Riding through the Himalayas….!!!

Here You go….!!!!

It’s always a bliss to ride through the beauty of high hilled mountains, valleys and along with the multiple rivers. When you actually finish the ride, you can proudly say that you ladakhed with your cycle, 😉

The Plan, somewhere in the mid of January i was saying him(logesh) that i have planned for a cycling tour from srinagar to leh (my dream trip), me and logesh (we actually met only once before this trip), since we are just a same minded freaks he suddenly agreed that he wants to join the trip with me and lets just books the air tickets before it go crazy high, and without making late we booked the air tickets for chennai to srinagar and srinagar to Chennai on February for august(best time to ride from Srinagar-leh) with 25kgs cargo baggage(only air india has this option).And after the booking we didn’t even spoke a word about the trip and the planning’s etc.( because i have an instinct that the plan will work only when its planned at the last minute).

And it was mid of July (20 days before the journey) when logesh called me and asked are we going to make it for sure? i blindly said , yes why not :P, after all that we started preparing for the ride, before 30 days i gave my cycle to a service to Track and trail perungudi, since i don’t want to service my bike before a week of the trip(that may cause unwanted problem like logesh faced, explained down), so after the service i just ride around 350 kms and made sure the entire cycle is physically fit to do this tour(she is perfectly fitter than me):P and i wanted to buy some accessories like pannier racks, extra tubes(but no punctures for the entire trip), and pannier bags ( i got it from my friend raghul prathap- thanks a lot bro) and some more amenities.

before a week of the journey i approached sundar Anna(sundar osha) to help me out in packing the cycle, he referred to pro-bikers (Gunasekaran) and by the help of pro-bikers i had a health checkup to my cycle and got it packed on low cost then for others, and there you go we are all set for the ladakh ride. I was very less excited even before a week before the trip, maybe I took it more casually waiting for the day, and yeaah the day finally arrived and a special thanks for logesh who took both the cycle packs to his home and take it back to the airport on his car, and yaay as per the plan we boarded the flight and travelling towards the destination that we never thought we will cross in cycle, that was amazing that rain to joined our journey when we started, we reached Delhi at around 11.00pm and waited for the next flight to sringar which had a layover time overnight :(, so we stayed in the airport lounge for overnight , slept a while woke at 6 am , boarded the next flight at 7.00 AM, luckily i prepared some bread toasts last evening in home , so we had it as a breakfast before boarding into the flight. And we were surprised with Air india since they are providing meals, refreshments for all the passengers flying on it, thanks to Air india for filling up our stomach 😉IMG_20180822_165259459

And Yaaay, we finally reached Srinagar around 9.30 am and its 10.am when we came out of the airport with all the baggage’s and we started to mantle our dismantled cycles, guess what this is the first time that iam fitting up my cycle, thanks to gopi probikers, he took me a class how to mantle it, it took almost 4 hours to fit the cycle, here come a difficulty :(, we both only took an Btwin hand pump, which is not even sufficient to fill the air in the tubes and the army man in the airport told that we can only find the pumping station 3 kms from airport, so i went walking with my cycle to find the pumping station but failed to find any, instead i found a sports shop and got a big cycling pump from him and went back to airport to pickup logesh. and finally its huraaaah we are all set with all the luggage’s on the back and ready to roar towards leh.(ride) we again crossed the same market where i got the pump and we had tea and some Kashmir snacks to fill up our tummy to start the day 1 ride,

Day1(Srinagar-Zhukron):

