Category Archives: Bicycle touring

Day 13/13 – July 10th 2015 – Batal- Rohtang top- Delhi : part 2/2

While I’m lost in watching the rainbow, I have totally ignored the fact that clouds are passing right above me. Clouds !!

Did anything occur to your mind ?

Clouds ! It is going to rain ! It started with a raindrop falling on my forehead bringing me back to the reality from the fantasy world. I quickly wrapped a cover around the bag, pulled out the rain coat and wore it. Though the distance to Rohtang top become single digited, I lost hope that I will reach there and the increase in intensity of rain drops caused a bit of anxiety and fear in me.

Two more hair pin bends and the it started raining. I pedalled faster, but Mind it !it is one of the highest passes, so even my legs pedaled faster, I’m moving slowly. I started feeling much colder.When I thought it will never show up, just after a turn it appeared .

The Rohtang top. Standing with pride and crowned with snow. I wondered if it is the meaning of being Majestic.


Rohtang top.

My dream fulfilled, the reason I came all the way. There was snow all around ! Tons of snow and just snow. Even it is drizzling, my happiness was inexplicable. I thought how beautiful show white (Disney princess )would be looking. All the dirty ice blocks I saw till now, were nothing compared to the snow and beautiful white around me now. As if it is for me, rain stopped just for a while to enjoy the scenery all around. There are small green patches amidst the snow. I had no clue, if it is reality or if I’m looking at a painting. There was just happiness all around. People playing in the snow, sliding in it, throwing it all around. I was lost in thoughts seeing them all. Just to bring me back to reality it started raining again !

Everyone started going to Manali. Within five minutes I was there all alone getting drenched and I remembered that I’m hungry ! and damn !! there are no shops, nothing. It is only me there. The most confusing moment of my life. I was witnessing the most beautiful sight I ever saw and feeling sad at the same time. I started shivering more. The fog increased and visibility is getting decreased. I wore all the warm wear I brought and yet felt the cold. It was just freezing and my hands started shaking out of fear.

If I haven’t seen Into the wild movie, I would have fainted there.I looked around, and I saw a small and wrecked house at a distance. I thought I will stay there if it gets dark.

Just in minutes it was turned foggy like this.

View My Video
A small video showing the condition around.

Time was still 6.30 pm and I have a small hope left that I would get a lift. Tourists who are going down hesitated to give me a hike. To my despair only oil containers are going. Still thoughts are running in my mind, that I came so far and so high, yet there is a sad feeling that I couldn’t make it to Manali, the planned destination. I wanted to give a try and started pedalling , but due to rain brakes were not applying properly (rim was wet and slippery) . Since, it is downhill all the way to Manali,I didn’t want to take risk.

Morning, when I started my plan was, even though I reach rohtang top by 6pm, I thought I could make the rest of 50 Kms downhill within 2-3 hours before Himalayan Sunset at 8.30/9 Pm, but I never expected rain, as I was in rain shadow region past one week,

Back on Rohtang top, I started waving my hand desperately at every vehicle that passed. I just laughed as it turned out to be a thriller climax to a beautiful picture. As each minute passed , I shivered more. I lost hope and I started waving with two hands now. (he he , sign of loosing everything), and finally a truck stopped. I couldn’t even speak to them properly and they understood right away that I’m in a helpless position. They asked it would be Rs500 to drop me at Manali and I agreed readily.(of course, I’m almost ready to pay in thousands of demanded. Life is still sweet to me ) There are two of them and one loaded cycle in back and helped me to get inside cabin. They asked me remove all the rain coats and wrapped a rug around me. That warmth was so pleasant and cosy. They were bothers living near Mandi , doing Transportation business mainly between Himachal and Leh. The elder one scolded me for travelling alone and then cursed all cyclists and motor bike riders for going to Leh.

” arey, poora sukha rasta hai. Naa ped, naa kuch sundar aur sirf pattar ! Kya dekhne jaate ho aap log ? ”

I had no answer at that time. But they were checking upon me constantly if I’m alight or not. I was alright, but as the truck passed through 10-15 feet high snow block, I nearly cried as I lost the chance to enjoy that beauty. At the same time, I trembled with fear whenever he applied brakes in slopes, that truck may fall in valley. To add to this, there were big rocks all along the road that fell from the hills. I asked them about their driving experiences and how they were able to do it . Their simple answer is
” jeena hai , toh kuch karna hai “.. and when I looked puzzled, they said,,” aadat hogaya “.

