Cycling

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

This is the ultimate section!2nd and 3rd highest passes that can be crossed on a bike are the target and we have prepared well for them. However good you have been in a tournament, the Final is always special and this section is. For those who want to attempt this section separately can do so from Tso Kar but with proper acclimatization. Reach here from Leh through a different route (diverges from Upshi) and start the climb torwardsTanglang La. The section can also be ended in Upshi / Leh.

Day 8 :Debring to Upshi, Saddling Distance: 75 kms, max altitude: 5360m, Its all about Tanglang La today..

Today was the ultimate day as far this expedition was concerned. Tanglang La @5360 mts was the target and nothing else was on anyone’s mind. In fact, Wakeel event dreamt of crossing the pass last night!

Plan was to start off as early as possible. Priya started first and everyone followed soon. I was the last one to start but soon I realized that there is some problem with our support vehicle. It wasn't getting started. What a day to go awry! The driver did not know many tricks to come out of this problem. I asked for some help from driver of some another tempo traveller who after much convincing, agreed to help tow our vehicle for a short stretch. We (me, Nillu – the cook and Om – our helper) were pushing the vehicle and finally with all the Indian jugaad at play, the vehicle started! Relief!

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

I biked with Ramu & Yahso for 2-3 bends who went a little ahead of Kush. Today’s climb was the ultimate test for many of us. Kush was having some problems climbing up today but with some motivation and ‘anjeer’, he kept moving.

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

in pic : On the way to Tanglang La

What is peculiar of Tanglang La is that the top becomes visible from the very beginning of the climb but the never ending bends are enormous and test your patience. You maneuver one bend and think this one would end at the top but it takes a lot to reach to that final bend. The climb also dehydrates one a lot and it is extremely important for a rider to keep hydrating himself / herself continuously through out. Carry good amount of water with you and keep refilling. At such high altitudes, one must be very careful about hydration. Good thing is that when that comes, the top appears from nowhere and the rush of blood is immense!

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

in pic : Dry Throat

One by one, the riders started reaching the stardom they had dreamt of but Sreeram, the brightest star, was first to reach here as well! Soon all of us were there and the feeling to look at the surroundings from Tanglang La is something I can only try to express in words. We were giving each other long hugs, some were punching the air, high – fives, victory shouts, and even tears rolling down some eyes. The moment was big…Even the man with ultimate peace of mind – Yasho raised his hands in the air to celebrate!

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

in pic : Tanglang La with all bikes

Many pics were taken here and only when the time became almost constant, we moved from there towards Upshi@3505 mts. The path was awesome with continuous descent for next 40 kms. Each of us was feeling content now and we were having a lot of fun on our way down to Upshi. The red mountains on your sides with gentle water stream flowing as if to show you the way. The ride was really satisfying. You see a couple of villages on the way marked by Gompas. We reached Upshi where camping site are difficult to find. We got help from the Upshi check post in-charge who allowed us to camp inside the compound of the checkpost. Some of us also had some local food (momos) here. Upshi is a decent town and you can find hotels here after a long while (post Jispa there is nothing like this).

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

in pic : Gompa

Day 9 : Upshi to Leh, The smoothest ride

This was a lazy morning as can easily be guessed. Post the breakfast, we started for Leh at around 09:00 hours. The way to Leh@3524 mts from Upshi is like a cultural heritage visit : villages, farms, Cantonment area, Thiksey monestry, Shey palace, and many Gomaps mark the way. Interesting blend is the ling army area which is extremely well maintained and looks pretty with insignias and colors all around.

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

in pic : Villages on the way to Leh

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

We reached Leh in the afternoon and everyone was relaxed. Post the freshening up, we had a hearty lunch filled with local cuisine : momo, thopka, thinmo, fried rice, etc.

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

in pic : A Monastry

Evening today was relaxed (of course) in a hotel with apricots, tea, and some snacks. The apricot tree in our hotel (Naaz palace on Old Leh road) was almost completely unloaded by us  everyone went to sleep a bit early because tomorrow was the final day!

Day 10:Leh to Khardung La: Road to the 2nd highest motorable road in the world…One more battle that would definitely end this war!

To start with, some of us had a feeling that reaching Leh was enough and there is no need to do more but me & Kush pushed all to complete the expedition on a high now. India’s highest motorable road (2nd highest in the world) was waiting for us.

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

in picture - Leh city market

We started our climb up from South Pullu today. Actually there are south and north Pullus on either side of Khardung La…interesting.. While the distance was only 14 Kms from South Pullu to Khardung La@5602 mts, but since some of us were having 2nd thoughts today, it was more tiring. The road to make the matters worse was also terrible. I did not mention this before but what makes Tanglang La difficult is two things : 1. Lack of oxygen & 2. Pathetic road filled with stones (rodi). For Khardung La, oxygen was not an issue actually as by now we were all acclimatized very well but the road condition was similar. None the less we kept riding on & on..

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

in pic: On the way to Khardungla

As soon as I reached the top point, I saw that everyone was thrilled with a special kind of energy that I did not see till now. We were all jumping around here when some others who had come on motorcylces or cars were struggling to gasp some air! After all we had completed the expedition @ 5602mts there is no way that Khardung La, which till recently was the highest motorable pass of the world, won’t excite you the most!

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

in pic: Wakeel & Myself

We took so many picture with those boards declaring the success and made a crazy topless video as well (guys only ), full Lords type.. Expedition was complete and the feelings were immense. Every time I do an expedition, I feel as if my consciousness has grown by another inch.

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

We took so many picture with those boards declaring the success and made a crazy topless video as well (guys only ), full Lords type.. Expedition was complete and the feelings were immense. Every time I do an expedition, I feel as if my consciousness has grown by another inch.

in pic: Khardung La Group

We had the closing dinner at a restaurant post which Wakeel went back to Manali.

The expedition was special, in a different way for me. Last time I did it, it was about self accomplishment but this time it was about the achievements of each and every member of the group. Extremely satisfying it was!

Let me summarize my thoughts through a poem here

Conquering Your Fears, Gaining Yourself : Manali - Khardung La Cycling Expedition ( Part - 4 : Tso Kar to Khardung La )

Also read .... Part - 1 : Manali to Sissu

Part - 2 : Sissu to Brandy Nallah

Part - 3 : Brandy Nallah to Tso Kar

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