Day 08 – Zing Zing Bar to Sarchu via Baralacha La-Pass.
The day starts with us ascending the mountains up to the Baralacha La at 5030m. We cross the source of river Bhaga – Suraj Tal, situated at 4883m which is also the 3rd highest lake of India. The pass is arid with no vegetation, the sides of the mountains looks more like a pit covered with loose rocks and gravel. The route then descends gradually to Sarchu Plains.
Z-Z Bar was cold, I mean damn cold! It was challenging to wake up and do the bare basics at 4 am in the morning, with bone chilling winds trying to bring you down from every direction. Anyhow, managed to get myself together and started the ride at 8’o clock in the morning. Thank god the sun was shining by then otherwise it was getting hopeless.
The company today was also very amazing, today I was riding with the 3 musketeers, Sachin, Illiyas and Sanjay. Sachin happened to have a very nice camera phone so some pictures wouldn’t be possible without him.
We started ascending towards the iconic Baralacha La pass and just after starting the ride some makeshift shacks/dhabas showed up and funny enough some spontaneous members of our group were playing cricket there! It was another mood lifting scenario that kept me motivated for today’s ride.
The pristine desolate highway roads with the snow settled mountains in the backdrop made me feel like an ancient traveller who was trying to make his way into some lost remote part of the world. I was finally ecstatic for today’s ride and all my grumpiness from the morning were now history!
So after riding along with Sachin for sometime, we encountered our very first snow that we could touch and feel, now that we were entering the Ladakh region, leaving the Lahaul, Spiti Valley and also the state Himachal Pradesh, these encounters would be frequent from now on but enough with that already! It was our first snow!!! So we fooled around with it, drew all sorts of shapes, names and what not, clicked many photos and then after taking some rest we moved forward in our journey.
Now the next stop from here was Suraj Tal which lies at just 2kms from Baralacha La Pass, Surya Tal means “The Sun God’s Lake” and the unbelievably beautiful sight truly fits the reputation of it’s name, it is totally covered by snow during the off season and the BRO every season has to remove it so that it can become accessible, the roads were were very narrow, we even had a scuffle with a bike group that were annoyed by the number of the cycles parked there but we lifted our cycles and put it on top of gravel heaps so that the road was clear for others.
So after embracing the beauty of Suraj Tal we ascended to today’s highlight of the day, the Baralacha La Pass, legend has it that the two divine lovers, Chandra, daughter of the Moon god, and Bhaga, the son of the Sun god, decided to perform their eternal marriage atop the Baralacha-La.
Now from Baralacha La pass it was descent till Bharatpur and the roads were in very rough shape. I rode the whole descent without any break and quite frankly the sunlight was so strong all I wanted was to get away so taking a break didn’t even cross my mind.
Now after reaching Bharatpur, I found my tent buddies taking a break from the soaring sun so I joined them, inside the shacks we went, which had beds available for the night for anyone who wanted to stay there, you actually can’t camp anywhere you like because the natives here are very sensitive to their land, they don’t allow you to camp on your own, you have an option of paying for their makeshift “bed and breakfast” which was very cozy and comfortable so you won’t have any issues or another option is that you can camp with your own tent in their shacks for a cheaper price.
Right after this point there was a massive water crossing, it looked very scary and I remember standing there for 20 minutes figuring out from which side I should take my cycle from, I even walked away for 500ms in the wrong direction trying to find a way so that I could avoid the water but I failed to find a spot so after dragging the cycle to the starting point of the crossing, I braced myself and with all my courage I drove through it, my shoes got completely drenched but the sun was shining so no worries, after this crossing there came a Bus stop, I also saw some of my friends eating at restaurants which were there but the adrenaline from the water crossing made me ride forward, so without ruining the momentum I went along further and the road now was a very scary descent which truly resembled Mars where I kept on thinking about how could anyone maintain their peace when they would be on some vehicle, because one wrong steer and you’re gone into the abyss.
After this scare show I finally reached the Sarchu plains, now the cold desert of Ladakh was showing it’s true colours, the landscape had totally changed now, rocky barren mountains, I couldn’t fathom the scenic beauty that was in front of me, I was in awe by the illusion of different shades on the mountains that was created because of the clouds and the sun!, each and every mountain seemed different and trust me when I tell you that I saw a purple mountain, it was mind-boggling.
