North by Northeast ‘11 – Pang To Grampo’

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Pang – Sarchu – Darcha – Grampo campsite

Distance this period: 237.68 km Total Distance: 2439.77 km

Pang – 0 km
Sarchu – 79.16 km
Darcha – 79.22 km
Grampo – 79.30 km

From Pang, the charm of Manali – Leh highwayturns pale. Bad road starts, the rain made it worse. Now that Tanglang La was closed, traffic coming from Leh was stopped too. So it was a good ride. Made it to LachungLa top, then down to Whisky Nallah, had maggie then uphill to NakeeLa. Then downhill, 21 loops of Ghata Loops started. Loved it. Touched the riverbed, then a bridge, broken. BRO was working, even though peoples were walking on that bridge, the main guy didn’t allow me to pass through. Wasted an hour, he made me first to cross, everyone was clapping, nice.
Then flatish ride to Sarchu. crossed a bridge and officially entered into Himachal Pradesh. One guy from tid shed shouted stay dinner daru here, so here I was sipping a bottle of bear in my tent. Adios J&K. Camped
Total KM – 79.16 kms
Total expense – 310/-

One day of rest makes a lots of different.. good ones.

Early morning heard peoples talking about God; well I am in HP now.
Flattish ride to Kilingsarai BRO dett. uphill starts, Bharatpur. Lunch time. Met 2 cyclists going in same direction, then met Worldbiking couple (going opposite, to Leh), some chat, then 2 more Spanish cyclists going towards Leh. Baralacha La Top, again got a chance to salute entire army convoy. Zingzingbar. Tea Chana at Patseo. Made it to Darcha. Room for 100/- rs.
Total KM – 79.22 kms
Total expense – 470/-

Good road continued all the way to Keylong. Had piranha. Then a bad patch of road, Tandi Bridge, THE famous Tandi bridge heard a lot this bridge before now here I was. Two rivers Chandra and Bhaga meets here. Then dusty uphill to Gondala. On this dust met Ahmedabad family of Pang stay. Tanglang La was still closed so they turned back. Luch at Sissu. Koksar, a bridge, the starts the horrible dirly climb of Rohtang La. Dragged myself to a spot where I could camp. Found one, as soon as I opened the tent, a guy comes and enquires what am I upto. Nice guy from Nepal. Invited me to camp next to his camp other side of wallah. He made a nice dinner for me, how lovely.
Total KM – 79.30 km
Total expense – 90/-

first pass of today.. LachungLa
Whisky Nallah at the bottom. Lunch point.
Inside view of the temporary tents..
Sleep is 45 kms away..
2nd pass of the day.. NakeeLa
HP roadways runs a daily bus Delhi to Leh..in 2 days. First stop Keylong. Only during the season.
Well, its time to park The X and salute the braves…
Ghata Loops starts, Thank God, I’m going down..
Sarchu approaching
They look pretty, but quite dangerous to cross. Chilly, fast and too many holes in there…
Baralacha La Pass… Way too windy to breath..
Road is freshly tared and smooth like a skin..
Darcha approaching
Keylong..
from campsite..

North by Northeast ‘8 – Khardung Village To Tangtse via ChangLa’

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Khardung Village – Ganglas (upper Leh) – Zingral – Tangtse

Distance this period: 187.94 km Total Distance: 1881.35 km

Khardung – 0 km
Ganglas – 52.96 km
Zingral – 81.70 km
Tangtse – 53.28 km

Early morning; woke up without water or food, rode about 10 km to Khardung village for breakfast.

Then the nasty climb of that side up to the Top was killing. It was already 1 o’clock when I crossed North Pullu, continued, I could see sunny weather turning cloudy and 5 km short of the Top it started raining. I started pushing The X on slippery, watery, cold road.

And then a cabbie offered me a lift, couldn’t say no, looking at the furious weather. My plan was to camp just below the Top (~1 km), while coming down I saw one abandoned road workers camp but lift was there, they dropped me at South Pullu. Had some noodles there and rode towards Leh till I found a camp spot just before Leh town.
Kms covered – 52.96
Total expense – 215/-

The crystal clear milky chilled water.

 

Army convoy, a dream come true to salute the full convoy. Some smiled, some gave weired look.

 

Yes! thats the plan. all the way up to KhardungLa Top.
Leh again.

