Raid de Himalaya 2011 – It was an early morning start the next day after “Scrutiny”. We woke up at 5:30 A.M and at 7:00 A.M were at Jutogh Army Cantonment, Shimla. Fully armed (with our camera gear of course) we entered the cantonment for a shoot (a photo shoot!). Yes! We were there to capture the Raid Army Teams (in our cameras of course) . My first ever official photo shoot and that too for the Indian Army. Awesome!!. We set up our flash lights, ate a tasty breakfast, got the Army trucks and Gypsy’s to move to our liking and set up video cameras, to capture everything we were doing to later make a time-lapse of it. We finished the shoot at around 11 A.M and were surprised by the special arrangement done for us. A small tent had been erected and we along with some high ranking officials were invited to have tea and snacks. My salute to the Indian Army for treating us so well.
Soon after, we rushed back to Motoworld (the venue for Raid de Himalaya 2011), Shimla for another photo shoot. Yes, we had another planned shoot with Team Austria. My second ever official photo shoot and that too for Team Austria. Awesome!!. Team Austria had some amazing passionate riders. Helly Frauwallner, a 52 year old rider with a podium finish at Dakar Rally to his credit, was one of the Austrian rider who was on everyone’s watch-list and the Austrians had already wooed people with their bikes! We finished off the second photo shoot with just enough time to spare.
The next event was Raid de Himalaya Flag-Off. The customary flag-off for the event to start was done by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Prem Kumar Dhumal. Raid de Himalaya – India’s longest, highest and most strenuous motor sport event had officially been given the green signal. Engine roar filled the atmosphere as 210 participants revved their engines and made way through the starting point one by one. The race was to start early next morning. At 6 P.M. the eventful day had finally ended. The day however was far from over for us. Although the race was to start at 5 A.M the next day, we being in the service team had to start a good 4-5 hours before the start of the race leg. This meant starting off for the next checkpoint at 1 A.M in the morning or very very late in the night.
Well, we did start off at 1 A.M driving on bad roads, taking dangerous detours (really dangerous detours) and a good 8 hours later reached our first check point of Raid de Himalaya. The place was called Garha Gushaini, a small and beautiful village somewhere in Himachal Pradesh on way to Manali. The first racer was expected to reach this checkpoint at 10:00 A.M (in just half time that we took to cover the same distance!). We quickly scouted for suitable locations to capture the machines in action. This was actually our one and only chance to capture the racer on Day 1. One of the many challenges in shooting this event. The whole day you travel to reach a location and 10 seconds is what you get to get a good shot of the speeding vehicle. You miss it, you are gone! I specifically remember my trembling hands as soon as I heard the very first vehicle approaching. A lot of doubts and questions were bombarding my mind. What if I miss the shot? What if my camera settings are not correct? Did I double check on the memory card?….and a lot more. The first shot is all it took for me to gain confidence and 10 vehicles later I had got the hang of it
After all vehicles had passed, the day for us was over at 11 A.M. It was time to head for the next location, Manali. The job for Day 1 was done and it was time to experience the beauty around us. Surprisingly lack of sleep and food had not bothered us at all.
It was adrenaline that was feeding us… [Next Part]