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Old 29th May 2013, 12:16   #106
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Hello ADC,

Hats off to your guts & your family in permitting you to undertake this journey. I believe travelling alone to places like these connects you to something deep within yourself. I am not getting into philosophical / religious discussion here, but I truly believe that travelling alone to such places do connect you to something inside that we have never experienced.

I am following this travelogue since day one & still eagerly waiting for next set of updates.

By the way, can you please inform us as to how gears on a cycle are useful? I understand that this is a very basic information & can be found using google search, but I want to know your experience in practically using cycle gears on these roads.

Thanks,

Last edited by Jignesh : 29th May 2013 at 12:17. Reason: Post edited
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Old 29th May 2013, 13:08   #107
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Day 7: ZingZing Bar [14,050 ft] - Suraj Tal - Baralacha la [16,500 ft] - Bharatpur - Sarchu [14,000 ft] : 45 km [approx.] ...contd.



Quote:
Sarchu (also known as Sir Bhum Chun - how this name came about??) is a major halt point with tented accommodation in the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway, on the boundary between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) in India.

It is situated between Baralacha La to the south and Lachulung La to the north, at an altitude of 4,290 m. The journey along the Manali-Leh highway at high altitude and variable road conditions, normally takes two days, so travellers and tourists use this spot as an overnight stop. An Indian army camp is sited nearby on the banks of the Tsarap Chu river. The highway and thus the camp are closed during the winter, when snow blocks the high passes along the road.

This spot can also be used as a start point for the difficult trek into the Zanskar region of Ladakh.

It was now by around 4:30 pm almost near Sarchu, the major halt point on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu1.jpg


The blazing evening sun made the mountains and grass glow.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu2.jpg


River Yunam pass by. It will join with Tsarap chu at Sarchu proper.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu7.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu8.jpg



And then those "human faces". September month has turned the pasture grass yellow, and even more accentuated now with the setting evening sun -- stop here and wonder how to go to that side.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu4.jpg


Since it was by around 4:30, and evening sun, the gravel eroded bed pinnacles were in the shadow and as such not much highlighted. This shot taken during our Oct 2010 Safari journey and more during the day time and with sun on top, shows the dramatic river bed landscape.

Barren Colour: Meandering north-flowing Yunam river cutting through the Sarchu plain, India. Wind-eroded gravel bed projects as pinnacles as the dramatic landscape unfolds along the high plains of Sarchu to Pang -- from Oct 10 self-drive travel of Ladakh and Changthang.








One of the best moments will be a slow ride along the Sarchu plains with the evening sun glowing up the landscape - only a bicycle.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu11.jpg


Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu12.jpg


Frequent breaks due to the amazing nature, it was almost by around 5:15 pm I see at a distance the Sarchu camps.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu9.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu14.jpg



contd...

Last edited by adc : 29th May 2013 at 13:29.
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Old 29th May 2013, 14:16   #108
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

totally totally impressed on your expedition and motivated very much. hats off to your determination. i am impressed.
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Old 29th May 2013, 14:26   #109
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Wow! One of the best travelogues I have read till date. This is a great accomplishment ADC Hats off to you for pulling it off! You must publish this travelogue in biking communities to encourage more bikers. Am glued to this thread.
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Old 29th May 2013, 20:31   #110
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

ADC, how many tents were open at Sarchu and what rate they were offering? Officially (that's what I know) they pack up and go latest by October end.

Also eagerly waiting for your Gata loop ascend section.
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Old 29th May 2013, 20:51   #111
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Its bed time, the brain is shutting down and the eyes are telling you to sleep, but no you must have a peek at the updates on the app. Most people say a silent (or not) prayer to end the day, we blue blooded BHPians dont do such silly things. One last look is like a prayer afterall. Oh, the gods have smiled, there is an update in one of my current favourite threads. ADC has posted, yay...

Sleep vanishes in no time, the post comes up. This will have to be reading number one, the app Gods haven't cracked the code so the pictures don't show up, but that's an old lament for a different thread. Good enough excuse to open the thread in the office, sometimes surreptitiously even if you are the boss, for the second read. And, all the photographs that you could not see on that small screen (so what if it is HD and a full 4 odd inches) come up on that 24 incher in full glory and take us once again to a land that I resolve (once again) to go this year (or the next). And then you keep marveling the fact that this is someone doing this on a bike, correction - bicycle (bike is something else in the current vocabulary), he's not much younger than yourself. You mutter a silent curse at your growing girth! The girth is not me but an entity entirely independent and outside of your will. How convenient.

ADC (and Kamen Rider (Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!)) you are having bad effects on me but I am enjoying it! Now waiting for the next episode.
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Old 30th May 2013, 02:32   #112
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Day 7: ZingZing Bar [14,050 ft] - Suraj Tal - Baralacha la [16,500 ft] - Bharatpur - Sarchu [14,000 ft] : 45 km [approx.]