 

Leh again, but continued riding left on Manali road, met a cyclist from Israel. Little chat. Then late breakfast at Karu, packed emergency food. Straight road goes to TanglangLa, I took left turn. Made it to Sakti by noon. Junction; left goes to WariLa, some eating joints are there, had some food there and headed right to ChangLa. What a climb it is, killing gradient. Asked for shelter at Zingral army camp, denied. Then there was this guy called Shindhe, he pointed me to GREF campsite, other side of the road. Nice stay; got heater, some rum, chicken rice and lots of gyan. Zingral Camp
Kms covered – 81.70
Total expense – 250/-

At Sakti

 

The green Sakti.

 

The lonely climb to ChangLa

 

Pushing is normal here.

Had tea early morning there and left. It took 4 hrs to cover last 12 km of ChangLa top, road was pretty bad. At the top, tea was 30 rupees a cup, noodles 60 a plate, great.
But it’s THE TOP.

And WOW! Amazingly wow!! another TOP!!!
Maggie noodles was banned on lowlands but here, I paid 80 rs for this.

Downhill starts from the top, road are nice and tarred. Rained a bit, repeated same mistake of not breaking at the water crossing and fell off the bike. A puncture, left side of the break system broke, don’t know how will I survive with only rear breaking. It’s all down to Durbuk. Junction; left goes to Agham, I took right to Tangtse. A bad day.
Kms covered – 53.28
Total expense – 900/-

The road, other side of the pass.

 

The risky road, not so great for skinny tire like mine.
But vistas are great.

 

This is the curve I came screaming down and glitched the first bad patch but struck on second. got a bad hit, a distorted handlbar, broke front breaking system.

North by Northeast ‘7 – Leh To Khardung La’

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Leh – North Pullu – Hunder – Khardung Village

Distance this period: 186.01 km Total Distance: 1693.41 km

Leh – 0 km
North Pullu – 56.91 km
Hunder – 80.44 km
Khardung Village – 48.66 km

Leh stay was mesmerizing, would love to be there again for a long stay there. Such a charming place.
Kms covered – 0.00
Total expense – 960/-

It was time to conquer the Top, KhardungLa. Started 0530 am, its easy climb to start. Gentle climb and good tarred road upto South Pullu. Check post. Some tea, food stalls there. Then starts bad road, water crossings, and road work never finishes here.

I was in good company of cyclists all the way up, everyone loves challenges I guess.

I pushed last couple of kms, was damn tired and exhausted. Had Maggie at the top. And The Top. What a feeling!

Then I pushed some downhill too, it was too scary to ride on such boulders, potholes and cold. Some terrible water crossings other side. Lession learnt – no riding after 3 o’clock in hills. North Pullu, Stay at some hotel.
Kms covered – 56.91
Total expense – 390/-

Look at the climb, the sunny day, the surroundings, what else you need to finish your challenge!

 

South Pullu at the first curve and dirt road starts. Your eye balls are dancing, don’t they?

 

The TOP!!… So called highest motorable road, and I did it without a motor; on a cycle. Proud moment. but lonely. Felt kind of sad, remembered the movie ‘Into The Wild’

 

This is what the other side look like from the top. So clear

It was all downhill ride today, road is tarred, smooth like a skin, loved the spinning. A Junction, straight road goes towards Agham, I was loving spinning by now so took the left turn, Khalsar, then flattish road to a junction; right ride goes to Panamik, I took the left one to Diskit and then to Hunder. Found a nice hotel.
Kms covered – 80.44
Total expense – 880/-

The dancing road. Nearing Khalsar…

 

The straight road goes to Agham, another route for Pangong Lake via Shyok village or via WariLa. I took the turn.

Couldn’t go further ahead of Hunder. Return back journey started. At Khalsar had lunch. One army van was stationed there, walked up to the young officer sitting at the front seat and saluted him. Bad news – Agham route is blocked. I asked him how he joined forces and all. On the status of road he said local can’t be trusted better check with the chowki stationed before the junction. But a bad day today. What this means – I will have to climb back to the top. Damn!

Then I did, but found myself uneasy on the climb back and camped 10 km short of Khardung Village. Camp
Kms covered – 48.66
Total expense – 100/-

Hunder is famous for camel riding, I wasn’t aware about this fact.

 

Funny, I was so happy to cross this blockage. I packed everything again just to find out another big blockage about 100 meters ahead. So embarrassing! on my stupidity. I wasted some 2 hrs to figure the way out on first blockage.

 

Khardung Village; from the campsite. I was out of food but just couldn’t ride.

North by Northeast ‘6 – Rest day at Leh’

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Distance this period: 0.00 km Total Distance: 1507.40 km

Leh – 0 km (rest of 2 days)

I kept going up from the airport; the climb was killing me because of tiredness. I gave up riding and started pushing. Met Jai and followed him to ‘Gomang guest house’, got a room for 400 bucks.

At the junction, there is a big gate kind of thing welcoming us to the city called Leh. From there, left road goes to the main market beyond that all guest houses hotels are located. Right side road goes to the Top – KardungLa and beyond. The middle road takes you to DC office, where I applied for inner line permit and got it in like in an hour, total fee paid 400 inr.

Inner line permit only required if you going beyond Pangong Lake. You need to clearly mention the route, so basically you need to write MarsimikLa, Merak, Chushul, Tsaga, Hanle. This is for Indian citizens; foreigners are not allowed to visit these places.

Check points – Tangtse, Merak, Chusul, Tsaga village, Loma bend, Nyoma. So you need 6 copies of the permit. But keep some more for emergency or if army asks for it.
Oh! Yes, no idea of MarsimikLa as that was not in my route.

It was nice to be at Leh.

Leh and surrounding hills.

North by Northeast ‘5 – Sonmarg To Leh’

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Sonmarg – Drass – Mulbekh – Nurla Camp – Leh
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Distance this period: 354.66 km Total Distance: 1507.40 km

Sonmarg – 0 km (Day 16 & 17)
Drass – 65.05 km (Day 18)
Mulbekh – 103.12 km (Day 19)
Camp Nurla – 101.15 km (Day 20)
Leh – 85.34 km (Day 21)

There was no hope of road opening next day too. I headed to army canteen for breakfast, by now everybody knew me as a freak cyclist; they smiled enquired if I was doing alright. For two days I was like a guest there.

Outside I chit chatted with truck drivers, listened their wild stories of bear encounter in the region. They advised me not to camp in open till I reach Kargil.

After two days of rest I was ready to take on slushy, foggy, chilly, showery, yes! The Mighty ZojiLa!

Foggy morning, Amarnath Yatra camp below
Road to ZojiLa pass..

Initial climb was good; then some up, started dirt slippery road. Switchbacks after switchbacks I started pushing the bike, by 11:00am I was at the top. Bad surface continues till Gumri, road is tarted after that till Matiyan, then again bad surface till Drass. Met a hotel owner from my own state, he shared some good stories of the area like how locals celebrate 6-7 months of snow, no connection with the world outside. Drass
Kms covered – 65.05
Total expense – 680/-

Then a clear view.. ZojiLa and Yatra camp below.
Greenery strats after the top..
Nice road.. at the end the village Matiyan. Kids surrounded me smiling, I was the only one eating.

It’s a great road till Kargil, some small climb, a little bit of bad patch then all the way a smooth ride to Mulbekh.

At Mulbekh I stayed at J&K PWD rest house, met the caretakere by accident. Booked a room, while I was trying to adjust in my room a young fellow came, we started chatting randomly. Early morning when I saw that fellow again when I went there to pay the bill. I think he was gay.
Kms covered – 103.12
Total expense – 510/-

Kargil approaching.
A selfie on the road.
Entering the land of Buddha.

Just after Mulbekh, there is one small settlement where I had my breakfast. From here the climb begins – Namika La. Today I was to climb two passes – NamikaLa & FotuLa. It’s a gentle lovely climb to NamikaLa. Met a solo German cyclist at the top. The ups and downs continue to FotuLa. The descent is fun and amazingly steep down on some curves. Then all the way down to Lamayuru, Khaltse, and 6 km ahead of Nurla, I camped near road workers camp.
Kms covered – 101.15
Total expense – 200/-

Early morning met a solo cyclist from Hungry, headed Zanskar.

Saspol, then up to Basgo plains and afterwards beautiful down to Nimmu, on this section I achieved like 70 kmph speed. Loved it. Had lunger at Pather Sahib Gurudwara, no, no night stay accommodation available there they said.

After passing the Leh airport, I was kind of scared due to tiredness, also didn’t see any staying accommodation. Then I met Jai – a cyclist from Banglore and he said he know some place. Lovely.
Gomang Guest House.
Kms covered – 85.34
Total expense – 455/-

A lovely gentle climb to NamikaLa
NamikaLa Top..
A lovely climb.. a view to die for..
Peddled All the way up…
A selfie on the road… approaching another top
FotuLa top..
My favorite.. I sat there viewing this for like ages..
The moonland.. Lamayuru.
The road… around magnetic hills

Getting Leh’d today yaayyyy..