Jullay from Leh

Welcome to Prue and Ian's blog of their cycle tour of India

"Soaring thousands of metres above the rush, heat and chaos of India's plains, the Indian himalayaare a world apart. prayer flags snap in the wind on high mountain passes, immense yaks thresk barley at harvest time and the colourfultata trucks crawl up the hairpins like ants. The people, especially in Buddhist Ladakh, are cheerful, honest and gentle. The landscape is a reflection of their religion - white chortens line the roads and approaches to villages like pawns from a giant game of chess, burgundy-clad monks hitch lifts at the side of road, gompas perch on spectacular crags and everywhere the air is alive with the flutter of prayer flags Here is some of the most starkly spectacular mountain scenery you will find anywhere in the world"

Laura Stone Adventure Cycling

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blog 3 Welcome to Leh

Left Pang at 8:00am and steadily climbed up to a high point above town - 500metres higher. Suddenly we wre riding along a plateau above 4000metres. The next 40 kilometres were relatively flat and the stark countryside was fascinating. There were numerous nomadic farmer camps - herds of horses, goats and sheep.
At a drink stop I realised one of my front pannier racks had snapped. The tubing needed some sort of splinting before I had an accident at speed. The rack was already electical taped up from a previous trip but this break required more. After staring at the repair kit for a while, we had to saw a spare quick release rod in half and fit that in the tubing. Next a flatish tent peg splinted the outside, All was bound up in electrical tape and we were on the road again. After several hours of enjoyable riding we scootered down to a parachute tent for lunch - just amazing. Three or four cafes in the middle of nowhere.  A quick re-fuel and chat with some French travellers (in a 4WD) and we rode off through some extensive road works. Ahead was the ascent of Taglang la - the highest pass at 5358 metres. It was mid afternoon and really hot so we decided to set up camp. No shade and about 35 degrees. We pitched the tent on sand and rocks and spent an uncomfortable few hours until the tent created some shade. Finally the evening came and we donned the down jackets and headed off for a short walk. The local road crew guys had been picking something from the low shrubs. We investigated and found they were supplementing their rice meal with a small succulent leaf. We tried a few but they were fairly bland. Our dinner was purchased back at the last parchute tent and carried in a tupperwear type container. We were carrying a small kero stove but as it turned out our loads were lighter if we relied on the parachute tents for food. It was a gamble as not all were marked on the map.
The next morning were were away early for the grind up and over the pass. There was a lot walking and pushing the bikes. Walking rate was around 4 kms / hour and the riding rate the same! So it became a toss up. The road would disappear into the folds of the ridges up ahead and it became frustrating to find out that another kilometre or two lay ahead unexpectedly. Numerous creek crossing from snow melt.
Landslides broke the boredom and we waited as dozers moved massive amounts of soil and rocks over the edge. Finally, within 200 metres of the pass the road works team had blasted a rock face and the road was blocked for several hours. Traffic backed up behind us. Several tourist bus groups were becoming agitated due to AMS effects at the highest altitude they had been to. As soon as the workers were walking across the rockfall in a safe manner, Prue and I approached and asked if we could lift our bikes over as well. One worker said Yes and one said No. In the indecision we pushed forward and saved several hours that still awaited the motor bikes, buses and trucks. A slow ride up to the pass, the "proof we were there" snaps, warmer clothes for the downhill and we were off on a descent to Rumtse for the night. The road was a mixture of snow, wash-outs, mud, rocks and lower down, some lovely sealed switchbacks. My disc brakes needed adjusting again and the confidence certainly lifed when I could actually control my speed. Prue was zooming away out of sight below. Rumtse (Pop approx 100) finally came into view and we exhaustedly booked into the first parachute cafe. The fact that a group of locals were playing cards and drinking rum shots should have warned us that this was the town's hotspot and it was Friday night! Food in our bellies and our daily dose of mango juice under the belt had us in sleeping bags on the couches at 7:30pm AND the tent was just about to fire up! Luckily we were so tired the noise wasn't a problem - although I did ASK a a guy to quiten down at about 11 ish. The best omlette so far for brekkie. A walk around town was a great start to the day. The local school's playground was a dirt and rock strewn area but I'm sure the kids made the most of it.
Leh was 86 kms away so we took off through some of the most amazing scenery we had encountered. Its funny how good the scenery becomes when you are going downhill! The little villages of Gya and Miru and finally Upsti and the mighty Indus River. As we approached Leh and its relious significance, the surrounding country side came alive with stupas, gompas and temples perched on crags. The temples at Hemis, Thinksey and Choglamsar were incredible and we would return later to explore their riches. The afternoon sun was again intense and when we were finally within reach of Leh township, the road abruptly turned upwards. The last 5 kilometres were exhausting. Tiredness, heat, heavy traffic, a savage head and cross wind left me wondering why Leh wasn't welcoming us with outstretched arms. Prue was very strong and forged ahead waiting for the old man at every stupa. The journey's last kilometre was almost the most difficult of the entire trip as the road climbed steeply into the old town. At last we reached the flattist terrain in the old town area but had the early evening traffic to content with. We cycled slowly up a one way street (the wrong way) and eventually found a space to park the bikes and look for accommodation. We were quickly pouced on by a hotel tout and I went off and checked out his palace. It was too late and we were too exhausted to make fussy decisions, so 15 minutes later we were eyeing off the shower and double bed. The excitement of reaching our destination slowly set in.

View photos from our journey Manali to Leh by following the link below



  1. Loved the Picasa photos and the blog. Sounds incredible. Pip Richard Ali and I had a good look today. Ali has finished job in Mleb and is heading to India for 3 weeks next week. Travelling on his own in the South. When he gets back he starts as a town planner in Wangaratta. Pip and I are really happy with the idea.
    Love Simon

  2. Thank you very much for appreciating my home land and my fellow people. Your blog is really nice one. Thank you once again. Rigzen