Ladakh 2007 – Day 1

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).

Year: 2007
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.

Landscape after Zoji La

Landscape near PangongTso Lake

Pangong Tso

Gata Loops

Suraj Tal

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.

Preparations:
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.

Motorcycle:
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.

Rider:
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.
– Gloves.
– Helmet with clear visor (in case I have to ride in night).

Gadgets:
– 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. :))

Luggage:
– 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

Transport:
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.

Just like most of my rides, no pictures of Day1. Oh well, almost no pictures. 🙂
NH1

Ladakh – Yet again

It is that time of the year when roads to this wonderland starts to open and time for me to pay another visit to the land of highest mountain passes.

This year its going to be a special ride, during the ride I would be completing an association of 10year with Fiero. Together we have traversed this land of lamas thrice and hope to visit some new places this time.

To make things a bit more  adventurous, the road between Manali and Leh isn’t officially opened yet (with less than 2 days left for me to ride on it).

Spare Parts to Carry on a Road Trip

I’m going on a long road trip for the first time, on my motorcycle, what all spares shall I carry?” If you are having the above question, then read ahead.

How many times and which all parts in recent past (1month/1year/3years/10years), on your bike have failed you? Normally your answer would be “none” (that’s what it will be in most of cases). But if there are some parts that have failed more than once, in recent past, add them to the list as the first items (for example HT coil on one of my motorcycle). On a well maintained (regularly serviced & with all parts replaced whenever the need arises) bike, you shouldn’t have parts that would have failed frequently (here I’m talking about a bone stock bike).

So, if no part has failed, so far, on my bike why should I even bother to carry any spares? Well, there are certain spares that aren’t very expensive and don’t occupy too much space and aren’t too difficult to replace either BUT if they fail can land your bike in an unusable state. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry and carry them.
Following is a list of such spare parts:

  • Fuses
  • Spark Plug
  • Spark Plug Cap
  • Chain Link
  • Clutch lever
  • Clutch lever mounting clamp
  • Brake Lever
  • Brake lever mounting clamp
  • Cables: Accelerator, Clutch and Brake (if your bike runs on front drum brakes)
  • Headlamp bulb
  • Engine oil (if you are using one that is not easily available and you think during trip it will require to be changed)

Other than the above mentioned carry spare set of tubes (if your bike runs on tube type tire). Even if your bike runs tubeless tire, it is better to carry a spare tube just in case the alloy wheel is damaged and starts to leak air, fitting with tube can fix the problem.

One point to note is that, it’s important to know how to replace the spare part that you are carrying else often it would be as good as not carrying one. So, learn to change these parts and practice before you head out on that ride which you always dreamt off.

Though the following items are not exactly spare parts, one should also be carrying them:

  • Electrical wire
  • Electrical tape
  • M-seal

One might ask, for a long road trip the above mentioned list is fine but what about Ladakh? My answer is, Ladakh is no different than any long road trip. Yes, the terrain is different, so is the altitude and the help on road side is rare but other than how does it matter what all parts one should carry?

The list is kept short to only those parts that one can carry easily and don’t need much skill to change them and if they fail you might be left stranded. Though one can carry much more parts than the above listed but then are you preparing yourself for the worse? Than what about the “adventure” part of the road trip? In that case may be use a backup vehicle or better use some other mode of travel.

Now, if you wonder where in my city I can find a good place to get my motorcycle prepared or learn how to replace the above mentioned parts. Though I don’t have information for many cities but I can help you with Mumbai. In Mumbai Arpan & Reddy conduct sessions for leh riders free of cost and teach you basics of motorcycle maintenance. For all my long trips (including 3 Ladakh rides), my bike(s) were prepared by them.

Back from Snow Land ala Ladakh

and I’m back, back to modern civilization.
The above picture is one that was clicked during the trip, as we climbed up Chang La after it was happily snowed for more than 30minutes. During this trip, I got to experience more than what I was looking for.

I’ll try to pen down the wonderful experience I had during this trip as soon as possible and share them with your all soon, very soon. 🙂

Out of reach

Pangong Tso

It is not that I was very actively updating my blog here, that anyone will notice that I’m away from Internet for sometime.

Still, for those who stay in touch with me via e-mail, IM’s and other mode of communication, please note that I’ll be out of reach for next two weeks. The picture above should give you an indication as to where I can be found, if at all. 🙂