The day's destination of Sarchu finally comes up. Border Roads Organization's [BRO] Project Deepak ends here....
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu18.jpg


...and on crossing his nullah...
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu25.jpg


BRO's Project Himank welcomes the bicycle and me to Ladakh Valley; it is in charge of road infrastructure from here on. Leh is around 252 km from here, though it would be some more for me as I plan to take the diversion of Tso Kar.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu26.jpg



Quote:
Project HIMANK has the unique distinction of maintaining and improving roads over the three highest passes of the world viz. Khardungla, Tanglangla and Changla. The highest Bailey Bridge in the world was constructed at Khardungla but has been subsequently replaced by a causeway.

HIMANK has made a singular contribution to 'OP Vijay' by opening the road axis to Leh and Kargil in the first week of May 99. This was instrumental for the induction of force level meeting the Op requirements of Kargil war.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
As I know (correct me if I'm wrong) Ladakh as normally known is part of Jammu & Kashmir. J&K starts from the check post after Sarchu.
Absolutely correct - Sarchu is technically in Himachal Pradesh, located on the border with Ladakh. I blurred the distinction like Project Himank after seeing the "Welcome to Ladakh Valley" sign as for all practical purposes they take that nullah divide as the division of work between the BRO's Himachal side and Ladakh side. One can even distinguish like - when in season months, the luxury camps located on the pasture plains and before the project Himank signboard, are thus on the Himachal side whereas the basic tin and tent accommodations, as seen now, are on the Ladakh side.

And very technically speaking - "It is just short of Sarchu, at Phalung Danda, an isolated rock rising out of the plain, that the road leaves Himachal Pradesh and enters Ladakh." - Ladakh - Crossroads of High Asia, by Janet Rizvi




End September, the luxury camps have long winded up. Right now the tin and tent accommodations are what is there for the few odd travellers in the off season, and for the last of the truck and taxi drivers.

The sun has gone below the mountains and as the sunlight gets blocked, immediately the coldness is magnified and wind chill is much more felt. I get into the first of the tents of Sarchu and first of all order a big cup of lemon tea and maggi noodles.


Now due to stopping of pedalling and with sun down, the damp feet and below the knee wet jeans and damp shoes made me shiver. The dhaba owner arranged for this much needed stove heat to get some much needed warmth to my feet. A video ps image.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu19.jpg



Soon another gentleman traveller, Mr Prakash, comes as a guest too in this camp - and what a fascinating expedition and a travel he was in, journeying solo across the entire country and Union Territories on a motorbike. From how the trip came about to a description about an absolute desolate road of Tripura and Manipur, a few minutes went by. More details I see of him on the net here - http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper...cle4263606.ece


A video printscreen shot of Mr Prakash Holla, who I met in the first tent of Sarchu
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu24.jpg





One of the good things of Sarchu being a kind of major halt, is that some of the halt accommodations have generators - much needed right now for me to charge the almost depleted camera batteries. This tent though did not have a generator and as such shifted to the next accommodation - named as Mount View.

As I enter see another mountain bike standing outside, and inside soon I get acquainted with Pedros from Greece. Glad to see another solo cyclist, but of course a much more experienced and a real mountain bike tourer - he has been travelling from Uttaranchal and then to Manali to Leh and plan to continue towards Srinagar.


Video printscreen shots.

Pedros, the cyclist from Greece. Pedros and I shared a dhaba room for that night at Sarchu.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu20.jpg


And also get acquainted with Mangat Ram, the puncture repair man of Sarchu.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu23.jpg


As our dinner of Rotis and alu sabzi was being made of by the dhaba owner, a group of Harayana guys going towards Leh by their vehicle, make a stop here at this Sarchu dhaba.

Now this where it gets interesting. They travel from their village once in a year by their vehicle and this year it is the Manali-Leh drive. Now wherever they go they carry their own tobacco - a direct produce from their own fields. And so too they have their own hookah, not fancy ones, but the old school types as seen in rural areas. Hookah and tambaku [tobacco] is an inextricable part of Haryanvi culture.

As we get acquainted to each other and after some good talk, soon tobacco and hookah gets prepared. Fascinating to watch as they prepare the chillum and explaining the intricate details and working of the hookah. A video printscreen shot of the hookah being prepared.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu22.jpg



What a fantastic day it has been for me - from a great start from ZZ Bar to over Baralacha la to Sarchu plains, almost half of journey of around 230 km covered - I deserve a smoke! And this is no new world style of some funny lavender oil taste or menthol derivative or any tin can fragrance of nowadays. This is pure unadulterated tobacco smoke, old school style, at 14,300 feet in Sarchu.


Am I confident now - you bet! Am I high - perhaps! May be even combative!! I look forward to the remaining journey - absolutely enjoying this travel and all the experiences that come with it.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-towards-sarchu21.jpg



contd...

PS: Replying to the queries in the next post.

Last edited by adc : 30th May 2013 at 03:00.
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Old 30th May 2013, 10:38   #113
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Just awesome. You are living your dream. Those fleeting moments, meeting fellow travellers in a difficult journey will make sweet memories that will last a lifetime.
You have really inspired a lot of us.
Awaiting your next update..
Cheers to the spirit of adventure !