Day one was so hard since the lack of sleep last night and the temperature is too hot also and the planned distance is 40 kms(ganderbal) from airport via dal lake. so after the first tea and snacks in the lands of beautiful Kashmir we further ridded 12 kms to stop for a one more tea in a small shop, by that time we are very close to dal lake and the time is 4 pm, then after the tea we pedaled further for 2 kms and reached the dal lake entrance, she was just admiring , admiring, admiring, we saw the sunset on her heart and clicked a lot of pictures, and the time being so fast its became 6.30 PM,IMG_20180811_191113.jpg

and as soon as  we noticed the time we started towards the days end, we crossed the 15kms log dal lake and we were back into the leh highway, it was 7.45pm when we reached a small town called Zhukron(10kms before ganderbal) and found a good hotel called Frankie’s since we both being very hungry we thought of finishing the dinner as well as the day 1 ride on zhukron itself. we ordered food (chicken gravy and jeera rice) and completed it, we were speaking with the hotel owner about the places to camp our tent, he suddenly said that we can stay in a room upstairs his restaurant(not to pay anything) and he offered us a room finally. we being very thankful to him took a bath and went to the bed as soon after that and slept like a small babies because of the tired day in the dream of starting the second day earlier.

Day2:Zhukron-sonamarg(hot hard day)

We both woke up at 6 sharp and packed up all the luggages on our cycle rack and started riding the day two destination which is sonamarg(60 kms away) and at 3000m altitude high.

This road from zhukron to sonamarg, this is not just the road, this is such a beautiful road as heaven filled with full green mountains and valleys and the sindh river travelling all across with us all the way upto sonamarg. This is the road that i often see only on movies so believe me, this is such a beautiful road, after having breakfast at wayul sindh view restaurant we started our journey towards sonamarg,

IMG_20180812_083112609.jpg we stopped after 30 kms ride to have lunch and this is where we saw noticed a tragedy happened to logesh cycle, his right arm pedal just broken and gave up, which made the trip a bit worse until kargil. after noticing the pedal, we just tightened up it until the last thread and finished the lunch and started again for the day towards sonamarg,that was a 10 kms ride from that hotel where logesh’s pedal completely gave up, so he took a help from a garage truck and went to sonamarg to sort the problem out and i was riding all alone upto sonamarg. when i reached sonamarg camping place,

IMG_20180812_191416 - Copy.jpgby that time logesh went upto sonamarg town and failed to see any welding shops to weld his pedal, but he made some temporary solutions to his pedal and reached back to the camping spot. since we carried our own tent with us for the night stays we tented at a place which was the best place where i stayed so far. and for dinner we got roti’s , rice and sapji’s for free which are prepared for the nearby trekkers who camped along with us, The temperature is 4 degree Celsius and it was raining heavily which insisted us to sleep early. that was a fabulous night.

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An interesting happening:

When im riding all the way upto sonamarg, i didn’t noticed that i missed my Raincoat which was kept in the carrier i was keep on riding. all of sudden a car crossed my cycle with their hands out of the window showing my raincoat. i stopped and got my raincoat back from them and they told me i missed it a km back and they took it and followed me to give it back to me. How nice these people are.

 Day3(Sonamarg-Matayen(via zozila):

After a blistering night stay in sonamarg, we started the next stay at 7 am after packing up all the wet luggages(because of slashing rains last night), that was a super bliss to ride on the drizzling rain with the environment which only has green cover to it.IMG_20180813_102902.jpg

we finished breakfast and pedaled up to baltal(base camp for Amarnath) and we were told that the zozila road was closed because of the rain and landslides because of it, it was 10 am when we are stopped. time was moving moving moving and the time became 12.30(still the roads were closed) and we went to have lunch in a small shop. they served us with hot rice, dal, and some vegetable sapji’s(too yummy) as soon as we finished eating an army man come and said that the roads were opened, which made us to start immediately since we need to cross zozila pass, the worst the deadly pass in the route. i should mention about the roads from baltal to zero point zozila,

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it was the very worst road that i ever seen, it took almost 5 hours to reach zozila zero point where we can able to find a tea shop, and we saw a group of bikers having tea, we finished having tea and also a conversation with them,IMG_20180813_174317199_HDR.jpg

as soon as both got over we start towards day destination (Drass) it was already 6.45 pm and the sunlight started to fade away. it seemed to be a downhill, but due to the bad road conditions we were very slow and reached a small town , where there is no electricity at all. we approached a tea stall to see whether they have any food for night and a place to camp our tent one night since its around 8 pm. Luckily they gave us a lot of omelets for dinner and gave us a room to sleep also where the temperature was 4. IMG_20180813_183623648_HDR - Copy.jpg

About the nasty roads, after crossing zozila my cycle and me were showered with muds all over the body where we both didn’t took bath at that night 😛 lol. we went to bed and slept like something since we were very tired.

