We woke up to overcast skies and made a rather lazy start after several cups of coffee. It's Vir's birthday and it is the second time that I'm on the road with him on this day. The last time was at Whisky Nala below Lachung La on a blustery and savagely cold morning.
The places we ride past is like a familiar litany -- Ropar, Kiratpur, Swarghat, Bilaspur, Mandi, Pundoh... And we still haven't escaped the fetid breath of the monsoon 150 km into the ride.
Our early start has seen us escape the truck traffic that clogs up the stretch of road from Swarghat to Surendernagar and we pick off the straining trucks with ease swooping around them with calculated nonchalance.
The road past Mandi is pristine and the long sweeping corners are a delight to carve into, the thunderous exhausts of Bono and Bumblebee providing a pleasing rhythm to the ride, the cadence rising and falling with each gearshift.
Past Pundoh and the sky holds ominous portents of rain. Can we beat it to Manali? Of course not! We arrive in Manali drenched and bedraggled after an exhilarating ride, not fast, not slow, but one that felt just perfect.