Morpeth Rotary Club
MEMBERS had a call to adventure when their speaker was an elderly gent who had been on a Royal Enfield motorcycling tour of some of the worst roads at the top of the world.
Ron Patrick did not wear his leathers for his talk, he was more formally attired for the occasion.
The famous motorbikes were made in Britain until the late ’50s then production began to move to India.
He first flew to Kathmandu – Nepal is 500 miles long and 125 miles wide with land rising from a few hundred feet to 29,000ft.
For 80 per cent of the population, the income is less than $2 a day.
The country was a monarchy until 2010 but, following 10 years of revolution, the majority political group is communist with elections expected in June of this year. There are a number of beautiful temples, but not enough money is spent on roads, hospitals and schools.
There are around five doctors for every 100,000 people.
The public seem to be happy and the children well dressed and cared for. About 35 per cent of the economy depends on trekkers and tourists.
There were eight on the tour with a leader, assistant, two porters and a mechanic.
They followed in a 4x4 Landrover. They used a system of well-established camps overnight.
Six of the bikes were brand new but, even so, the mechanic was needed every evening.
Riders were taken out individually by the leader to show them the rules of the road.
They were basically that traffic did not stop at junctions but you travelled slowly at 10 to 20 miles an hour and threaded your way forwards by filtering through vehicles.
Riders used the horn all of the time. There were lots of pedestrians, goats and cows but everyone was very tolerant.
They stopped in time for a walk in the afternoon and visited schools and monasteries.
Sometimes there were swimming pools of hot spring water.
Most people spoke English and the scenery was spectacular.
The roads were very rough, with some serious potholes that were never filled.
With a local tradition of pilgrimage, there was plenty of accommodation, all of it clean. There were regular local service buses.
There was jungle as well as mountain landscape, with elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, monkeys and river canoeing.
After three days of hard riding on the motorbike, Mr Patrick retired to the Landrover.
His legs were getting too tired and he was having to concentrate on the road so much that he was missing the scenery.
Back home, Mr Patrick rides a BMW.
Next year he is off to the USA on a Harley-Davidson.