Manali to Leh Cycling Adventure RIDE HIGH Ladakh

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20 Jun 17, 08:00 AM To - 1 Jul 17, 10:00 PM

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Manali to Leh Cycling Adventure RIDE HIGH Ladakh

Join the Event | The strongly Tibetan influenced high valley of Ladakh, the green Kullu Manali valley in the lower Himalayas and the semi desert region of Lahaul are three distinct geographical areas of the Himalayas. Linking these very different regions is a high altitude mountain road open to non-military traffic only since 1989. It starts at the Ladakhi capital, Leh and crosses the main Himalaya Range by way of a series of spectacular passes, the highest of which is at 5280 meters (Taglang La - the second highest road pass in the world), before descending into the popular hill resort of Manali. Cycling on the main Leh - Manali road is fairly straightforward, following compacted dirt track or tarmac. Exploring the various side valleys involves cycling on rougher dirt tracks with some tough climbs and exciting descents. Daily distances cycled will range from 40 to 80 kilometres/25 to 50 miles. This may not sound particularly great, especially to road orientated cyclists, but difficult terrain and tough ascents will make any cycling in this region a challengefor everyone. For those of us with energy to spare, extensions will be recommended on most days. There are going to be some pretty serious climbs. If the traverse is cycled in its entirety, as well as all the acclimatization rides (including the ascent to the Khardung La), the trip will challenge the strongest of riders. If it is just downhill you are after, then there is support transport for all the climbs and you’ll be free to tackle some of the most fun downhill rides in the world, then sit back and be driven to the top of the next one. This is a fairly demanding trip, although thanks to our program of acclimatization, as well as the superb back up that we have throughout, anybody of reasonable fitness should have no problem enjoying it to the full. On the main route the cycling is simple with no technical difficulties, but for those of you who want more of a thrill off-road, the paths which short-cut the hundreds of switchbacks are as challenging as you could want, with the added bonus being that – they seem never ending. Cyling Manali to Leh If you are looking for the excitement of pure downhill, day after day through ever changing scenery, the Manali to Leh traverse is hard to beat. Riders will have the option of ascending a total of 3800 meters to cross the four main passes on the route, (although you can use the vehicle support and not cycle any uphill if you wish). Nobody will want the bus for the downhill though, as there is the unforgettable experience of descending 10,800 meters (35,500 feet) through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. For the serious mountain cyclist there are few challenges to equal this high altitude cycle ride across the backbone of the West Himalaya. On our journey we cycle the 470 km between Leh, the capital of Ladakh in the Indus valley and the alpine Kullu Valley. En route we traverse three major mountain ranges - the Zanskar, main Himalaya and Pir Panjal Range and cycle some of the highest road passes in the world including the Taglung La at 5360 metres. Cyling in Ladakh On the 12 days of cycling we will average 40 to 50 kms a day along a combination of dirt and metalled roads at altitudes that average over 4000 metres. There are no established hotels on our cycling route so at night we will enjoy magnificent outdoor camping and fully savour the beauty of the Himalaya. In Manali and Leh we will stay in comfortable hotels. Sandwiched between the Western Himalayas, the Karakorum and the Tibetan Plateau, lies the high altitude desert of Ladakh, or “Little Tibet”. Once a major halting post on the caravan route through Asia, this Buddhist land is more culturally akin to Tibet than the lowlands further south. The beautiful multi-coloured desert landscapes are arid and awesome and dotted with small villages inhabited by rugged-looking people of Tibetan stock. This is a fascinating and exciting itinerary exploring the Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh and Lahaul with visits to lakes and many ancient monasteries and palaces. This remote corner of India is one of the last bastions of Tibetan Buddhism. Once the crossroads of Asia, Ladakh is now better known as the land of high passes. Mountain Biking Trips in Ladakh The scenery is spectacular and we visit colourful Buddhist monasteries set amidst a wonderful pastel coloured mountains - the Great Himalaya, the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges and the mighty Karakorums. The Cycle Manali to Leh is graded challenging. This is primarily due to the altitude as we commence the cycle