A blissed route to ride: baltal to matayen, you can see glaciers at the top part of the mountains.(i saw glaciers though).IMG_20180813_171408573.jpg

Day 4(Matayen-Kargil):

After a muddy and hard day 3, we started our day 4 towards our destination kargil(80 kms away) to see the independence day celebrations on 15th Aug. we started as usual by 7 am since its full downhill and plain roads upto kargil,IMG_20180814_073835

after starting we reached a village called matayen where we had breakfast as rice and mutton curry, and we saw a old guy from tamilnadu riding from Delhi to leh and then leh to Kanyakumari on cycle, we had a spicy chit chat with him(i didn’t only logesh) and soon we finished our breakfast and started towards drass 30 kms away,IMG_20180814_095434939 the road upto drass is alluring level of beauty and it is mesmerizing us feeling so lite while riding. we clicked clicked clicked lot of pictures all the way. And finally we reached drass at around 10.30 where logesh’s pedal gave up fully which made him to travel in a shared taxi to kargil from drass(though i was riding alone). After sending him to kargil via taxi, i finished my lunch at drass and started to kargil(60 kms more). After 10 kms ride from drass i reached the Kargil war memorial, IMG_20180814_131743900.jpg

it was just a goosebumps moment when i was seeing the martyred soldiers were buried. it was just a pride to be there on the day before the independence day and I kept some flowers on their memorial and spent my 30 mins all over the memorial with goosebumps(i got a kargil heroes t-shirt on a memory note). After that time i started my riding again towards kargil all alone, it was hot as like Chennai, and i was running of water so i had to knock the door of the local village man house, what they did to me is such a great act,

 

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i went to them asking water to drink they called me inside their home, gave me water to drink, refilled my water bottles and they were asking me the details, where iam from, where iam going etc. while speaking this an another guy from the home got me a bowl full of apricots and namkeen chai (almost 250ml) to drink, i was just shocked on this act of felicitating. and the leader of the house taught me how to eat apricots, and told me to take the remaining       apricots into my packet to eat it on the way. After spending good valuable time there i again started towards kargil in the mid-day hot sun. it was very hard to ride on the roads where there is no shadows to hide me at all, so i didn’t stopped for the next 20 kms and suddenly stopped a hotel on the way thought of having time chai there and continue. and i met a group of Bangalore bike ridersIMG_20180814_160105468

in that hotel and advised them stay that night in Drass, they presented me a Tibetan flag to tie on the bicycle front. We happily clicked selfies and i started as soon as possible since its already close to 5.30 and the sun was fading out, i have to ride 15 kms further uphill down hill and plain surface to reach kargil for the day, it was hard for me since i covered around 65 kms already in hot sun, i didn’t had any choice as well since logesh is waiting for me in kargil, i was supposed to reach kargil by night, and all of sudden, i saw two fellow cyclists, two localates sheen and bazil (riding their TREK and MERIDA from  ganderbal) i got boosted up after seeing them and we ride along upto kargil, when i reached kargil the time is around 7 Pm, since logesh already got friend called riyaaz and riyaaz helped us to get a good room for a night stay (since it became dark and couldn’t able to find a place to camp for the night and our power banks were also got emptied backing up for the first three days). after checking in we got refreshed and went to roam the kargil town and also to finish dinner as well. We are done with dinner and some shopping from the market and came back to room at around 9.30 , as soon as we reached i jumped on to the bed as i was tired like hell and slept like a hungry tired kid.IMG_20180814_085536688.jpg

Day5(Rest Day):

This is a Rest Day after 4 days of altitude gain and a 225 kms coverage out of 450 kms. we planned to see the celebrations in the kargil as it was Aug 15 the great independence day of India. We took a roam of 20-25 kms around the kargil town to see the independence day celebration and to spend rest of the days with people over there. All these we came to close the Day 5 of the tour where there is no much interesting things happened after the celebrations.