I just couldn’t stop in these roads and just rushed to the base camp the road was in amazing condition, after racing through the flat roads, reached our Base camp at Sarchu, now we had entered J&K into the land of Lama – Ladakh.
The base camp was very beautiful and was just aside of the highway so no problem finding where it was, I quickly went into my tent and rested, and only came out for tea and food. Today was exhausting!
Catch up with the remaining part of the journey, coming up next is our ride from Sarchu to Whiskey Nallah via Nakeela Pass, so stay tuned!!
Some 10km from Jispa, the road climbs steadily to Darcha, which is the northernmost permanent settlement in Himachal Pradesh along the Manali-Leh Highway, and then the begins the climb to Patsio. After Patsio we would be riding a bit north of Zing – Zing Bar to reach our campsite. The terrain is much more arid and the road is dusty and rocky.
The steep ascent to Baralacha-La starts at Zing Zing bar which we would be savouring for the next day.
Woke up today at our homely campsite of Jispa, and had my usual morning ritual of tea, breakfast, followed by packing the rest of it in my lunchbox. Today we were briefed that we would be camping 6 kms from Zing-Zing bar and it was going to be a tough ride, there could be some possible episodes of AMS as the air is very thin at Z-Z. We were advised not to celebrate at Z-Z bar as it would be very tempting to max out on the flat roads after Patsio, and there was much more climbing to be done after that point.
So began today’s ride with the group, now that the cold desert had started, it was a change of landscape that means no more lush green mountains now, just some small shrubs here and there, the valley turned every shade of brown. It was also getting harder to catch a breath as we progressed deep into the valley, on the other hand it was exciting to see all the different shades of mountains and hills, it was truly magnificent and a feast for the eyes, which luckily distracted us from focusing on the hardships of the ride.
It was very dusty today and I remember wearing a mask which I bought from Kullu while riding here, covid was yet to enter our lives, so it was odd for everyone else that I was wearing a face mask, anyway today I had a riding partner who made an appearance before, it was Lallu the Braveheart dog, despite not being a Himalayan breed, he was still tagging along with us on this increadibly tough journey, by now he had covered 130 kms, not shaken a bit! kudos to his spirit, he moved along with us, infact he wasn’t so keen on taking breaks as he knew it would be difficult for him to keep up with us, if he took frequent breaks. It was a very surreal experience riding alongside him.
I rode together with our group today, the weather was pleasant but it was very dusty till Darcha and the road was also very narrow and a lot of Army trucks were moving, so not a lot of motivations to just go nuts.
Darcha was at 11,020 ft and Zing- Zing bar was at 14,010 ft , so now began the climb, the ride wasn’t going to be easy at all, cold- winds and thin atmosphere were waiting for us at Zing- Zing bar.
So we began riding, after the Darcha check post, the roads were not that good but the scenic beauty of the glacier laden mountains surely made up for that, because of the narrow roads and traffic, today a lot of people were riding in close vicinity, so today I again got an opportunity to socialize and I happened to ride alongside Sridhar uncle, who told me that last year he attempted this very ride and was not able to complete it till the end and unfortunately had to call it quits, after which he had to go back to Manali, well this time he had enough practice before joining this expedition so he was doing fine this time, but surely this expedition tests your limits to the max.
Funny story, although some bravehearts tried to attempt the water crossing at one go by not losing momentum and some even made it, but most of us decided to walk the bone chilling water crossing with our shoes in our hands, and although I made the right choice by walking it but clumsy me dropped 1 shoe in the water and it got a bit wet, not completely wet though, It takes awfully long time to dry shoes here if they get wet because of the chilly weather, also we were briefed by our camp leader Sumit Patil that whenever such nallahs and water crossings popped up we were to take our shoes off and walk the crossing. But adrenaline triumphs wisdom in the mountains I guess and it would have been really cool if that stretch could be ridden, but even bikers had a very tough time crossing that one.
Then another highlight of the trip came –
Deepak Tal lake, the first mountain lake we encountered in our journey and it was truly magnificent. It is fed by glacial melts during the monsoon season and freezes completely in the winters. The calm waters of Deepak Tal act as a mirror, reflecting the calm surroundings of snow-capped peaks. Some guys of our group who arrived later at this spot even dipped themselves in the lake, which was freezing cold, again something which was advised against by our camp leader because you could get cold and your expedition could end prematurely.
