Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bike Tour - Keylong to Leh, 4 High Altitude Passes & Morray Planes (Day 5)

The aim of Day 5 was to leave hotel at 05:00 AM so that we are able to avoid some of big water streams on the way. Both disciplined riders made it on time. We hit the road at 05:00 at Keylong. The sky was clear and it was cold while riding before sunrise. It was so early in the morning that we spotted numerous rare species of birds wandering on road searching for their livelihood.

The road was mixture of bad and worst. While we only two riders were riding early in the morning I was eagerly waiting for the first water stream on our way. And we did finally reach there. The stream was unexpectedly huge, wide and noisy. The white water was making the surface invisible.

I was in full mood to get into the water and get wet completely. Though it was early morning and getting into the water was not less than freezing the feet I roared my bike into water stream first. The flow of water was extremely fast and it pushed my bike's front wheel outside. Since I had expected this to happen, I was fully prepared for this. With some tussle with water rapids we crossed it.

The count of water stream kept on increasing as we moved ahead towards Jispa and eventually Bara Lacha La. While we were riding uphill towards Bara Lacha La Pass, my feet were completely wet and numb. The numbness had started hitting my hands as well. The power to pull the throttle had reduced significantly and so as the bike. It was starving for oxygen big time and covering the distance was just becoming a challenge.

In the hope of lot of Snow at Bara Lacha La, we pulled our bikes despite extreme cold. The Suraj Taal immediately before Pass was a stunning peace of Nature's blessings. The reflection of Snow, sky and mountains in the water was breathtaking.

In a kilometer's distance from Suraj Taal we reached at Bara Lacha La Pass. The pass was covered with thin layer of snow and wind blowing from all side was making it difficult to stand there for a while also. The snow on both sides of the road continued for at least a kilometer from Pass and it felt really great to ride along the snow.

On the foot of Bara Lacha La pass we stopped to gain some energy under sun and have some breakfast at Bharatgarh a camp site. Here we got to know that there are no more water streams beyond this point. Well that was some relief.

Our plan at Bharatgarh took new turn when we decided to ride upto Leh same day instead of ending the ride at Pang. It was difficult to think that we will be able to ride 400 KM in a day on Manail Leh highway which offers all possible hurdles such as Snow, extreme weather conditions, deserts, off road, high altitude passes, water streams and much more. But we proved the saying right, "where there is a will there is way."

With refreshed energy and new target of reaching Leh same day, we had no choice than to ride hard towards Lachung La and Tang Lang La passes. By now we had started facing continuous problem of low oxygen and which was resulting in huge power loss of our bikes.

Unlike my 2011 bike tour to Leh, this year we met very few riders on the way. Perhaps one of the key reason I realized later was that we use to start our ride early in morning so we were always ahead. Soon we crossed Lachung La and Tang Lang La Passes and reached Pang by 12:00 PM. Well it was lunch time then and a deserving little long break.

Sitting under clear sky and sharp sun rays, we finally were in Ladakh. The landscapes of brown colors all the sides with no vegetation is all about Ladakh.

After lunch at Pang, it was the time to indulge in sand deserts. Yes we were heading towards Morray Planes now. Morray planes are one of the best stretch for riders where they enjoy 25 KM ride in the middle of sand. You go in any direction for those 25 KM but you will end up reaching at same place.

Once we crossed the huge caravan of military in first 3 KM, we were all free to ride off road. Sands all over and no direction where to go, we had fun. Those never ending 25 KM were extremely fascinating though tiring. By the time we finished Morray planes, we were all covered under Sand, be it our shoes, gloves or jackets.

Immediately after Morray planes, the uphill ride towards Tang Lang La pass, Worlds second highest motorable pass at height of 17,582 Feet, starts. This pass has longest uphill ride with road full of mud and one feel the scarcity of Oxygen to large extent here. Since our bikes were struggling to pull uphill, we had no choice than to move ahead steadily.

Finally we reached Tang Lang La completely tired and drenched. We were still carrying the dust which we accumulated in Morray planes. The view from this pass is the most beautiful among all other passes which falls on Leh Manali highway.

Leh was still 100 odd kilometers from here so we decided to move ahead faster. The snow on the other side of the pass was a spectacular view to watch.

After 10 kilometers downhill from Tang Lang La Pass the road was amazing to ride and we pulled the throttle as high as 90 kmph. One break at a small town and we resumed the ride again to reach Leh.

Finally we made the day come to an end at 05:00 PM when we reached Leh. The ride of 12 hours with 400 KM was an achievement for us. Despite the fact that we had to cross 4 high altitude passes, Morray planes, Countless water streams, Snow, harsh weather conditions, we made it possible.

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