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Day6(Kargil to Lamayuru):

As the past day was full resty and we gained much more energy and we planned to cover the namika la pass which is the second pass in the highway and end tonight at heniskot(65kms distance). we had breakfast in a good vegetarian shop in kargil and started our day facing a straight uphill for next 10 kms, this 10kms took us 2 hours to cover and the temp is around 34-35 degrees at that time itself and it sucked up all our energy which insisted me to get a dozen of bananas and to eat some from the fruit shop we saw at the stop place, the time was around 11.30 and we took a 15-20 mins break to finish up the bananas and planning to have lunch at 12.45 where ever we found the hotels on the way, After the fruit shop the road was pretty descent, its an combination of plain and downhill road, so we stopped riding after a 15 kms distance IMG_20180816_144247.jpg

and had lunch in some shop and looked at the time it was 1.30, since we have only 6 more hours sunlight to cover namika la and to reach heniskot(night stay) we started as soon as we are done with the lunch and since the road was good and neat, we ride fastly to reach mulbekh(the foot hill of namika la pass which is at 13500ft altitude) and you don’t believe us it took almost 4 hours to climb up the namika la , we stopped there for few minutes only for clicking pictures and started as soon as possible to reach heniskot which is further 30 kms from the top, and being a downhill from the top, IMG_20180817_114452.jpg

we didn’t event pedaled for a meter for the next 20 kms and this 20 kms took us just 30 mins to cover, the road was bit windy and it’s always a very nice feeling to ride on a windy downhill. And we stopped at a place called saraks where we found an army canteen to have a plate Maggi and tea, after that we started towards heniskot 10 kms further ride to finish the day 6 of the tour, after riding for five kms further in the road we saw two army men walking on the road, they called us and asked about the trip and where we gonna stay for tonight, as soon as we told heniskot,IMG_20180817_230520.jpg

they told us that there is no house and people staying at that village since all of them, have vacated the village a month ago because of the flood. we were shocked that we stopped at a no habitants place with no stock of water and food and the time is already close to seven. at that time luckily two bikers helped us to get food from the shop two kms away with lending their bike to us(such a great act). Logesh went and got some food parcel to eat and we started again at 7.15 (this is the time usually sun set happens) after riding for 7 more kms we felt that the road is going bit up(because of fotu la pass) and we got feared for the first time in the entire trip after not seeing any habitants on the village, it was 7.45Pm and its totally dark, when we were stopped at the mid road and thinking of what we should do further. Suddenly i saw a high beam light in the road, as soon as i saw this i waved my hands for lift and without no hesitance the garage zeep have stopped and asked us what we want from them,IMG_20180814_182959047.jpg

we explained that we travelling to leh in cycle and we planned to stay at heniskot for the night and since we don’t found any habitants here we got feared, so we stooped you that we can get lift upto lamayuru (30kms) where we can get staying options. they suddenly waved their heads and asked us to load our cycles in the back and we started asap.

It was a very big pass(fotu la) in the entire trip and the one pass that we skipped to pedal 😛 it took almost an hour to reach lamayuru and we unloaded the cycles from the vehicle and thanked them for the help, as soon as they left we started roaming to find a room for the night stay and luckily we got a room for five hundred rupees and without making further delay we checked in as we are tired as hell, after checked in I went to take a hot shower and succeeded and had the dinner we parceled. IMG_20180821_190932_511.jpg

After finishing dinner we thought of going out to roam the village and when we went outside it was too dark and finalized that going out in this dark is waste of time so let’s go and sleep. Good night to all. 😉