But those guys were made of steel and looking back I should have also tried it but to take of all those layers I was wearing would have been very cumbersome for me, I hope you are aware by now how lazy I get sometimes.
So I chose to move forward after clicking some pictures and then went to the next segment of today’s ride.
Patsio – is an army establishment, from here the daunting weather of Zing- Zing bar started giving it’s trailer, I remember that I was over joyous upon reaching this spot and clicked a ton of photos as the view from here was splendid, while taking a break here, stumbled upon Illiyas, Sachin and Sanjay Sir, the three musketeers of our very own tent #7.
Decided to ride with them, the road was now butter smooth although after a small descent of a kilometre or so began the long haul gradual ascent of the Z-Z bar.But right after starting my ride the mountains again got the best of me, the view was spectacular and a perfect Brunch spot, so I took out my dabba and bid my farewell to the trio.This was the best spot until now, today in packed lunch I got my favourite Missi roti, some veggies and a boiled potatoe( gotta have those carbs! )
After enjoying the bliss, I got up to pack my lunchbox in the bag and fixed it on my cycle using the Bungee cord, I saw Darshan coming my way, I decided to ride Z-Z bar with him as similar to me he was also more interested in enjoying every bit of the ride at a slow pace rather than racing to the destination, and most importantly he also liked to click a lot of pictures!
It started to get really chilly now, so I had to wear my jacket on top of my Btwin windcheater, the roads were real nasty and deceptive, every time it was a blind loop with one side blinded with rocky mountains which was blocking the view of the road above or ahead or god knows where, almost every time I was latching on to the hope that maybe this was the last round and we will finally reach our destination but the end was no where near.
After many endless loops, finally we saw the monstrous climb that we would have to ride in order to end this punishment called Z-Z bar, the climb was very steep and long you couldn’t see what was at the end of it, super tired that we were, I still somehow pushed my limits with all my might and reached to the top!(with 1 break), there we found a makeshift dhaba which was serving mutton and rice, and guess what, found all my friends there munching on mutton-rice, egg and of course maggi!
The campsite was still 6kms ahead and there was still much more climbing to be done, so I thought it would be a perfect time to chill because after that climb I had depleted all my energy and was getting cramps in all parts of my body, I decided to order Mutton-rice, don’t know what was so special about it that everyone was so raving about, never mind that because my lunchbox still had some food, so took that out and satiated my hunger with that, after that I just sat there in the open gazing at the ongoing lorries lining up one by one in the slopes ahead and thinking about whether I had any strength in me to continue further.
But after a hour of rest and few lemon juices later, I was back on my feet and was ready to ride, the next 6kms were very painful and the only way I was able to maintain my sanity was by distracting myself by trying to chase the lorries that were in front of me, there was a huge traffic jam. It’s all a blur after the mutton shop, anyhow I reached the topmost point that we had to ride today and was only a kilometer away from the basecamp, I was notified by other riders that our trucks have not yet arrived, maybe because of the jam so I decided to sit and click some photos, few shots later 2 more cyclists also joined me for the photoshoot.
After many photographs later, our truck arrived and we made our way to the campsite, which was totally in the middle of nowhere, we had to leave the highway and travel to the camps carrying our luggage and cycle on foot. I wish I could have clicked a photo of the night sky, it was majestic but the cameras at my disposal couldn’t capture the essence of it.
The temperature here was really cold, it was a huge struggle to wash our tiffin boxes and doing other things which involved water, the night was also very windy so everyone after somehow managing to have dinner quickly went to their respective tents.
Catch up with the remaining part of the series, coming up next is our ride from Zing zing bar to Sarchu, so stay tuned.
Continue along the Chandra River with gradual gradients in-between till Tandi. At Tandi, leave behind the Chandra River and continue up along the Bhaga River to Keylong, the district capital of Lahaul. Continue further along the Bhaga River for 21km to reach Jispa.
Today’s ride was a fast paced one for me, as the places were a bit crowded and the weather was pleasant so I didn’t get off my cycle much and focused more on enjoying the wind.
By now you might be familiar with my morning drill and today wasn’t any different, so after leaving the Sissu camp and hitting the road today, I sensed a natural inclination in me to ride at a fast pace maybe because it had been 3 days since we left Kullu, by now I thought I had grown accustomed to the narrow rivers and lush green mountains, today I had my game face on!
