Manali-Leh-KhardungLa Cycling Day 3 (Aug 26th 2009) : Sissu to Jispa – “The Cold Windy Day”

I woke up with my barometer indicating possible bad weather. It was not as chilly as the day before but was windy. Yesterday night our guide had arrived. He was Bikki. He would remain with us for the remaining of the tour. He had arrived with Russell’s original rent bike.

Last night Russell, Ian and Bikki had taken the support vehicle to Keylong to meet up with the RedSpoke’s group, another cycling operator who had promised help to us, to get Russell’s bike repaired. Russell was therefore in much better spirits this morning.

I don’t know why, but I left my rainproof jacket back at the campsite despite my barometer warnings and embarked on my biking. The road climbed steadily to Gondla, some 800 feet above Sissu through some patchy surfaces. At Gondla you could see that you have climbed significantly from Sissu which was at the river bed to now I was at a vantage point and could see the meandering Bagha below.

River Bagha's view near Gondla

River Bagha's view near Gondla

From Gondla it was again smooth tarmac downhill to Tandi, again to the river basin of Bagha. During this downhill, I was caught in a light rain that lasted may be three to four minutes. However, it gave me some serious chills as the wind was strong.

Bagha basin near Tandi

Bagha basin near Tandi

The view was magnificent. The Bagha flowed with full vigor through the valley and tall grayish mountains with a hint of greenery on the rolling slopes flanked it from both sides. The wind was very strong here and it was all headwinds which if did not slow me down, as I was on a downhill descent, kept me from feeling warm.

As I was reaching Tandi, I met a Portuguese traveler who has been walking around the globe for last 19 years. The meeting was short but I was full of admiration for this man’s spirits. Soon I reached Tandi and was flagged down by army who thought I was a foreigner. Clarifications tendered, I continued and saw the legendary last gas station before Leh.

The legendary gas station of Tandi, the next one is at Leh

The legendary gas station of Tandi, the next one is at Leh

I did not any fuel for sure, but this picture was a must have. At Tandi I stopped for some delicious mutton dimsums and hot tea and continued to Keylong.

The Tandi Bridge

The Tandi Bridge

Keylong is an important town in the Manali-Leh highway. Lot of people break their journey here for a night while going from Manali to Leh. We stopped at Keylong and had our packed lunch. Our lunch stop had an odd shaped mountain in the backdrop and the locals told us that it was the wish fulfillment mountain. So we posed for a quick photo and continued our journey.

one pic for wish fulfilment mountain

one pic for wish fulfilment mountain

The road from Keylong to Instingri was mostly downhill with a few spectacular stream crossings. From Istingri to Jispa was a climb of 800 feet through some amazing nude rocky mountains followed by a very technical downhill of 400 feet or so. It was quite dangerous with lots of loose gravels and potholes ready to suck you into the 1000+ feet drops. We negotiated them safely and again waded through a km long stone chip overlay to reach the campsite.

rocky wedges of Jispa

rocky wedges of Jispa

The day’s stats were:

day's progress highlighted in turquoise

day's progress highlighted in turquoise

Total Distance

52 km

Total Climb

2500 feet

Total Time on Saddle

4 hours 05 min

Sleeping Height

10,800 feet


66% relative to MSL (mean sea level)

Tom and Sarrah were mulling to stay in a hotel for a night but they dropped the idea. We had a lovely post dinner session with a bottle of rum and some beers. Ian, Russell and I stayed up late and talked about anything and everything.

Next day was another easy one. No high passes. We were to keep climbing to reach the base of BaralachaLa to Zingzingbar. We had no idea a shock awaited us there.

Read on:  Day 4- Jispa to Zingzingbar- “Awwww Those 7 km”

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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