Manali-Leh-KhardungLa Biking- Day 2 (Aug 25th 2009) : Marhi to Sissu – “The Big Climb up the Rohtang Pass”

The next day began at a bone chilling temperature of 8 degrees Celsius. Hot tea and steaming hot breakfast alleviated a lot of troubles. I am not a breakfast person and give them a miss with mathematical certainty but when I go biking, I deck up on a lot of calories. The breakfast was good. We had porridge with loads of honey, muesli and milk again with honey and then we had eggs and bread with jam/peanut butter.

Mausmi and I at Marhi- People just admired her patience of being in the support vehicle while I biked. She just smiled- I knew she would always be with me.

Mausmi and I at Marhi- People just admired her patience of being in the support vehicle while I biked. She just smiled- I knew she would always be with me.

Well fed, farewell exchanged with Mausmi and high spirited we began the climb to Rohtang Pass. Mausmi had found her own routine once we were gone. She would sit in the warm sun and read one of the many books she had brought while the support group would wrap up the stuff at one place.

Coming back to the ride, I have never really enjoyed myself in the first few km of any ride when I am not warmed up and still reeling under the loss of the snugness of the comfy bed and this was no different.

The road conditions worsened quickly. Tarmac was gone and was replaced by loose gravels, stone chips, mud and slush and a lot of running streams. This was one of the worst mountain roads I had seen in some time. And it continued for next 18 km, all through the climb. It was cruel to be riding on such a bad surface. Some places it was so muddy that I had to stand up on the bike and put in all that I had got to tame the terrain. I never liked the idea of standing and pedaling as it is an inefficient maneuver and causes a spike in the heart rate but there are places you have to chuck the medical journals and do what is required.

Real bad roads to Rohtang Pass

Real bad roads to Rohtang Pass

As I neared the top I felt the drop in temperature. The beautiful green hills and many waterfalls dotted the scenery. I would stop frequently to take pictures and then continue my ascent through the torture road. Later Ian told me that excessive load on this roads owing to Rohtang’s status of being a tourist magnet is directly responsible for these shambolic conditions.

my bike at Rohtang Pass

my bike at Rohtang Pass

Finally, I reached the Rohtang pass at 13,100 feet, a climb of 2200 feet in 16 km through the worst roads. This is a must visit for all Indian tourists coming to Manali in search of snow. I found it a dull place though. The support vehicle caught up with us here so I quickly got my helmet and wind proof jacket for the upcoming downhill. One photograph for the memory and I was off again.

the couple photo at Rohtang, very different others who would have those rented colorful extreme winter wears and would ride those hapless ponies

the couple photo at Rohtang, very different others who would have those rented colorful extreme winter wears and would ride those hapless ponies

If the uphill surface was bad the downhill was worse. Never during the entire downhill came a moment when you could just effortlessly roll under gravity’s influence and gaze at the snow peaks enjoying the view. The road from Rohtang till Khoksar was all rutted, no tarmac, gravels and potholes and many places were just pure stone chips. Apparently, the roads were being doubled laned and therefore all the construction frenzy has resulted into miles of stone chips’ laying.

But there was no dearth of beauty. All it called for was a stoppage and so did I.

View from Rohtang

View from Rohtang

We stopped at Khoksar for our packed lunch. Juices, resins, eggs, potatoes and warm tea made a nice lunch.

From Khoksar to Sissu was super smooth silken tarmac. After taking a hell of a beating in the bumpy downhill this gradual downhill on silken tarmac felt like a cruise. To add to the charm, the river Bahga flowed with us all the way through.

Khoksar to Sissu: Bautiful Road, Beautiful View

Khoksar to Sissu: Beautiful Road, Beautiful View

Buoyed by the tarmac I and Ian indulged into some friendly racing and we cranked up 70km/hr on our bikes. It was a great ride that ended in a great camp spot, a place with lots of tall trees at the bank of Bagha River.

Mausmi on Bike

Mausmi on Bike

Enthused by our biking Mausmi also did a small stint on my bike though it was clearly many times over her ideal bike size.

Campsite at Sissu

Campsite at Sissu

The dinner was a fabulous affair with pasta, fried mutton, finger chip and some warm tea.

The day’s stats were:

lighted in yellow

day's progress highlighted in yellow

Total Distance

45 km

Total Climb

2300 feet

Total Time on Saddle

3 hours 45 min

Sleeping Height

10,100 feet

Oxygen

69% relative to MSL (mean sea level)

The next day was a relatively moderate day with no high passes on the menu. The gurgling Bagha seemed like a sweet lullaby and I slept nice and warm under the wraps of the sleeping bag.

Read on: Day 3- Sissu to Jispa- “A Cold Windy Day

All Links:

Prologue : Khardungla and My Conditioning

Day 1 (Manali to Marhi):  Meet the Gang

Day 2 (Marhi to Sissu):  The Big Climb up the Rohtang Pass

Day 3 (Sissu to Jispa):   The Cold Windy Day

Day 4 (Jispa to ZingzingBar):  Awww… Those 7 km…

Day 5 (ZingzingBar to Sarchu): The Box of Chololates

Day 6 (Sarchu to Whisky Nullah): The Beauty and the Beast

Day 7 (Whisky Nullah to Pang):  How Wrong Was I?

Day 8 (Pang to Lato): The Longest and the Best Day- Size Does Matter

Day 9 (Lato to Leh):   I Will Reach Leh

Day 10 (Leh to KhardungLa):  The Final Hurrah….

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