 

Day 7(Lamayuru-Saspul):

After a lengthy last night we got up sometime around 8 and we checked out the room and went to have breakfast in the nearby lamayuru restaurant, we had some roti’s and paneer masalas and a tea, meanwhile we saw a tourist couple from France were seated on a table and we voluntarily went and started a conversation with them. IMG_20180817_093219597.jpg

they are roaming the entire city in buses to explore. we invited them to plan for a trip to south india so that we can accompany them for the trip. after that we went to see the lamayuru monastery(a famous visiting spot in the village), as we are not allowed to go inside the monastery since we weared small cycling shorts, they told there is a rule to go inside the monestry only with full clothes. so we just captured some pictures outside the monastery and started the to saspul(65kms) which is day seven destination. Our initial plan is to have our lunch at Khalste (20 kms up and downhill from lamayuru) but when we reached Khalste we came to know that there is some strike going on and all the   shops been closed because of that on that day. and the time was around 12.45 PM, IMG_20180817_130018510.jpg

we were told by the localates that there is an Army canteen working 3 kms away and we can get lunch there. before that since we were very hungry, we went to the nearest farm(consists of apple and apricot trees) and seeked some apple saying that we are hungry and all the shops were closed, and the farm lady allowed us to pluck apple how much want and also told us to take apricots from their farm. i had 3-4 apples and some apricots which filled up my tummy, and started back towards that army canteen that people suggested us. after riding further for 6-7 kms we found the army canteeen, wait what i need to tell here is absolutely dramatic, yaay that was the one and only canteen that server south indian food, huraaaaah, i had 3-4 idlis and two masala dosas as lunch(eating idli and dosa after 8 days span) and the chuttny they prepared is tooo good since the chef preparing all these is from andhara pradesh.IMG_20180817_154752346.jpg

we saw lot of tamil speaking army men in that canteen and explained all of them about our trip and we said we were so much happy to find a hotel like this to have south Indian food. We halted there for around 2 hours by taking a small nap after the lunch, when we started its was 3 PM and with no hurry we were riding our cycles to saspul, after a 15 kms ride in the very hot sun and fast head and tail winds, we reached a place before the village nurla, there was a family doing agriculture with their farm, we stopped at that place and asked them where can we find tea shops, they replied its closeby here you can find it, and we seeked them some water too, after giving us the bottle full of water they asked us whether we want apple, and we both shaked our heads like some goats and with couple of fresh apples we got invited to see their farms also, we went into the farm and admired that they’ve cultivated walnuts, badam, apple, apricots, grapes,cabbage,cauliflowers, sunflowers etc meanwhile when we are admiring all these the family members

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went inside the home and prepared tea and gave us a bowl full of biscuits, we don’t know what to speak and without refusing we agreed to have a tea with them and we had tea together and also a good conversation, after spending a valuable hour along with them we felt very sad while leaving ( i literally said that i wish to be here forever) and left the place with heavy heart filled with their faces it was just about making memories all the place we go as we left the place by around 5 it took just an hour to reach sapul from nurla since the road is pretty decent and a combination of downhill and plain ones. as soon as we reached saspul around 6.15 IMG_20180817_165837243_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg

we were looking out for someplace to camp our tent, and we found a apple farm and asked the owner whether we can tent here for a night, he said okay and yaaay we tented on a apple farm finally :D., to say, it was very windy outside very windy, we even got scared that our tents might fly away 😉 but it didn’t. after the tenting process was over we went to see for the availability of any restaurants in saspul and found a brilliant restaurant called saspul de cafe(on;y vegeterian), where we had our brilliant dinner and a tea. after finishing our dinner we came back to our tent to spent the night under the black sky with twinkling stars to gain a new experience in the sleep.IMG_20180818_062856 - Copy.jpg

Day 8(Saspul-Leh)Final Day:

Yaaaaay here comes the final day of our cycle tour, the distance we need to cover is from sapul to leh!! The morning i woke up at around 8 am and noticed that logesh got awake even well before than me, and he roamed around the farm when i woke up, as soon as i saw him i took the brush in one hand and went to roam in the farm, what i can witness is just fruitfull, it was a 250 acre apple farm that we stayed in the night(we don’t know untill we woke) and the land is filled with apple decaying everywhere and all the directions are only filled with apple trees and apples after brushing i started the day with eating apple and came back to the tent to fold all and get ready for the last day cycling of the tour. We went to the same hotel called “saspul de cafe” and had a dellicious breakfast and started from saspul at 9.30am, From there the road went completely up for 12kms and a high elevation was gained on this distance. we didn’t even found a small shop for this entire 12 kms strech and whenever we are running out of water we stopped some vehicles passing by to seek water and got it. After a hard stretch of 10 kms we found a small tea shop and had tea there and asked them how long will be the road gonna

 

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up, they said for further 2 kms it will be up and after that upto nimmoo it will be full down hill and the time was close to 11.30 when we started from that tea shop.when we crossed the two km distance and the road started flowing down as it appears to be the start of the downhill.

 

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we covered further 10 kms to reach a village called basgo to have lunch at a small motel and he served us with roti and dal and vegetables sapji’s we had a good lunch and started towards nimmo on the descending road from basgo.it was only the downhill where we are not allowed to pedal anything but allowed to explore a lot with the flow of the cycle.

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When we reached nimmoo at 2Pm it was very hot and we thought of having some tea and went to a shop where they provide a coffee of 250ml quantity. We were chippping that coffee for almost 30 minutes and taking rest since the next 10 kms stretch is gonna be completely up and hot not even a shadows to hide and thats the last 30 kms to leh(yaaaaaaay).Before finishing the 10 kms uphill strecth we are hitted by all the previous 7 days tired at a go and it became very very hard to ride in that heavy headwind and the uphill. Upto magnetic hills it went okay without headwind but after magnetic hill it was horrible when the head wind is on its beastmode, we heard from a localate that upto the gurudwara pathar sahib temple which is 4 kms away the road will be ascending and after that the road is completely descend, we pushed very hard upto that temple, and stopped there where the temple management provides tea and cookies for all its devotees, we had some tea and cruncy cookies after then we kicked up to start IMG_20180817_170719208

and finish the cycle tour. After the temple the road was excellent descend plus the tail wind where we covered almost 15 kms without loosing any energy. and after 15 kms we saw a welcome to leh board and literally we were jumping out of joy when we saw the board, we spend some 10 minutes there to make some pictures for memories and it was 6.30 when we started from that place, slowly we were pedaling to witness the beauty of leh!! it was just admiring when you see leh along with the Indus river running aside from the top. and it was slight descend upto the leh city and we finally reached the city at 7.45 where we took a dormitory to accommodate us for a night yes indeed a last cycling night of the trippppppppp…!!!!!!!

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And Jumping out of joy i can proudly say that, i ladakhed with cyle.

Yaaaay now iam an ladakh rider (on cycle though).

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Points to be noted:

1) You have to plan on the travel and night stays etc, you are not supposed to land on no man’s land on any night.

2) Safety – there is no safety measures we took(not even a knife we took along with us)

3) Don’t do a bike service right before your trip, i t will spoil the entire trip, after servicing have a long ride and make sure each and every screw is tight and fit.

4) oxygen level – we didn’t  found any issues on oxygen

5) people – people on the entire route is helpful and down to earth always lending thier hands to helps us

6) kashmnir is not we always see on the news and newspapers.

 

Stats:

Kilometers——> 500kms

Elevation gained——-> 11000m

Flat Tyres——–>0

Days cycled——–>7

Cycle Used————->Montra Blues1.1

Last but not least:

We travelled in the cycle , so we explored a lot then the bikers and the guys driving the cars. i always rememeber a quote “When you always choose a least expensive vehicle to travel- you always explore a lot for sure”

 

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