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Old 3rd September 2010, 15:25   #1
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Default Ladakh.....Age no bar

I DID IT TOO…

Until June 2010, Leh was just a dream... It seemed like a far faraway land!!!! Untouched, picturesque and aspiring... The serene beauty of ‘Ladakh’ always enthralled me. I always envisaged that I rode there someday.

To me, Riding to ‘Leh’, was like the only remaining dream. And each time I slept over it, I thought to myself, that it ‘was one of my most bizarre fascinations.

I always watched ‘Ladakh’ on channels featuring nature and natural resources. Pangong Lake, the torrential snowfalls, the mammoth mountains, and the roads as if they led to heaven, I knew I had to be there. I remember, listing and planning, browsing the internet to every detail for information on ’Leh’. The more I read the more adamant I became on riding to this destination this very year.

Reading through all the travelogues, just added fuel, to my desire.
Each day I spent time browsing the net, collecting information on this territory. How to get there, what all to do, what all to carry, what is the right time to go and ride on which motorbike etc.

I found some friends with similar passions. We were now five crazy riders. All of us seemed to be on the same excitement level (I was on a slightly higher level though). It was April 2010 then. We still had good 2 months left. Being so the discussions were still too casual.

But sooner than we knew the definitive planning to ride to Leh set in motion, and 05/06/2010 was confirmed where the longest discussion we had about the trip was on the 20th of May. We were unremittingly exchanging mails. Each one, researched their bit, dug up information and pooled it in through mails.

We short listed on, the route chalked out, motorbikes serviced, helmets and the riding gear organized, air-tickets to Chandigarh booked, bikes wrapped-up and shipped to Chandigarh and backpacks packed. This was all sorted... Now all we had to do was to wait till the hour our flight took-off.

Ah!! The longest wait of my life!!! 05/06/2010

All I did was keep myself updating the road to Leh via Manali which was closed….Open the Leh official site, each and every hour for any fresh status on the forum.

I, in person wanted to go via Manali up to ‘Leh’, as it appeared more adventurous and picturesque. But looking at the situation then, it didn't seem like the road would open by the 06th June, which was our date of riding from Chandigarh to Leh via Manali!

So now I was thinking of varying my plan for going via Srinagar.
Then before our departure to Chandigarh the news popped in that the roads were opened via Manali!!! Ahh!!! When I saw that written in bold GREEN on the official LEH site, I was so happy!!.. and we flew down to Chandigarh with our faces glued with exhilaration.

We reached Chandigarh by 2 in the afternoon and after checking in our inn we immediately rushed to pick up our bikes from the carrying company, tanked up and rode back to our inn with some last minute equipment and cash from ATMs. Tonight was celebration time and sleep well.
6th June was the day of my life

!!!!!…Ride to the highest motor able road in the world.

6th morning we started to ride to our first halt Mandi after crossing Solan and Shimla we were in Mandi by 10pm checked in a decent inn, dinner and deep slumber. The next day’s ride was to reach Manali so we were up early, a clean up, a heavy breakfast and we were on our bikes by 8am, with a glow on every rider’s face as the ride to the top of the world had began.

The ride from Mandi to Kullu was fast and the roads were good, but Kullu to Manali was swarming and we were in Manali by 4pm, we checked in our inn and went for a stroll to the market. We were back to the inn and over supper we were discussing our plan for tomorrow….some repairing work on the bikes and a few supplies to be picked up for our ride from Manali to Leh.

We really slept well and nobody wanted to get up early as it was cold in Manali (3 degrees C). Today was a break from riding as the next leg of riding was very difficult. So we got our bikes repaired at Manali in the afternoon and planning to leave for Leh the next morning.

But towards evening the rain gods started to be nasty and it started to rain and trust me it was hammering, after servicing of the bikes we all rode back to the inn and over supper just praying for the rains to stop as this was not the season to rain and was summer up there. But the rain Gods got nastier and would not stop. We were up the next day early as to ride early towards Leh……. But it was still hammering and we stalled riding as it was 5 in the morning and Manali was sleeping. So we all went to sleep too. Later at 10am the news spread saying Rohtang-La has heavy snowfall right through the night and the roads masked with snow. Immediately I called some friends back home for some news and to my surprise the news received was …….

MANALI LEH ROADS CLOSED.

So we were left with no other option but to spend another day in Manali, and the third day too, as there was no news on the roads opening, the only news flashing was roads to open in a day or two.

But on the third day there was some news that roads opening today and we were ecstatic, instantaneously we packed our saddle bags and on to our bikes we started to ride towards Rohtang-La. Upon riding in the hills for about 40 kms we reached Marhi.

Marhi is app 20 kms from Rohtang-La pass and on reaching Marhi the roads were blocked, WHY!!!… roads still not open was the answer, we have already lost three days but we were determined to ride on so we checked in a room which had only beds, the toilet was outside and grimy but no substitute but to stay there. We were told by the BRO that the roads will open by tomorrow so we decided to spend a day in Marhi and ride the next day.

Nevertheless the roads didn’t open the next day and the second day too, so we decided to ride back and go to Leh via Srinagar,
…… 5 days lost.

Our ride from Marhi to Pathankhot was boring and tiring, but later on it was beautiful and we reached Srinagar after 3 days of continues riding crossing Mandi-Palampur-Pathankhot-Patnitop and Anantnag. We checked into a house boat at the Dal Lake in Srinagar, beautiful and nonviolent. We had an exquisite time here with good Kashmiri home cooked food and cheering of wine glasses, then a peaceful night with the boat rocking us to deep slumber.

The morning at Srinagar was fine-looking and sunny and our bikes waiting to ride…. We started to ride at 12 noon with a mind set to reach Kargil by night. But one rider had a flat wheel, and luckly the repair shop was about a km behind, the rider pushed the bike all the way back and we got it fixed, and the ride began towards Drass.

We were delayed by 3 hours here and we reached Sonmarg where the other riders were waiting, immediately without any fuss we started riding on as the target was Kargil as we were running late. While we were riding towards Drass…This was my first occurrence on such roads… Broken roads, streams flowing across the road, roads carved in between snow, walls of snow 10 feet high on both sides of the road and raining.

We reached Drass at 8pm, riding through Slush, broken roads, crossing streams and the cold biting through 5 layers of garments. Our feet and hands frozen and numb, the craziest place I have known, -20 degrees……

The 2nd coldest place on earth. Lowest recorded temperature. -60 degrees.

We stepped in a small wayside restaurant in Drass hungry for the past 8 hours as we had no lunch, Meat rice was the only thing available and we enjoyed it. Debating whether we should ride further or no, but as no rooms were available in Drass and we already had lost 5 days we moved on and started riding at 9pm towards Kargil, this ride was the most scary ride as we could not see any other vehicle on the road, just us. Nobody travels on this road after 6pm, as the Pakistan border is close by. We reached Kargil late at 12pm, checked in a inn tired, we all went to sleep as the next stretch of ride was also treacherous,

The next morning was awe-inspiring and Kargil beautiful, the houses were built on the slopes of the mountains and all the mountains were snow capped.

The ride to Leh began and nobody knew how the weather is going to be on the next turn and that’s what exactly happened with us, now it was time for a hot cup of tea….. but the hot cup of tea served was good as a cold drink and in a few seconds.....no warmth could be gained from it.....and this was followed by maggi with oodles of chilli in it, to keep ourselves warm.

Again on the road and in the next 25 km one of the riders had a flat wheel, we three riders were together and two riders were ahead and we lost them, We were caring tools to fix the tube, we tried changing the tube and pump up the wheel but all in vain as while changing the tube it got cut somewhere and could not hold the pressure… I then decided to ride with Dhruv and the wheel and get it repaired. And Sagar stayed back with Dhruv’s bike.

We rode for 30 km ahead looking for a garage and once the wheel was repaired we rode back where Sagar was waiting 30 km back, put the wheel on and started riding on. 5 hours lost in repairing the wheel, we then started riding on and came to a ‘Y’ and both roads were going to Leh, we decided to take the one on the right and on riding for about 20 km we were riding on a road which was recently cut in the mountains and was fearful, broken chips of rock all over the road and no tarmac, riding thru Lamayuru, was awesome, mountains on both sides and a scary stretch of app 35 km.

The colors of the mountains changed, hard to believe but purple, yellow ochre, green, dusty and a lot more colors, Mother Nature at its best…. By evening we reached Khalsi and thought we would meet Ashutosh and Nipun who were leading and there was no track of them even the girls were with them. At Khalsi we met two riders who said that some riders were looking for you and they have pushed ahead to Leh….So Sagar, Dhruv and me looked for a room in Khalsi as it was quiet late to ride on, we parked ourselves at the restaurant enjoying over some Soup and relating our experience of the day, and to our surprise at around 9pm Ashutosh and Nipun and the girls joined us, they had been looking for us and instead of going ahead to Leh they went all the way back but due to the ‘Y’ they missed us as they took the road which we didn’t…We all were happy to meet each other.. .

The next morning after a heavy brunch we started from Khalsi to wards Leh, again the ride was awesome, cold desert, the only thing we could see is mountains, and the road, we crossed the “Patther sahib” a Gurudwara build centuries back, and the magnetic hill to reach Leh by 3pm...and checked in a inn.

Knockout….10 days to reach Leh, we rode 2000 km from Chandigarh to Marhi and Marhi to Leh, of which 5 days lost waiting at Manali and Marhi for the roads to open.

We had our priorities now:

1) Pangong lake
2) Khardung-la


One and all said Nubra would not be possible in one day. Only pangong Lake was something we could try doing in a day. But that too would be way too wild... All our scheduling seemed to come down the drain. We went blank.. As the distances around here were small, but owing to the condition of roads it always took longer. We didn't want to scuttle up on anything.

So our plan of action was.

1. Permits
2. Leave for Khardung-La pass and come back.
3. Leave for Pangong lake and comeback..
4. Leh, keep as buffer
5. Packing of bikes and send to the shipping company.

We were certain we would make the best in LEH… enjoy what we have… and not rush.

The mornings were so beautiful.. Right across my window I could see snow covered peaks. And my room overlooked the garden, of the guest house.


By the time everyone got ready, I and Sagar,… decided to explore the lanes of Leh every morning and in the evening too.

Till now I was just perfect, and full of enthusiasm. No signs of AMS as yet for me! But some other riders did consume Dymox pills and use oxygen cylinders.
We all did shop for some sports shoes and jackets at Leh. We planned to ride to Khardung-La, at 11am which was about 50 km from Leh, it started to snow as we started riding the mountains and bowled over to see Khardung-La closed for traffic, the roads were covered with snow so we spend some time there and no option but to ride back. Another day lost.

We were certain to go to Pangong Lake the next morning and come back the same day…

No signs of AMS for me.

The next morning we decided to go to Pangong Lake crossing Changla, the second highest motorable road in the world.. Now it was Ashutosh’s turn to have a flat tire and again we tried to repair it, but all in vain so we had to go ahead about 40 kms get it repaired and come back.. It was done fixed and 5 hours, lost again. We reached Pangong Lake late at around 7pm, no other option but to stay back and come back to Leh the next morning.

Pangong lake was beautiful and the lake crisp clean and blue in color. I wanted to have a dip in it, but I was warned by Kunal a friend who has been to Leh twice, not to do it, as he had tried it and was lucky to survive the cold. So we just spend some time around the lake, hot chicken with rice for dinner and sleep in the tents which were the only accommodation available there.

The next morning ride was to Khardung-La, and we prayed that it would be open… and we were lucky enough to see it open and everything around covered in snow….

The highest motor able road in the world

We celebrated, bought some curious. The ride back to Leh was again awesome and we were there by lunch. The whole day we spend at the inn, women cooking chicken for lunch and Lamb for dinner, and the whole evening playing with cards. The next day was planning to fly back from Leh to Pune, and ship our bikes to Pune.

....and...I miss it

Overall my experience about the ride and Leh was awesome. But for some riders Leh was a destination and they were interested in riding only. But for me it was a journey and I wanted to enjoy every bit of the ride and the places we passed.

While riding from Sonmarg to wards Drass I went turtle while crossing the first stream, the stream was quite wide and about 12” deep with going up to 18” in some places and I was petrified and went down, but the fellow riders helped me up without any bruises, but the chilled water did enter through my rain wear. But with a few sips of brandy I was back on my bike and we rode ahead.

We carried Dimox pills and oxygen cylinders for AMS as this has been a practice of all the riders, you don’t know when you will need it, but on the total ride I didn’t really require the pills or the oxygen cylinders. I was glad I am fit at this age.

As for the maintenance of the bikes, we really didn’t face any issues with any of the bikes,( Thanks to our friend in Pune you maintains them). But out of 5 bikes, 3 bikes had one flat tire each and I would personally suggest to all my rider friends that trying to repair the tire in Leh is not practical but to get it fixed at a garage. It saves time, we lost app 5 hours each time.

It was my first time to Leh…. One of the most beautiful places I have seen…..I cherished every moment of the ride….. I will be going again and again year on year…....Cheers
Attached Thumbnails
Ladakh.....Age no bar-5-bikers-row.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-all-bikers-hands-up.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-all-riders-towards-manali.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-me-drass.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-me-bike-shrinagar.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-me-bike-lamarayu.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-rainbow.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-riding-drass.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-riding-desart.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-sagardhruvme-drass.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-sagarkishor-drass.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-tinu-sitting-me.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-towards-shrinagar.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-resize-khardungla.jpg  

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Old 3rd September 2010, 15:52   #2
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Dear Tiger,

Can i call you so-a well deserved title-age no bar?? how young?? I have done these places while on duty-now retired and planning to do the trip after we drive down to Bhutan (from bangalore). Excellent pics-abs clear and great. My Army course mate did it on a bullet last month with a gang of bikers-he is three years older then me, so I told the wifey that we will do it-in our car. She's just raring to go.

Regards,
Col J H Mayne
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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:07   #3
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Oh my god!! That's a great start Tiger. I'm sure lot more excitements to come. Please don't make us wait.

@ Col J H Mayne.. Really I feel like blocking this thread for only above 50 types..
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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:29   #4
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Dear Rudra,

Though I am new to BHP ( I really wish that I had known about this site earlier) I have about 3 lakh kms under my belt-a lakh or more in each of my three vehicles till date from '85 onwards. I love to drive and my wife loves to travel with me. On the spur of the moment we will pack a few goodies and take off. We can afford to do it because our kids are grown up and independent. But trust me when i discuss long drives with my colleagues in my present Organisation (most 20 years my junior) they think I am fibbing.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:35   #5
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@Kishoreji,
Brilliant write up sir. Congratulations once again for having completed a trip, that most mortals only dream of doing. Added to that the thrill of having done it on a bike. Hats off sir! Awaiting more pics of your sojourn!

@Col. Mayne,
Wow driving down to Bhutan! That will be one heck of an exciting journey! All the best with that sir.

@Rudra,
Sir block it for 40+ types and I will not feel left out!
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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:44   #6
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The 1st Pic is truly a killer..never seen a Leh thread kicking off with such an impression..
Awsome!! Bring it on..
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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:47   #7
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Hey Tiger- Good to read the details of your Leh visit.
I had heard the summary at the coffee shop at Adlabs, lets make it to the slopes of hell some time
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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:53   #8
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Oh man!! the first pic is really superb and sets the mood for things to come.

