Body shattered but Soul purified…To be creative, you should not be thinking ordinary…
Such a thought by Narender Kumar Gautam to complete the Leh Circuit in 72 hours created ripples, most of them positive, some negative… Many wanted to join, including me…
The purpose of this Ride was to test the Endurance of the riders, and there was no battle of being 1st or winning the game or creating records. Just 1 purpose “How much can we push our self SAFELY, how much can we ENDURE”
One day morning I was surprised to see being added to WhatsApp group “Leh Marathon”, with Masterji, Ankur Dahiya and Akshay Jain.
The Team :-
Narender Kumar Gautam aka Masterji-who has visited Leh 6-7 times, numerous trips to Spiti & Killar-Kishtwar route, knows the Route in detail, knows where the hotels are and the names of the caretakers of these hotels. Packing is his mastery, with his clothes, rainwear, jackets all packed in. Footpump, Professional Camera & Gloves (he was giving option to others i.e would be having 8-10 pair of Gloves) For once, I also saw SHAN in the saddle bag, but then he packed him safely there.
Ankur Dahiya – visited Leh 4 times, a young sales IT Professional, he is in the perfect job. But when fatigue sets in, and during the breaks, his speeches were seemed to be changed by some Rancho, and then the Chatur did Chamatkar pe Chamatkar. The Speech then was more funny than the 3 idiots one, and the Fatigue disappeared like Viru ShashtraBuddhe…
Akshay Jain – visited Leh 4 times before this, he is the deceptive guy. His deception lies in kicking the KTM’s with his Bullet… He makes Hathi run like a Cheetah… and he has KTM too… cant think of whom will he make shiver when he rides the KTM….
Myself – Visited Leh once, in this group, I was one with the least knowledge of terrain. But the knowledge and experience of this team brought out the best in me and made this trip possible
Myself Raju Ashar– Visited Leh once, in this group, I was one with the least knowledge of terrain. But the knowledge and experience of this team brought out the best in me and made this trip possible
Discussions over the route, things to carry, etc happened.. Route finalized. A small meet at Ankur place at Gurgaon was arranged to know each other better.
Gloves were the hot topic of discussion, since temperatures showed -10 degrees at some places on the route...
Sleepless nights…. Finally D Day ? 21st Sept 2am arrived… Singhu Border meeting point…
Mukarba chowk meeting point, and flagoff from Singhu Border, our journey of 2300++ kms began at 2:45 am.
Day 1 ? Delhi-Panipat-Ludhiana-Jalandhar-Pathankot-Udhampur-Qazigund 782 kms.
Progress was excellent till Pathankot @70kmph average speed, after which the Jammu-Srinagar highway traffic + road widening/mountains cutting spoiled the Progress, and made the fatigue set in.
A break at Qazigund, and since the rooms were available there, we crashed in the same.
Day 2 ? Qazigund-Srinagar-Sonamarg-Kargil-Leh-Karu 520 kms.
We start the day early, and at dawn, cross the Dal Lake, the surrounding mountains look magical. Soon we are at Sonamarg. Some pics later, we ascended Zoji La without difficulty, and soon we were at Kargil War Memorial. Namik La and Fotu La are ascended, but the climb nearing PatharSahib Gurudwara, the FZS starts breathing problems. Ascend or Descend, it will stall. Reached Leh around 8:30 9 pm, and the team proceeded to Karu, to get an hotel for the night. I got hold of Mechanic at Leh, got the wire fixed in carb jet, after which bike seemed fine (or I thought so), proceeded towards Karu, and crashed for the night.
Day 3 ? Day of the Passes Karu-Keylong 324 kms.
Leh-Manali Highway, the average elevation is 4000 meters (13,000 feet) with its highest peak at 5328 meters (17,500 feet) at Tanglang La. This is one of the reason that preferred route to Leh is via Srinagar (so that its easy to not get hit by AMS)
Started early, with tea at 1 dhaba in Rumste, it was still dark. We soon ascend Tanglang La (where the temperature would be nearing 0), and the gloves seems good. But then we are greeted by rains, and the Morey Plains seems unending… This gave us an indication of the weather ahead. We reach Pang, had a tea break (black ginger tea) to give the warmth to face the weather ahead.
Lachulung La (5065 meters) is next, fine, but where are the roads…. After 3-4 kms, I got to see a sign (Sarchu 63 kms) and there is a sign of relief… Yes, I am on correct (no) road. Nakee La Pass and Gata Loops later, we are at Sarchu, where we had a Tea Break.
Road deteriorates from Sarchu, till Baralacha La pass (where FZS has asthma again), + the weather deteriorates enormously, we are bombarded by Snow Blizzard. Helmet Visors get foggy, and then the snow hits the eyes. Drenched / Freezed, we reach Baralacha La pass, as a small halt later, start the descend. Desend was not easy, as the Snow Blizzard was still at full strength, and the next Roof (Dhaba) was at ZingZing Bar 22 kms away.
Reached Keylong around 6pm, after which the most important decision was to be taken ? whether to go till Manali via Rothang Pass or stay at Keylong.
Looking at weather, we decided to stay at Keylong, went to Tandi to fill up petrol, back to Keylong and got the FZS carb wire refixed. Its 10:30 pm and the work is done.
Day 4 ? Keylong-Manali-Delhi 628 kms
Keylong to Khoksar is 1 beautiful ride, with excellent scenery all around. The spoilsport was the weather, with Fog and rains…. We reached Khoksar, Rothang Pass ascend point, and it was raining like hell. 1 to 1.5 feet deep slush awaits on the never ending ascend of Rothang Pass, but fortunately, the bike performs well, and slush is flushed out soon. After Rothang top customary pic, we gathered at a beautiful waterfall at Rani Nallah. The descend towards Manali had traffic snarls, and some broken patches, but overall the roads were good, and we soon reach Kulu, our Lunch break.
Thereafter, there was dash to reach Singhu Border till 2:45 am, and we did reach there on time.
Thanks to Narender Kumar Gautam, Ankur and Akshay for being wonderful persons, for their support during this ride, and forming the 4 individuals into 1 wonderful team.
Some analysis :-
Q1. Was the ride possible in 3 days.
Ans. Yes, with less breaks, but most importantly, the favorable traffic and weather conditions. The Jammu-Srinagar highway dust and humid climate made us worn out, and then Leh-Manali highway weather deterioration, it would have been risky to continue ahead.
Note-The text is authored by my friend and riding partner Raju Ashar and has been shared here with prior approval from him.