Manali-Leh-KhardungLa Cycling Day 9 (Sept 2nd 2009) : Lato to Leh – “I Will Reach Leh”

70 km…………….

That is all what stood between us and Leh, the destination of the first part of the dream that I once had. It would be 15 km downhill to Upshi and then a 50 km undulating terrain to Thiksey and a final 800 feet climb in 5 km to Leh.

The highlight of the day’s ride were the first 15 km downhill to Upshi along the fast moving river dotted by some amazing rock formations all around. The rock color was stark purple which bewildered us. The rocks had clear erosion marks that were carved out by moving ice as if someone had scraped the mountain-faces with colossal nails.

Me in the backdrop of Purple mountains

Me in the backdrop of Purple mountains

Fabulous color scheme, pupple mountain, blue sky, clear blue water, grey tarmac.........

Fabulous color scheme, pupple mountain, blue sky, clear blue water, grey tarmac.........

Giant erosion patterns carved out by moving snow. See deep alleys etched into the purple rocks

Giant erosion patterns carved out by moving snow. See deep alleys etched into the purple rocks

Tom: the most inspirational character of the trip

Tom: the most inspirational character of the trip

I was riding with Tom and we stopped almost every 100 meters to enjoy the surreal purple colored rocks dissected by the clear blue river. The road was very well maintained and had copious BRO messages that made for some hilarious readings.

“After whisky, driving risky”, “drive on horsepower and not on rum power”, “don’t gossip let him drive”, “don’t be a Gama in the land of Lama”, “Be Mr. late than late Mr.”, “This is a highway not a runway”, “He who touches 90 never sees beyond 19”, “Darling I like you but not so fast”, “I am curvaceous, be gentle on my curves”…… The last ones had us in splits.

On this route, our friend Russell met with a small accident and he toppled over his bike. Luckily he was unhurt and continued his journey nonchalantly.

As we continued downhill, vegetation became more common. We would pass many small villages and kids would line up to give us fives as we rode past them touching their extended palms. Everything seems cheerful and I enjoyed the ride.

Soon, we reached Upshi, a major army base and had our first encounter with the mighty Indus River. I knew, now on we shall be travelling right with Indus till we reach Leh.

Say Hello to the River Indus at Upshi

Say Hello to the River Indus at Upshi

The road after Upshi was again deserted and there were no villages. Tall mountains flanked us from both side and the road continued through many ups and downs along the Indus’ bank. There was an occasional hint of greenery but overall the landscape was still very barren.

The ups and downs were a bit tiresome but did not take the fun away from us. Thankfully, the tarmac quality was superb and it helped us maintain a steady pace.

The undulating ups and downs continue to Karu from Upshi. River Indus flows just besides the highway

The undulating ups and downs continue to Karu from Upshi. River Indus flows just besides the highway

We stopped at Karu, another area with a heavy military presence, for lunch. Karu is the place from where you reach the 3rd highest pass in the world ChangLa and then the road continues to Pangong Lake, a huge brackish lake at over 15000 feet. Not far from there is the volatile China border. Therefore military presence was no exception but the rule in these areas.

My barometer suggested a drop in pressure which meant only one thing, my nemesis- the rains! I packed myself with rainproof stuff and continued while I saw storm clouds gather in the direction we were to go.

Mercifully, the weather held up and we continued unabated. Soon we reached the town Thiksey famous for its monastery or Gompa in local language.

Thiksey important landmark

Thiksey important landmark

The next big town was Choglamsar, 6 km from Leh and the final ascent began. Now we were well and truly back to urban locales.

Reached Leh. 490 km in 41 hours of riding

Reached Leh. 490 km in 41 hours of riding

Government buildings, shops, schools, playgrounds all started bombarding us after almost 10 days’ of absence. Mobile phones started to work again and we I saw more people in next half an hour than I had seen in last 10 days.

Finally, I made my way to Changspa in Leh where we were about to spend the next few days.

