Manali-Leh-KhardungLa Cycling Day 8 (Sept 1st 2009) : Pang to Lato – “The Longest and the Best Day- Size Does Matter”

Sunshine……………………….

Bright Sunshine……………………….

The day’s start was exactly what the doctor ordered. We got up at an unearthly 5:30 am and at 7 am we were out on our bikes. We did not have much choice after the rains, so no complaints. A short 10 km climb ensued and we hit the Morey Plains at an altitude of 15,600 feet.

The next 40 km we covered the Morey Plains which was infamous for its bad surface quality and high head winds. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find the surface quality pretty fair. On top of it, there was hardly any headwind except for the last 9 km stretch.

The visual treat was again top of the draw here. It is anyway difficult to believe the vastness of this plain at this high altitude. It is like a 40 km long and 50 km wide belt with mountains flanking it from all sides but it still maintains its billiard top levelness all though.

Many photos were taken on this and here is a small assortment:

The intriguing Morey Plains spreading 40 km at an average altitude of 15, 300 feet

The intriguing Morey Plains spreading 40 km at an average altitude of 15, 300 feet

Me at Morey Plains. See army vehicles behind. We were passed by a huge army convoy of some 50 vehicles. I waved to the brave soldiers and they all waved back!

Me at Morey Plains. See army vehicles behind. We were passed by a huge army convoy of some 50 vehicles. I waved to the brave soldiers and they all waved back!

Cyslists at Morey Plains

Cyslists at Morey Plains

Beautiful blue sky and see the cloud shadow on the mountains

Beautiful blue sky and see the cloud shadow on the mountains

One of my close ups..........

One of my close ups..........

stop for water refilling. Mausmi on the extreme left hand side

stop for water refilling. Mausmi on the extreme left hand side

We stopped at Debring for our lunch at around 11:30 am. We had covered some 50 km already and were at 15,000 feet. The Morey Plains is a gradual downhill in the 40 odd km but it is so gradual that you do not feel it at all. From our lunch stop, we had 21 km to the final pass that stood in our way to Leh, the mighty TanglangLa pass at 17,580 feet.

TanglangLa was very unlike any other passes I had done so far. It would not give you an option to gain altitude in switchbacks but would tease you with long-long-long sections of constant gradient climb that went on forever. You would be able to see the destination at all times and it may fool you with a sense that it is just a touch away. The reality is- it is a long hard laborious climb from the base.

Long climb sections of TanglangLa

Long climb sections of TanglangLa

An edited illustration of the climbing conditions. The picture shows a section that gains some 600 feet in 3 km.

An edited illustration of the climbing conditions. The picture shows a section that gains some 600 feet in 3 km.

See the pictures above and you will notice how long and laborious the climbs are. This was the picture of a section which gained 600 odd feet in 3 km, akin to a 7% gradient. I have just added some lines and figures to aid the understanding of how the road to TanglangLa climbs. The surface quality was quite acceptable here so did not face many issues.

I again employed my constant breathing rate climbing and reached the top without an iota of a problem. The TangLangLa top was absolutely deserted when I climbed up there. It felt strange as no one was there and I had it at my personal disposal. For next 20 minutes I was the only human atop TanglangLa and it felt surreal. Few of our colleagues suffered from the altitude sickness but all made it to the top finally.

Reached the 2nd highest motorable road on Earth, TangLangLa at 17,582 feet. I was alone there for some 20 minutes and it felt amazing...........

Reached the 2nd highest motorable road on Earth, TangLangLa at 17,582 feet. I was alone there for some 20 minutes and it felt amazing...........

When you got it, you flaunt it............

When you got it, you flaunt it............

The whole gang, including the support crew, at TanglangLa

The whole gang, including the support crew, at TanglangLa

It was a long, very rough and bumpy downhill from TanglangLa but the visual bonanza swept me out of my feet. Many people have mentioned that the downhill towards Leh treasures the best scenery of the route and I could not agree more to it. It was just an amazing spectacle and my camera had a very busy time. It snowed a little while coming down but we were far too elated to have completed TanglangLa to take serious notice of it.