He also told me, that he stopped just because I waved with two hands and he felt that I’m helpless.There was traffic jam, rain increased and with rocks falling I wondered how this journey would end. They asked me to sleep. I never sat inside a truck cabin before, but it was very comfortable there. There is even place for me to sleep. I slept without hesitating, waking up in between only to feel sad that I missed pedalling there. My heart beat came to normal when they woke me up telling that we reached Manali.

I was confused for a moment to decide, if I have to spend there a day or go back to Delhi. But since I reached Kunzum top, I was pissed off by the roads and conditions. Especially today’s experiences made to call it the end of first beautiful journey of my life. Those brothers enquired if there is bus to Delhi. There is one , which is about to move and they made me board into it. Ofcourse my cycle too was loaded on top.

Inside bus, there was another young cyclist (he is in 11 th or 12 th class), who pedalled from Manali to Leh and came back after falling sick to AMS. He was admitted to hospital there and was sent back by Army. They even packed his cycle. Later in our conversation , this boy mentioned that he cycled from Rohtang top to Kanya kumari last year and he was the youngest Indian to do so. He assigned my next mission , he eh . We both were lost in conversation for sometime. Since, I was tired, the bumps didn’t bother me from waking up from sleep.

It was a fresh morning next day. I’m on plains. I had two big glasses of Lassi at Kurukshetra to enjoy my victory. The plains, paddy fields, rivers and sugarcanes in Punjab are very beautiful. It was a very long journey to Delhi, but in bus going at that speed, it was thrilling after travelling in single digit speeds for long long time.


Beautiful fields at Kurukshetra

Me and Mohit Kapoor (Young cyclist )parted in our own ways in auto after reaching ISBT. I stayed for three days in my sisters home there. I ate rice and other south Indian delicacies to my fullest. This time I choose GATI to bring back my bike to Chennai for avoiding and hassle in airport. All those three days , all the trip used roll in my memory while I slept and when I woke up I used to think when will I get a chance to be back there.

But I severely regret missing Dharangathi, Sarahan,Kalpa, Dhankar and mainly Chandrataal. Even when I listen about Mud valley now, I feel sad that I couldn’t make it there. I only satisfy myself telling that there is always a next time.

Two more things I missed are the grand welcome Monk got on Rohatang top and that pride got after talking to condutor getting onto bus going to Delhi. The conductor in bus I boarded just gave ticket for me and cycle with no feelings in face and went away !

Even when I’m typing now, tears are formed in my eyes. This trip has changed my life in a permanent way. After coming back to Chennai, I became an endurance cyclist and started participating in events called brevets (long distance cycling events from 200-1200 km) and pedalled more than 14,000 Kms in past 9-10 months with 1000 km being one among those events. I wouldn’t hesitate to attribute all that power to the inspiration I got from mighty mountains. There was recognition at work because of this trip and even in life. I’m meeting different people from different walks of life because of cycling.

Those beautiful people, the valleys, rivers, mountains, sheep, cattle, dogs, chowmein, momos, HRTC buses, yuts and mostly the damaged roads, everything became part of my life. There is not even one day that has passed without thinking about any one of them. My manali- leh and Zuluk trip this year was cancelled as I got very busy in these events. My longing for coming back there grew even desperate now, but I have to wait for my time.

It would be very bad on my part if I stop this travelogue without thanking four important people that helped me for this tour.

1. Dheeraj Sharma and Devil On Wheels team – Believe me, I had no clue about anything about Himachal and forget Spiti. All the place names were tongue twisters initially. I didn’t even knew where to start or end. Thanks to selfless help of Dheeraj and others here, that many were able to visit those beautiful vistas. He gave me detailed itinerary for travelling in public transport, with day to day journey break up. At the point of asking him, it was still a back packing trip.

2. Monk – who works at xBHP. He went in the same route on cycle. When I had no clue about anything there, he wrote a very detailed blog and instructions for riding in Spiti valley, It became my bible for three months and I sincerely read it everyday morning. It boosted my moral confidence that I can indeed ride there.

3. Nobal Mohan – He is from Bangalore, who cycled from Shimla- Leh, the year before. After reading his blog and seeing pictures,no one could stop me coming to Himalayas by cycle. It was very inspiring and I can say, it made me courageous and prepared.