from 1900 metres. Some stages are quite demanding and the condition of the road can be poor in places. The pass crossings – the Khardung La (5602 metres) and the Baralacha La (4890 metres) will test your resolve – particularly when there are head winds. The route traverse four high passes with an accumulated altitude gain exceeding 29 000 feet-the equivalent of cycling to the summit of Mt. Everest from sea level. The road is one-lane tarmac and ideal for biking. ITINERARY Day 1: Riding Around Town / Arrive Manali / Acclimatization Ride We recommend to arrive a day earlier in Manali. Board the evening bus/Overnight journey bus to Manali (580kms). We pick you up from the bus station and drive to the Ride Hotel. Early afternoon Ride to Naggar and Roerich art Gallery (19kms one way). The evening is free to explore the local surroundings. Manali is surrounded by beautiful fir and pine forests and there are lovely walks in and around the town. There is also a colourful Tibetan bazaar famous for its shawls, caps, jewellery and handicrafts made by Tibetan refugees. Day 2: Manali – Marhi (Uphill to Camp at Marhi 35 Km, 5-6 Hr, elevation gain 1250m) Today we start our first full day of biking on one of the classic cycle routes in the world. We start climbing right from Manali through the flower-filled valleys and cedar and fir forests, passing through numerous villages. After the last village, called Kothi, we will cycle up lots of hairpin bends which bring us to the Rohalla Falls. We will then ascend into a small valley after where we will reach our camp for the night at Marhi. Distance 42kms Elevation – Manali 1995mts, Marhi 3215mts Gain 1220mts MANALI TO MARHI The day starts at 8:00AM with a level ride till snow and avalanche centre on the Manali – Rohtang road, a 5 kms ride where our first nutrition halt is also located. From here on it gradually inclines till Palchan, with the incline increasing till Kothi. It’s long switchbacks from Kothi onwards till Gulaba at a total distance of 26 kms from Manali. Gulaba stands at 2600mts and is also our lunch halt. The tree line starts leaving us a while after Gulaba and Marhi our camp for tonight is 14 kms away. We do encounter headwinds on the uphill on our way into the camp at about 3 kms. Planning the ride: An average speed of about 5kmph should see us finishing the ride in about 8 hours, just in time to catch the last bit of sunshine at the camp. Time the ride into two stages – 1st riding into Gulaba and the second – burning up on your calories for the last 14 kms into the camp. Taking a breather halt every 3-4 kms will help. To make things easier on our stride, most of the surface is Tarred till Marhi Day 3: Marhi – Sissu (The first pass ROHTANG, Marhi – Sissu 53kms, 5-6 hours, elevation gain 1600m) We leave early and leave all habitation behind as the road zig zags higher and higher into the mountains. We feel as though we are entering a different world as we reach the top of the Rohtang La (3978m). This barren windswept pass, blocked by snow for more than six months of the year, crosses the Pir Pinjal Range and is the gateway to Ladakh. An exciting downhill of 22 kms down to Khoksar village, thereafter we take a short detour and climb to the meadows and small villages to finally descend to Sissu. Distance 46kms Elevation – Rohtang 3950mts, Sissu 2750mts Gain 800mts MARHI TO SISSU A tough start to the day as we continue the uphill ride towards Rohtang Pass 3950mts at 16kms from the Marhi camp. The ride is on tarmac for about 6 kms, thereafter we ride on broken tarmac, slush and a rocky surface. The climb is on switchbacks and a 2-4 (recommended gear ratio) should see us easily being able to clock 4kmph, enabling to finish the climb in 4 hours. The first 5 kms of the 18kms downhill to Koksar are a delight and the rest 14kms on offroad. We keep straight most of the way, stopping, looking and going and not going wrong in the direction of Spiti valley at Gramphoo. It’s a wave of a ride after Koksar till Sissu, 12kms going up and down on a brilliant tarred road. Planning the ride: Fairly simple, 3 stages, 1st-Uphill to Rohtang, 2nd-downhill to Koksar 3rd after lunch at Koksar to camp. 4 hours to Rohtang top and a safe downhill of about 20kmph to camp at Sissu. A total riding time of about 6 hours and a relaxed lunch halt should see us at the camp by 4:00PM. Day 4: Sissu – Jispa(‘Lahaul’ Sissu - Jispa 59 Km, 6-7 Hr, elevation gain 600m) We are in the Lahaul Valley and the cycling becomes easier as we continue on to Tandi, where the rivers Chandra and Bhaga come together, to flow as Chandrabhaga or Chenab as it is known in the Chamba valley. From Tandi it’s a short climb to Keylong, which soon continues through some swtichbacks to descend to Jispa 37 kms from Keylong. Distance 59kms Elevation Keylong 3400mts, Jispa 3300mts Gain 750mts SISSU to JISPA A deceptive uphill of 14kms gets