Some of the guys decided to take a steeper and faster downhill route to the next campsite but I was not sacrificing the scenic platter for an adrenalin rush. I am Tom rode together marveling the majestic mountain vistas that unfolded in front of us at each corner.

Amazing mountains

Amazing mountains

Nature mesmerizes you at each corner while descending from TanglangLa

Nature mesmerizes you at each corner while descending from TanglangLa

Witness to an absorbing drama enacted by the clouds, shadows, the snow peaks and the sun

Witness to an absorbing drama enacted by the clouds, shadows, the snow peaks and the sun

Hail the plate tectonics, otherwise this place would have been an ocean floor and this beauty would not have existed............

Hail the plate tectonics, otherwise this place would have been an ocean floor and this beauty would not have existed............

Great mountains of Himalaya.....just amazing!

Great mountains of Himalaya.....just amazing!

Soon we swooped down to the Indus’ tributary’s river basin. Pretty much the same time, we again started seeing signs of civilization strewn all around. As we carried along the route we passed Rumptse, Gya and a few small villages. We started seeing gompas(monasteries), stupas(prayer structure) and chortens(direction structure)  dotting the route. Domesticated cattle also made a welcome reappearance.

End of bone jarring bad roads, smooth downhill to Rumptse, Gya and then to Lato

End of bone jarring bad roads, smooth downhill to Rumptse, Gya and then to Lato

My kind of downhill...... Just roll under gravity's influence and keep enjoying the scenery

My kind of downhill...... Just roll under gravity's influence and keep enjoying the scenery

More drama ahead with fleeting cloud shadows over mountain faces

More drama ahead with fleeting cloud shadows over mountain faces

Horses grazing in the backdrop of Himalayas

Horses grazing in the backdrop of Himalayas

The first Stupa (prayer structure) on our way........

The first Stupa (prayer structure) on our way........

Our campsite was a great deal. It was just on the bank of a fast flowing river on a great green grass bed with tall mountains flanking us from all sides. Being the last night of camping, we had a fine camp fire and a great dinner. There was again rum and beer to accompany the good food and we had a great time chatting by the fire.

Our campsite at Lato captured by Mausmi. It was an amazing place with fast flowing rivers, flowers, green grass and tall mountains all rolled into one package

Our campsite at Lato captured by Mausmi. It was an amazing place with fast flowing rivers, flowers, green grass and tall mountains all rolled into one package

Lato campsite. The grass felt like dream after stepping on hard rocks all these days

Lato campsite. The grass felt like dream after stepping on hard rocks all these days

The stats for the day were:

day 08

day's progress highlighted in yellow

Total Distance

106 km

Total Climb

3000 feet

Total Time on Saddle

7 hours 50 min

Sleeping Height

13,400 feet

Oxygen

61% relative to MSL (mean sea leve58)      At TanglangLa 50%

The last night at the camp was a mixed feeling. I knew I would be reaching Leh the next day and that this great group of ours that gelled so well would not be doing any other camping together. However, I was elated for now nothing seemed to stop me from completing one part of the dream that I had had.

I will reach Leh…….

Read on: Day 9 – Lato to Leh -“I will Reach Leh”

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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4 Responses to “Manali-Leh-KhardungLa Cycling Day 8 (Sept 1st 2009) : Pang to Lato – “The Longest and the Best Day- Size Does Matter””

  1. Solar Panel Says:

    Hey, good post. I just found your site and I am already a fan. 🙂

  2. Tnelson Says:

    Your site was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.

  3. JimmyBean Says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  4. Anurag Says:

    Hi Manasji,
    Have been a part of KCC since the beginning but never could be the part of the gang, coz no saddle to sit on and peddle 😛
    But a big thanx for taking KCC to such distances. I love the mountains too and the blog on this trip (specially ur photos) has been a breathe of fresh air. Hope to join you guys sometime in the future. Keep riding till then 🙂

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