4. Prakash- when we desperately wish for some sincere cause, we will be definitely shown a path. While practising for riding there, I met Prakash accidentally in Chennai. He went several times to Himalayas on Cycle and travelled a lot over north east. He guided me with route and conditions, and after meeting him, I was very confident that I can definitely do it . If I hadn’t met him, I would have definitely missed visiting Baghi and Bahli. Taking diversion at Narkanda, to avoid Highway was his idea.If I was not much scared at Darangathi, I would have enjoyed more.

Advertisements

Day -13/13 -July 10 th – Batal – Rohtang Top – Part 1/2 – My Cycling trip to Himalayas

Day-13: Batal-Rohtang pass
Distance : 64 km
Batal to Chatru : 32 Kms undulating and descent through Chota Dhara
Chatru to Rhotang pass : 32 Kms.
Undulating, Descents,ascents till Gramphoo and gradual ascent till Rhotang pass.

I didn’t have a good sleep due to the speculations on stream crossings, which made me wake up exactly on time to start at 6 am. The bill at dhaba is negligible compared to the places I travelled before. Everyone had breakfast and in no time, I was on saddle. Others started few minutes later.

It is very weird situation after Batal. The roads are worse. It was cold, yet I am sweating. Road appears climbing but pedalling was easy !

Also this is the entirely different day in the trip, in terms of beauty and challenges the magical land offered me. The landscape changed ,all of a sudden. The barren and dusty mountains are replaced by rocky and snow caped peaks.

There were snow blocks on both sides of roads at many places. At some places there were channels made below the road and water flows behind the ice blocks !

This beauty is a treachery leading me to the stream crossings. There were stream crossings for every 5/6 kilometres. The first few crossings were easy and I pedalled through them easily and it was fun. As sun started rising, the flow of water and depth of streams got increased. I have put on my sandals for further crossings. At some places and it was terribly scary as I had no idea, how deep the streams were ?

I used to push my front wheel for checking the depth and then used to step on the biggest visible stone for proceeding ahead. At places, the wheels of incoming Enfield were half immersed in the streams and that sight used to cause a chill in my spine !

Looking at these streams, I wondered how terrible the pagal nalah will be ! At every stream I used to look around in desperation to see if I can get any help for crossing, but its only in vain. Sarcastically, vehicles used to come as soon as I crossed. After pedalling sometime and if I remember correctly, after crossing chota dhara I came across a very big stream. All the streams till then were harldy 10/20 meteres, but this is very big and will be surely 60 or 70 meters long and water is muddy not giving me a chance to estimate depth. If that was the first stream crossing I had to cross ,I would have fainted right away. Again there is no sign of getting any help and I crossed the stream spending the longest two minutes of my life ! I caught my breath after the crossing and felt so happy to be alive. I have asked a shepherd passing by, if this is the pagal nalah and he said yes. I felt so relieved.

Spiti had no mercy on me .When I passed few kilometres, there was a big waterfall, directly falling on the road and damn, it is a national highway ! Stream is more than 100 metres long and one could imagine the reaction in my face to see this after crossing pagal nallah. I parked the cycle, went and checked the depth for few visible metres and then came back to take the cycle again. This stream was thrilling compared to the previous one as the water is clear and I could see the stones, but it is very deep and made my feet numb as that waterfall is melted ice !

After crossing some more small streams, I reached Chatru at 9am. I had breakfast there and now it was time to decide to decide the destiny of my day. 30kms riding takes me to Gramphoo and if I ride 81 kilometres more ,I will be in Manali.
I made a bad estimate, that I may reach Manali, by the time it gets darker (10 more hours )as 50 kms from Rohtang top to manali is a downhill.

I started slowly. All of a sudden landscape changed to incredibly beautiful green. It is a very beautiful sight, to see such green among the rocky hills. Some of the peaks appeared very smooth. The spiti flowing throughout, with roaring sound adds the missing sound effects from nature.

In this route, I was constantly stopped by the herds of sheep and sometimes horses. I had to get down every time due to the dogs protecting them. Some of the shepherds just are laying on the rocks looking after the flocks of more than 500 sheep. I curiously asked one of the shepherds if they lose count anytime, but he replied that all sheep will return home safely and he need not worry about the count.

 I was riding steadily, coming across BRO workers and shepherds at many places. Gramphoo never showed up and I even began to get hungry. Around 2 pm I have arrived at a junction, where the road from spiti splits as road going to Leh and other one going to Rohtang top, which is just 15 kms. I was not aware that Gramphoo is just few kilometres downhill and also there is no one to ask for directions.

I have decided to head for Rohtang top and have some food over the top. I thought, I will be there in a hour or so ! My bad flat route rate calculations.

Seeing tarmacs after a long long time made me happy,but my bicycle was very slow on that also with the increasing steepnees, I was terribly slow. Also there countless hairpin bends.

The biggest water stream I had to cross

Throughout the climb, I got cheers and thumbs up from the bikers passing by. Many even took my photographs while riding ! Even though that brought a smile on my face ,the quads cried in pain which made me sad and even more hungry. I ate the chocolate bars in available with me, even the dry fruits, hoping to refill everything on the top. I thought that I will have a hot plate of chowmein.

After some time, I was completely exhausted and couldn’t pedal any more. I sat for sometime,then walked and pedalled again.All the while many Enfields and Dukes whizzed past me either to Rohtang or to Leh. I got envy looking at their speed, but I was helpless. I just pedalled ahead as it is the only thing I could do at that moment.

At times, in beautiful places when you are sad and in despair, the mother nature does something to cheer you up. After all that is the duty of mother. I got the surprise I wished for past 13 days. A rainbow appeared right in front of me. I was speechless for a moment. Viewing rainbow on the way to Rohtang top towards Chatru is just a pur bliss. It is the beautiful sight I ever saw. Added to its beauty are the clouds that passing right in front of me. I was thrilled and stood there for sometime.

One should not forget that I’m in a land of magic. Again, nature has it’s own way of teasing you. Enjoying the rainbow, I forgot about the villain which passed right before me and troubles he has put me into !

A rainbow and cloud passing before me , made my day

Stay connected to meet the villain.

Day-11/13:7th July- Kaza-Losar : My Cycling trip to Himalayas

Day-11:7th July- Kaza-Losar
Distance : 52 Kms
Undulating stretch with climb trough switch back after Kyoto bridge and gradual climb till Losar village

After staring ride from Kaza,I understood why it is called the gateway of spiti. The land turned more enchanting and hills more beautiful.

I avoided Ki monastery also due to climb and moved ahead. I wanted to go there desperately , but ten days of riding in mountains made my legs figure out ,every way I can escape a climb. At Rangrik I had tea. I saw a new food here, potato stuffed between a kind of flour and being fried. I got two of them packed and moved ahead.

The beautiful Ki Monastery

The road condition is worse again. It started to drizzle a littlle as I’m approaching Hull village. Hull is a small village with enchanting beauty all around. Here I could see the rain falling in valley behind me and sunlight ahead of me.I felt , I would see a rainbow today but Spiti is not kind enough to me in this aspect.

I pedalled as slow as I can ,to enjoy the beauty of Hull. I spoke with some workers in Jowar fields. Had some of the packed food and went ahead.

It is small but yet exhaustive climb at Kyoto bridge. Losar was only 16 kms from there . I thought, it will be just an hour of ride .But the gradual climb makes it tough to ride and made me respect Himalayas once again.

At Hansa village , I was exhausted and enquired if I can get tea anywhere ,but no luck. A person saw me and invited to his home for tea.

I was completely taken away by the hospitality provided by this person Dogre and his brother Tenzin. From the way they speak one can notice their innocence.They have identified Chennai from CSK team ! We spoke about their life in winters and their daily routine. While leaving, they said ” agle saal parivar ke saat aayie,hum aapki seva karenge ” … that line has touched me and my respect on Himalayan people increased further.

Few kilometres later , I have encountered the first stream crossing. A innova is already struck in it! Flow is heavy and sound adds more scare. I had no idea how I will be able to cross it. I removed my shoes and prepared myself mentally to cross. An other vehicle passing by stopped ,helped innova cross it, helped a couple on bike cross and finally they helped me cross the stream . That 30 meters walk is the longest and toughest walk in my life. The freezing cold water made my feet numb.Little did I know that this is the teaser for the upcoming blockbuster.

After crossing another stream, I have entered Losar slowly. I was welcomed by herds of Donkeys, cows and horses. I had to wait for them to cross the bridge for entering the village.


There are more snow peaks now and I could feel the beauty and chill.