us from the camp to Gondhla. Overall face masks and hydration comes in very handy as the course is very dusty and broken tarmac. From Gondhla it’s a technical downhill of 8 kms through a very dusty road, following the course of the Chandra river till where it meets the Bhaga at Tandi. A hard sun (if it’s not cloudy), dust and pebbles on our way up to Keylong, another 8kms from Tandi, should keep our hydration bags ready. A level ride of another 7kms brings us to Stingri our lunch halt. It’s another 6 kms of uphill, a respite from the offroad though and another 16 kms of a downhill brings us to Jispa. Planning the ride: It’s a 4 stage ride today – Camp to Gondhla, Gondhla to Tandi, Tandi to Jispa top, and the final 16 kms to Jispa. At about 7kms an hour we should be at the start of the downhill at Gondhla in about 2 hours. The downhill to Tandi should take about 40 minutes. The rough patch of the uphill till Jispa top at about 5kmph should take us 5 hours with the lunch halt and another hour for the downhill till Jispa. It is important to note that out of the total 16kms downhill to Jispa not all of it true downhill – it has short sections of 300-400 mts climbs on slopes, however the respite comes on the Tarred road. Do expect headwinds on the downhill towards late afternoo Day 5: Jispa – Patseo(Entering the Higher ground – Jispa – Patseo 22 Km, 3-4 Hr, elevation gain 500m) Another fairly easy day for acclimatisation as we are now approaching the Great Himalayan Range. We cycle through beautiful green pastureland to Darcha (3235m) where we can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee at a local restaurant. From here we continue climbing, until we reach Patseo (3650m). The site now of a lone tea house Patseo used to be the place of an annual fair of the Changpa nomads. Distance 22kms Elevation 3300mts, Patseo 4000mts Gain: 810mts JISPA to PATSEO The shortest day of our ride and for a reason; spending a longer time at higher altitude, to get acclimatized for the long road ahead and the second of the highest passes Baralacha La. Our ride starts on time at 8:00AM from the camp at Jispa to Darcha (6kms, tarmac, up and down). From Darcha; Patseo camp is 16kms. After crossing the bridge at Darcha it’s an 8kms uphill and then a breezer of a downhill till the first water crossing. 3 kms of yet another deceptive flats brings us to Deepak tal, not before we cross another water crossing. The camp set by the Bhaga river side is another 2 kms. Planning the ride: Simple! Lunch is served at the camp today an average speed of 5kmph should see you finishing the uphills in about three hours and allow yourself an hour more to get to the camp. No headwinds, a little offroad, lots of photo-ops – it’s a good day’s ride Day 6: Patseo – Sarchu (The second pass – Patseo – Sarchu Plains 63 Km, 6-7 Hr, elevation gain 1400m) A hard day today as we cross the Himalayas to Sarchu. Sarchu is the border between the states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. After a gradual climb across large meadows past Zingzingbar we start our long ascent to the Baralacha La Pass (4892m). The climb seems at times to go on for ever but the hard work is worth it as the views become increasingly spectacular. Finally we reach the top - we are in the middle of the mighty Indian Himalaya. The word Baralacha means 'a pass with crossroads' and the trails from Zanskar, Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul come together here. This is the main crossing of the Great Himalayan Range and we get amazing views of the many snow-covered peaks including Barashigri, Chandrabhaga and Mulkila. From the pass the cycling gets easier as we descend past Kiling Serai and on to Sarchu. Distance 63kms Elevation: Baralacha 4900mts, Sarchu 4300mts Gain 1100mts PATSEO TO SARCHU The first actual tough day on higher altitude. A gain of 150 meters as we ride 10kms on Tarmac to ZingZingbar base. A very nice surfaced road of 4 kms through switchbacks brings us to ZingZingbar top. We look up ahead and see the High Baralacha pass looming ahead, at 15 kms from the zingZingbar top. The ride is through long switchbacks and we gain altitude slowly. We gain 600 meters in these 15 kms. The hard ride is rewarded with stunning views of the Surajtal lake, just 3 kms short from the pass top. From the pass it’s a downhill with caution as we ride through an offroad track to reach Killing Sarai. The first views of the Rupshu plains await as we breeze through 20kms to reach the camp at Sarchu. Planning the ride: Three stages, lots of hydration stops. The first stage is the 10kms to ZingZingbar base. The second is the 19kms uphill ride to Baralacha top, where we take a stop every 3 kms and the last is the downhill ride to Sarchu after lunch. Avoid 1:1, it will make you push harder, instead go towards a 2:3, 2:1 to enable a steady speed to keep the breath and pedaling