Manali to Leh Expedition August 2019
Every year our group plans out an expedition to a place in India for cycling. The main aim of the annual ride has been to enjoy nature and keep ourselves challenging by different terrains on cycle. This year we decided to ride from Manali to Leh. Yeah, you read it right, on CYCLE.
So the planning for it began right from the month of May, we started training for the high altitude cycling by practicing hill training, strength training and endurance riding. Days passed we were involved in the training and came the new of Article 370 and we thought of changing the location. Thereafter as a group we sat down and had a discussion about the pros and cons of going there after Article 370, the conclusion of the discussion was that we would stick to the plan.
Finally, the travel day arrived, Out of group 3 of us had thought to carry our own cycle for the expedition. So we started on 8th August 2019 from Hyderabad and reached Delhi, From Delhi we boarded the bus for Manali which was planned to reach on 9th Morning but due to bad weather and landslide, we reached late afternoon. After which we were waiting for the other gang members who were supposed to reach there the same day but later in the night.
Day 0-Orientation Ride (10th August 2019)
The ride was to nearby farms to get acclimatized with weather and surrounding. We met a local family, talked with them about their life and all. They were excellent in hospitality, they even showed us their house and farms (apples, kiwi, Brinjals, capsicum).
After which we visited another fruit farm of an acquaintance, explored the entire farm, and consumed some juicy apples, pears, and plums.
Day 1- Manali to Sissu
Due to rain, we started late than planned. We started from a place called Gulaba in Manali( to avoid the hectic traffic of Manali and the bad roads). Crossing the tree line, we ascended gradually to the touristy Rohtang La. After a brief halt at the pass, we started our downhill ride into the district of Lahaul & Spiti towards Kokhsar and Sissu. Glad that we finished it.
Day 2- Sissu to Jispa
We started cycling from Sissu alongside Chandra and Bhaga River. We reached Keylong and had local lunch there and thereafter continued cycling to reach the beautiful valley in Jispa.
Day 3 – Jispa To Zing Zing Bar
We started from Jispa alongside the river Bhaga and reached Darcha, after which we had good climbs to reach Deepak Tal( A natural lake ) where we had our lunch. After which we continued our journey to reach Zing Zing Bar
Day 4 – Zing Zing Bar to Sarchu
Today we started to ascend towards the 2nd Pass i.e. Baralacha La. It was a naughty climb, good that the road was tarmac and had less traffic (unlike Rohtang). Thereafter we got a glimpse of Mountain Desert and descended to Bharatpur and to Sarchu via rolling terrain.
Day 5 – Sarchu to Pang – Independence Day Ride
Starting from Sarchu we rode along Tsarap Chu River and entered the J&K state, it was rolling a terrain till the Gata Loops. We climbed 22 continuous loops out of which one was claimed to be haunted. After this we had some relief on rolling terrain and thereafter came the third pass of the route i.e. Nakee La, it was mesmerizing route but a tough one for me, I almost gave up but got a company from Shashank who accompanied me with the Lunch point i.e a descend to Whisky Nala. Thereafter he gave up, but Venkat was waiting for me, he helped me in conquering the fourth pass of the route (2nd one on the same day) 8km of the climb on Lachulung La. It was one hell of tough climbs for me. After reaching on the top, Venkat gave up as it was all descend now. So he lent me his 29er to manage the off-roading with the mountain bike and I descended to reach Pang camps. My Garmin battery drained off so I missed recording the off-road.
Day 6 – Pang camps to Lato – Spectacular Day Ride
We started from Pang Camps, after 6km climb we reached the Moro plains, 43kms @ 15800ft, most scenic plateau I have ever seen. After a short break at debring we started ascending to the 2nd highest pass of the world TangLang La, 5th pass of the entire trip. 19 km of the climb to reach that point. After initial 12 km I was out of energy, I had company of Rushi whom I asked to stay with me for the next 7km and asked him to play Garba and there were moments where I almost lost hope and thought of giving up so I asked Rushi to keep talking to me so that I don’t give up and we managed to reach the pass. I wanted to yell with joy the scene was so beautiful at that point. We clicked some snaps and started descending as the weather was getting worse. As we started to descend there was rain welcoming us but it was freezing my hands and legs but we didn’t give up and managed to reach down (34-35kms) after a small break of tea and some Maggi we moved 2kms to our destination of the day in Lato, Lato Guest House
Day 7 – Lato to Leh Final Day
It was a leisure ride, in words of Karthik I should say Shanti Ride. We started along the river Indus via Lato and Upshi and some other villages. We reached the Ladakh Valley, as we moved I witnessed the Ladakh Valley and the Indus River together and reached the district of Ladakh. En route we saw the Army camps, few monasteries in that region like Hemis and Thiksey and we faced brutal cold headwinds all the way. We stopped at Thiksey as we found that it was raining heavily and more rains were expected in Leh. Finally, we all made it to Leh on cycle.