Leh’d on a bicycle (Part 3)

Continue on the ascends wading through the mountain passes and plains from Zing Zing Bar to Sarchu via Baralacha La, then via via NakeeLa and Lanchlung La to Pang Nala. From here to Tso Kar Lake via More Plains and finally via Tanglang La to halt at Lato after 8 days of cycling.

Day 05 : Zing Zing Bar to Sarchu (via Baralacha La)
Really cold weather makes up for no sleep during the night. Wake up in the morning by 5:45am shivering in the cold and breathing out smoke. Didn’t even bother for a change of clothes. Quickly freshened up for breakfast. Was so cold that I could barely even hold steady the cup of cornflakes. Placed cup on table and managed to finish whatever possible and got set to ride out with the group. At a short distance, on the way caught up with another lone self-supported cyclist who was from the army. Rode on further till we came across a water crossing, and so had to take off the shoes, wade across the cold water to the other side and by which time my feet were close to numb. Sharath had crossed earlier and pointed out to quickly put on footwear and start pedalling. Heeded his advice and it made much sense. Much later, roads got better and we kept gaining altitude. Air got colder and breathing difficult with the slight headache that had crept up the previous night. Finally got to the Baralacha pass, that had walls of ice on either sides of the road. When all the riders turned up, we took group snaps here. Didn’t want to spend too much time here, as so we started the descent. For a while roads were good, then there were few water crossings on the gravel road. Much further on, the roads were all muddy, uneven and broken, but the scenery was just amazing and did several stops to take snaps.

After some riding, we reached the bridge and stopped for a tea break. Another 15 kms of a fast downhill ride on a clear flat straight tarmac road passing by the military base just before Sarchu. Kept riding on for another 18km to reach the entrance arch of Sarchu. From here another 10km of smooth roads downhill ride to reach by 6:15pm the camp site that was just off the road and close to a small river. After freshening up a bit, we got to listen to Anag singing a couple of songs just ending the day with a good dinner.

Caution: Thick sheets of snow. Steep descends and broken roads.
Distance covered: 44.03km

Climb from Zing Zing BarMotorbikes collided due to black iceSuraj TaalView beyond Suraj TaalLunch break spot after Baralacha La PassDownhill from Baralacha La PassDownhill from Baralacha La PassView of the mountains, SarchuRiders waiting to regroupMilitary base, SarchuSignage of distances, SarchuSpectacular view of the mountainRound about route to SarchuRound about route to SarchuView from camp site, Sarchu

Day 06 : Sarchu to Pang Nala (via Nakee La and Lachlung La)
All ready having had our breakfast, we set out to ride by 8am and soon begins the climb of Gata Loops. Fortunately, the weather was mostly pleasant with sunlight, clouds and cold winds blowing at us as we rode higher. The climbs kept going on and on, hairpin bend after another. Got me thinking to myself to call this the ‘Gata freakin loops’. Kept going at a steady pace and before I knew it, reached the top by 10:35am. After a few more hairpin bends and climbs that seem never ending, finally got to the top of Nakeela Pass. Took snaps here and without having to spend too much time at this altitude, started to ride downhill. Roads got worse and so carefully rode down till we reached Whisky Nala by 12:45pm. By this time, we had covered 28.55km only. After having lunch and resting for an hour, we started to ride from here. Started first but was soon overtaken by Mandeep, Pradeep, Sharath and then Ramesh. Kept the slow steady pace, took a break midway and finally reached the top of LachlungLa. Took snaps here as usual.

Those who had reached to top didn’t want to wait up top for too long and so start to ride downhill towards Pang which was just 20kms further. We followed a single line formation as we descended down the broken roads, and it got too boring and so went ahead enjoying every moment riding down fast. Roads were all muddy and gravel with no sights of tarmac at all. Mandeep tried to catch up, but had his rear derailleur totaled in the process. I continued on fast and still ahead of the others but soon the landscape got the better of me and had me make quick stops to take snaps again. By this time, Sumedha and Ramesh caught up for a while, then Sumedha slowed down to wait for the others. Ramesh and I continued to ride and reached the camp site by 5:20pm having covered a total distance of 56.75km for the day. Later, the rest of the riders turned up. Relaxed the evening until nightfall for dinner and then bed.

