Archive for March, 2012

Ladakh 2007 – Day 2

Day 2 (1-Aug-2007):
Finally, the extra hot day followed by a not so pleasant night had one advantage; I didn’t need to waste the battery of my alarm to get up.
Yes, you guessed it right. The shelter I found for the night was a non-a/c room.

After taking care of the morning duties & settling the hotel bill, it was time to again hit the road.

The morning time wasn’t as pleasant as I was expecting it to be. Worried about the prospect of getting caught by noon Sun, while still in plains, I zoomed off the start line like a racer aiming to take the hole-shot. Leaving behind the sparse traffic of city, I was soon zipping towards the mountains (don’t get your pulse racing, it wasn’t that hot pace as it might sound :)), wanting to catch the cooler weather of mountains as soon as possible.

Hardly an hour into the ride, it seems the cooler weather wanted to catch me before I could catch him, in mountains. In horizon I see dark rain clouds filling the sky. Not able to decide if I should feel happy (getting rid of the heat) or should feel sad (might get wet – just the riding jacket was water proof), I was caught by the thundering rain. Before I could stop and put on the rain pant, I was drenched. So, I decided to save the effort and let my body soak in some fresh water. I opened the waterproof jacket a bit, to make sure the upper body doesn’t complain of being deprived of getting wet in rain water, while the lower body does. Keeping my safety in mind (and also didn’t want to have rain drops hitting my face), I ignored complains of my head that he also wanted to experience the feeling of getting wet in rain.

While the rain lasted for just a few km’s but it made the rising mercury crash on the floor. In a space of few minutes the weather has changed drastically and I am yet to see “m” of mountain.

Clouds waiting for me

The road from Jalandhar (once you turn towards Pathankot) after being 4 lane initially had turned into a two lane road with road work going on in patches and then some patches of pot holed & bumpy surface.
Having being spoiled by the boring NH1 till now, the narrow road along with some traffic was making me feel good.

Enjoying a ride on a decent stretch of road coupled with some good weather, what else can one ask for? Well, food to being with. So, when the breakfast deprived stomach decided that it had enough; I had to pull over at the next decent looking “dhaba” for lunch.

After making stomach happy, it was time to get back on the road. As Pathankot got closer, the traffic started to pick up, so I dropped the pace and now I had to pass through the city towards Chamba.

Asking for directions a couple of times, I crossed the city. Soon I was greeted with greenery and twisties. While the fun quotient goes up by a few notches, the pace drops down a bit, as I wanted to enjoy every moment of riding.

From hazy views, to cloudy & green peaks to strange sand formations, it was a very productive day for the eyes, after the hot ‘n’ humid disaster on previous day.

Interesting Sand formation Cloudy mountains

Perfect(?) riding destination

When one is riding for the first time, through a location as scenic as this one, and then see turn off point for places like Dalhousie & Khajjar. The choice of where to go becomes harder. It wasn’t an easy choice for me to skip those destinations and stick onto the road towards Chamba. One thing that helped the decision was the fact that, soon it would become dark. So, I left my lust (with a promise that I’ll come back soon and pick it up) for more exploration at those turn off points and carried on towards Chamba.
Some dam enroute to Chamba Knee scraping?

Before it could get dark, I was in Chamba. After a short search for night halt, it was time to take a walk. The little town was buzzing with activity, all thanks to some “mela” happening in the nearby ground.

Went to the bus stand to enquire about the road status of Sach Pass, while the Pass was open the bad news was that due to landslides the road is blocked after Killar. Having come so far, I was in no mood to turn back without trying. So I decided to enter the Pangi Valley, first thing in the morning.

To have a backup plan, in case I’m unable to cross over, I called up Roy in the plains, as he would be better informed about the latest news. With some news of unrest a few days before I started the ride, I was not feeling comfortable in riding alone into the Kashmir valley, for the first time. The information I got was positive, so Kashmir valley was one of the backup plans for now.

With the plan frozen for next day’s ride, had a quick dinner and went to sleep.

Ladakh 2007 – Day 1

As they say, better late than never. 🙂

So, I have decided to clear the backlog of my pictures and trip logs of my various rides to Ladakh. (I know a few guys might have fainted/would be jumping in joy after they would have read my decision to clear the backlogs.) (No the earthquake that just hit the Capital has anything to do with this.)

After I missed riding to Ladakh in 2006, finally visited the land of highest mountain passes in 2007. Since then, every year, every ride has been a exciting experience for me.

Let me start by sharing some of the pics from 2007 trip, that are already uploaded (and hence might not be new for some).

