Day 9, 25.9.2011 Khoksar – Keylang
This morning my Israel friends will go back to Manali, heading south via the Rothang Pass, so we will go separate ways from no on. We share photos and videos while Einav brings some breakfast to our room.
Einav is a bit worried about the Rothang pass, as it is often muddy. However, locals tell us that it’s in “good” condition now, as there was not much rain recently. I was tempted to do it as well, but if there’s no mud it won’t be too challenging anyway ;)
Also, I’ll have the Manali – Leh Highway ahead of me, with much gravel and high altitudes to deal with. Adventure enough I suppose.
Just behind the building, I watch some guys dying their hair. Funny enough to take some pictures:
Shortly after the final goodbye to Guy, Raphael and Einav, I get my stuff ready and depart as well.
The scenery with the mountain peaks in the background covered with snow reminds me of Austria:
Enroute is a village called Tandi. My friend Archit advised me to fill up the tank there, as there will be no gas station until Leh.:
The road signs are a bit confusing. All directions straight ahead? But left or right?
Somehow I feel tired today and decide to make a break in Keylang, which is only some 50 km up the Manali – Leh highway.
Keylang is the capital of the region. I find a place for Rs. 200 with a soft bed. Indian beds are normally hard as wood, so this will be a comfortable rest. Also, my BSNL 3G data card seems to work in Keylang. I’m hoping to get in touch with some friends an update my blog, but the connection isn’t stabile today.
I spend the remaining day with taking notes for my blog and working on my pictures. For dinner I walk around town and find an Internet Café where I top up my BSNL “talktime” credit. Vis-á-vis is a restaurant where I meet a bunch of Enfield riders guided by “Asian-Bike-Classic”. They tell me that they proudly crossed a pass, which no foreigner did before. They all seem to be in their 50ties or 60ties, so that’s quite an accomplishment!
Day 10, 26.09.2011 Break @ Keylang
My BSNL 3G Data connection works fine today, so I update my blog and talk to friends and family on Skype. I enjoy Momos in a local restaurant, get a haircut & shave, get my laundry done and buy some “Old Monk”, an Indian rum. Not a special day, but you need some of those days off to get your stuff done. :)
Day 11, 27.09.2011 Manali – Leh Highway (part 1): Keylang – Pang
I take off around 10 a.m., after breakfast at the guesthouse. The condition of the road is great! There is much roadwork going on, which makes me hope that the highway up to Leh might be in excellent condition. However, it will get worse soon.
Men at work. These guys use simple hammers to break big stones into gravel:
I reach the first Police check post in Darcha, which is located in a beautiful valley:
There are some sketchy bridges to cross, but otherwise a great journey:
There are great twisties from Zingzingbar up to the Baralach La pass with no traffic until you reach a beautiful lake:
The Baralach pass itself isn’t something special, except it’s freezing cold up here at 4980m altitude, about 2,5 °C.
My tire pressure warning goes off. I seem to loose air on my back tire. I check the tire, but can’t find anything. so I test the valve and that seems to be the cause. It’s leaking some air. I refill and continue my ride. This will need to be fixed later.
Some more dangerous bridges to cross, before Sarchu is in reach:
The landscape turns from gray to red ….
… and then you reach a high plateau where tarmac is gone and sand is left.
Playground for BigTom – Riding the sand ;)
Soon the tarmac is back and takes you through a different landscape once again:
The second police check post for today is located in Sarchu. The registration is painless and quick as these guys are more interested in my bike than my data.
Sarchu was suggested to me as the stay for the night, but I want to push on to Pang and get the Lachalung La pass (5065m) behind me. However, a quick lunch is much appreciated:
After Sarchu, you are welcomed to the paradise of India:
Indeed, the landscape is breath-taking …
… and the road signs keep you entertained:
A long and winding road …
takes me first up to Nekeela pass
and just a few minutes later to the highest pass enroute to Leh, the Lachulungla pass (5065m):
Unfortunately, this pass is not the most eventful one. In fact, it’s just cold (2,5°C at 5 p.m.) and pretty boring:
On the decent down to Pang however, things get more exciting. My first crash on this trip on icy roads:
As there is no traffic, there aren’t any people around, so I have to lift BigBertha on my own. No problem if you know how to. ;)
It has been a long day and I’m exhausted. Road signs keep me awake though:
Eventually I reach Pang and pitch my tent next to a restaurant with a strange name:
It will be a freezing night. Hope to survive it.
Day 12, 28.09.2011 Pang – Leh (Manali – Leh Highway part 2)
It was a freezing cold night in the tent up in 4600m altitude! I set up my camp next to a restaurant, as this was the only place to protect from the icy cold wind. I check the dashboard of BigBertha. it’s – 6°C at 7 a.m. Fortunately I could get an extra blanket from the restaurant. My sleeping bag is not intended for temperatures below 10°C.
Luckily the sun makes it over the mountains at around 8 a.m. and brings some warmth. The people living up here have a really hard life. I have breakfast at this simple restaurant:
Today I’ll have the Taglang La pass (altitude 5330m) ahead of me and I’ll be riding BigBertha on a high plateau almost all day. If there wouldn’t be any sun, it would be a f….. cold ride.
Welcome to Ladakh! I ride through a desert at around 5000m altitude.
Roadworks force me to go through pists next to the road, which are gravel and sand. If there’s one thing I’m afraid of to ride BigBertha through – it’s deep sand. And of course, it’s there – and I crash:
Many people ask me if I’m able to lift my monster bike on my own. Well, this is a great opportunity to show you what I’ve learned during my Enduro trainings at terraxdream.com:
First, take a rest and consider the situation!
Second, bring your bike into a position it will be easier to lift. In my case, get the rear wheel back into the track.
Third, grab the handle-bar and another part of your bike and lift it.
Forth, hop on your bike …
… and off you go:
Sounds easy? It’s really not that hard. :)
In the next valley, the view changes again and turns into a more fertile land:
I get stuck behind an Army convoy right before the Taglang La pass. The road conditions don’t allow to overtake them:
Finally I reach the top of “Taglang La”, the 2nd highest motorable pass of the world:
I’m hoping for some lunch, but the teahouse is closed.
A few kilometers down the road I see ongoing road constructions and signs of appreciated black tarmac. But that will only last for a few kilometers before gravel starts again.
During the decent to Rumtse it’s getting greener again and I feel the temperatures rising. Yeah, that’s a good feeling! I enjoy lunch at comfortable 16°C. It’s boiled potatoes with butter and salt, a special order. ;)
A German bicycle rider passes by and we have a chat. I’m wondering how he is gonna make that stretch of the Manali – Leh highway. It must be a torture, especially due to the altitude. It’s only 80 km left to Leh, so I push on.
Before entering the valley, I’m reminded on a couple of things:
- What a pitty, no rallye today:
.. and the three Enemies of the Road: Liquor, Speed and Overload.
Fortunately I didn’t have any liquor today … ;)
At the end of the valley, which is already in the shade, I reach “Upsi”. This bridge crosses the Indus River.
On the way to Leh, I pass Karu, which seems to be Military bases only. Some strange navigational information, just like this, can be found there:
In Karu, I also find a gas station. It was indeed 380km without a chance to refill the tank.
The remaining stretch to Leh is a wonderful ride: