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Old 27th April 2013, 18:38   #46
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

speechless! All this is what I can say adc da. You mentioned something in your Sonepur mela thread and I knew it was cooking somewhere. I take a bow in front of you.

Frankly, the way kayaks and bicycles are being favoured, If I'm not able to do a leh in 2013, I sure am going to sell my scorpio and get a kayak and a bicycle (and probably a boat too that I can row in Yamuna here!)
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Old 30th April 2013, 22:17   #47
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Anirban we are just waiting for your detailed day by day log, please let them flow.
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Old 13th May 2013, 11:59   #48
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

@adc da. What happened next? We're waiting and it's getting too long. Please update.
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Old 13th May 2013, 13:53   #49
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
have been in a state of flux as has been running around due to an unfortunate incident of one of my good friend. And after a torrid month, the situation is somewhat under control.
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Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
@adc da. What happened next? We're waiting and it's getting too long. Please update.
Finally started writing the next part offline from today - but then let an actual concrete post from me come up to give that line some credence.

Last edited by adc : 13th May 2013 at 13:54.
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Old 15th May 2013, 13:26   #50
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

@ADC - you earn RESPECT ! there can be no other word. nothing is impossible as far as YOU are concerned. now eagerly waiting for the day by day experiences and am sure the descriptions will be beating any movie script. pl take care to protect or you might find a movie quite similiar to your experience !
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Old 16th May 2013, 10:28   #51
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Absolutely incredible. Bike. Hike (that too to the Stok!). And then bike again! Well this is superlative Sir. Hats off to you. Loved reading it. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 18th May 2013, 03:13   #52
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Hats off to you for having thought of and completed something so intense! As an avid traveler (mostly using my car), I used to think road trips in a car are the best way to see any country. And I have done over 16,000kms across India driving my car (for work or otherwise).
But I am looking at things from your perspective, and I have to hand it to you, they look beautiful. I would love to be able to do a trip like this some day, and I have to thank you for inspiring me to move my lazy posterior a little. Now I have to decide: whether to complete this route on a bicycle first, or in my car.
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Old 18th May 2013, 10:46   #53
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

adc, I always loved your travelogues, but this one is a thriller. It takes a lot of courage to do it solo. Hats off to you.
I am glued to this thread.
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Old 18th May 2013, 18:14   #54
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

After years of reading and looking at the all the fantastic images of deep blue skies, of ice-topped mountains, desolate tracks, we [ Asmita, our 5 yr old son, Bamba, and me] we went forward with our late season travel in the month of October 2010 journey to Ladakh and Changthang (Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10).

Now by chance that year Chandrataal Lake route was open even at that late date, though very desolate, and the already dirt track still more rougher, we were able to go drive and then trek up to the Lake. The next day as we started out from Chota Dhara towards Gramphoo for connecting to the Manali-Leh highway towards Jispa again, we had a puncture of the rear tyre.

As I started to repair the tyre [with son as best he could chip in!], a cyclist from France crosses by (Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10) . He stops for a moment, we say hello to each other and after a short conversation, and he departs towards Kaza.

Seeing a solo cyclist in flesh for the first time in those mountains, I wonder about the physical endurance to the grit and determination of the cyclist in these barren mountains - more so as changing a Safari tyre was itself quite an ordeal at that height.

And the next day as we made our journey from Jispa to Leh, one or twice I still remembered about the cyclist - here was fretting over how to reach Leh by nightfall or cross Tanglang la before evening as we had stopped quite a bit in between; what then if all that was there to travel with was a bicycle.

Anyway soon the cyclist and cycle thoughts were forgotten or went dormant, as we went to have a fantastic trip of the normal places like Nubra and Pangong to the never before seen lands of Fukche and Demchok (Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10).

Though somewhere dormant, the urge of bicycling anywhere was still not there as the months went by. After all Safari VTT travels dominated as we were having some fantastic once-in-a-lifetime journeys and expeditions to many a distant lands and places with our Safari VTT, along with a couple of solo Bullet rides nearby.


Genesis of the trip: Adult chicken pox!!!!

Well first info, if you never had chicken pox as a child, you still get the infection as an adult. Although most cases of chicken pox occur before age 10, adults who have never contracted the infection are still at risk. Most people get chicken pox when they are young, but the symptoms can be more severe among people who catch the infection in an older age.

Around May I find myself in a similar situation. With full blown chicken pox at 39 years of age it was a torrid and a horrid month to pass by with all those itces and scabs. Moreover it was more, lets say depressing as during that summer vacation of kid's school, we had planned another fantastic Safari expedition to the North East, to "Land of the Blue Mountains", but then all went awry.

Quarrantined in a room for around 20 days, being a more or less an avid reader of travelogues from all over the net, travel story reading was the past time to take my mind off from all those nasty itches and to keep my sanity.

One of the travel story that I read was of a bicycle trip of an avid mountain bicycle tourer to Patagonia [Argentina]. As I read that brilliant expedition trip, that solo French cyclist seen in October 2010 along the Gramphooo-Kaza road flashed back. Down with chicken pox but with more time in my hand, started to read all and everything about bicycling. It had to start from the basic as what we knew of bicycling from our school days of eighties has undergone quite a change.

The last cycling done by me till I bought this Trek moutain bike on May 28, 2012, was around in class 12. Bicycling was done extensively during those days, either to go to classes or to playgrounds or just loiter around with friends - once in a while ride along the still single lane old GT road, just to see how the tyres turned jet black. I had a Hercules which was bought for something around Rs 600 then [late eighties]. Remember also that around that time, among the "good" bicycles was one named Humber, quite a heavy one - once made at the now defunct Sen Raleigh Bicycle factory in Asansol.

Anyway as I moved out for studies and later on work in different places, cycling was all but forgotten. Returning back to Kolkata and West Bengal after a gap of 6 years again, riding was all about Royal Enfield Bullet and as we had our son, to travel together, it was all those magnificent Safari Dicor journeys.


As said, quarantined in a room with C pox and with ample time in hand and to keep my mind off all the itches and the general mal condition, trawled a whole lot of info from the internet. And it started from the very basic from starting to learn all those parts that a mountain bicycle nowadays have, to learning about gears to ratios to chains and chainstays to all other varied tutorials about how to change gears to many a things about equipment to training ideas to anything and everything connected to mountain bicycle touring. By the around end of May and the C pox saga, was thus almost full to the brim in theory and soon was up and about, headed off to the nearest authorized Trek bicycle showroom in Kolkata and as such on May 28, 2012, I was the proud owner of a gleaming mountain touring bike, the Trek 4500D, bought with 12 monthly EMIs.


Though born in Kolkata, my childhood years and till class 12 was spent in Durgarpur, West Bengal, as my parents were employed at the Durgarpur Steel Plant. Now what this meant, and particularly relevant as I see now [in reference to how majority of kids are growning up nowadays], is that during my schooling years the amount of open spaces and all the less hindrances that we enjoyed.

Thus all through the schooling years, till class 12, was quite active in all kinds of sports from football to cricket to badminton to basketball to swimming, even danguli [gilli-danda]! - just active and played whatever I liked at that particular moment. Nothing to great levels but just may be a little above average in some, played till at the local club level - like I was just doing somewhat better in badminton at a good and proper structured coaching centre, but then by May/June the football season starts at our local club, I see all my para [neighborhood] guys hanging out there on the field - would leave badminton and start playing football - as said just played whatever I liked at that moment - so physically was fully active all through till class 12 .

However then had to go out the State and leave home for college studies, and then it all was the familiar story with many of us - growing older and more studies and hostel mess life, and then responsibilities to work and later family, and more still as years went by as in trying to establish my own independent freelance work after having left the "secure" job world - any kind of structured physical exercise was long gone and so too were the best of years [ the 25-35 age years] when actually I should have been doing all these cycling and trekking.

By, around age of 35 years with slowly gaining weight in all the preceding years and close to around 90 kg weight and starting to have some bouts of shortness of breath, started to get serious about at least a little bit of exercise. With a nearby local club having a public swimming pool, soon got myself into the swimming routine of around 30 to 45 minutes, 4-5 days in a week.

Swimming helped me a lot to re-start the physical conditioning of my body as I started to exercise again. Was also quite surprised by the progress that I made on the fitness part, though having abstained from any and all types of active physical conditioning for around 15 years. This is why I kept that opening para of how important it is to have an active and clean formative childhood and school years - I believe because that foundation was still there and despite of all the abuse and excesses and no willful physical exercise, I soon was able to re-start myself - it was that as if my body memorized the base level.

But then with swimming facilities off for the winter months, the regimented fitness schedule was not there - in effect, in a year, I was like 6 months fit and 6 months semi-fit. Though on demand, like when I went for the Zanskar-Chadar trek (A Royal Enfield Bullet ride, a Flight and a sub-zero Ice Trek! [Zanskar Chadar trek]) - did freehand exercises and short running/jogging during the preceding one month before it, but more or less in all the winter months any structured physical exercise remained absent.


Swimming formed the basis of my training. Recovering from the C pox by around end May, enrolled myself for the season again at the local public swimming club, as the summer months started. I thus had around 4 months of swimming in hand, before I leave around mid September 2012. More or less 4-5 days of intense swimming of around 45 minutes duration was followed in these 4 months.


How swimming helps: Engages all major muscle groups, and is a strenuous workout for heart and lungs. Water supports body weight, so there's no stress on joints, and being about 14 times thicker than air, it offers ideal muscle-toning resistance.

Particularly helpful was the mix of aerobic and anaerobic swimming. Both workouts burn many calories because they are full body workouts, anaerobic more than the aerobic. My routine of around 45-50 mts of swimming was: First 10 minutes was warm up and aerobic swimming, next 30-35 minutes was primarily anaerobic swimming, i.e., covering laps as far as possible with a single breath and vigorously swimming, and again the last 10 minutes being aerobic swimming,


With the new Trek 4500D and as said with the overload of theory knowledge, as said possible for all that isolation due to c pox, it was a great feeling to be back on a bicycle after a gap of some 20 years again. But then what this mountain bike is hugely different from the Hercules that I had in my school days! The usual gnashing of gears and clank of chain of a newbie cyclist followed in the initial few days as I aligned the theoretical reading with that of actual application.

The first few days were the 15-20 km runs early morning, but being more comfortable in working late nights than waking up at dawn, the early morning rise with less sleep at night, took a toll with myself and my work - was very sleepy by afternoon.

As such shifted by bicycling training after my swimming routine. What it did was that the exertion was much more since there was now a cross training involved - immediately after being back from swimming, go out for 30 km of bicycling. This routine formed the groundwork of my training. Swimming and the followed immediately by bicycling continued for the next 2 months around with the exception of Sunday.


Training: For 4-5 days in a week, the routine thus was:

Swimming: From around 8 pm to 9 pm = Around 45-50 minutes of swimming [aerobic + anaerobic].

immediately followed by

Bicycling: From around 9:30 pm to 11 pm = Around 30 km with a 5-10 mt break in between.

Sunday was an exception: Sunday I used to go for a long ride, around 50 km or so, either early morning or evening.


Two days of a week were rest days.


The other big issue that bugged me was how to prepare for one biggest mountain journeys in flat lands of Kolkata.

1. Cross training routine helped me a lot in strength training. Vigorous swimming [aerobic + anaerobic] followed immediately by 1.5 hrs of bicycling.

2. A bigger gear than one would normally use was chosen while trying to maintain the same speed. This slows the cadence and increases the force applied to the pedals. A bit of simulation of hills is thus done by this way.

3. My bicycling route at night was from south to north, and thus on return and when I am maximum tired, used to get the headwinds from the south. More force to ride against the wind is somewhat similar to riding uphill.


However, do remember if you have the opportunity of having a small hill or any uphill route near you, definitely use that option as it is impossible to completely replace good hill training.



Among freehand exercises, one of the basic yet most wonderful core strength exercise is the standard plank.