The day’s stats were:

day 09

day's progress highlighted in turquoise

Total Distance

71 km

Total Climb

800 feet

Total Time on Saddle

4 hours 20 min

Sleeping Height

11,600 feet


65% relative to MSL (mean sea leve58)

It was a strange feeling completing the trip from Manali to Leh. All the passes, the geographical features, the important landmarks, their altitudes, that were very much a part of my life for last 11 months, were now behind me. I don’t think I felt any special achievement completing it, but the happiness was true.

There would be two rest days to follow when it would rain like hell. So incessant the rains would be that all flights in and out of Leh would stand cancelled, that KhardungLa would receive 4 feet of snow and would be closed for vehicular traffic, that I would sit indoors and hear the sound I hate most, the “pitter – patter” rain sound……………

But, when I parked my Trek 4300 that day after completing the first leg of this marathon mountain biking, I never knew about all these. I had one thing only in my mind, when will the time come when I get to go to Khardungla and do my final hurrah!

Read on: The Last Leg of the Cycling : Day 10 – Leh to KhardungLa-“The Final Hurrah………”

All Links:

Prologue (Khardungla and My Conditioning):

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….


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

18 Responses to “Manali-Leh-KhardungLa Cycling Day 9 (Sept 2nd 2009) : Lato to Leh – “I Will Reach Leh””

  1. Abhishek Says:

    I have just one word for your trip and that is “Wow”.

  2. Abhishek Says:

    Waiting for many more stories which you will share in near future with all of us.

  3. Amarpreet Says:

    Congratulations manasij, Just reading through the blog makes my legs ache at the thought of all that cycling… Super effort and super rewards.

    Congrats again..


  4. Manik Kulkarni Says:

    Hello Manasij,
    The blog you’ve written is very live… It gives a feel to be there 🙂
    But, I am not able to see the photographs which you’ve pasted in between the blog. Please see to it.. as I would not want to miss any of the snap you’ve put there 🙂

  5. Vinayak Says:

    That’s cool..beautiful, wonderful, cheerful…and ofcourse SNOWFULl!!!

  6. Arundhuti Das Says:

    I just to want to say ‘Hats off to you’..Congrats Manasij..I knew you would do it…I have never enjoyed reading a blog so much as i did while reading this one today…you have crafted the content so well..that one can live and experience every moment…It was a pleasure being a reader of this blog..Thanks…and congrats once again!

  7. Astha Bhatnagar Says:

    Hey , really a great excursion!! Congrats for completing it. The way you have penned down is marvelous. I felt as if I was the live “spectator” thr (cant imagine of being a “participant”;))

  8. Taruna Kshirsagar Says:

    Many congratulations sir!

    Reading the blog was equating a thrilling documentary being telecasted on Discovery or National Geographic channel (and every picture is proving that it is worth million words).

    Wishing you many more dreams to come true.
    Taruna Kshirsagar

  9. Nitin Srivastava Says:

    Hi Mannu,

    Congratsssssss……….. this trip will be something which I think you will remember for rest of your life and this blog is among one of the blogs which I will remember till rest of my life… I am feeling great after reading this blog…… 🙂 .. Thanks for sharing……

  10. Anoop Says:

    Congrats from a proud brother. Hope the journey changes your view on that particular habit of yours about which we do not see eye to eye (you know what I mean).

  11. Pharmg621 Says:

    Very nice site!

  12. Amit jasoria Says:

    Hats off to you boss !! Very few people can achieve this.. Many congratulations !!

  13. Ajay Says:

    I am planning this monster ride this summer and was researching the web. came across your blog. it reads beautifully. love the cartography. nice pictures too. congratulations.

  14. Waldo Says:

    I’m doing this…. DEFINITELY

  15. Kiran Says:


    This post just increased my excitement for doing this definately. This should be every cyclist dream to fullfill..

    Thanks Manasij.

  16. Priyank Says:

    this is a long one..enough fodder for me to read on for awhile.. looks exciting.

  17. Sandeep Says:

    Hey, this is what life is & you are doing it to the hilt. KUDOS….. i envy you. But seriously you are an inspiriation to us folks. KEEP IT UP !!!!!

    • manasij Says:

      @Sandeep: thanks mate…just following my heart’s callings here….glad that you liked the blog…..nothing like getting great comments from the online community 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: