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Old 19th October 2014, 12:14   #1
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Smile Spiti Valley on a Bicycle!

Spiti Valley on a Bicycle!-1.jpg

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“Great Things are achieved Only by Sacrifice”

In life, you don’t feel you have lived until and unless you do something crazy. Something you survive and live to tell the tale. Something that makes your heart warm; Something that burns the incense of passion inside you; your blood turns hotter than lava and the sound of your breath is looking to reach higher decibels.

No matter what logical decision your mind tells you to make, your heart is always ready to sacrifice something to be in that moment which gives you the utmost bliss.

With similar thought process and feelings running inside me I was having these ideas of doing a bicycle trip in the Himalayas. Atleast once in my life I wanted to register this entry in my day log of karma. I’m not sure how, but even the place hovering in my mind was Spiti Valley, specifically. I have seen those mountains over a couple of times and yet my focus was back on the same place.

I didn’t argue with myself; locked the destination and prepped for it in 3 months time. A new bicycle, gear and some practice for the muscles, back at home.

Usually anyone would train for atleast 6 months but I knew my mind and body was ready for it. It was a calling that I couldn’t doubt.

Going solo or not was still a question but sometimes words are released in those moments that you feel the control of external forces. I shared the plan with a friend of mine and he with another; And locked the group to 3. All this happened in a nick of time.

And so it was decided that we 3 will ride together on our bicycles to Spiti Valley this season of 2014.

We all had our frights and fear; but making it through was unquestionable in our hearts. We knew this was it.

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Here I present you 10 notes that took birth in this bicycle ride up in the Himalayas
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Note 1: People Lack Patience to Practice Patience

In today’s time one really needs to be patient. If he or she cannot remain one then during restless times one’s mind becomes annoying as a fly.
We took train from Mumbai to Kalka. Our bicycles were booked in the luggage car and we were rested in the 2AC compartment. Best place to be in the hot summers of Central India.

The train journey was quite long; sitting with hardly any activity to do requires tremendous amount of patience. In the first 6 hours itself my mind was going nuts. And to top it up, the seats occupied by the people opposite our birth were the only noisy ones in the whole compartment.
Jesus, …it was like ‘KILL ME NOW’ moment.

I came pretty close to snapping a few times; but calmed myself and went into deep silence to find peace and perspective in the finding scenario.
You know in difficult times I always remember the teachings of Dalai Lamba; to beat your own misery you need to visualize someone’s greater misery. Someone in this world, your brother, your fellow kind is going through much painful days than yours.

I immediately jump to positive feelings whenever these thoughts I recollect in my head. Today is a gift, it is a present. Perceive it in a way that you cannot see at first sight.

Interacting with the noisy family and neighboring passenger helped calm those annoying hours.

Really I need to start practicing patience to deal with annoying situations; you really don’t want to blow up yourself. Making yourself better and helpful is the sole purpose of one being.

Note 2: Holy Moly – The Reality is Tenfold of What We Thought

We prepared ourselves by cycling regularly couple of months before this main feat. We ate right and we packed right. We had all the things we need and we were high on confidence that we’ll be able to do this with some efforts. Hey! We had the youth on our side; so big deal!
We were foolish.

The moment we pushed that first pedal, the thought of reality kicked us hard. In fact kicked us right from the the south direction straightway up.
Within just 4 kms after embarking from Kalka we were “little” tired and muscles feeling heavy.

Plan was to reach Shimla in next 48 hours; with a night halt at Solan.
Every km being uphill, the climb was a staggering effort. Breathless, tired, exhaustion, thirsty, frustration, annoyance were the only words ringing in our heads. And the last few kms of the attempt were like ‘Forget the ride just bury us here.’

Regardless of how and what we were going through, somewhere in the back of the mind there was always this small candle of hope. Nothing but just desperate and urgent emotions of triumph and victory use to set in at moments.

We made it on time as per itinerary and also feet anchored to the ground. Reality plans now, no cloud 9 display.

Note 3: Reverence to The Body

Just when you think the tough part is over you realize everything was just warming up.

In the hours of our climb to Kufri and following day to Hatu peak, we realized our bodies are truly limitless. But you need to be patient for your physical being to come in terms with performance level. When it’s ready, you’ll know it.

Push it to build, not to destroy. It was the time that at least I started respecting my body on a whole different level. In the scales of physical endurance it was becoming stronger but needed continuous feed of my patience.