In PWD house accommodation has to be reserved through phone and they denied us to stay. I went to village and got a accommodation. Mahesh and the couple on bike (Hitesh and his wife)I saw at the water crossing were already there. I was told that another couple is arrivng there on bicycle ! I was so eager to meet them.

There were also other tourists in that place, it is such a delight to interact with many people and know their travel stories and experiences. A person is on a roadtrip in hjs duster past two months alonv with his wife and a 4/5 year old kid !
It was getting dark and cycling couple didn’t arrive. Everyone is worried about them and after lot of waiting they arrived and minutes later everyone gathered for dinner. I liked the rice they served there and had lots of it.

It started getting very cold gradually and even it is partly cloudy. So I didn’t bother to stay out and went to room for sleeping. In Tabo and Kaza, it is very hot in the night that I didn’t use blanket at all while sleeping,but losar I had to cover up my self with thermals and two blankets.

Another beautiful day in spiti has come to an end.

Day 12/13- 8th July – Losar – Kunzum pass – Batal

Day-12: Losar-Kunzum Pass – Batal
Distance : 33 Kms.
Ascent till Kunzum La and 11km steep descent till Batal ( Worst riding conditions and heavy head,cross winds)

In Losar, I was asked to enter details at the police check post as I’m travelling alone. I started pedalling after  that. Today is the big day the in whole trip as I will be climbing a mountain pass, all by myself, one of the reasons I came for this trip.

Water ways have a different meaning in Himalayas

 It is not very tough but a long climb to Kunzum. The grasslands and flowers has taken away my sadness that I couldn’t make it to valley of flowers this year. I was getting more and more closer to Snow peaks.The biggest mountain peak is palying hide and seek with me by hiding it self in clouds not giving me a chance to capture it. I’m not sure if it is altitude sickness, but there is some trouble in my breathing and got headache.I couldn’t pedal with ease because of that.

I stopped every now and then, drank lot of water. People in passing by vehicles used to throw a look of surprise at me and some were generous enough to stop and advice ” Dheere chalana,paani peena”. ( Ride slow, drink water)

The Climb to Kunzum begins
Mile stone !

Peak at Kunzum top, seen from two kilometers to reach

After lot of pedalling I saw a temple,surrounded by flags. I thought it is Kunzum top, but no it is not. I started moving again. The road appeared plain further , yet tough to pedal. After an eternity passed and infinite pedalling, I could see Kunzum top and made there finally.

I pedalled all the way  4,590 m or 15,060 ft high.

Though I’m on one of the highest passes, the surrounding mountains made me feel that I’m on a low land. I was very happy that I have reached Kunzum. After giving up at 19kms on first day, I never thought that I will make it so far ! Another moment of pride for me.

Temple at Kunzum Top

The flags around were waving  severely due to winds. As per the custom, I made completed a loop around the kunzum temple.  After looking at all peaks around me once again, I have started for Batal.

The winds are blowing severely and this is the one of the worst ride ever. The path is filled with sharp stones and boulders and it is a downhill ! It has completely pissed me off. The winds were pushing off the ridge and traffic if also little high. To add more challenge, there are ice blocks and small water pools as they were melting.

The loops were never ending, and I had no clue when Batal will show up. I now figured out how high I have climbed 🙂 After sometime when I have lost all my patience, Batal showed up.

Apart from a dhaba and a PWD guest house nothing else is there. One should definitely experience the stay at Batal. You get to sleep in a stone house or in a bunker. Chacha Chachi Dhaba is the only source of food there. A search in internet will reveal greatness of the elderly couple serving so many tourists. I enjoyed their hospitality very much. Almost every vehicle passing through that route will stop there.

After having food and refreshed, I looked for a vehicle that will go to Chandra taal Lake, I couldn’t find any.I was in no mood to pedal in such heavy head and cross winds . I waited some more time but, I was not lucky to have a visit to Chandrataal this time.

I walked around. There are only snow peaks around and every peak is beautiful.

The couple I met at water crossing before Losar was also here. Two guys from Delhi who were touring on a KTM duke were staying here from the day before. We all started chatting and it went non stop for few hours. Severe winds forced us to go inside dhaba.I was surprised how the stone structures were able to with stand such heavy winds.

The guys from Delhi are professionally DJ and VJ . They shared their experiences and it went on till the ghost stories and scary routes in Delhi. After dinner we all dispersed.