Sissu to Jispa –
The initial first 5kms had us climbing, then started the madness, the road was a narrow strip with U shape bends at the end of every kilometre or so and one side of the road was mountains(slide prone area) and the other side was the stream, I gave everything I had in me during this time as the roads were very smooth and the breathtaking landscape had to be enjoyed with speed to do full justice.
Today I didn’t have a riding partner as I totally immersed myself with enjoying the rides so I was constantly riding in the aerodynamic position to increase my speed, with the glaring sun, the whole valley lit up making the whole experience visually more appealing, although a note of caution here, the sun rays doesn’t really feels on the skin like we are used to in our cities, the atmosphere is thin here so a lot of harmful UV rays ( there’s a whole spectrum UV A,B,C etc ) that really doesn’t burn on the skin and eyes but it will show it’s effect afterwards so it is advised to wear proper protective clothing for arms and legs, a neckband for the face, and do wear the polarised sunglasses for sure, trust me you won’t feel the need and I know it’s a drag but otherwise your skin could be burnt. It happened to me in the trip and I was shocked when I discovered it but I’ll share that story later.
I took a big break at Tandi bridge as after riding 22km with full passion I was hungry as hell now, there was a shack nearby where I went to have a seat and found there Sukhmani, Vishwajeet mam and Kamal sir (not the one I mentioned before) so now I had both company and food, the break turned out to be a good one.
After having our meal it was time to collect some evidence for our friends and families back home, so we took another 30 minutes or so perfecting our poses for the best shots! I remember one incident, where (if you don’t know by now, I get very lazy when I don’t have an objective in front of me) Sukhmani told me to pose but since I had posed enough already, I just moved my hands just a bit, thinking who cares I look cool anyway, but sadly she didn’t take a picture instead she took a boomerang in which I looked like a weirdo with ridiculous dance moves. Another content for my tent mates to roast me :’)
Since I have already gone through the embarrassment once, so I’ll only share the good ones here 😀
TANDI TO JISPA –
Jispa was another 30 kms ahead from Tandi, so we began our ride which was again a fast paced one and after 7kms ahead we met the rest of our tent buddies who were sitting in Keylong, since it was barely 7kms, I decided to go ahead and ride solo and for a while I rode with Gautam, he told me a cool thing which I tried after coming back while cycling in Pune, instead of eating the chikkis and other food stuff while riding, he was eating sugar lozenge, he told me these lozenges or candies rapidly brings up the blood sugar and since they are simple sugars they also don’t cause GI issues which are common with energy gels, so it was a good substitute and also a cheaper one.
Along the route, I interacted with different people since I was not taking much breaks today and by the time the ride was near it’s end I had a lot to think about and as I was riding at a good pace today it was too early to reach the base camp and end the ride, so I found myself a huge rock under a tree and contemplated about today’s ride, now if anyone from tent #7 is reading right now they would be laughing because this was also an internal hilarious joke!
After spending enough time gazing at the beautiful Himalayas, I parted with this isolated rock and made my way to the Jispa Base camp, ended today’s ride at afternoon and spent the remaining day hanging out at the base camp sipping copious amounts of tea and enjoying the beautiful base camp! It also rained that day!!
Catch up with the remaining part of the series, I’ll be back with DAY 7 – 13, so stay tuned.
The day begins with a climb of 12km to Rohtang Pass at 13,058 ft. From the top, if the weather is clear you’ll get beautiful views of the glaciers and snow-clad mountains of Chandrabhaga Range on the other side of the pass. The road descends 22km down to Khoksar village and then a flat road of 15km along the Chandra River to Sissu village.
Woke up at 5 again, but this time the view was different, I mean the air was so clean and because of yesterday’s storm today the weather was clear, well at least for now as you never know in the mountains, funny I have never been a fanatic of tea but now all I cared about was “Chai kab milna shuru hoga?/when will the tea be served?”. After several rounds of tea, chit-chat, and photography sessions, had our delicious breakfast and packed the rest in my lunchbox.
Then we assembled at the front gate of our campsite, today’s reporting time was an aberration compared to the other days, it was at 8.30 a.m. and we started the ride at 9’o clock.
Today our ride started with intense climbing, pro guys of the group(not me) muscled up and rode that swiftly at a fast pace but I was busy enjoying the weather, never have I ever seen such a beautiful view from my cycle, I could see the clouds below me and it was a terrific feeling, took a lot of selfies on while riding, maybe this was the cloud 9 feeling people often talk about.
