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 ‘10 – Nyoma To Pang’

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Nyoma Camp – Tsokar (Thugje) – Pang

Distance this period: 139.89 km Total Distance: 2202.09 km

Nyoma – 0 km
Tsokar – 79.23 km
Pang – 60.66 km
Pang (rest day) – 0 km

Nyoma has good home stays and hotels, food options available easily. But I was in no mood to spend money on leisure. So had some noodels and headed to a isolated place, camped and slept. It rained at night and continued in the morning. Gave a little window to pack my stuff and keep moving. The night was beautiful but felt lonely.

22 km to Nyoma is Mahe, right road goes to HorLa, KaksangLa to Chusul, I kept my left towards to Mahe bridge, Police check post. Permit and entry. Nice guy, gave me salty tea, I was hungry, wet, shaky completely drenched. Straight road goes towards Leh, I crossed the bridge to my left. 12 km is Sumdho, Before the town is a junction, left goes to Tso Moriri. I took straight to my right. A shop is there at Sumdho but no one was there.

Further 7 kms is Puga, just few houses. Some tarmac road and then starts the bloody rocky climb to Pologongka La. This 11 km to the top is damn nasty, pushed all the way up. 2 days of no food made it worse. It was already 5 pm when I reached the top. Found two guy drinking, continued, hurders camp, kids chased me on downhill. Then weather turned ugly, rained, crossed two dangerous water crossing, water was flowing like hell up my waist. wet pannier, wet cloths, dark, way to windy to handle the bike. Flaged down upcoming vehicle but he responded with a bad news, next town further 10 kms. He suggested to cross the watercrossing from middle of the road, smart guy.

My bike The X was in full mood today, rode it like running for my life and it obeyed me like a partner. I almost kissed it. At 8 pm a shop keeper offered a room for 300/- and warm food. Bargained for 200/- all. One hell of a ride today.
Its 16 kms to Manali-Leh highway! yay..
Kms covered – 79.23 km
Total expense – 550/-

Next day started as late as 11 am. Theres one short cut to the Manali – Leh highway but took a long one. Debring, 40 kms to Pang, Moore Plains, met one Irish cyclist solo and a guy from Banglore, both riding towards Leh. Weather turned ugly, strong headwind, some rain. Then Pang. A lady offered a bed for 100/- rs.
Kms covered – 60.66 km
Total expense – 615/-

Took a rest day at Pang, nothing much to do here. Borrowed some carosine from the owner lady and washed The X nicely.
Then met a family from Ahmedabad, they stayed at Manali for a day and rode straight here at Pang, complaining of headache. I advised to check with doctor and they did. Frightened whole family.

It rained and got a news of Tanglang La being closed.

Sumdho. Left goes to Karzok Tso Moriri.. I took right
Road is full of such stones and hard to ride uphill. Puched all the way up
At Pologongka La Top.. Those who say Cycling touring is easy; look at the face, its no sunshine all the time. I had no proper food for 3 days now… Previous day was just a plate of noodels, today not even water let alone food. Carrying just one bottle on such hills is a suicide mission. And I was in one.
It has started raining other side, I must hurry.
This man at Thugje, Tso Kar keeps oscilating between Leh and here. Entire family moves with him here for 4-5 months to help tourists like me to survive.
Good to see tared road after so many days of off-riding. Its gonna be smooth ride for rest of the day. Manali – Leh highway near Debring..
Moore Plains…
Weather turning bad.. Moore Plains.
Vastness has no limit
The X resting
Pang.
Now its time to rest and eat like hell. I really need to fill my stomach put some serious calories and other stuff.