Last edited by pyrodrive : 30th May 2013 at 10:42.
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Old 30th May 2013, 14:15   #114
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

The Black and White Hookaah shot is just awesome. Hookkah used to an indispensable part of Bengali culture also. But now nobody cares about it.
I could almost smell the fragrance of my Grandpa's "Amburi Tamak" (A special high quality tobbaco) by looking at this photo.

Great going - novel experiences at so many levels.
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Old 30th May 2013, 15:11   #115
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

ADC, This is out of the world. Only very few would do a venture paralleling what you have done. Takes a lot of guts and nerve. Thanks for the wonderful photos. Felt like I am travelling with you.
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Old 30th May 2013, 19:29   #116
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Quote:
Originally Posted by shipnil View Post
BTW, how did you keep busy all this while like you used to just take in the scenery or you had some kind of music on through earphones?
Busy enough doing all that pedalling, mumbling to myself, trying to re-arrange off and on all those loose bits of items and luggage from falling out , but most of all the camera. Managing the camera, at more than 1.5 kg in weight with lens, was tough and that also took quite a bit of time, either it was falling off from where it was kept - it kept on that red plastic chair and kept in place with the bungee cord going over it, and it always used to dislodge.

Any kind of music was not there with me, had a very basic old Nokia phone.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodge_Viper View Post
Signboard missing! Well then it's easy to miss out, specially for new comers going in off season. Any idea what may be the reason?
Dont know, this signboard was there beside the prayer flag before as seen on the internet, it was missing - at least I did not see it.

Name:  b pass image.jpg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
.. but I seriously cannot understand why you were carrying a 2BHK worth of material (like the stove!) on a bike. You made it far tougher for yourself than it should have been - in my limited understanding!
If I had done this in my mid twenties, which BTW actually I should have done, then would not have given much thought to all those equipment. A Hercules MTB would have done and a rucksack thrown over the carrier.


But I am family man now! And doing that in end September where there is always a chance of a freak snow [we got stuck right on Zojila top for 2 nights continuous in the Safari], I had with me the tent and 10 Maggi packets and kerosene and that portable stove - would have survived with rationing for at least 15 days.

Also the stove was carried as due to the late season if there was no dhaba standing a particular halt or if my bicycle would have given trouble, I would have to camp and as such also the need for food [Maggi].


The best comment came from one Army guy just before Leh -- seeing that luggage said " Sir ji aap cycle chala ke kya bech raheho!!"



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jignesh View Post
By the way, can you please inform us as to how gears on a cycle are useful? I understand that this is a very basic information & can be found using google search, but I want to know your experience in practically using cycle gears on these roads.

Thanks,


The lower the gear, the less effort is needed to move the bike forward. You'll be moving slower, but when going uphill, this is crucial.


First, you must know how you are going to use the bicycle. Just because the bike store or manufacturer says that the model is a ‘touring’ bicycle, doesn’t mean that gearing will be right for you. Their idea of touring may differ from your idea. You may think about going out on unsupported tours, while the manufacturer designed the bicycle for lightly loaded tours and short mileage. - Sheldon Brown.

For this journey and on a self support full luggage, I would go for a 9 speed one or at least an 8 speed one. More or less for most of the inclines I have been on the 1-2 combination while going uphill.

As said the terrain and more importantly how you plan to use your bicycle should be the most important thing to consider about what gear ratio bike you should buy. I will continue to use the bicycle only for mountain touring in future as such needed the bicycle with that extra low ratio. A 10-speed moutain bike will have a lower gear ratio than a 9, but their parts are more expensive and more specialized.

For a thorough technical knowledge of bicycle gearing, Sheldon Brown website is most comprehensive. http://sheldonbrown.com/gears.html






Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
ADC, how many tents were open at Sarchu and what rate they were offering? Officially (that's what I know) they pack up and go latest by October end.
There was around 4-5 tents around that time and on return mid October saw around a couple of tents till there - they remain till the first major snow and also till how long the Patseo and Sarchu Army guys stay, and mid Oct. they were on the verge of going - maximum they would have stayed another 2-3 days.

Last edited by adc : 30th May 2013 at 19:53.
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Old 31st May 2013, 03:41   #117
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Many 9-10 speed cycles are available herein India for 10-12K. In fact I have one 21 speed cycle from BSA, which I bought for 11,000. I use it for morning excercise one or twice a year.

How are these bikes for such terrain? Why do we need imported cycles mandatorily?
I mean are these cycles that bad?
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Old 31st May 2013, 09:19   #118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sen2009 View Post

How are these bikes for such terrain? Why do we need imported cycles mandatorily?
I mean are these cycles that bad?
While we would certainly like to get views of ADC, sen2009, we have an excellent thread on bicycles. You might get answers to your questions there. The link is as below.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/shifti...light=bicycles (The Bicycles thread)
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Old 31st May 2013, 10:58   #119
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

40 is the new 14 ADC

Amazing, inspiring and absolutely fantastic.
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Old 31st May 2013, 11:22   #120
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post


Dont know, this signboard was there beside the prayer flag before as seen on the internet, it was missing - at least I did not see it.
.
Yes the signboard was missing, and we almost missed the Baralacha La. Stopped a 100 meters ahead of the actual pass location.
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