Group – MOCHA BIKE ASSOCIATION (MBA)
Bikes – 20 Royal Enfield’s & 1 Harley Davidson
Days – 17
Distance- 2500 Kms
Altitude – 18380 feet (5608 metres)
Difficulty level – Strenuous
Dates – 17th June 2011 – 3rd July 2011
17 days … 2500 kms … 18380 ft … What would you call a ride traversing three of the five highest motorable passes in the world with a region touching two borders, the second highest saltwater lake in the world, the second coldest inhabited place in the world, three different terrains, three distinct cultures and five mountain ranges, possibly accessible for only three months in a year? Leh Ladakh & glory …
Ladakh – The land of high passes, virgin beauty of shimmering lakes, gurgling rivers, humongous mountains, mystic lamas and loving people.
Key words that best describe Leh would be – Clear Blue skies , Cold running water , Snow capped mountains , Breath taking scenery , L.O.C , Army , Buddhism , Stupas, Monasteries, Tibet, Art markets, Gompas, Indus and Capricious climate.
The city of Leh has only two terrestrial approaches: Manali-Leh highway and Leh-Srinagar highway, both of which are seasonal, they’re closed during winter. Leh is literally cut off from the rest of the world, if the weather God decides to be violent.
THINGS TO CARRY :–
2 Denims & 4 T-shirts (should suffice) ,Jackets – 1 Armoured Riding jacket , 1 Jacket for cold weather (Winter Jacket / Leather would be ideal), Riding Trousers – Thermal wear (Water Proof), Gloves – 1 Riding Gloves + 1 Gloves for Cold weather, Monkey Cap / Balaklava (Balaklava preferred as will fit properly inside your helmets)Socks – Woolen and Cotton (3 Pairs each) Gumboots , Waist Pouch, Slippers , Sleeping Bag ,Empty containers for Fuel, Bungee Cords / Octopus – 4 nos, Helmet (Full faced), Extra Visor (White Glass only),Riding Glasses, Getters (To cover your shoes in case of unavailability of Gumboots), Thermals / Inners (At least two sets), Riding shoes / Army Combat Shoes, Barsati or Rain coat (Duck Back) , Dry fruits, Chocolates , Rucksack with polythene cover , Polythene bags (Can be worn inside the shoes to prevent frost bites) , Torch ,Maps, First Aid Kit, Toilet Kit ,Tissue Papers
Medicines – Diamox , Crocin , Pain Killer & Lomotil (Any other medicine prescribed by the doctor)
Saddle bag / Ladakh carrier is ideal to carry all the above stuff (Fitting of Ladakh Carrier on to the bikes is optional.)
VEHICLE ESSENTIALS :-
Valid driving license (Original + 2 zerox copies) , Vehicle Registration (Original + 2 zerox copies), Insurance Papers (Original + 2 zerox copies) , P.U.C Certificate – Original ,
Bike serviced and final check done 10 days before the bike gets transported.
BIKE SPARES & ACCESSORIES :-
Spark Plugs , Clutch Cables , Accelerator Cables , Front Brake Cables, Spare Tube – Front & Rear, Duplicate sets of Keys ,Spare Headlight – Halogen , Spare Tail Light , Tool Kit, Petrol Pipe, Spare Fuses , Insulation Tape , Gear & Clutch Yoke lever , Both Mirrors , Front footrest rod ,Chain lock ,Disc brake oil & Engine Oil, Check the condition of your tyres and get them replaced if worn out.
Standard bikes Carburettor- Air Screw Settings to be opened for better performance
|MBA LEH – LADAKH 2011 (16 NIGHTS / 17 DAYS)|
|DAYS||ROUTE TO BE FOLLOWED||MODE||KMS|
|DAY 01||MUMBAI TO CHANDIGARH||TRAIN||–|
|DAY 02||REACH CHANDIGARH & COLLECT BIKES||–||–|
|DAY 03||CHANDIGARH TO MANDI||BIKE||235|
|DAY 04||MANDI TO MANALI (REST DAY FOR ACCLIMITISATION & BIKE CHECK)||BIKE||110|
|DAY 05||MANALI TO KEYLONG – TANDI – JISPA (VIA ROHTANG PASS )||BIKE||165|
|DAY 06||JISPA – DEEPAKTAL – BARALACHA – BHARATPUR – SARCHU||BIKE||135|
|DAY 07||TOWARDS PANG, KARU & LEH (TANGLANG-LA PASS & 21 GATTA LOOPS)||BIKE||265|
|DAY 08||REST DAY AT LEH FOR ACCLIMATIZATION , PERMISSIONS & LOCAL SITE SEEING||BIKE||40|
|HALL OF FAME, SHEY PALACE, KALI MATA MANDIR, THIKSEY MONASTERY|
|DAY 09||LEH TO KARU VIA CHANGLA BABA PASS TO PANGONG LAKE & STAY.||BIKE||160|
|DAY 10||PANGONG RETURN TO LEH||BIKE||160|
|DAY 11||KHARDUNGALA PASS & MOVE TO DISKIT-NUBRA.||BIKE||130|
|DAY 12||RETURN TO LEH||BIKE||130|
|DAY 13||LEH TO LAMAYURU & STAY AT KARGIL||BIKE||237|
|DAY 14||KARGIL , DRASS & SRINAGAR / SONMARG STAY||BIKE||245|
|DAY 15||SHANKARACHARYA TEMPLE & LOCAL SITE SEEING ,SHOPPING||BIKE||30|
|DAY 16||SRINAGAR/ PATNITOP TO JAMMU||BIKE||315|
|DAY 17||JAMMU BIKE LOADING & EVENING RETURN JOURNEY BY TRAIN||TRAIN||–|
|Total Approximate Kilometres||2357|
I usually begin all the rides with a sense of anticipation: most of the rides I do are overnight which means I’m not really able to get way out into the country. But on this one you are way out there. The ride starts from Mumbai … however the real ride for us started from Chandigarh. The cavalcade started at 4pm on 17 th June 2011 in Rajdhani Express to Delhi. The tension was relieved , when we got to know that our bikes , that had left us ten days prior to the journey had reached Chandigarh and were safe and sound.
Chandigarh to Mandi is an extremely smooth ride until you hit Manali. From Manali onwards you have a new hurdle to overcome every day. Passing the cold winds and a little snow we are en route Rohtang la , the first pass that you need to cross at 3978 metres.
With several climbs and lots of slush and mud you will have a screaming half mile of downhill from Rohtang la. Caution:- Oxygen level starts dropping because of the high altitude hence only a quick stop is recommended.
A couple of miles of gentle downhill past Keylong , Tandi and Jispa brings you to Baralachla – The mountain is completely covered in snow.
Crossing Baralachla you are ready for yet another adventure … Sarchu. (The legend says it “Jo Sarchu paar kar gaya who Ladakh paar gaya”) Sarchu is a place that is like a valley covered from mountains on all sides … absolutely no vegetation whatsoever and hence almost zilch oxygen making the situation even more difficult… Caution:- Oxygen level is lowest at Sarchu because of no vegetation. It is advisable that all reflexes and movements are slow.. do not get excited or try “Man v/s Wild” stunts here !!
Sarchu is actually a site for all riders to feel and experience … While most of us had taken a furlough from all the existing vices , the remaining who hadn’t , this was the last stop for all the vices as some of us could barely insufflate. Sarchu is like a nail on the rocky road which punctures you mentally and physically. One could suddenly see the cigarettes disappear from the hands of the smokers , smiles disappear from the charming faces , all the possible woolens coming out of the haversacks and a wave of silence in the entire troupe.
It is imperative to get a complete health check up done before you actually go on this fascinating pilgrimage of Leh-Ladakh which indeed is “The Mecca-Madina” for every passionate rider !
On reaching Sarchu it is important that you stay outside in the open air , get acclimatized and do not try to rush inside your tents to take a quick nap (even if you are tired). Also its recommended that you do not change and keep your riding jackets , thermals , riding boots etc on thus retaining the body heat already generated. The body heat would assist you to fight the severe cold.
One must carry and consume sufficient water through out the trip . Take enough breaks and consume small quantities of water at each break. Wear clothes that will absorb sweat and let it evaporate easily. Replenish your liquid intake often. You may add some salts to the water to replace the ones lost during perspiration. Chocolates, fruits and dry-fruits along with water are a great source of vital supplements needed to avoid cramps etc. Try to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth , through out the trip as this increases your lung capacity.
Even though we had taken all the required precautions and the had all the pre-medical checks done …we still ended up having situations at hand. A couple of riders started feeling uneasy and found it difficult to breathe. Since we had done the necessary home work possible , the Oxygen cans that we carried came to the rescue and aided all those who were feeling uneasy.
However , one of the fellow riders started breathing really heavy. To our good luck we also had a doctor within the group who had joined in as a pillion.Post his examination it was learnt that the patients pulse had reached 240 , whereas the normal range is 60-100.We had no option but to move him immediately to the next military camp medical site which was almost 2 kms from our camp. Couple of us accompanied by a back up vehicle moved him to the next military camp at 11 pm in the night with headlight bulbs as our savior.Reaching the military camp we were advised by the senior doctor to move him immediately to Leh which was almost 265 kms away , probably because even though Leh is at a higher altitude they have proper hospitalization facilities there.
“When the going gets tough … the tough gets going” Couple of us together with the doctor decided to leave for Leh in a back up vehicle that we had, praying to God and chanting “Ki ki so so lha gyal lo”
The road from Sarchu to Leh is one of the toughest and the most interesting roads of the entire journey as it has couple of difficult terrains to cross.
Gata loops – The Gata loops consists of 21 hairpin bends which will take you 4190 mts to 4630 metres (15302 feet). The gata loops starts immediately after a stretch of 24 kms from the tents at Sarchu.