North by Northeast ‘9 – Tangtse To Nyoma’

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Tangtse – Spangmik – Chusul – Nyoma Camp

Distance this period: 180.85 km Total Distance: 2062.20 km

Tangtse – 0 km
Spangmik – 43.94 km
Chusul – 48.08 km
Nyoma – 88.83 km

Tangtse is the first place for inner line permit check point. There is a bridge before you enter the town, just after the bridge you park your vehicle and go inside a tent. One punjabi aryman was funny enough to make me smile. He told me to be on my right side for the next two days journey. Its a short ride to Pangong Lake. yes, THE FAMOUS PANGONG LAKE. So great to be here. Food was too costly, too windy to camp; so moved ahead to the next settlement called Spangmik. Got a room for rs. 200/- rained whole night.
Km covered – 43.94 km
Total expense – 410/-

So the touristy thing ends here. I was heading to a barren land today; to CHUSUL. It was one hell of a ride, and a memorable one. Along the beautiful Pangong Lake. Started as early as 0830 am and made it to Chusul by 0400 pm.
Lonely road along the lake, so much in love with its water and sorrounding air. Merak, a police check point, here deposited a copy of permit. Didn’t see any food joints, however the policeman told me to ask any villager and they will be happy to serve you one. One motorbiker from Mumbai was turned back, riding without permit.

Alongside the lake, downish ride, just one small hill before Chusul. Rocky, sandy, water you get everything but no proper road.

Chusul was silent like hell. Asked local about staying accodomation, one fellow offered his house, accepted his offer but camped outside in his courtyard. Dinner with them was nice. One policeman came to check upon me, took a copy of permit, a long chat.
Kms covered – 48.09 km
Total expense – 210/-

The Stay was nice, good and honest people. Only man in the house, taking care of his lady and four daughters, a camper jeep. Food supply comes from Leh, little bit of farming, have a small shop, lady runs it. Men & women both do hard work, BRO hires them for road work, and things like that. God! how much for survival. I felt very bad, was worried how he gonna marry his daughters.

Said my goodbyes and kept on the bad road. Very bad till Tsaga village.

Chusul is the point from one road goes to Pangong Lake, another one goes to Tangtse directly, another goes all the way up to Kaksang La and HorLa, and then one goes along the China border which I was going to ride today.

I was out of my emergency food supply. But kept riding. One army convoy passed, I chased the last truck, it happens to be a food supply truck. The man sitting at the back was kind enough to through some dry fruits and a tetra-pack of real juice. wow, felt like rescued from a fight.

20 kms from Chusul is 13 Kumaon War memorial. Strong headwind, bad full of stone road, slightly elevated up road leads to Tsaga La top. There’s army camp at further up and one helipad. Downhill starts here and then tarmac road. Great to be back on proper road. Tsaga Village, then CRPF check point, submitted a copy of permit. Met a jawan from my own land, got hot tea, snacks and some warmth inside the camp. Tarmac continues on downhill. Then Loma Bend, a roundabout, and CRPF checkpoint, another copy of permit, another hospitality from CRPF jawans. From here left goes to Hanle (~ 50 kms), Hanle is the place where you get to see stars in amazingly different way; like the whole of milky way galaxy comes to visit here.
I took right to Nyoma. Barren land again, not a single soul along the road, just army camps at distant places. Nyoma, camped.
Km covered – 88.83
Total expense – 60/-

Another day of no proper food.

From Tangtse I am headed to the famous Pangong Lake
And then here it is. Smiling beatifully
Relaxing water, relieved after so much of intense riding..
Another view
Found this map in Spangmik hotel room..
Along the lake you move on, snow filled hills another side..
And then there was some photographer, national geo I gues,
Selfie to bantaa hai with Pangong Lake..
Small but bad climb towards Chusul..
Lovely lady at Chusul, my host..
13 kumaon War memorial, RezangLa.. tribute to heroes who died for our better future… 114 out of 120 Jawans laid down their lives in the battle here with China. details available here https://www.facebook.com/notes/indian-air-force-fans/unforgettable-battle-of-1962-13-kumaon-at-rezang-la-by-col-n-n-bhatia-retd-court/595886010448427/
These kids came running all the way from their homes, see at far corner, just to say hi…
Tsaka top.. too windy
Yes, I was here.. hahaha
Approaching food and some talks…

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..