Great write up too. BTW i love the handle on your TB better than the stock one. Looks understated and does not seem to affect the ride position much as well.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 18:25   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judemayne View Post
Dear Rudra,

Though I am new to BHP ( I really wish that I had known about this site earlier) I have about 3 lakh kms under my belt-a lakh or more in each of my three vehicles till date from '85 onwards. I love to drive and my wife loves to travel with me. On the spur of the moment we will pack a few goodies and take off. We can afford to do it because our kids are grown up and independent. But trust me when i discuss long drives with my colleagues in my present Organisation (most 20 years my junior) they think I am fibbing.
Col. Mayne,

Thanks for sharing your onslaughts of roads that me 3 + lakh kms. Hat's off to you. I think you should start sharing your trip logs and enlighten us souls.

Tiger,

Fantanstic start and congratulations. You are never old in ladakh. More photos please.

Dwarak
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Old 3rd September 2010, 18:54   #10
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Congratulations on the trip of a lifetime. Conquest of success and inspiration for many to come.

Cheers!
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Old 3rd September 2010, 19:00   #11
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Way to go!!
If you missed the manali-leh road, here are a few pictures only for you.
We did the Manali-leh-srinagar loop from 22nd june to 30th june. Back to work on 1st.

Apologies for hijacking your thread.
Attached Thumbnails
Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0785.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0790.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0795.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0816.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0853.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0861.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0886.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0905.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0907.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0910.jpg  

Ladakh.....Age no bar-img_0917.jpg  

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Old 3rd September 2010, 19:00   #12
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@tigerranch: Highly appreciate your spirit in undertaking this journey. Leh-t the story continue please! Hooked on already.

What issues cropped up with the bikes at Manali to necessitate repairs?
Quote:
Originally Posted by BolBolero View Post
@Rudra,
Sir block it for 40+ types and I will not feel left out!
+40 to that!
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Old 3rd September 2010, 19:50   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judemayne View Post
Dear Tiger,

Can i call you so-a well deserved title-age no bar?? how young?? I have done these places while on duty-now retired and planning to do the trip after we drive down to Bhutan (from bangalore). Excellent pics-abs clear and great. My Army course mate did it on a bullet last month with a gang of bikers-he is three years older then me, so I told the wifey that we will do it-in our car. She's just raring to go.

Regards,
Col J H Mayne
Hats off to you col. Thanx for the title.. I am 53 years young, started riding a year back, having done a lot of driving in my entire driving lifespan,

A lot of rides on the menu, will share them soon.

Cheers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Oh my god!! That's a great start Tiger. I'm sure lot more excitements to come. Please don't make us wait.

@ Col J H Mayne.. Really I feel like blocking this thread for only above 50 types..
@Rudra. Thanx will post a lot of pictures soon

[quote=BolBolero;2054517]@Kishoreji,
Brilliant write up sir. Congratulations once again for having completed a trip, that most mortals only dream of doing. Added to that the thrill of having done it on a bike. Hats off sir! Awaiting more pics of your sojourn!

Gautam Thanx, will post some pictures soon

Last edited by Eddy : 3rd September 2010 at 22:40. Reason: Please use the edit / multiquote option instead of posting back to back posts within 20 mins. Thanks.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 22:19   #14
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@Tiger : Hats off to you for making this trip on your bullet.
Really commendable that you have not let your age become a hindrance in enjoying the little pleasures of life. A wonderful adventure.
Liked the first and second photo too. The photo does set the tone of things to come.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 23:27   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abhinav.s View Post
Oh man!! the first pic is really superb and sets the mood for things to come.

Great write up too. BTW i love the handle on your TB better than the stock one. Looks understated and does not seem to affect the ride position much as well.
Abhinav. I love the RD350 handle on my TB, I can handle my machine better, the original handle was sort of uncomfortable.

Cheers
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