A Day filled with excitement and anxiety. I have set a tough challenge for myself and I am set to start it next day. Leaves applied, bike is ready, luggage is set and there is no looking back now. As the clock strikes 2.30 AM on the 21st June, I am out alone for so far the biggest adventure of my life. I had office work and trip preparation to manage simultaneously. Day ends around 12 in the night and I am off to sleep. A pretentious one.
My phone alarm woke me up at 2.30. I woke up and realized, It had started. My excitement took over. I slipped into my riding gear, picked up the keys and I was ready. Rosie(My bike) was loaded with luggage last night. Some amazing rope work by Paras in fitting my 3 bags on the bike with perfect stability. Everybody in the family was up to see me off. I went down started my bike, first gear and I am off…My goal for the day is Manali. Approximately 700 Kilometers from
My phone also doubles up as my alarm clock and was very critical in ensuring that I start riding on time everyday. I rode out of Mandi post a yummy 11 rupee breakfast. I had to reach Manali today and I wanted to make it by lunch. I was riding alongside river
It was an early morning rise. The ride so far has been smooth but it is the road ahead which was more treacherous and interesting. Jeyzer helped me with the luggage. Thanks again Jeyzer. Phone Nishant only to know that they had just woken up. Ok so I will not be riding them. Checked out of Manali with a promise to return. As soon as I hit the road for rohtang, I was in for a surprise. A Traffic Jam approximately 5 KM long!! Apparently, I was not the only biker. Bullets thundered around me. I heard there was another way to reach Rohtang. It was through a village. I followed the u turning bullets and hit the alternate route. We found more traffic but moving. The bike got moving space of 10 meters every 5 minutes!! I had met some of the fellow bikers last night with Nishant and Maggie. Harsh, Rohit, his wife, his brother, his friend and 3 more bikers from
Tushita Camp is not an ordinary camp. It is run by 3 guys and solves the noble purpose of a transit camp for the travelers passing by. It had a bonfire, food and company of fellow bikers. I met Harsh and the 3 bikers from
Gyalsen woke me up and I freshened up for the next days ride. Thanks to the hot bowl of noodles from Gyalson and good ropework by Pritam on my luggage, I had a good start for the road ahead. I crossed Darcha. The brown landscape wont change and doesn’t seem to be changing any sooner. But color of the mountains were changing. They were now dark brown and will eventually turn black. Jet black! I crossed, Baralachla, Sarchu and Gata loops (Those who know about Gata loops – I fell off the bike attempting one of the short cuts) and was about 32 KMs away from Pang (my stop for the night) when I heard a ‘phat’ sound. I knew it was something I had feared the most. “A puncture”. A puncture is an immediate halt to the journey. You no you are not moving ahead. Nightfall, food, bed to sleep, no sleeping bag. All these thoughts may try to throw your mind off the edge. But my advice to those attempting such a thing is “ DON’T PANIC” I parked my bike a started walking up hill looking for help. I saw some construction workers. They told me about a parachute tent guy a few kilometers away who might know something about mending a puncture. I had a spare tube. All I needed was someone who knew how to dismantle an LML Energy rear tyre. It is a little more complicated than a bullet. Light of hope. I decided to drag Rosie all the way. 1 KM up hill and 2 KM downhill off road! There was a very important factor that I was ignoring. I shouldn’t be doing anything which makes my heart beat faster. At this altitude, oxygen is scarce and I should be taking it easy to avoid mountain sickness or a heart stroke. But I pushed till I saw the tent. With more enthusiasm I pushed. I finally reached. I saw some fellow bikers who had started with me from Manali. They saw me but continued to ride towards Pang. One of them, Harsh, stayed back. He earned a friend in me for that. Next step was to get the puncture fixed. Unfortunately, the tent guy didn’t know how to dismantle the rear type or to fix a puncture. I was planning my next step when I saw a convoy of Army trucks stopping there for refreshments. One of them overheard my conversation with the tent guy. He curiously asked me the problem. With a smile I told him where I was from and what I was doing here. And of course also about the puncture. He walked up to Rosie and started inspecting the rear tyre. “Do you have a tool kit?” he asked. “YES” is said. I immediately got down to untie my luggage. I also showed him the spare tube I was carrying. He got down to dismantle the rear tyre. Seeing him do it, every body joined in. All of a sudden there were army men, about 16 of them mobbing my bike. They took charge and everybody helped. They filled air and put the tyre back and took a test ride to check the brakes too before handing it over to me. I was ready to go. I clicked picture with them and promised to mail them(which I did) We all rode together and reached Pang. Harsh was with me all through this. It was a 3.5 hour adventurous ordeal. Thank you very much guys!!!! You saved my life!!