More Plains – is a total stretch of 40 kms with an average elevation of 4000 metres flanked by mountain ranges on both sides. The plain starts after covering around 4 km uphill road from Pang towards Tanglang La. The road is mostly on the plain for around 30–35 km, before it again starts to rise to Tanglang La. Flanked by beautiful mountains on both sides, this area is a major attraction to the Bikers heading towards Leh from Manali. One can expect full power breeze and sands here. Tip – If you get stuck in sand , always get down from your bike and then accelerate. As the more you sit on your bike and accelerate their are more chances of your bike sinking in the sand.
Tanglang la – The second highest motorable mountain pass with an altitude of 5325 metres (17469 feet). Tip – Do not wait for too long at this pass as chances of you getting A.M.S – Acute Mountain sickness are higher because of drop in oxygen !
By the way do you believe in miracles ?? We did – As somehow once we left Sarchu and before we could reach Leh the fellow rider started feeling better and his pulse was back to normal, maybe it was because Leh has a lot of vegetation. I would really like to salute each and every rider who showed the true biker spirit and lived the brotherhood here.
May be it was the prayer “Ki ki so so lha gyal lo” . The prayer that Tibetans will recite at the summit of a mountain pass. It can be translated as “victory to the gods” The Tibetans believe that it is at these high mountain passes that the good gods fight with the evil gods and that the lung-tar (colored paper printed with prayers – which you would keep bumping into through out the journey) and prayers are an offering to the good gods. Offering these prayers at mountain passes is especially auspicious because it is believed that the high winds will be of benefit in carrying the prayers.
We did a mandatory medical check up for all once we reached the hospital at Leh. (Recommended for all). Don’t be worried as the medical check up isn’t expensive … we were surprised when the lady asked us for Rs 2/- each !!
On reaching Leh it is advisable that you again get acclimatized to the weather there. There are lot of places for site seeing at Leh – The hall of Fame , Shey Palace , Kali mata mandir , Thiksey monastery etc. Leh is the situated very centrally and hence it is recommended that you plan your itinerary in such a way that wherever you choose to ride you return back to Leh the next day.
The first couple of miles of the ride up from Leh to Karu is a bit of a workout but not too difficult and before you know it you will be cruising through the Changla Baba pass (3rd highest motorable pass in the world). Changla Baba pass is situated at a height of 5360 metres or 17590 feet.
Crossing the Changthang Plateau we reached the very famous and the breath taking “Pangong Tso”.Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake is becoming very popular amongst the tourists because of the movie “Three Idiots” . With brackish water and low micro vegetation the lake is spread over a length of 134 kms and a width of 5 kms from India to Tibet. Sixty percent of the lake lies in China and freezes completely in winter despite being saline water. Pangong Tso is in a disputed territory and the Line of Actual Control (L.O.C) passes through the lake. Stopping over for the night and camping at Pangong is advisable and divine.
Coming back to Leh from Pangong everyone was very excited as this was the day that all of us had dreamt of – The Khardung la pass – The highest motorable road in the world. Some of us couldn’t sleep the night before because of the sheer excitement. Khardung la situated at 5608 metres or 18380 feet is the gateway to Shyok and Nubra Valleys. The two bases on either side of Khardung la are North Pullu and South Pullu. Inner Line Permit is needed to cross North Pullu to reach the Nubra Valley. At an altitude of 18360 feet to the top of the ridge, with lots of switchbacks ,with a feeling of pride , a sense of achievement and a good stretch of off-roading you finally reach K-Top. With moist eyes barely before you can stop to enjoy the views on the other side you’ll find yourself breathing high and uneasy as Oxygen drops in even more since you are on top of the world. So a quick click with the board which says “Khardungla – Highest Motor able road in the world” and you are back on your bikes.
The route up from Khardungla (Highest motor able road in the world) to Diskit-Nubra is along another of those roads which makes riding in this area so great -it is quiet, rustic, little traveled, beautiful and yeah dangerous.
Arriving at the Nubra Valley one would come across a 35 metre statue of “Maitreya Buddha or The Future Buddha” facing down the Shyok River towards Pakistan. The view from the Diskit Gompa is mesmerizing thus making it an important spot for you to visit. Another attractions of the Nubra Valley are the bactrian camels or the two humped camels and the sand dunes. One can actually ride a camel and experience the sand dunes here !
The only food one can get throughout the entire journey is either Maggie Noodles , Parathas or Omelettes and chai … that too if you are lucky and happen to pass a tapri (tent) … no fancy restaurants or for that matter even basic !
It is recommended that you carry a lot of dry fruits and chocolates with you … so that in case if you are stuck due to a landslide or any other reason .. you don’t end up starving !
The proud feeling of reaching the Top of the world is priceless and getting there isn’t easy.. but that’s the best part !!
Most of the riders either conclude the ride here or take a route back however we continued our journey from Leh to Lamayuru , Kargil , Drass , Srinagar and Sonmarg … which is another story in itself !
This blog has been exclusively penned down for all those new riders planning to go on the pilgrimage this year and for Castrol Biking Power 1 blogging contest… For more information visit http://www.facebook.com/CastrolBiking