After climbing a certain distance fog started to engulf the roads that we were supposed to travel, you could not see a thing beyond 15-20m, it was crazy! today there was a cut-off time in my head to cross the Rohtang pass and it was noon, because word has it that here the weather could change in a jiffy and when the sun’s on top of you, you never know when a gang of clouds might sneak up above you and causes rain, so on the safer side it was best to cross the highest elevation before noon.
So as I was mindlessly strolling on the foggy road with no view or motivation, I crossed path with Kamal sir, I was a bit surprised because he was among the first ones to muscle up to ride the climb, so I asked him “what happened?”, he replied that he was tired, maybe it was because he went again yesterday to help the remaining members of the pack, some background on Kamal sir, he was a “super randonneur” and was extremely fit and determined person.
So I rode a bit with him for around 3-4 km then I got tired and it was still foggy so I wasn’t very determined to push it, so I took out my lunchbox and began munching, Kamal sir went ahead after sipping an energy gel. The view was a bit spooky to have brunch but I was eating food I shouldn’t complain!
So I ate for a long time because I was bored, the view with which we started had now completely disappeared and all I could think was why was nobody crossing me, “was I the last one?” I wondered but then 2 guys I haven’t yet interacted with showed up.
“Perfect!” I thought, so I tagged along with them and here something funny happened, none of us actually knew where was the Rohtang pass, so we were not sure for how long before we reach it.
So we reached a point which had its own importance though which I’ll share later, the fact was that we thought that point was Rohtang pass, we celebrated and clicked a lot of photographs which was a cause of major embarrassment when I narrated this to my fellow Tent #7 members, they laughed all the way till we reached Khardung-la on this matter.
So anyway, about the importance of that location which many would have missed while they were on the road, we need to take stock of the fact that the splendid highway that we were blessed to be riding on came to existence after a major sacrifice, and to immortalize that, a plaque was erected at that spot for us to pay our respects.”
So after the euphoria of reaching the pass withered, we thought it was weird that after a kilometer or so, we found ourselves to be climbing the road again, that shouldn’t happen after reaching the highest point and then we finally reached the actual Rohtang pass, we were honestly confused because we had celebrated already, but never mind we did it again, who’s looking anyway!
So after clicking a lot of pictures, I went ahead solo and reached the other side of the pass and the “snow clad mountains of Chandrabhaga Range” as promised took my breath away and guess what? no fog engulfed the other side. Now it was all downhill for a while and the view was majestic! so to compensate for the climb, I stopped at a spot to capture the beauty that had me spellbound.
So during the thrilling 22km downhill that was mostly on earthy soil, I could feel the juices flowing in my veins, it was pure adrenaline! Caught up with my Tent #7 buddies and they already had their 2 hours tea break at a shack, but since I wasn’t tired I tagged along with them for the flat road ahead.
So after riding really fast with my buddies and enjoying in pure bliss, I got hungry again and the view again had the best of me, so made my farewell to my mates and took out my lunchbox. This time it was my date with Chandra River and man she was gorgeous! and the food was as usual great.
So after some more pit-stops, I finally reached the campsite which was actually hidden if you don’t know the route, but some kind folks helped with that and I reached the destination.
Today I reached early and the tents were still yet to be put, so after unloading our rucksacks from the truck we hanged out for a while. Apparently, this spot was a really good one for the stargazing enthusiasts but when the night arrived, sadly the weather wasn’t so fortunate on us as it was cloudy.
For those worrying about their electronics, yhai had a good setup for that although it’s still best to conserve your device’s electronics because later on the trip we didn’t get time as sometimes it was raining or there were too many people waiting for the slots.
So when the last batch arrived which was late at night, everybody was shocked to see what was in front of their eyes, It was Laalu, the dog I mentioned in the last blog, he had crossed the whole pass and was with the group all along, his paws were bleeding because the downhill after the pass wasn’t a smooth one, this was overwhelming for everyone as nobody had witnessed anything like this before.
We fed him good and it was decided that he would be sent back because this little guy showed us today that he’s not going anywhere and everyone was worried about his health, somebody at the camp told me that often in hiking trips, some dogs would trek the entire stretch and they are used to tagging along with travellers, but coming 50kms was something nobody had even heard about.
