years in Asia, I've finally gotten used to seeing swastikas in a different light. But with a background of red, the symbol gets suddenly ominous once again.


500 Indian Rupee notes worth about US$10 each - a small fortune here - No matter what currency you use, it it still makes the world go round. 


The Dead Body Van - not something you want to see parked in front of your house.


India has a history of selective abortions - a legacy of the burden of bridal dowries.


Commando Breast Cream - the mind boggles at the possibilities.


Wild campsite on the road to Shimla. Nearly invisible from the road, yet we were between two luxury hotels.


Coffee - the most important meal of the day for the cycle tourist.


Camping out is no reason to be uncivilized. A tarp keeps your clothes from getting filthy in camp.


Tim shaking out the dirt and bugs from the Big Agnes tent while free camping and bike touring in the Indian Himalayas.


Our campsite was home to delicate blossoms that smelled lovely at night. The bumblebees were in heaven.


Pausing at an outlook near Shimla. On a sunny day, the view is fantastic.


Be careful of distracted drivers on the road.


Climbing in the mountains above Shimla, India.  The heat, dust and camels of the plains are gone and the road goes up for several days in a row.


Gretchen meets the beast of burden of the Himalaya mountains and her new best friends - Yaks. All she talks about  now is seeing a baby Yak.


Tim and his loaded touring bike posing for some Indian tourists. 


This woman asked for a photo and straddled Gretchen's bike like a pro. We tried convincing her that she could join us but she wasn't convinced. Doesn't she look like a natural?


View from the mountain pass between Theog and Hatkoti - just above Shimla. This was the first clear day after three days of overcast skies and rain showers.


This wild campsite was quite a hike from the road. It took us at least 1/2 an hour to ferry the bikes and panniers up the slope. The reward was this sweet camp spot in the pine trees.


We found a small flat spot on an otherwise steep incline.  The tent was at a bit of a slant as it was and I had to crawl forward a couple of time during the night.  The forest was picked clean of firewood so, to conserve the pile of sticks we scavenged, I made a small rock circle and  slowly fed our small but hot fire.  I still use many tricks I learned in my years in the Boy Scouts. 


On the road below, a herd of goats pass by on the way back to the farm.


Snowy peaks appearing on the horizon.


Resort hotels being built on the road north of Shimla.


A good Indian lunch.  Beans and rice go a long way to fuel up the mountains.


At Theog, we took the road east towards Hatkoti. Immediately we dropped nearly 800 meters into this dramatic valley.


This road had been chewed up by rock slides. At some point many years ago it was paved, but it's mostly gravel now.


Small road crews have a constant job keeping the road clear of slide debris.


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