During dinner, every one speculated about the stream crossings ahead and especially the Pagal nala , in which is very and deep with a flow enough push a van into the river ! So the couple and both guys planned to start early in the morning to avoid heavy flow.

The talk about streams brought a little phobia inside me and I wanted to leave as early as possible. So even I thought to leave early, leaving the Chandertaal behind. A sad decision, yet I had to make.

It is pitch dark inside the tent and I have put on light music and went to sleep. The experiences I had today were not so beautiful as they motivated me to get out of spiti soon !

for

I should not forget to mention about the costs at Batal. The price of the stine hut per day is rs 100. Two meals, a yummy fried rice, a tomato soup, many tea, and eight roasted bread cost just 300 rs.

Day-10:Tabo-Kaza : 06-July : My cycling trip to Himalayas

Day-10:Tabo-Kaza
Distance : 47 Kms
Undulating stretch with gradual climbs in between.Desert riding conditions.

I felt very tired and didn’t feel like waking up,but Kaza is calling me. So I got up ,refreshed and started to pedal.

 I only had a sandwich , packed one and started the ride. Shabu and team just left. I’m not feeling so energetic like I feel everyday. Just after 7-8 kms I ate the sandwich I brought and took Avomine, as I thought the height is beginning to have its take on me. 
While taking rest, two random cars stopped by and both of them said they are watching me from few days and expressed their surprise that I made it so far. Avomine and these comments helped a little and I started pedalling again. I didn’t dare to climb Dhankar owing to the the height and skipped it. 
There were not many villages in between and no food options either. So I had to move ahead bearing the heat. I came across Shabu and team in between who were on their way back from Dhankar. 

In Schiling I had couple of cups tea. It filled some energy in me. Enjoying the company of Spiti river, I slowly headed towards Kaza. The landscape is amusing .The sand structures are another wonder in this beautiful Spiti. They were present till Kaza. The views of snow hills just before entering the town is beautiful. Being head quarters of Spiti, I thought Kaza will be bigger, like Recong peo, but is also a small town. but Kaza is really the gateway to beauties of spiti.

I went inside the town, took a room as soon as possible and collapsed on bed for an hour. I could barely move my body. I some how gathered energy and refreshed and went out to have some food. I had snacks in a punjabi sweet stall. 
I have asked mobile of a person and called Mahesh. He told they are waiting for me and asked me to come near petrol bunk. I was so thankful to Mahesh, Sarath and his wife for providing me this memorable ride. It was such a bliss to be go to Hikkim and Komic.

My Father works in postal department, which lured me to definitely visit Hikkim. The ride is so nice and smooth in Scorpio. I enjoyed that luxury thoroughly after cycling for ten days ! 

We saw herds of sheep en route Hikkim. In Hikkim we posted letters to ourselves and friends. We went to Komic later. My language and words are not enough to describe that beautiful landscape.
A series of snow capped mountains lined up in perfect order ahead. A grass land of lush green behind ! I was so overjoyed looking at the beauty nature has provided.

We started back early as it is getting dark. We spotted a Spitian fox on the way, which is too shy and ran away very quickly. 

After coming down,I had food. Brought fruits, dry fruits and carrots for next day. After coming to room I went to sleep instantly with the lush greenlands of komic rolling in front of my eyes.

Day-9: Nako-Tabo : 05- July- My cycling trip in Himalays

Day-9: Nako-Tabo
Distance : 62 Kms

Climb to Malling ascent : 5 Kms
Steep Descent to Chango : 17 kms.
Chango to Sumdo Undulating, 13 kms
Sumdo to Tabo is Undulating, 27 kms ( last 5kms is a gradual climb through Lari village)

I tried tungtuk ( a soupy pasta dish) previous night and my stomach was little upset because of that. I over came that with eagerness of entering Spiti that day . Initially it is a tough climb till malling and again a nerve breaking super sloped downhill till Chango. I could notice the desert conditions begin now. 

Downhill to Chango
I’m nearly at same level as the river. 9 or 10 kms ahead of Sumdo, I nearly fainted because of heat and had a nap under one of the closed shops. I overheard a conversation that being sunday no balstings are going on . I wondered how days were being passed and I’m in ninth day of my touring ,I even forgot that it is Sunday. 