Catch up with the remaining part of the series, I’ll be back with DAY 6 – 13, so stay tuned.
The initial 3 days were at the YHAI 15mile base camp at Kullu, THE MISADVENTURES OF TENT NO. 7 cannot go unacknowledged, so I’ll write a blog on that too soon.
So finally after 3 days of having fun, we braced ourselves for the ride of our lifetime, a ride revered as the penultimate test for the mountain loving cyclists. Factors like high altitude, difficult passes, and hairpin bends makes it completely different from cycling in plains. It is the ultimate experience with breath-taking views and beautiful night skies that every cyclist dreams of attempting once in their lifetime.
The total distance the cyclist will ride from 15mile, Manali till Khardungla will be a little more than 600km.
Undoubtedly the most beautiful 600km, crossing 6 high mountain passes Rohtang-la(13050ft), Baralacha-la(16500ft), Nakee-la(15547ft), Lachung-la(16616ft) and Tanglang-la(17582ft-Worlds 2nd highest motorable pass) and finally the mighty KHARDUNG-la(18380 ft – World’s highest motorable pass).
The average altitude of the total distance is well above 12000ft.
I woke up at 5 a.m, the ride was to start at sharp 6’o clock, quickly had our ‘breakfast for champions’ which I have to confess was really tasty and filling, and this same breakfast was to be disguised as lunch in our lunchboxes which sounds totally boring but trust me these yhai cooks really knew their cooking.
We were briefed that this ride would be a ‘Screening ride’ for the rest of the journey ahead, anyone failing to complete this segment would be sent back. I think the start was very challenging for most of us, with the starting elevation of 1528m and the final elevation at 3328m, it was surely a challenging ride, Although riding through the lush green scenic beauty of Himachal for the first time somehow took my mind off the obstacles of the ride.
Riding alongside Beas river was surely comforting to the mind, the soothing flow of water really calms me down.
As I was blissfully riding, I spotted a familiar-looking cycle that I recently saw on my Instagram feed, So naturally I stopped to look for the guy I was expecting it to belong to, and Voila! It was Sudhanshu Verma!
For those who don’t know, he’s a photographer and a bike packer, so I had a chat with him, he told me he was bike packing with Ravinshu and Akshay, and they camped on the site where I met him, and this was also where I met everyone’s favourite Laalu(more in later blogs) for the first time who would soon prove himself to be the most rugged companion of our group.
So after chatting with Sudhanshu, I went on with my ride and met Ravinshu and Akshay on the road, Akshay was an impressive cyclist who had a Limca world record to his name in cycling and was very experienced in riding in this type of terrain, lovely guy to hang out with, he took 2 excellent pictures of mine which he mailed me after we completed the trip.
After that I rode to catch up with Ravinshu, the day was surely very challenging and when the endless steep loops started from Vashisht(Place) it got really hard to climb, God only knows how I would have managed to complete it without the company of such an amazing guy.
On the way we met a Himachal herder who was taking his livestock to the higher altitudes as summer was approaching. Since we took every opportunity for breaks that we could, this also warranted for us to have a chat about his life, after hearing his life’s tale and riding for another 45 minutes we noticed the weather was changing and realised that soon it might get ugly.
As evening came to an early surprise, the roads were filled with dense fog and it was getting very difficult to ride with decreasing visibility by the hour. We were completely exhausted!!, we ate the packed food and also had some Dates and Chikki after which we carried on, since it wasn’t very prudent to take big breaks. Soon the night would be dawning upon us and it was getting really scary with the clouds and fog forming up a mix and there was still a long way to Camp at Marhi.
After slogging our way to the end of every loop, witnessing a waterfall and asking fellow riders “Kitna bacha hay?/How much more to cover?”, the view was the only thing that kept us going at that time and on the downside, the top of the mountain was invisible to us(fog), so it was really difficult to anticipate how much more we had to ride before the damn mountain ends and we finally see the Camp site which at that time was nothing short of heaven to our minds.
To the people that won’t be coming through Youth hostel, it’s better to end your Day at Vashisht only as Kullu to Marhi was really a stretch, you wouldn’t want yourself to be trapped on the mountain road in darkness when the rain hits.