in tandem – a rhythm which you should get to get maximum from your personal level of fitness. Stay hydrated at all times, chocolates, iced tea, rehydration salts, boiled potatoes, bananas and eggs do help. At about 5kmph the top should be reachable in about 6 hours. And a safe downhill speed of 25kmph should see you reaching the camp at Sarchu in about an hour and a half. Day 7: Sarchu – Pang ( A hard day’s night – Sarchu - Pang 79 Km, 8-9 Hr, elevation gain 1200m) This will be our longest and hardest day of cycling so we will set off early. We start by climbing fairly gently for approximately 38 km across the windswept Sarchu Plains past Brandy Nallah and Whisky Nallah to the bottom of the Gata Loops. This is a series of 22 amazing hairpin bends, which we slowly ascend. Take time to stop and look back - the valley behind is full of amazing wind eroded rock formations. At the top of the loops we will have climbed 500 metres and reached the Nakli La 4800m. A short downhill is followed by another winding ascent to our second pass of the day, the Lachalung La at 5100m. We are now crossing the barren Zanskar Range and we are surrounded by amazing multi-coloured mountains - the purples, greens and browns of the hillsides change shades as clouds are blown across the sky. From the Lachalung La we have an easy ride down through an amazing canyon of magnificent rock formations of the Trans Himalaya until we reach Pang. Distance 79kms Elevation: Gataloops top 4600mts, LachulungLa 5150mts, Pang 4550mts Gain 1150mts SARCHU TO PANG 21 switchbacks gaining 400meters in 11kms, Two high passes Naki La at 4900mts and LachulungLa 5150mts makes this sixth day real tough. ‘Out Here’ resolve is everything and it’s a mind game thereafter. If you consider cycling spiritual, then cycling here is meditation. The first 24kms to the base of Gata loops is a mix of downhill and little uphills. 21 loops which are called the Gata loops are 11kms and each loop is between 300-600meters. The longest loops are the last two ones being 800meters and a kilometer and a half respectively. Another 11kms of strenuous uphill gets us to Naki La. Takh is a respite from the continuous uphills for a while, before we tackle yet another high pass Lachulung La, 8kms and 5150mts high. The last 17kms of downhill is very picturesque passing through a canyon. It is an offroad section though. The Mantra today is to take it easy, being not intent on arriving somewhere, just keep your pace and enjoy the rhythm of your breath in this altitude. Planning the ride: Treat the 24kms ride to Gata loops base as the warm up ride. Pace it at about 20kmph on the downhills and about 8kmph on uphills and you should be there in an hour’s time. Tackling the Gata loops is not such an uphill task as it might seem to be, just the planning and pacing has to be right there to your level of fitness. Stop at the end of every third loop till you reach the 18th one. On the last 3 loops stop at a km each. These are catch your breath stops and get yourself adequately hydrated. At about a speed of 5kmph one should be able to be done with the Gata loops in about two hours and a half. The next big one is Naki La – Stop, Look, Pedal – A break every 4 kms will find us reach the lunch halt in another hour. Burn your calories as you climb another 5 to the top of the pass after lunch giving yourself an hour to do it. Breeze down to Takh at the base of Lachulung La and try to move in a peloton. The 8 kms should take about two hours at 4kmph, however we should be aiming to speed till about 6kmph. The last 17kms to camp should take an hour with a safe 20kmph. Some sections towards the last of the passes are steep and should see you shifting gears to 1:4. Still avoid the Grannies, would come in very handy at Tanglang La and Khardungla with better acclimatization. Day 8: Pang – Tso-Kar (Into thin air – Pang – Tso - Kar 41 Km, 4-5 Hr, elevation gain 400m) We start slowly with a short ascent to the Mori Plains (4700m). We are now in Rupshu, the waterless high altitude desert of the Tibetan Plateau. This area is all above 4500m and is home to the hardy Changpas, Tibetan nomads who live in yak hair tents and graze huge flocks of sheep and yaks in this seemingly barren landscape. We turn off the main road and cycle along a sandy track to Tsokar Lake where we camp for the night near Pongunagu. Tsokar means 'white lake', and there are white salt deposits ringing the water. Our camp is a few kilometres from the lake but for the energetic there will be time to cycle to the lake, or even around it to visit some of the nomads. Look out for herds of 'kiang', the wild asses which roam the surrounding hills. The lake is also good for birdwatchers. Distance 41kms Elevation: Tsokar 4720mts Gain 350mts Two tough days call for a shorter ride, magnificent vistas and good t...
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