The road condition is very worse from here. I’m riding on a loose gravel surface engraved with sharp stones ! 
As I’m getting closer to Sumdo, my heart is filling with joy. Spiti ! The driving force for my whole trip, the mysterious land hiding many beauties and the board finally came. It is the first achievement in my life that made me feel very proud The snow capped hills and beauty of the valleys I crossed just gave me happiness but this small board, covered with dust and surrounded by stones gave me a feeling beyond the words can express. 

As soon as I crossed the board, I saw the sumdo bridge. I have noticed the group of bikers I saw in Chitkul, standing there. As I’m entering the bridge all of them stood up and clapped as I’m passing over. My joy was escalated further by this ovation I received from them. Many of them took pictures of me. A moment of pride 🙂

Mahesh crossed me in between, I guess they were coming from Geyu. I thought of having some food in Sumdo,but there is nothing available there. I went ahead and temperature also increased further. It is indeed a magical land in every aspect. The road appears flat but it will be elevating ! I slowly pushed my self.

The village Lari before Tabo is enchanting. It has an agricultural research center and it appears like an Oasis in this cold desert. At any point in the village one will be surrounded by the mighty mountains on all sides under the blue sky! A great sight and a wonderful feelinv to be in such a place. I took rest under tree shade at one of the entrance gates, while chatting with the security guard.

A little further, I couldn’t push my self at all and a person passing by suggested me to rest under a tree. I sat there and the air from that tree is so refreshing. This person who stopped me identified himself as ex-MLA of that place. While speaking with him, I also saw a support vehicle carrying few bicycles passing through and later a cyclist.

I gathered some energy and somehow pushed myself. In between I passed through villages with population below 100. After sometime, I finally entered Tabo bearing the unbearable heat.

I saw the cyclist who passed by while I’m taking rest. It is such a delight to meet a fellow cyclist, Shabu. He has taken me to their stay. I was surprised to see Mahesh waiting there. Shabu and Mahesh introduced me to rest of the group. Shabu looking at my condition offered me tea and bread immediately from their camp. They were tour operators from Manali providing adventure holidays under the name Magic Mountains. 

They suggested me to enquire in Monastery if I can get any room as it is cheaper there. I enquired and got a room in monastery. 
After getting refreshed, I went in and around the monastery. Even here the Monk didn’t explain much about Buddhism. I was surprised to see a Ganesh statute inside. Monk told that one sect of Buddhism follows some of hindu gods ! This increased my confusion further. Being closing time, I couldn’t get much explanations about paintings also. I clicked few pictures of the monastery and came out.

I went to meet Shabu again. He helped me swap front and rear tires, replaced my worn out breaks with the spares I’m/carrying. It was just a group chat from then with every one. Raju Sharma is the onwer of Magic Mountains. He told me about his participation in MTB Himalayas and further experiences in hills. Mahesh told about his experiences being struck in sand storm and 25 days in Mudh village. It was scary and thrilling to listen such experiences. It also gave me insight about safety measures one should ensure, before entering Himalayas.
They were kind enough to provide me with food also..The very hot dal chawal is so yummy and refreshing after a long stinct of chowmein and momos. 
I came to my room after dinner. That monastery room is completely made of wood. Even walking on that floor is different. After gazing at stars for sometime, I went to bed and ended one more beautiful day.

Day-8 : 04 July-205 : Pooh- Nako : My Cycling trip to Himalayas

Distace 40 Km
Distance covered by bicyle : 36 Km
Gradual Ascent till Nako through Ka zigs and another set of switchbacks.

I was very excited today as I have to climb the most alluring Ka zigs. I wanted to get down through other side of village but yesterday in my walk I saw many dogs, so I started back in the route I climbed.

After getting down, the beautiful downhill speed was stopped by pack of four dogs. They were too scary. I walked along with a soldier coming on that way, till I crossed them. Just as I crossed them, I heard a big sound and turned back to check it. A stone rolled down from a hill top, a big one! Few vehicles were stopped. I was surprised to see that they removed it very easily and went ahead. It gave me an insight about life in these places.

I also spotted few asses on the way :p . They were very different from the donkeys. The white lining around their eyes gave them a special beauty. Their sound make you run away though. 

At Khab bridge, I felt little scared and turned on music and went ahead. The good bad and the ugly theme playing in my phone gave the inspiration very much required for the Ka zig climb. I started climbing on a very slow pace. The heat added the challenge. I was very happy that I did that without much strain, apart from the heat. As I’ m climbing up I could clearly observe the size of vehicles becoming very tiny.

