Julley! Cycling diaries from Leh
Quick trivia question- Can you name non-impact exercises recognised as such in the world. Yes, swimming tops the list, and close to that is cycling – the second-best non-impact exercise in the world. That it is also a green transport solution, to reduce congestion and pollution, is an added plus point.
While YHAI doesn’t offer any swimming expeditions (as of now, atleast!), we offer you a choice of cycling expeditions – Whether it is the wind-swept Munnar Mountain Biking in the Westerns Ghats mountain range or the Manali – Leh – Khardung La expedition, where you cover the distance of around 545 kms in 13 days climbing 4 high passes. In addition to this, there is the Mountain Cycling Leh expedition.
Dr. Aditi Pathak, a bio physics lecturer from Thane, avid cyclist and wanderer who has done many expeditions with YHAI, has this to say after doing the Leh cycling expedition, “Riding in this terrain was more of mind game than merely a tough physical effort. Follow your heart, have big dreams, be cool, life isn’t worth taking too seriously, be kind, have a big heart, help people, be warm and most importantly have a purpose in your life! Can’t say what actually taught me these but yes I learned all of these indeed…”
This trek is much more than a mere cycling expedition; it takes you right to the centre of Tibet-Buddhist culture. Leh is the land of medieval Gompa perched on roaring heights, gentle people, high altitude-deserts, quashing rivers, high peaks and passes. The people are a mix of the Tibetan, Balti, Dard and Aryan ethnic strains. 70% of the expedition takes you along the banks of the Indus river.
After meeting your fellow cycle-mates and bonding as a cohesive group over the training and acclimatization, your cycling adventure starts from Lamayuru located at 11,800ft. Lamayuru is a very high altitude deserted area of Leh and famous for 10th centuries old gompas (Buddhist Temple). Get to know your cycle and take a trial ride. With this first ride, you will be glad that you chose to come here!
Downhill to Khalsi the next day ends with a stay at Skurbuchan. The weather changes from time to time; so you can, if you are fortunate, be able to enjoy the gifts of nature – sun, rain, cold. The mountain colours also change with different shades of brown, yellow, red, purple! You pass through Moonland, a name apt for the place, as the barren mountains of Leh become your companions on this journey.
The following day takes you to Chiktan via Sanjak, a beautiful 38 kms ride, with changing landscape around. You navigate the hairpin bends and breathe in the pure air of the mountains. Grazing lands, snow-capped and the barren mountains – small wonder, that one feels small and humble in front of this divine nature. Chiktan is culturally different place. Here, Ankit Gupta can rest your weary bones at the JKTDC guest-house.
After a well-rested night at the guest-house, you start the day’s 25-km cycling ride to Heniskot via Khangral at 11,400 ft. An undulating trail takes you through busy villages, making the stark contrast between city and village life evident. The night halt at Heniskot is at another well-appointed guest-house.
The final day’s adventure is truly the most enthralling. During your bike riding you will cross Fotula Pass – the highest peak point between Leh & Srinagar at 13,479 ft. Your journey ends where it started – at Lamaruyu with a hot lunch. On the bus-ride back to Leh base camp, exchange notes with your new friends and most of you will start planning the next cycling adventure!
If this does not satiate your cycling cravings, we will soon be launching more such expeditions like Goa – Mangalore, Darjeeling, Spiti, Chikmagaluru.
Keep your wheels well-oiled in the meanwhile!
Julley : Hello in Ladakh
By Sonia Kuncalienker