You may be last in the race but you are not done yet. Only inside you, you know, and are fully aware that there is so much yet to yield and deliver. It’s the only thing you need to keep in mind to pull such an act of adventure.

And in testing times, you’ll always find a helping hand to cheer you and bless you on your journey. We found this feelings in the lady who fought on behalf of us with the bus driver who almost dashed into us, we found it in the local guy running a adventure shop who saw our parked bicycles and stopped for a chat, we saw it in the local tourists who were cheering us when climbing steep slopes and… we saw it in invincible forces that were flying with us for our protection.

Today we now find ourselves in a position to do the impossible. The spark and potential has been awaken, now its time to move this body to greater heights.

It’s well said that body is the temple of God, adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy; carefully careless. Quote, my Guru.

Note 4: A Skill if Unproductive is Never a Waste

Many of us in our lives learn something out of context; we pick up a few skills along the journey of life; Most land up being unproductive. You are a professional banker but you are an awesome gardener too. The latter might not be earning some bucks but it’s the skill you possess, you have been defined by it.

Believe me none will ever go to waste.

In an incident where my bike met with an accident; only the skills never used by my fellow cyclists came to the rescue in the need of hour. None of those skills were put to use in daily routine but today they stood to be heroes. There is a fine line between living and truly living.

Skills are your best weapons to emerge victories in any stage of life; no matter how diminutive they are, each set can be those drops that fill the ocean.

So in life pick up some new set of skills wherever there is an inner calling.

Note 5: True Test of Patience

Losar just 3kms away but why it feels like 300? You are at your full strength but why do you feel weak? You ate well then why are you feeling hungry? You had a good sleep then why so much fatigue? You trained well but why cannot see any results? You carried 4 liters of water then how come only half left when you are not even halfway across? Its downhill then why the cycle is not going fast?

In events like these you only feel, oh God let this moment past asap. But the truth I realized that until one doesn’t start enjoying these moments no matter how much baffling they are, every second passed will feel like endless hour.

Yes I’m in a pickle and I’m not able to figure out some things. But this scenario is just a part of your pursuit to success. It’s what going to make you. One needs to accept it, challenge it and resolve it by keeping self calm and composed. Then every longing second will feel like a fast paced moment.

Being aware and alert is the key of performing a patient activity. You are high on pain and my god, you love it. When finally that particular timeline has passed, your inner self screams in roar of rejoice and victory.
Yes you have made it. And shall do it again…

Note 6: Offcourse an Indian Can Do it

While crossing Pooh, we came across a small army post where the head officer asked in a little strong tone, ‘which country?’
I replied in the same tuning, INDIA.

He was shocked, surprised and later overwhelmed to see Indians on a bicycle in the valley. No backup, no big group… Just 3 people on bicycles.
We were brought inside on orders to have tea and snacks with them. Have a little talk and then carry on ahead with the ride.

A thought started pondering in my head that why sometimes some people assume Indians cannot be seen doing something like this… or something else; some other adventure feat.

We see many foreigners pedaling across the Himalayas, and I take inspiration from them only to execute on parallel lines. I believe there is nothing an Indian can’t do. And I also say why first of all bring nationality into it. If you are human, then you are limitless. One should learn how high he/she can excel in this God given life.

This was the very moment that gave birth to another ride on my bicycle, in my head — A K2K : Kashmir to Kanyakumari SOLO
Hopefully in 2015.

Note 7: There is No Harm in Asking for Help

Often I have seen that many of us especially in our youth refrain from taking any help when in trouble. It’s obvious that our pride and ego drives us into this thinking mode.

When climbing up Nako, we were determined to go all the way up pedaling. And honestly we did quite well; pretty impressive for first timers. But just 5kms before the village our body gave up. Physically, mentally and emotionally we were totally drained. There was nothing in us that could boost up our enthusiasm. And it was already past the last evening light.
Thankfully there was a small hotel coming up nearby and the restaurant was already functional. When we got speaking with them we got to know they are just packing up and will be driving to Nako where they stay.

It was a Mahindra Max and enough room at the back for 3 bicycles and 3 guys. We asked if they could drop us up and they casually answered in positive.

On our way up I realized that stubbornness is a quality that needs guidance. Yes I was stubborn. I wanted to go all the way up pedaling. But when I have mentioned before ‘Body is temple of God, Adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy. Carefully careless’ I need to know when to stop and give it a break. Who knows, maybe next time I might be able to do it faster than just going all the way up pedaling.