Year: 2007
Route: Delhi – Jalandhar – Chamba – Failed attempt to cross Sach Pass – Nurpur – Pathankot – Srinagar – Kargil – Suru – Pensi La – Drang Drung Glacier – Parkachik – Lamayuru – Leh – Khardung La – Hundar – Panamik – Khardung La – Leh – Pangong Tso – Leh – Pang – Keylong – Manali – Delhi.

Landscape after Zoji La

Landscape near PangongTso Lake

Pangong Tso

Gata Loops

Suraj Tal

LADAKH – the Holy Grail of any bike tourer worth his salt – a pilgrimage like none other – a must do at least once before hanging up your touring leathers. Having missed out last year, I was very excited when THE ride this year was looking on the cards. The only disappointments: had to ride solo and unable to ride on my Bullet Electra, not that I regretted either by the end.

Preparations:
Having read/heard so many stories from people who have been to Ladakh about how AMS rendered the rider totally out of order.
How the high altitude (hence thin air & as a result low oxygen) made the motorcycle struggle to climb due to power loss, forcing the rider to sit and start jetting the carburetor in middle of nowhere.
Saying that I wasn’t worried would be lying to oneself. What was comforting though was the fact that in recent time, everyone who has gone to Ladakh was able to return back.

Motorcycle:
I would be riding in one the harshest (if not “the”) terrain in India, on the motorcycle that has crossed 100,000km’s mark sometime back. As around 15,000km’s back I had got my engine fixed by replacing all the worn out parts. I was sure that a good servicing before the ride should be enough for me to return back. Hence, got the machine checked up before starting the journey.

As, bike was running on 2.75×18 Zapper FV and 3.25×18 Michelin M45, I wanted a bit more non-tarmac friendly tyres. After having discussions with friends who have been to Ladakh, I picked up 2.75×18 Secura Sport (borrowed the one used by Arpan on his P150 Classic in 2006) and a new 3.00×18 TVS Jumbo.
After changing the tyres, I did a couple of small rides to get used to the grip (or the lack of it) provided by them.
Now my only worry was punctures, but decided not to load myself with foot pump and all. Decided that if I had a flat, will take it as part of adventure.

Rider:
Not the fittest but neither the most unfit person, I wasn’t sure if in few days doing anything out of ordinary would help. So, I decided to save the trouble of hitting the gym and trying to improve my fitness in a few days.
For my riding gear/clothing I had the following:
– Frank Thomas riding jacket (water proof and with removable thermal inner)
– A pair of thermals inners.
– Duck back rain coat.
– Gloves.
– Helmet with clear visor (in case I have to ride in night).

Gadgets:
– Olympus C-350 (3MP, 3x Zoom)
– Canon 400D with 18-55 kit lense. (Bought it a few days before the ride. Lack of experience in using DSLR’s spoiled the photography experience a bit).
– Vivitar Tripod. (For times when I feel like posing a bit.)
– Mini DV Sony Handycam.
– Garmin Vista Cx GPS. (For those times when I get lost. :))

Luggage:
– Clothes & other stuff that I carry on any ride, stuffed in Camster saddle bag.
– Sleeping bag tied on the pillion seat.
– Back pack with gadgets, maps books (Lonely Planet & Eicher Road Atlas) and other stuff that require quick access.
– As my toolkit, I was carrying all the spanners and screw drivers using which I could remove/fix anything on the bike.
– List of spares, I have already documented …:navendu:… Spare Parts to Carry on a Road Trip

Transport:
Having ridden to Delhi and back to Pune, on NH8, I wasn’t too excited to spend more than 3 days in the journey on the not-so-exciting (as compared to mountains) NH8. More so when those days could be well spend up in the mountains. Hence, I decided to transport the bike to Delhi.
A couple of years back, having send my bikes via train to Bangalore. I wasn’t too happy with the experience, more so when I didn’t want to travel via train myself, I opted for Gati as the carrier of my bike to and back from the start point.
With bike going via Gati, it was air travel for me, as I would be accompanied with my Wife and ~8months old daughter.

Day 1 (31-July-2007):
After dropping my wife and daughter at in laws place, the ride started on 31-July.
It was a hot ‘n’ humid day when I started from Ghaziabad. The not-so-comfortable riding jacket didn’t help the matter much. By the time I was out on NH1, I was feeling like a tired warrior who has won a battle against a zillion enemies.

After a rather boring ride on the NH1, with frequent breaks to beat the heat, I managed to reach the outskirts of Jalandhar as Sun decided that he had enough of troubling me, for the day. With no plans of riding in dark, I started to enter the Jalandhar city and search for shelter.

Just like most of my rides, no pictures of Day1. Oh well, almost no pictures. 🙂
NH1