Core Exercise: Standard Plank

Planks are a great way to work on your static core strength, but they do require a relatively good level of fitness. The aim is to support your midriff between your elbows and feet. 3 sets of 45-60 seconds with the equivalent rest between sets. Done 3-5 days a week. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor. If starting new, hold for 10 seconds to start. Over time work up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds.

After a Sunday morning bicycle ride, clicked by Asmita.
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Now by around 2nd month of this combo routine of swimming and bicycling, I had already completed over 1000+ km of bicycling. By around this time notice some tyre wear and also was worried about whether the chain was doing good as during the first few days of learning it had taken up some abuse - so in a way to preserve the bicycle for the Leh journey, I stopped any further bicycling runs on my own logic - that it is better to stop now; preserve the components for the brutal Manali Leh journey rather than subjecting the bicycle parts to wear and tear while practice.

Thus around for the next 2 months till around mid September before the journey, bicycling stopped with swimming continuing as usual. Only on alternate Sundays would I go out for a 40-50 km long ride. Again, as seen, swimming thus proved the vital part in continuing to keep myself fit even while not bicycling.

Training also included knowing how to fix up a puncture or a cable.

On request, the local tech of the Trek showroom came down to give me an quick update on emergency repairs and care.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00002.jpg


The big and very important part that was missing in all the training was practicing bicycling with complete load - the panniers and luggage racks came around just a few days before the actual journey as such the first journey with a loaded bicycle was the first day of bike ride from Manali to Kothi itself.


Stok Kangri trek that I followed up after the bicycle ride was not all in the picture at first. I had no idea how my bicycle ride itself would progress, taking to hills and mountains first time and the kind of training that I followed. Moreover with the delay of a day in starting from Manali [searching for kerosene] and the detour to Tso Kar, it was only by October 5th that I was in Leh. At that late season, Stok Kangri being at 6153 m/20,182 feet was luckily just about open, and the day that I came down, it snowed heavy at the top and the trekking season closed for the year.

Climbing [trekking ] and bicycling does involve different muscle groups and sets, with the former being a weight bearing exercise. Again the cross training and the swimming helped me as to complete the bike and hike back to back.

And definitely to end this post, this trip would never have come through without the support wife and son, Asmita and Bamba, and the go-ahead from them. The only thing that bugged her was the stretch where there would not be any phone connection, i.e., after Darcha and till Rumste. I am absolutely grateful to the two wonderful guys that I met, one at Bharatpur going back to Manali by car, to whom I requested to call back my home when he gets connection at Jispa, and say that everything is okay and also the other guy who I met at Pang and going to Leh, who similarly after reaching Leh at night that day called back on my wife's mobile, assuring that I was doing good and progressing normally. At Tso Kar there is DSPT and was able to contact home again after the last call from Darcha.

The best phone call back home of course was the one from the Stok Kangri summit height of 20,000 feet - you do get BSNL signal at the summit only!! - and the call to wife and son back home remains of the one of the best memorable moments.



So that completes the first three posts, the schedule, the equipment list and lastly how the idea came about and a brief about the training. From the next post onwards I go into the day-to-day part of the travel and trek story.


contd...

Last edited by adc : 18th May 2013 at 18:29.
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Old 18th May 2013, 19:12   #55
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Thanks again for all the wonderful and overwhelming words.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Batfreak View Post
Can you please tell us about the price of the Trek 4300D
All specifications and detail out here, price has increased by almost 10k in a year!

http://www.firefoxbikes.com/Trek_4300D.html


Quote:
Originally Posted by 370Z View Post
Interested to know about your training regime as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by padikpanther View Post
How how long have you been physically preparing for this?
I was into cycling too sometime back and after doing Leh in 2004 on the Bull was dreaming to do it on my cycle. Its still in the pipeline with no idea as when it would become a reality.
Just posted the training part in the above post.

Definitely I would insist this particular Manali - Leh road by bicycle once - it is only by a bicycle when things move by slow motion at 5-8 km/hr do you know that there is a Lower Zing zing bar and an Upper Zing zingbar or why Nakeela is more frustating than Gata loops or you understand why Tanglang la plays with your mind!




Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
RESPECT... Adc da thanks for sharing this experience at last!! When did you come back from Satkosia?
Thank you, just saw your wonderful Sandakphu winter travel - and definitely as those who know you, it wont stop with the 3rd trip.

I came back from Mahanadi Wildlife or Baisapalli WLS [now a part of Satkosia Tiger Reserve] which lies on the opposite bank of River Mahanadi of the more known Satkosia, Anugul side. This is approachable from the Nayagarh side with FRH at Kuanria and Chamundia.



Quote:
Originally Posted by udiboy View Post
how did you deal with acclimatization and stuff - are you used to such altitudes? Please let me know...
From previous post on pg 1:

Coca 30 - a homeopathic medicine used by some high altitude trekkers.

One starts taking it some 5 days before the trip and continued it till I finished up with the 3 bottles I had. Sweet homeopathic medicine and no side effects.

Of course Diamox is the tablet as everyone knows, but then never taken in any one of our journeys.

Coca 30 best suits me, having travelled to the high altitude terrains all along the Himalayas and also have found that I am less susceptible to high altitude.

The high altitude trek to Stok Kangri was not a problem as by that time I had already spent around 14 days bicycling on the Manali-Leh route.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Hi,
Incredible does not come close to describing it.

How did you get on and off the bike?

Regards
Sutripta
With all that luggage it was a hop off in the front and then take one foot on to the other side - similar to the breadman of the yesteryears!

Last edited by adc : 18th May 2013 at 19:23.
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Old 19th May 2013, 15:35   #56
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Kolkata - Chandigarh - Manali [Days A to E]

At first the start date was planned by 1st week of September, but then due to work situation and also since the panniers have not arrived through the postal service, it got pushed back to the travel start date from Kolkata of 16th September - almost the last possible window for a bicycle travel on the Manali -Leh highway. If someone is contemplating bicycling after the rush of the tourist season is over, a bit better start date should be at least by first or 2nd week of September.

For transporting the bicycle to Manali, the start point, from Kolkata, I first thought of using courier service companies like Gati rather than taking it along with myself by a train and then on to a bus or car. The benefit of that would have been that I could just reach over there at Manali and would have taken delivery from the local courier office at Manali - no hassale going through all the booking and logistic problem of having to manage the bicycle while going towards Manali. But then when the courier packing guy came up and gave an estimate of around Rs 4000 for transportation charges from Kolkata to Manali - as they take it by volume rather than weight.

Anyway the courier option was dropped but not before I used at least the courier packing guy's services who packed it solidly with cellophane and cardboard paper along with some extra padding of thermocol over the gears and brake discs.

So then the one only option left was that the bicycle goes to Manali along with me as luggage in the parcel van. This thus led me to inquire about the process of how to book the bicycle for the train journey.


The points to note if travelling on the same train, that is as luggage.

1. Go at least a few days before to the train station and inquire at the booking office. Have a look around, know more about the process the ground itself, know the key persons like the booking agent, the loader - just an extra step so that all things go about smooth on the travel day.

2. On the day of travel, get to the rail station at least 4 hours before particularly if it is a big station- go to the parcel office, show your ticket, get the bicycle packed there itself [mine was already done from home], pay the luggage charges, just keep a tab and be present as and when the bicycle is loaded on to the parcel van. Also do ensure that the bicycle is kept in such a way that there is less chance of other luggages and boxes being on top of it - tip the loader. See that the Railways tag that they put on the cycle is securely tied.

3. Do carry the original invoice of the bicycle - just as a precaution though was not needed. Keep the luggage receipt paper securely - this will be required to get back the bicycle at the destination station.

4. Once done, go back and take your seat. Relax as thinking still about the bicycle of how it is being kept or handled or for what if situations will only take away the journey peace. Just once or twice in a day when the train stops at big station, where they open the parcel doors, just go and have a peek to see for your satifaction.

http://www.parcel.indianrail.gov.in/...arcelrates.htm


Following the schedule as seen on Page 1 (Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek)


Quote:
Day A, B and C - Towards Howrah station for Howrah Kalka Mail to Chandigarh, on Train and alighting at the destination station of Chandigarh
Finally on September 16, 2012, as the Tata Ace comes up and leavehouse at 2 pm with the Trek 4300D bicycle at the back, the journey has begun. Train no. 12311 Howrah Kalka Mail, departs from Howrah at 7:40 pm.

On towards Howrah station
.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00002_16.jpg

At Howrah Station, cargo and parcel area.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00003_16.jpg



Majority of the afternoon was spent in booking the bicycle in cargo van of Kalka Mail and done smoothly by evening.

Asmita and Bamba [back from office and school] came out in force at Howrah Station by 7 pm and after some last minute talk and byes, bicycle and I head off for the 1700 km train journey towards Chandigarh.
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Howrah-Kalka Mail was taken rather than a direct train to Delhi and then a Volvo ride to Manali as some of the work situation was still there and Kalka mail timings afforded full 2 days of uninterrupted ride on the train - with Airtel 3G around cities and town and otherwise 2G - made sure I was at least able to be online, coordinate work and send emails as necessary.

An uneventful train journey with the notable thing being that among the co-passengers in the 2-tier compartment was an young Army soldier and stories from his posting at Siachen and other border areas were interesting to say the least.


Reached Chandigarh at around 3:30-4 am. Now Chandigarh station is unlike others major railways stations. Being am absolutely planned city I soon learn and see that it almost stands in isolation and the normal hustle and bustle of hotels nearby or bus stands are absolutely missing. My plan was to take the bicycle off to the bus stand and take a Himachal or any private roadway bus to Manali as against the steep rates for a private taxi from Chandigarh.



At Chandigarh Railway station. Among the wonderful people that I met in my travel so far counts also luggage porter, Bittu. He along on his own initiative brought the trolley, went up to the luggage van, and loaded the bicycle as I took possession after showing the receipt to the guard and never charged extra for that odd hour help. The remarkable thing was that I met him again by chance when I took the back journey from Kalka, he with another's another family luggage who boarded at Chandigarh.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00001_18.jpg


Soon I also learn on speaking to a few locals out there, that if I can get a Himachal registered taxi that is returning empty after a drop here, [soon luckily got one] the rates almost comes down to half - and though of course still much costly than the bus ticket, I skipped the hassle of finding another public carrier to help transport the bicycle and my luggage to the bus stand, some 6 km away from station, and plus no public carrier available at that early morning time.

Waiting for an HP registered taxi and luckily soon got one.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00002_18.jpg


The 320 km journey from Chandigarh in the taxi with the bicycle on top was not much remarkable other than the intermittent rain and a couple of intermittent chai and/or food breaks. Most of the time I just
dozed off and on at the back seat
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00003_18.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00004_18.jpg


Reached Manali and with the taxi guy checked out some budget hotels, finally checked into one, some 2 km from Mall Road.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00005_18.jpg


Though I had planned to leave within a day for Manali, some part of work still lingered which took the major portion of day "D" and also was looking out for kerosene for the stove that I carried. Kerosene is a rare commodity in Manali. In fuel stoves out there they use diesel mixed with 10% petrol. While it burns okay, it leaves quite a bit of soot and nozzle has to be cleared frequently. Got hold of some kerosene from a cobbler who said he managed to get somehow from a shop "high up in the hills".

Day "D" was also spent in unpacking the bicycle and also trying out the panniers and loading the bicycle for the first time as the panniers came through the post just a couple of days before the actual journey.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00003.jpg.

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00004.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00001.jpg



A beautiful sunny day, the next day, "Day "E", was leisurely spent going up to Palchan some 10 km uphill from Manali. From here the road to Solang bifurcates from the main Rhotang pass road.

Towards Solang but not with the panniers and all the luggage, just wanted to enjoy the day bicycling before the big day of start.

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00005.jpg

Manali had a big cloud burst in the first week of August and its effect could be seen on the way.