Note 8: And I Thought Downhill Will be The Most Fun

The moment we started pedaling in the mountains, I had a feeling that going downhill must be super fun than the never ending uphill. That slow pace requires tremendous patience, so downhill will be pure compensation — was my belief. But in reality, we did not see this coming…

The first long downhill patch welcomed us post Narkhanda. It’s almost 40kms to the bottom of the hill from the popular hill station.
Within 5 minutes of the start we caught up speed and at the first turn I skidded a little. Almost fell you can say in fact.

Lesson 1 – Bicycles with luggage are not meant for cornering the way I’m imagining.
On a straight downhill patch almost touched 50 speed and felt a wobble.
Lesson 2 – Going fast downhill with luggage onboard is a stupid idea.
Already so much weight on bike and the weight of the bicycle pushing downhill in concern to speed, mass and gravity; most likely to get punctured.
Rear tyre gets its first nail on the trip.
Lesson 3 – Best to go fast on smooth surface than otherwise.
Who said body will be at constant rest when going downhill?! A stupid assumption.
Lesson 4 – Your forearms and palm pain like hell because entire weight is falling on them while descending rapidly. The bigger you are the stronger it’s going to hurt.
“Uphill se darr nahi lagtha hai sab, Downhill se lag tha hai…” Dabbang style

Note 9: Chacha Chachi

I don’t even need to explain this note. Those who have traveled Spiti thoroughly will know who are truly called as Chacha Chachi.

In this bicycle trip to Spiti Valley, 3 days spent in Batal at Chacha Chachi’s Dabha were the blissful moment of this epic feat. Their warm hospitality is unbelievable and immeasurable. Until you meet them you won’t even accept the fact that people like them exist even in today’s time. They have defined how a human being should live and behave. Their life there is also a testimony to the limitless potential two people have when they come together.

The food and talks just made us hung on to the place like bees on honey. We had to push our mind to come out from that comfort zone so we can move ahead in our journey. Otherwise who knows we would have lived there for more time.

Few moments of my life I shall surely dedicate to this beautiful couple living deep in the Himalayas. A gift to them is a must.
God bless them.

Note 10: Hidden Power Wakes Up

You don’t need to be exposed to gamma rays to become Hulk; not get bitten by spider to turn in Spiderman, not take boosters to become like Captain America… or wish you have super powers like Krissh. The Hero is already inside you. Strength and Bravery are already lurking inside you. The capsule of wisdom is too present in your diet; all you need to do is wake the hero, launch your strength and push the bravery sky high; …absorb the knowledge from the surroundings dispassionately. And transform into an ace human.

You’ll then realize you are already capable of performing miracles. The magic was already in your hand, you just have to start swinging the wand for the greater good.

This bicycle ride made me realize what I’m truly capable off and how much there is still inside me that needs an eruption.
All this time I thought I’m just a motorcycle enthusiast and Himalayan lover with a zest for photography. But now I realize there is more ‘stuff’ hiding in this body, soul, mind and heart. I cannot see it immediate but seek it with meditation and faith. I learned to trust my own self in ways I had not seen before.

It’s truly said that humans don’t fully work on their potential; how beautifully true it is, when here it took me 28 years to understand this… how much time it will take for others.

We all have hidden powers in ourselves; each one having a unique strength, a feature… a unique identity — spark. Try to take on something impossible that shall open the gates of that hidden dragon inside you. It’s time to come out of the ashes and take the flight of phoenix.

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Discoveries of Spiti Bicycle Ride
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There is no such thing as ‘Been there Done that’
– Many of us have this tendency to say this statement. It’s a way to make one sound cool. But I now realise the truth is otherwise.

No matter how much time you have been there or done that, every new time will always give a new perception. If you cannot see it then you are not seeking it.

Muscles are your best friends – You strength and muscles are you saviours for any such feat. We don’t take care of them enough; it’s high time we do the needful.

Making them stronger and flexible is more important for this generation than it was for the previous one.

Value water like nothing else – We get it’s regularly uninterrupted supply so we tend to take it for granted.

That feeling of quenching your thirst when you are desperate for some water is unexplainable. Water is life, value it — respect it.

People deserve respect, no matter how small – In today’s time the one who is highly qualified and become a big man gets the most respect. But we forget that by default in our hearts even today we generate respect for those who hit our chords gracefully. Rather than the humble receptionist of Shimla hotel, I felt a warm affectionate feeling towards the house owner of Losar where we stayed one night.

A small man from a small village won our hearts by just few graceful words from his illiterate being.

Skill is your qualification, not graduation – In the era where graduation is very important for teenager, learning few set of skills is getting ignored.
In life some skills that you pick up come to your rescue at desperate times. Its important to learn a thing or two once in a while.

Learn different types of knots, learn how to fish, learn sewing, learn to defend… atleast learn how to fix a puncture.

A herbal tea can do wonders – Drinking tea and coffee everyday is just useless and waste of money. We already know we get the 7th grade supply down to us and all above are exported; then what’s the point of having poor quality products for living.

Just move to herbal tea; it has so many benefits that you’ll see the results in just few days.

The herbal tea we had at Kye monastery, I felt its benefits in the same hour itself.

Inspiration and motivation are the only thing that drives you; seek it – These two things will always be the driving force behind your living, your activities and your behaviour.

The moment it starts diminishing, you tend to change in unpleasant way.

Burned enough fuel, now it’s time to give back – All these years we have burned enough gas to fuel our passion of automobiles; it’s high time we give something back to the environment.

Start by taking up a bicycle ride. Burn those calories instead of octane. You’ll surely benefit in the long run; and the respect you earn as a residue is an addon.

Abundant energy lies in small moments of joy and happiness; spread it – It’s something we know but always undervalue the concept.

One does not realize the powerful energy hidden in the joy of little things in life.

You get a top job in a big multinational company, you are happy, you are at the top of the world… But it still can’t beat the joy you experience when your baby first time calls you mama, papa.

It’s not the tea at Cafe Coffee Day but the cutting at Batal Dabha gives you warm and homely feeling. A feeling that ignites caring thoughts for our brothers and sisters on the planet. And our extended family among the animals.

From these small moments you’ll derive great amount of energy that you’ll never run out of enthusiasm.


5 Ooolala... Moments from the Spiti Valley Bicycle Ride

Now on a lighter note, here are my favourite 'ooolala' moments from the Spiti Valley Bicycle Ride.

1. 21kms for that 3kms - We had taken a couple of days halt at Tapri; and at least I in my mind was relaxed because next day we had to cover only 25kms to reach Reckong Peo, of which only last 5kms is uphill. Rest all just a cruise parallel to the river.

But when we began this day, within exit of Tapri we saw a 21kms uphill diversion to Chooling due to landslide. Chooling my friends was just 3kms away from the diversion via the regular route.

For a mere 3kms we were off on a uphill path of 21kms.

Shoot me now.

2. Why Pedal Downhill! - All this time we were enjoying whenever there was a downhill stretch. It was a moment to take a breather from the constant pedaling. But here after entering Spiti Valley I don’t understand; why on some downhill paths we had to pedal.

Despite the decline the bike was not catching up any speed.
It was strange and silly experience.

Somebody give me a rocket booster.

3. Wind in My Face, Please No Thanks - On a motorcycle the wind in your face is quite pleasing; but here on 0 BHP wind in face means pedaling against the wind to the last light.

Post Rampur we always got head wind after 3pm until Manali.

The feeling was like pedaling on the indoor cardio cycling machine with constant level 10 mode.

4. Where the Hell is All the Food Going - By day 8 of the ride we could feel a shift in out metabolic rate. Whatever we eat was getting instantly digested.

We were hungry after breakfast, we were hungry after lunch and… we were hungry after dinner.

We were craving for sweets and beer always …and liquids throughout the ride.

5. Mr. Turkey - Somewhere in the middle of the ride we got this pride and ego in ourselves. Any motorcyclist who use to pass by raising a thumbs up, we were enunciating ‘Please…'; LOL…we were finding it very funny. Everyone tends to glorify their motorcycle rides in the Himalayas nowadays and we were like Please do it on 0 bhp.

It all went fine for few days until we reached Tabo. Upon reaching a cyber cafe we met a guy from Turkey who rode all the way on his bicycle, weighting 80kgs. (A Grand Bitch Please to us.) And over that he says I don’t feel I have cycled enough until I cover at least 20000kms. Our jaws dropped upon hearing this.

After this incident we were brought back on the ground; and in Abhilabh a Russian spirit came in (though the guy was from Turkey :-D) Hence onwards Abhi spoke everything in Russian accent. It was a ROFL acts to the end of the ride.

Every time we were climbing steep slopes, he would do his Russian accent and smash all the focus and enthusiasm accumulated. I myself slipped on my own pedal once.
Hilarious it was..

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Last Note from My Journal
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The ride ended with some realization of truth and a sense of maturity. I promised myself that hence onwards I’m not gonna stop bicycling.