After what seemed like eternal damnation, the mountain finally had us on its top from where finally heaven(Marhi camp) was visible and the view couldn’t have been more beautiful. The whole place looked like it was a safe haven for beautiful wild horses. I was mesmerized by the serenity.
I have never seen that many horses in my entire life, I took as many photos as I could which was really an excuse for taking as many breaks as possible.And then finally we reached the camp and were welcomed by our fellow mates. “The Entry of gods into Valhalla” was the music that was playing on my phone, It sure felt good to finally reach Marhi.We were dead exhausted and were brought back to life by the humble tea which I drank maybe 5-6 cups. Entered my Tent to find out some of the guys have reached before me, caught them sipping tea and drank some more with them, and chatted about how their day went and it surely was challenging for everyone.
After around half an hour later it started raining, and some guys were still on the road and our beloved Piyush ji was also among them, we waited for the rest of the pack to return and many were standing at the gate and some(me) on a hill from where the rest of the riders could be seen if they crossed the mountain.The visibility decreased and the rain got fiercer by the evening and into the night it became a thunderstorm, But thanks to our relentless Camp leader Sumit patil and our beloved Tent 7 superstar Kamal Bisht who went again on the road to accompany the rest of the riders to the camp. Everyone made it at around 9’o clock.
After having dinner we strolled in the campsite but the continuous rain limited our movement, but thanks to the mobile network still functioning we cozied up in our tents and had some conversations, I vividly remember everyone cheering when they asked me for the Wi-Fi Hotspot and discovering that the password was “Manaliboyz”.
This would be a 14 Part series, I’ll be back with DAY 5 – 13, so stay tuned
Posted on September 7, 2021. TRIP – YHAI National Mountain Cycling cum Training MANALI – LEH – KHARDUNGLA EXPEDITION 2018.
SEASON – JULY
So in this segment, I will be sharing few suggestions from my own experience and whatever I’ve learnt from others, it’s best to plan what you’ll need in this trip because the places after Keylong are really disconnected from the civilisation, you won’t be able to buy anything after that.
“Till the last person doesn’t Arrive, the family hasn’t Arrived”! Similarly, till the last person is not ready with their bicycle, the group doesn’t leave the camp.
Adhering to the aforementioned principle we followed in our camps, it’s best to keep a minimalistic approach so that you don’t take a lot of time to be “Ready to ride” and if everyone follows this, in effect the whole camp reports on time.
If you already have a helmet, please carry it along with you. It will certainly fit you better.
If you already have cycling gloves, please carry them along with you for the same reason.
Padded Cycling shorts certainly will give you an advantage while cycling. But it is up to you to buy it or not. If you are used to regular shorts or track pants while cycling you can continue using the same.
Avoid Gel seat covers.
Get a “lunch box” for carrying the packed lunch given to you every day. Please Carry Steel plates, bowl, spoon, and a Mug/Cup for breakfast, Dinner, and Tea/soup that will be served to you at various camps. DO NOT carry disposable plates of any kind. It contributes to a lot of garbage.
Luggage while cycling: You will be carrying Chocolates, Dry fruits, Packed lunch, Rain cheater, Packets of Electrolyte and a Camera/Mobile-phone(optional) while cycling everyday. These things will be carried in the 20ltr rucksack that yhai will be providing you, which you will have to tie with the help of bungee chords to the carrier/pannier rack or else you can buy a small 5ltr/10ltr backpack in which you can carry all these things on your shoulder and we would take off the carrier from your bicycle which will reduce the weight of your bike by 2 pounds at least and it will also save “tying the rucksack time” every morning.
The bicycles given to you will have only one bottle cage. If you have an extra bottle cage please get one along with you, It will allow you to carry two bottles on the bicycle.
Pack wisely. 80ltr volume Bag is huge. Do not overpack.
During the expedition, we will be cycling and staying at altitudes ranging from mostly 3000mtr-5000mtr.
Mother Nature will be offering us with rain, wind and cold along with the most amazing scenery and experiences that humans can go through.
Please use the layering technique to take care of the cold! For e.g. if you start feeling cold don’t jump into your jacket immediately. Try wearing one more T-shirt over the first one. The air blanket formed between two T-shirts also serves as an amazing layer of insulation. This way you can optimize and acclimatize better against the cold. Wear a jacket only when this doesn’t work!
Whatever you are going to use during the expedition, it better be tried and tested. Remember, New things do not always behave as per our expectations