It’s in the heart of adventure. The mountain. Piercing the flat line of the horizon like the heartbeat of a living landscape. It makes us cast our gaze up as we approach, daring you to climb the formidable trails that cross the rusted autumn landscape. Throttle on through the river and carry on up the valley, then the fun starts. Days like this can’t be replicated. When the sun finally breaks through the clouds just as you come around the bend, lighting up the landscape now suddenly erupting in vibrant colour and detail. Smell the fresh autumn air, cold as it pierces your nostrils and shows your breath through the helmet. Hear the distinct thump of the Enfield single cylinder as it pulls the bike up the steep trails, the clang of large rocks being repositioned by the reinforced sump guard. Splashing through rock pools? No problem. Steep hills? We’re up ‘em. Out here, it’s good to have a motorcycle that’s Made for Mountains. The Royal Enfield Himalayan.
They didn’t take much apart from a gas stove and the bare minimum of gear. A dry pair of socks and a warm hat to swap in after the days’ trek. How much do you really need? For our two adventurers on Royal Enfield Himalayans, the bare amenities and a full tank of petrol was all they required to set off. The silences expand as far as the eyes can see, only to be broken by a bird’s call and the wind running through the grass. Autumn in Wales is a special time.
That morning, it was an early start to pack the pair of Royal Enfield Himalayans that would transport them across hill, valley, stream, and mountain, searching for the perfect camp spot. Our two adventurers twisted the back roads beneath their smooth 411cc engines with the wild colours of autumn glowing above them in the late morning sun. They made the road miles in no time, twisting back roads that lead them from town to town. And suddenly they found themselves at the beginning of their real adventure: the dirt tracks and rocky slopes that would lead them to the hidden country treasures which lay hidden just below the surface.
The hills and mountains of mid Wales look so peaceful and docile from afar. Their gentle slope and pastoral colour hide its challenges in plain sight. It’s only until you can touch them that you realise that to dominate them one requires patience and focus. They led their Himalayans further uphill, skipping along the flat tops of half-buried boulders, jumping out of the deep pools between jagged rock outcrops, breathing heavy in their helmets and winter gear. The sun stayed strong and lit the hills around them, illuminating the colours of a thousand different trees transitioning to the coming winter. The rocks and trees are mottled with moss and lichen year round here, wet enough even in the summer to support their thirst.
Tall grasses hide small ephemeral marshes that could sink your bike up to the engine in an instant, leaving it standing in place with each wheels half-buried, the perfect landmark to the challenges of the landscape. Having a keen eye on where you place the front tire is required around here. In a terrain like this, they were glad to be on motorbikes built to cross the most challenging terrain in the world, the Himalayas.
It’s unlike any other bike. Sitting in the saddle, you immediately become planted between the wheels in a way that inspires confidence. Roll on from 3rd into 4th as you hit the first set of bends and you realise that this is way more than an adventure bike. It invites you to take control and be the ride. The Transition from twisty roads onto trails and that confidence inspiring ride is right there with you. Stand up on the pegs and you feel the same control and ease of ride while the bike conquers everything in its path. It’s a ride that combines both challenge and pure joy in a way that allows the rider to become connected to the terrain. As their adventure took them across the varied landscape of mid Wales, our two adventurers would work together through the difficult terrain atop their Royal Enfield Himalayans.
A nod between friends can mean more than the longest prose. “Alright...let’s do it!” As they climbed the rutted and rocky slopes, the bikes continued on excitedly, over boulders and through deep puddles, like it knew the land as an old friend it hadn’t seen years. When they stopped beside the rock pond atop their climb, they looked back over the land and saw within themselves the same rugged landscape they had just overcome. Journeys like this are fed by the human spirit, and help to keep it alive. They kept on until they came to a suitable campsite and set tent and made a fire. It flickered up into the long brushstrokes of twilight in the river valley, and the dark world came alive around them. They had found the place where their souls were set free.
Camp is more than a place to stop and rest for an evening. It is trust. It’s acceptance. Stillness and vulnerability. On the bike, you are powerful, moving through the landscape with an ally to overcome the physical challenges. But as you shut the bike off and the white noise of engine valves and exhaust blasts suddenly vanishes, the sounds that surround you vanish like the warm autumn disappearing under a cloudless night. Then it’s just you. Even if you aren’t travelling alone, the sudden rush that comes from this evaporation of stimuli can cause great catharsis. This is when we can process the rush of thoughts we’ve had from the days ride. This is When we can put into perspective our troubles and worries, and learn how to overcome (or simply choose to overcome) hurdles that have held us back in the past. This is the purpose of adventure, to travel beyond our familiar places to discover new ways to see the world and see ourselves.
They woke up the next morning to the sun coming in warm across the valley, the sounds of the birds catching their breakfast just outside the green panels of the tent. A spark and a flame warmed them with tea and hot breakfast before setting off. With fuel still in the tank, they pointed their wheels west under the low November sun and explored the nearby dams and reservoirs of the Elan Valley. The bike was lovely underneath them as they followed the paved path carved down the valleys. Massive brick faced dams suddenly appear, topped with patina-turquoise towers, spilling millions of gallons of water down its face. Continuing down the valley they passed one dam after another, feeling the connection to past generations through the landscape.
There is a connection between adventurers that transcends language and location, hardship or outcome, and that is the human spirit. The human spirit keeps us pushing forward to a greater understanding of ourselves and the world around us. It is the fuel that keeps the fire of exploration and discovery alive, and each of us has a journey to take.
It begins with the most intense and varied greens, when the sun is high and the trees are happily basking in the long midsummer days. They know when change is coming, and as soon as one starts, others begin to follow and soon the whole forest is moving through autumn to winter. All of those varied greens turn to a myriad of yellows, oranges and reds of all different shades, a sign of the different paces within nature and within us all. To be there in this short window of time, maybe a week of transition, is so special and unique. It’s moments like this, the ones that show you how special a day can be, that make adventure all the more worthwhile. Moving in sync with nature and being present to all that is alive around us. The rush and the speed of the wind as it passes your face, blurring the autumn colours around you, turning the road into your pathway to the heavens. With the sun on your shoulders the bikes pull you up and up as if, after climbing these mountains, you could carry on into the rolling clouds that lead to the horizon.
And that’s what adventure is about - to transcend the present and connect to something bigger. Sometimes we can get caught up in what we have or what we want, placing things between us and the experiences we want to have. When you have a machine that connects you to the land, that doesn’t stand between you and adventure, it opens up your experience to become about more than the ride, more than the trip, more than the bends and the rocky slopes. You become the adventure, and you’ll never feel the same again.