Be it for health and fitness or just mere commute or even some good long distance touring; bicycling will be an integral part of my lifestyle.

So the story of this ride ends but a whole new chapter in my life opens up.


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Last edited by GTO : 24th October 2014 at 16:09. Reason: Taking Live :)
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Old 19th October 2014, 12:32   #2
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Here is one video feature from the ride;

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Old 22nd October 2014, 15:20   #3
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd October 2014, 17:24   #4
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Yet another wonderful travelogue from omvaikul. As I have gone through your earlier posts, I know exactly what to expect from you. You are an amazing inspiration and helpful to streamline the thought process. By going through each and every line of your narration, one cannot stop doing introspection. Truly leaves me speechless for a while.
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Old 22nd October 2014, 18:04   #5
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Great feat Om! Respect to you and the other 2 members of your group. Not a small thing to achieve. And beautiful pictures to wrap up the exhilarating story.
Thanks for sharing your experience.

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Old 23rd October 2014, 13:37   #6
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So finally we have it! I was waiting for this travelogue since the time you shared your pictures few months back
Truly mesmerizing!
And especially the notes you have written, I must say - truly amazing! I just started for the pics but am now glued to reading them!!

Last edited by asethi : 23rd October 2014 at 13:53.
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Old 23rd October 2014, 14:31   #7
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Hats off !!

Its not very common to see folks taking the big plunge into some thing like this. But when they do they are glad they did.

Working strapped to chair 12 -14hrs a day, someday I wish I can do what you did.

And Brilliant narration. I enjoyed every word of it
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Old 24th October 2014, 10:31   #8
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Congratulations Omvaikul for the amazing feat. I can imagine how difficult and challenging it must've been to accomplish it as I've been a part of a bicycle expedition where we rode for 800 km, but it was all in the plains. I've always thought of doing cycling trips again and you've been a true inspiration.
I also totally agree with you that any Indian or any individual can accomplish any goal if they decide it in their heart. To give an example I happen to know a gentleman, who is my school senior also, he was the first person to ride on a bicycle to Khardungla Pass solo. And he did this about 25 years ago when the facilities and bicycles weren't that great.
So, congratulations again and hope that you also do the Kashmir to Kanyakumari solo trip next year.
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Old 24th October 2014, 23:04   #9
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Thanks everyone;

I couldn't upload the whole set; but here sharing my flickr album. My 100 fav moments from the ride. Do give it a view..

Spiti Bicycle Ride Flickr Album
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Old 25th October 2014, 12:22   #10
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Hat's off. Real inspiration! Many congratulations to the group.

Agree with you that the heart yearns to live such moments, no matter what the head says. Without such moments, such experiences, life feels incomplete.

The pictures are great. The jump in air with naked feet in the valley says it all; the message is loud and clear.

Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing.
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Old 25th October 2014, 18:30   #11
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This is an awesome thread - and mind blowing beautiful pics! Keep up the good work!!!
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Old 25th October 2014, 19:01   #12
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Truly amazing. And I get thrilled by my climbs up and down Pedder Road :-). Please keep the trips going and posts coming. This is truly inspirational and may even get me to cycle till the Borivali National Park one day.
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Old 26th October 2014, 10:22   #13
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Unreal Guys,

Thanks made my day, will be doing Manali-Leh on my bicycle coming may, and this adds fuel to my desire.


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Old 26th October 2014, 16:43   #14
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Originally Posted by PVPal View Post
Hat's off. Real inspiration! Many congratulations to the group.

Agree with you that the heart yearns to live such moments, no matter what the head says. Without such moments, such experiences, life feels incomplete.

The pictures are great. The jump in air with naked feet in the valley says it all; the message is loud and clear.

Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the appreciation..

Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
This is an awesome thread - and mind blowing beautiful pics! Keep up the good work!!!

Originally Posted by Hayek View Post
Truly amazing. And I get thrilled by my climbs up and down Pedder Road :-). Please keep the trips going and posts coming. This is truly inspirational and may even get me to cycle till the Borivali National Park one day.
How about to Lonavala :-)

Originally Posted by shivred View Post
Unreal Guys,

Thanks made my day, will be doing Manali-Leh on my bicycle coming may, and this adds fuel to my desire.


Manali - Leh in my cards too ... :-D
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Old 27th October 2014, 12:05   #15
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From humourous (referring to your earlier posts) to philosophical, you really have an amazing range. Thanks for sharing.
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