It took me 9 days, 480 km and 5300 m to get laid err I mean Leh’d (Duh!!) and when I say Leh’d I am referring to my surreally challenging Manali to Leh Mountain Bike traverse. This isn’t your touristy trip! This is that once in a lifetime event that cyclists around the world dream of.
Like many ladies, my first adult bike (Merida Matts 20-MD) was gifted to me by my husband. I had all intentions of taking it to places but over a period of two years, it was relegated from the Lift Lobby to Balcony to the storeroom.
One fine day, the day I was dreading arrived, when my husband said, “You NEVER ride the Cycle, OLX par bech de ?” (Shall we sell it on OLX?)
“Nahinnnnnn”, I shrieked melodramatically and told my husband if I didn’t cycle for another two months he was free to sell it off.
One thing led to another and soon I was cycling with a group of Lady cyclists I could identify with. It no more felt silly that a group of women in their late 30s were going to bed early on Friday nights so they could ride their bikes around in circles early Saturday mornings. It was my first taste of riding in a group at speed, long distance and I loved it.
Within a month of cycling, I realized that it was getting addictive and I needed a bigger and more challenging goal and that is when I decided to cycle Manali to Leh, traversing through some of the highest passes in the world, cutting across beautiful trails!
You will also enjoy reading about the unique and thrilling bamboo trek!
THE EXPEDITION :
Manali to Leh – A Surreally Challenging Expedition !!
The uphill rides tested me physically as well as mentally. The wicked Himalayas mocked as I huffed and puffed all the way up.
Needless to say, while the uphill ride tests your stamina, the road downhill is very beautiful and it almost winds down like a beautiful serpent.
There were nights when it rained outside and I cozied up in my sleeping bag listening to the pouring water and then there were nights when I slept not in a 5 star but under a million star spread!
It was at Jispa that I met 170 Buddhist nuns of the Drukpa order who are also known as the Kung Fu Nuns. The Brave nuns were cycling all the way from Nepal to Leh!
During my Trans Himalayan Cycling expedition, I felt like a flickering light of an oil lamp which is going weak but a sudden rush gives it a momentary life! The Tanglang La climb is one of the steepest climbs of the entire expedition and tests you both on mental and physical levels. The cold breeze and the stunning view en-route gives you that life-saving push to keep going on.
Once we reached the Tanglang La Pass Summit (@5328 m), it was very gratifying to see the breathtaking view of the Himalayan and Karakoram range. The pass summit is characterized by hundreds of Buddhistic prayer flags!
It’s like nature throws at you a gallery of naturally crafted alluring sand and rock formations.
As I flew back home, I felt a part of me still clinging on to the Himalayas and part of the Himalayas going back with me! Have you experienced anything similar to this? What was it like?
Richa Ingle Deo, an Ex Indian Navy Officer is a published author, Scriptwriter and now a full-time Travel Content Curator at www.lighttravelaction.com.