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00006.jpg

Though it was sunny today, Manali had been having intermittent rains for some of the previous days
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Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-image00008.jpg

Finally a self shot picture before I head back towards Manali after that very brief morning run.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-solang.jpg


The evening went by buying some of the last minute items and also collected the kerosene from the cobber. A call back home and I go off to an early sleep for the night, as finally after a 2-day stay at Manali, tomorrow is the day when I start on the actual journey with a the first planned stop being Marhi, 45 km uphill from Manali.

contd..

Last edited by adc : 19th May 2013 at 16:03.
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Old 19th May 2013, 22:24   #57
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

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After a Sunday morning bicycle ride...
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Finally a self shot picture...
Oh boy! Who's the slim and handsome guy next to the bicycle?

Considering this was how you looked in February 2011...
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-adcss.jpg
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Old 20th May 2013, 15:24   #58
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

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Considering this was how you looked in February 2011...
Good that you had a pic! - was looking for an before-and-after image as it known - I did lose around 12 kg from my 2011 weights.

Another thing, as the public swimming pool remains closed from October, as said - used to remain fit for 6 months and less fit or no exercise for the next 6 months, till the pool opened again in April.

With no exercise and never to compromise on food, there was always some 5-6 kg difference between the summer and winter months. This was more or less the pattern since 2008, the year from when I started swimming started again after the big break.

But then this winter had been somewhat of a difference, as have been able to hold on to the some gains of 2012, though again gained around 2-3 kg this winter months. Anyway swimming has started again this summer and loathe to miss a day of it.

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Old 20th May 2013, 16:57   #59
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Before I start on the day-wise journeys, a couple of maps to give an idea of the different places en route, their altitude and the distances between them. I did not have a GPS with me, so using these images sourced from the internet.

Of the days spent in bicycling, a couple of days can be reduced easily and more so if the diversion to Tso Kar from Debring is not taken . As I was doing it more or less at an average pace of 5-8 km/hr, the time taken by me to cover a day is no way indicative of the hours of bicycling for that day - in fact due to my numerous stops for whatever reason, the time taken by me for the travel day can be taken as the upper limit.



A couple of maps of the Manali - Leh highway for reference



Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-distance.jpg




Day-wise journey




Day 1 - Manali to Kothi: 15 km approx


Manali [6400 ft] to Kothi [9000 ft]

Distance covered: approx 15 km


Finally then after the delay from the planned first week of September start date, finally I am all ready to start on this iconic Manali-Leh highway of around 500 km. The previous night more or less have packed the panniers in the room itself; now since my room was at first floor, the first indication of the tremendous weight increase versus the unloaded cycling all along that I was practicing was felt as I was bringing the cycle down through the stairs. As I struggled to bring it down smoothly through the stairs, a hotel guy came forward and helped me out, he blurted out - is meh toh bahut load hai!

My luggage bags were kept with the hotel guys, saying that I would be taking them back as and when I return. Most of what I had in those bags plus some more small items bought from Manali went packed into the panniers.

Anyway on feeling the cycle load on the stairs then and there itself, re-visted the items again and among the first to chuck out was the aluminum tripod, which itself was some 2.5 kg at least. As said before, i had this grand idea before the trip that while cycling along this highway, it would be great for photography as I would be going more slow, stopping and clicking more frequently. Took out also was one set of warm inners [two sets initially packed], a jeans and jar of honey bought in Manali.

After a good breakfast, a call to home and a bye to the hotel guys [they were pleasantly curious and exited in having a guest with a cycle], I finally start pedalling towards Marhi, my first planned stop, some 45 km away. Full of enthusiasm, it was first proper day in the hills with a bicycle, my Day no. 1. All the thoughts, the study, the practice and the bicycle purchase were geared to this one and only goal - to ride till Leh on a bicycle. The morning day of Sept 21, 2012, was perfect - sunny yet pleasant temperature, no rain and I start pedalling.

The incline starts absolutely from the hotel itself. Just after some 10 minutes of cycling and crossing the bridge from the Manali town side on to the NH21 highway, I have a "situation" in hand. The whole bicycling experience from what I had done or what was done even yesterday was hugely different. Though I had anticipated some initial strain cycling fully loaded, never I did realize that the difference would be this much. Whereas I enjoyed fully yesterday's brief run, a no-luggage day, today was vastly different.

As I struggled with the initial strokes, it felt almost as if I had forgotten how to cycle - gears selection was all wrong, an occasional chain gnash, absolutely no cadence and of course also becoming exhausted fast.

I stop, realize to salvage the situation I have to adapt. Slowly yet bicycling and in the bottom gears, I eventually start on the journey again, albeit still cursing intermittently.

But then I still was feeling the effects of not practicing with a loaded bicycle. I stop many times, not to enjoy the Beas river flowing by or the distant snow mountains and glaciers or the shades of greenery [which I absolutely did yesterday's brief run], but due to frequent exhaustion as the body and mind gets attuned to the efforts of bicycling on the gradual climb and incline with a full load.


I stop often, the first day is frustrating and exhausting to both the body and mind as the full realization of how different it is with a loaded bicycle.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-manali-kothi2.jpg



It was a beautiful sunny day, the mud patches of yesterday was drier but then I was not enjoying it at all...
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-manali-kothi3.jpg



Past noon I cross this army barrack. As I take rest in the shade, a few Army men comes up with curiosity and seeing my twisted and exhausted face, offers me to have lunch with them - and on hearing on what I exactly wanted to do and gave me good advice to return back, and to say frankly that was not that much off from what I was thinking. Though thanked them for the offer for lunch, filled up water and moved on.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-manali-kothi4.jpg



Another may be a max couple of kilometers and I stop again, here the gentle elderly lady takes pity on me, says to return back - and let me tell you it is absolutely tempting - the downhill slope would bring me back to my hotel door with hardly a pedal. But then I move on...
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-manali-kothi5.jpg]


...to stop again under this shade to recover from the exhaustion
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-manali-kothi7.jpg


and I thought this would be a good ride where I enjoy the flowing Beas river, the distant snow mountains and glaciers and the shades of greenery
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-manali-kothi6.jpg


Anyway after huffing and puffing for some 5 hours and covering a grand total of around 15 km, the tiny picturesque place of Kothi, the last village of the Kullu valley and at its northern corner, comes up. Marhi was still around some 30 km away from here.



I have had enough of hurt for the day. This great roadside hotel looking over the valley entices me. First for lunch I inquire and on room rate, being off-season, when I hear it almost a third of the normal tourist price and at a great budget rate, I decide to call it a day and take a room.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-manali-kothi8.jpg




Contrast this to what was a planned ride to Marhi - promptly ordered some good food without guilt. Hardly 15 kms done in 5 hrs but then also the hunger was magnified due to huge "unexpected" exhaustion.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-manali-kothi10.jpg



And when I unpack the bags and all from the cycle to the room, I am myself stare at that dump - around 480 km still left to carry all these.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-manali-kothi1.jpg



Anyway the rest of the afternoon was spent roaming a little outside, chatting with the hotel guys, off-season - no guests, and again a sumptuous dinner at night and check mails and the net [Airtel 3G still there] on the laptop. Go off to an early sleep, just thinking how much will I be able to continue if things go on like this.


contd...

Last edited by adc : 20th May 2013 at 17:11.
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Old 20th May 2013, 19:03   #60
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

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Now by around 2nd month of this combo routine of swimming and bicycling, I had already completed over 1000+ km of bicycling. By around this time notice some tyre wear and also was worried about whether the chain was doing good as during the first few days of learning it had taken up some abuse - so in a way to preserve the bicycle for the Leh journey, I stopped any further bicycling runs on my own logic - that it is better to stop now; preserve the components for the brutal Manali Leh journey rather than subjecting the bicycle parts to wear and tear while practice.
ADC, are the parts of the bicycle too expensive to replace or they are not readily available? I guess, it would have been better if you continued training with the same routine but embarked on the journey with new parts on your bicycle.
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