Image Source - Prashath N S (flickr)
Monsoons in India are a time when nature is draped in its very best garb. Greens cover every inch of bare hills, and waterfalls drench the sides of the earth long left dry due to the summers. Monsoons are also the time when wanderlust most beckons to us. Trips are planned, bikes are taken out, windcheaters are aired out and friends are gathered over that cup of chai.
However, monsoons are also the time when we have to be most careful of the weather! You never know when that cloud is going to burst and rain the wrath on you, or how the moss green hillsides might succeed in tripping you over and also what monsoon insects will bite your toe next.
Better safe than sorry! Here’s a checklist of things you must keep handy to save your trip from becoming a disaster!
WHAT TO WEAR?
Most important question! Since, raincoats, gumboots are just not enough. You have to be prepared for the worst to enjoy the best!
Hiking boots which are waterproof is your best bet as they will provide you better protection from the leeches, offer better mud grip and protection from slushy lands. The shoes also help in having a firm foothold and a better traction. The hiking boots are best worn with leech socks or goretex socks that are made of breathable, quick dry material to keep you safe.
This is no-brainer that you must carry raincoats, however, a quick tip to follow is that one must always opt for a poncho over a normal raincoat. Ponchos offer better mobility as well as they can give better protection to the backpack.
Try to use trousers which are of a waterproof variety as well as quick drying material so that they do not limit your movement. Also, try to wear bottoms that are not weighed down by wet water.
4. Trekking Pants:
Convertible pants which can becomes half pant as well as full pant during treks are the most appropriate, if you are planning to go for a trek. On situations like crossing streams, swimming, roaming around after pitching tents or sitting comfortably around camp fire, convertible pants turned into shorts comes very easy and helpful. If the zips and pockets on these are water proof, it can help you store important stuff safely away from water.
Make sure you have an idea and estimate as to how much weight you are planning to carry with you on the trip. Talk to people who have been on the trip before and ask them what all is needed to make the trip more comfortable. Make sure you carry the essentials with you, without being too bogged down by weight.
6. Leech socks:
Leech socks are a great wear to resist leech attacks specially during monsoon on western Ghats treks. If you cannot obtain Leech socks, make sure you apply a solution of Dettol, soap and salt on your exposed skin. There are also many repellents available in the market that you can make use of.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF EQUIPMENTS?
Make sure your camera and lens case are both waterproof. All the memories you gather on the trip need to be safe and sound! Always use the camera strap and holders to kepe the camera in place and avoid slipping.
2. Extra Clothes:
Use garbage bags to carry the extra set of clothes in order to keep them separate from the wet ones. The garbage bags can later be used to dump and collect waste.
Amount of parasites in the water can be quite high during the monsoons and there is high risk of catching a waterborne infection.Make sure you carry extra water purification tablets or chlorine solution to purify the drinking water.
Fill your provisions with items with a less chance of perishing. Some examples could be biscuits, dry fruits or Indian Breads. Wrap all the items in an aluminum foil to prevent them from getting wet and carry a load of ziplock bags with you.
5. Plastic Bags:
Carry a full load of plastic bags, but make sure you do not leave them lying around the campsite or trekking trails. These bags can be used for multiple purposes like storage, sorting, packaging and many more.
6. Kerosene Stove:
Keep a kerosene or any other fuel stove handy as you may not be able to burn any firewood due to the damp and moist weather.
PRECAUTIONS TO FOLLOW ON A MONSOON RIDE:
The call of the roads is almost too hard to miss and let go off during the monsoons! The green landscapes, the misty roads and undulating terrains all beckon to the rider in you to take the roads head on! However, Monsoons is also a very risky time due to more chances of slipping or running problems in vehicle due to lack of maintenance.
However, follow the tips below and its most likely that you will have safeguarded yourself against all the perils of the rains.
Riding Safety Tips
Here are 6 useful tips to those who love to ride their machine in rainy season.
1. Avoid speeding:
Although it’s hard to do, but please avoid speeding on wet roads; especially at turns. Always ensure that you have full visibility before you gather speed. Keep the speed limit between 60-80kmph and avoid braking on turns.
2. Pull both brakes, gently:
Do refrain from using only the front or the rear brake at a time! While using the front brake can cause the vehicle to topple forward, the rear brake alone can cause it to fish-tail dangerously out of control. Use both brakes at once, but slowly.
3. Ensure Visibility:
Always ride on the roads with headlights switched on. In case it is too foggy or misty, try to use the side indicators as well even during the day. Wear a raincoat with reflective stripes or a bright colour and always ensure you have riding gear on.
4. Maintain safe distances between two vehicles:
Keep a safe distance between two bikes and ensure that the one behind and ahead of you are not too close. Follow the leader of the bike troupe and heed his warnings. Do not attempt to overtake or cut in front of other bikers too rashly and always maintain a formation.
5. Don’t forget your safety gears:
Invest in a good full face helmet with reflective stripes. Helmets equipped with a pin lock visor mechanism will help combat the fogging inside your helmet. Always wear full riding gear including gloves, armored jacket, knee and shoulder pads.
6. Watch out:
Invest in a higher quality of headlights and bulbs that are compatible with your bike’s battery. These will help you see better at night as well as keep you safe from highly waterlogged areas. Avoid splashing through the puddles, as there might be steep potholes underneath
7. Avoid Riding at Night:
Avoid planning night time trips so that you can minimize the risk of low visibility. The raindrops splashing on your face deter your as well as the other rider’s visibility. In case it is inevitable, invest in good quality, reflective biking gear.
8. Inspect your Vehicle:
Get your bike serviced and check for tire treads as well brakes, levers and gears before you set off on that enticing monsoon ride. Replace and check all broken headlights and brake lights, ensure that you have all equipment that ensure full visibility; yours as well as others’.
Monsoons are a magical and romantic time all over the country and are meant to be enjoyed outdoors However, you can never take Mother Nature for granted and anticipate her various moods! Thus, be prepared and arm yourself to take in the monsoon fever head on!