Leh : the second largest district of India, is a dream destination for almost all travel fanatics. And if you get to know of an excursion on those beautiful mountain roads on bicycles, won’t it be an adventure sport in itself. This escapade organized by Lifecycle online, Pune every year brings many travel and cycling fans together.
My friend got totally swept away on his trip last year and his narrative made me repeat it out loud for people to know. The expedition called MLK (Manali – Leh – Khardung La) takes you from the green valleys of Manali to the mountain desert of Ladakh. The journey begins at Delhi airport, where you meet the whole group and then an overnight bus takes you to Manali.
Everyone was super excited but the adrenaline rushed in when they saw their MTB’s. Group members are assigned roll numbers, tent numbers and other details are shared.The daily chores for the coming days was set : Wake up at 05:00 AM, be ready to ride by 06:30 AM, no cycling post 02:30 PM, roll calls daily before starting the trek and at end and sleep off by 09:00 PM. The support staff from Mountain Expeditions Manali does best to take care of everything from food to cycle maintenance and basic health and hygeine of all. On 25th July, an acclimatization ride in Manali was organized as riding at an altitude is not a piece of cake. With the prayer flags tied on all the bikes the ride began next day morning.
26th July : Day 1
(Manali – Palchan – Kothi – Rahala Falls – Marhi : 38kms)
The first flag off by himalayan expedition owner marked the start of the ride. The cruise started with lush forests around and ended with dry mountains. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the first ride.
The daily ritual after destination was to go through a yoga/stretching session followed by lunch. Noon was allowed to sleep post the ride for two reasons : one to avoid AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness) and secondly to get up on time for day ahead. Dinner everyday was accompanied by a brief for the terrain of next day and sharing experiences of the ride.
27th July : Day 2
(Marhi – Rani Nalla – Rohtang La – Khoksar – Sissu : 50 kms)
Living in camps was a new experience for a few but everyone was very happy and excited for Day2. The ride was interesting and had decent off roading which was fun for all. On reaching Sissu camp everyone cleaned their bikes. The camp was at a really beautiful location under the shade of tall trees and alongside the gushing stream of Bhaga river.
28th July : Day 3
(Sissu – Tandi – Keylong – Jispa : 53 kms)
The worst road of the trek till now was encountered today, but the ride was worth it as finally everyone got decent washrooms at Jispa.
29th July : Day 4
(Jispa – Darcha – Deepak Tal – Zingzingbar – Barlacha La Base : 36 km)
This ride took all to 13000 ft, everyone was henceforth advised to drink loads of water so as to compensate for the lack of oxygen and to reduce the health risks like passing out, nose bleeds and AMS. The ride was hot and dry but natural beauty was in abundance.
30th July : Day 5
(Barlacha La Base – Baralacha La – Sarchu – Twing Twing Bridge – Brandy Nalla : 66 km)
The ride was good and fun this day and everything from river streams to mountains to plains was encountered en route.
31st July : Day 6
(Brandy Nalla – Ghata Loops – Lachulung La – Kanglajal – Pang : 54 kms)
It rained heavily the day before for around 3-4 hours because of which considering everyone’s safety the ride was cancelled on this day. Cyclists were transported to the destination in support vans.
1st August : Day 7
(Pang – Morey Plains – Tsokar : 41 kms)
Morey Plains are a beautiful sight, a good stretch of 40 KMs flanked by Mountain ranges on both the sides.It was surprising to see plains at this altitude but really comforting for the ride. The clouds started a heavy downpour at around 7:00 PM. Bringing out the fear in everyone, drowning all in it’s fierce power.Roaring winds, screeching tents, leaving everyone silent and praying in the end, reminding all once again the nature’s might.
2nd august : Day 8
(Tsokar – Debring – Taglang La – Rumtse – Lato : 72 kms)
The morning was a beautiful sight of snow covered peaks all around. It was a very cold day cause of the rains and there was a 34 km ascent to be done.
3rd august : Day 9
(Lato – Upashi – Karu Bakery – Sindhu Darshan – Leh : 70 kms )
Todays route was amazingly beautiful everyone just wanted to marinate in the nature. It was drizzling all day and the road were drowned in mud and water knee deep.
4th august : Day 10
(Leh – South Pullu – Khardung La – South Pullu – Leh : 72 kms)
The ride to Khardung La, 10th highest motorable pass in the world (5359 m) got cancelled due to heavy rains all day. It was told to be the most wild part of the ride and we heard it was officially closed due to fear of landslides. Not sure why but I found many places where this pass is falsely claimed as the highest motorable pass in the world.(The picture below is not from the trip).
And so the trip ended the last day was spent in Leh, roaming around admiring the beauty of the place and nature and reminiscing the wonderful 10 days that excited, frightened but mostly amazed everyone to the core.