As they say, better late than never. 🙂
So, I have decided to clear the backlog of my pictures and trip logs of my various rides to Ladakh. (I know a few guys might have fainted/would be jumping in joy after they would have read my decision to clear the backlogs.) (No the earthquake that just hit the Capital has anything to do with this.)
After I missed riding to Ladakh in 2006, finally visited the land of highest mountain passes in 2007. Since then, every year, every ride has been a exciting experience for me.
Let me start by sharing some of the pics from 2007 trip, that are already uploaded (and hence might not be new for some).
Route: Delhi – Jalandhar – Chamba – Failed attempt to cross Sach Pass – Nurpur – Pathankot – Srinagar – Kargil – Suru – Pensi La – Drang Drung Glacier – Parkachik – Lamayuru – Leh – Khardung La – Hundar – Panamik – Khardung La – Leh – Pangong Tso – Leh – Pang – Keylong – Manali – Delhi.
LADAKH – the Holy Grail of any bike tourer worth his salt – a pilgrimage like none other – a must do at least once before hanging up your touring leathers. Having missed out last year, I was very excited when THE ride this year was looking on the cards. The only disappointments: had to ride solo and unable to ride on my Bullet Electra, not that I regretted either by the end.
Having read/heard so many stories from people who have been to Ladakh about how AMS rendered the rider totally out of order.
How the high altitude (hence thin air & as a result low oxygen) made the motorcycle struggle to climb due to power loss, forcing the rider to sit and start jetting the carburetor in middle of nowhere.
Saying that I wasn’t worried would be lying to oneself. What was comforting though was the fact that in recent time, everyone who has gone to Ladakh was able to return back.
I would be riding in one the harshest (if not “the”) terrain in India, on the motorcycle that has crossed 100,000km’s mark sometime back. As around 15,000km’s back I had got my engine fixed by replacing all the worn out parts. I was sure that a good servicing before the ride should be enough for me to return back. Hence, got the machine checked up before starting the journey.
As, bike was running on 2.75×18 Zapper FV and 3.25×18 Michelin M45, I wanted a bit more non-tarmac friendly tyres. After having discussions with friends who have been to Ladakh, I picked up 2.75×18 Secura Sport (borrowed the one used by Arpan on his P150 Classic in 2006) and a new 3.00×18 TVS Jumbo.
After changing the tyres, I did a couple of small rides to get used to the grip (or the lack of it) provided by them.
Now my only worry was punctures, but decided not to load myself with foot pump and all. Decided that if I had a flat, will take it as part of adventure.
Not the fittest but neither the most unfit person, I wasn’t sure if in few days doing anything out of ordinary would help. So, I decided to save the trouble of hitting the gym and trying to improve my fitness in a few days.
For my riding gear/clothing I had the following:
– Frank Thomas riding jacket (water proof and with removable thermal inner)
– A pair of thermals inners.
– Duck back rain coat.
– Helmet with clear visor (in case I have to ride in night).
– Olympus C-350 (3MP, 3x Zoom)
– Canon 400D with 18-55 kit lense. (Bought it a few days before the ride. Lack of experience in using DSLR’s spoiled the photography experience a bit).
– Vivitar Tripod. (For times when I feel like posing a bit.)
– Mini DV Sony Handycam.
– Garmin Vista Cx GPS. (For those times when I get lost. :))
– Clothes & other stuff that I carry on any ride, stuffed in Camster saddle bag.
– Sleeping bag tied on the pillion seat.
– Back pack with gadgets, maps books (Lonely Planet & Eicher Road Atlas) and other stuff that require quick access.
– As my toolkit, I was carrying all the spanners and screw drivers using which I could remove/fix anything on the bike.
– List of spares, I have already documented …:navendu:… Spare Parts to Carry on a Road Trip
Having ridden to Delhi and back to Pune, on NH8, I wasn’t too excited to spend more than 3 days in the journey on the not-so-exciting (as compared to mountains) NH8. More so when those days could be well spend up in the mountains. Hence, I decided to transport the bike to Delhi.
A couple of years back, having send my bikes via train to Bangalore. I wasn’t too happy with the experience, more so when I didn’t want to travel via train myself, I opted for Gati as the carrier of my bike to and back from the start point.
With bike going via Gati, it was air travel for me, as I would be accompanied with my Wife and ~8months old daughter.
Day 1 (31-July-2007):
After dropping my wife and daughter at in laws place, the ride started on 31-July.
It was a hot ‘n’ humid day when I started from Ghaziabad. The not-so-comfortable riding jacket didn’t help the matter much. By the time I was out on NH1, I was feeling like a tired warrior who has won a battle against a zillion enemies.
After a rather boring ride on the NH1, with frequent breaks to beat the heat, I managed to reach the outskirts of Jalandhar as Sun decided that he had enough of troubling me, for the day. With no plans of riding in dark, I started to enter the Jalandhar city and search for shelter.