Khab Bridge
The Kazigs Begin

Refreshing sight in between

At Ka village, the winter settlement for Nako village, I had few momos and went ahead. Even here I faced little confusion about the route. At a place,the road splitted and downhill goes to villages in valley and uphill to nako. The downhill lured me, but I waited for a vehicle to pass, enquired them about route and started the climb:(. I have concluded that I should prepare myself for uphill if I face any situation further).

Ka Village
Views after Ka Village

I thought Nako will arrive after this, but another set of switchbacks showed up !! I wondered if Nako will ever show up ! I was climbing cursing and panting !After lot of desperation, a dhaba showed up 4/5 km’s ahead of Nako which gave me a big relief. A kilometer ahead, my bicycle was shaking and ride became very rough on a smooth tarmac. It’s a flat !!!!!! I had mixed feelings about this. I was sad as there is 4 km more climb and Happy because the flat I have fixed worked for 200 odd Kms .

Walking with a bicycle with flat tire carrying load is too tough and I was in no mood to fix a flat when Mr. Sun is barbecuing me. So I left the bicycle there and ran to the dhaba I saw before , as I saw a Mahindra Yut there. The onwer assured me that he will surely offer me a ride, but asked me to wait as he is making a business deal about apples. Even I wanted to listen that conversation, so I stayed there . Owner was explaining how they will grow apples organically, sizes they will offer, price variations etc.

Though I’m listening here all my attention is on the cycle I left few hundreds of meters ahead. Owner saw the tense in my face and assured in a very confident tone that no one will steal anything in whole valley and in case someone did, he will be caught within a day without any doubt. I was feeling safe after hearing those words but felt an insecurity feeling. I saw a couple of trucks passing in the route and felt that they hit my bicycle and it fell into the valley. For a second my heart stopped beating and I immediately ran with the speed of Ussain bolt. Bicycle is fine and it is just my imagination. Now I parked it carefully and came back again. Owner smiled at me and asked about the trip details. Another yut was passing and as owner juleyed* him and told about the flat, he offered me a lift till Nako. He didn’t accept money after dropping me ! Himalayan people _/\_ .

I have taken room immediately, washed few clothes and got ready to roam around. The green peas fields before my room with hill background is a feast for eyes. I was very happy I am getting rooms with beautiful views all the way.

View from my room

After lunch, I went to Monastery and the lake. There is a small climb over the green pea fields adjacent to lake, but I was tired and gave up on that idea. I didn’t find Nako lake much amusing. The green peas fields surprised me more. I wondered a whole village is just concentrating on single crop. 

Nako Lake

In monastery I was too enthusiastic to learn about Buddhism and culture, but the monk there is not comfortable even speaking Hindi, which gave me a huge disappointment. 

Some pictures of green peas fields

It was fun to walk in between houses of tiny village which resembles a maze. I enjoyed finding my way back to the road, after being lost in between narrow paths surrounded by mud and stone houses. There were Buddhist inscriptions everywhere. Even the stables for cattle were very artistic.

The winds picked up crazily while I’m coming back. Even hearing the person walking next became tough! I met Mahesh, a kind and friendly person .He operates tours in his Scorpio around Spiti valley. He noticed the flat in my tire and enquired about it. He was shocked to see the condition of my tires and pointed out that they were nearly worn out. Even, I didn’t notice that! After getting bicycle I rode over 1500 kms , and I hardly gave any attention to tire. I thought I will swap front and rear tires in Kaza and didn’t bother much.

He was shocked to learn about my rides in Bahli and Darangathi and told me that I was lucky to be safe as there is a lot of bear and leapord movement there! I was like, I didn’t see even one 😦 . While having conversation, I had salted tea. I didn’t feel like having it once again.

After conversation, I have fixed flat and this time used the spare tube instead of the old one. Mahesh helped me inflate it through electronic pump in his Scorpio. While fixing the flat, I spoke with another guy woring in UCO bank there. He told about his life and troubles there. I wished that I get that job and settle forever in Nako !

In dinner, I had something called Tungtuk ( not sure of name), which is a pasta soup. I didn’t like it too

Mahesh, in his Scorpio (Sharath and his wife are travelling in it) followed me for rest of trip till Losar. Their hello used to be a encouragement. After dinner had a peaceful sleep dreaming about the next day as I will be finally entering the enchanting and treacherous Spiti. The name itself has a magic in it !Ah spitiiiiiiii ❤