Pang is a part of the cold desert in the Laddakh region. High altitude. You can feel the shortage of breath. Saw the biker group I mentioned before and checked into a 50/- a night dormitory tent. The only accommodation there. Suresh and 3 women run this place. They are Laddakhis and come to Pang only for few months. Tough life mate. I have run out of camera batteries. Retired for the night.
After a good night sleep, I was up for another eventful day. It was the day when I was supposed to reach Leh the capital of Laddakh. After an open air crap and chai, I went to check Rosie. After a few futile attempt to kick start, Rosie woke up and died again. I tried again and Mr. Murphy strikes. The kick pedal broke!! Ok so I have a bike loaded with luggage and no kick pedal. (My bike doesn’t have an electric start. Those who do, be thankful) I smiled and told my self “DON’T PANIC” The other bikers did see my problem but I didn’t expect any help from them. I fetched for the next truck leaving Pang. It is the pit stop for the truckers too. So a lot of trucks going. I need to find the empty one leaving as soon as possible. After a few pitches I did find 2 Himachal trucks. They offered to carry the bike for 2000/- I t was not the money but the break in riding which I didn’t want. I said no. We finally decided that I will put the luggage in the truck and jump start my bike all the way to Leh if it breaks, they will come eventually. (In mountains I have to overtake the trucks that is the riding rule. Always overtake from the right and only overtake if he permits you. NEVER overtake from the left. Even on the hairpins.) So it was and I was ready with Rosie (without the luggage! I am sure she was very happy about it. I mean who minds a no luggage run!) I was on the ascent and it was the day when I cross Tanglang la (Worlds second highest motorable road) but before that was Morey Plains. A 25 KM long flat stretch of land. Just by the look of it, it is geologist’s paradise. It is a paradise in it self. I fell into a pretentious road of sedimented sand. I went straight into it and had a fall. It was like a
It is the day when I reach halfway of my journey. I will go to Khardungla (world’s highest motorable road) today. I reached Chospels office and picked up my permits. Anxiously, I was on my way, the roads were nice and they were steep. After an hours ride, i was there. On the topmost motorable part of the world. Felt nice. I rode back to Leh. I spent the day checking the villages out, went up till Shey and back at KC in the night for the second Semi final. Rahul and Yok were there.. I also heard some rumors about some problem in
Day I decided no riding for the day and just chill out. I had made a lot of friends in Leh in the last 2 days. Some of them plainly amused to hear about my journey and offering all kinds of help (including free food J) Apart from Nitin and Chospel, Abid, Sangge, Larpen, Lavi, Salil and one more guy whose name I don’t remember, Rahul, Yok, Julie, John, Tom and more whose names I don’t remember. We all were quite a group who loved football. I kept crashing into them on streets. This was a clichéd “day at leisure” I was to start riding to Kargil tomorrow. The news about tension in
Started little early. I crossed the airport, Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Khalsa and Lamayuru and I met Rahul too on the way. Rahul is on a bullet and it is usually me catching up with him. Like I met him at Lamayuru having breakfast. Lamayuru is a few KMs away from Leh on the route to Kargil. It has famous festivals which we see on TV and is very popular amongst tourists. The landscape is a little different. You can see houses which are etched and constructed in the mountains. A very interesting architecture and engineering. The road was well tarred but it had sand and gravel on it all through the way making it very dangerous. I had to slow down much as I had city tires on Rosie and not the dirt or off-road ones. Slowly I moved on. I crossed the Matreyi Buddha statue and moved towards Kargil. I was entering the Islamic
It drizzled a bit that morning. The fresh air gave me a perfect head start for the day’s ride. Heard the
I rode out of
Today will be my last leg of the journey. It was going to be a ride across
I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ~Robert Louis Stevenson