Climb up Gata LoopsClimb up Gata LoopsGata Loops End, total of 21 loops at 15302 feetFurther up Gata LoopsFurther up Gata LoopsRide up to NakeeLa and 34km more to PangNakeeLa at 15547 feetStop for lunchLachlung La at 16616 feetTowards Pang, 14km more to goTowards Pang, 9km more to goView on the way to PangView on the way to PangBridge crossing on the way to PangHalt for the night at Pang

Caution: Steep ascends and bad roads along downhill.
Distance covered: 56.75km

Day 07 : Pang Nala to Tso Kar Lake (via More Plains)

Set to ride out by 8:30am. In a matter of just 6km, we had about 200 mtr. of altitude gain. A non-stop climb up to the top and reached the top by 10:40am. Four others had already reached here before me. Took snaps until the rest of riders turned up and then it was group photo time again. Seemed like we climbed up a huge table, for behind was a steep road downhill (that we just climbed) and ahead was a flat stretch of the More Plains – dry uninhabited vast dry land bordered at a distance by mountains from all sides.

Thankfully clouds covered the sky and cold breeze blew across, so the ride across the plains was just seemingly never ending fun ride. Much later and close to the end of the plains, some riders stopped by a a small settlement of yak herders. Didn’t want to stop as there was just another 10-12kms more to go. Sharath joined me and we rode on while light hailstorm fell. Cannot really comprehend and put into words the joy felt while riding on smooth tarmac and perfect weather. Got to the camp site by 12:50pm. A group of Japanese tourists excited to see a cyclist here, got to take a snap with me and Virender (who was already there by then). Meanwhile, Sharath turned up and much later the others. We had lunch and had a short nap.

Post lunch, all bikes were safely secured in the inner part of the parachute tent. We then got into the support vehicle and we drove over to Tsokar Lake – of salt water with beautiful views around it. Climbed up a hill at a distance and got a spectacular view of blue waters of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Got back to the camp area, got to our assigned tents to freshen up. Later, it was dinner and sleep through the cold night.

Caution: Initial climb on broken roads.
Distance covered: 34.3km

Initial climb to top from PangOur support vehicleMore plainsMore plainsand More plainsYak herding by the localsParachute tent stopYak horns on the ground, Tsokar lakeTsokar lake from hill top (our camp in the center)View of Tsokar lake from my tent

Day 08 : Tso Kar Lake to Lato (via Tanglang La)

Freshened, packed our luggage into the support vehicle and drove back to the parachute tent on the main road where we had secured our bikes. Got riding by 8:40am, riding the uneven gravel road ascending to Tanglangla. Kept a slow even pace riding on granny gears so as to not tire myself early and prevent from feeling breathlessness. Kept riding slowly for about 24 km. Guru, the coordinator persisted strongly that I stop to take a break. So reluctantly stopped and had boiled potato and juice. Need to mention here that Guru urged me to ride on (for which I am grateful) and eventually I reached the top by 1:40pm. We all took snaps out here, had quick lunch in the support van and then started our ride downhill. Initially, the roads were bad but later on it was smooth tarmac and a lovely ride downhill. Got to Rimtse by 3pm. Here we binged on ‘Wai-Wai’ noodles and in turns got to call home from a local STD booth. An hour later, we continued on as we passed by Sasoma, Gya and finally to reach the home stay at Lato. A small home amidst lovely scenery. Here, we met a German cyclist doing a self-supported tour and related his experience.

Caution: Steep cliff edges without any safety barricades while going downhill.
Distance covered: 61.02km

Initial climb upto ThanglangLaAt the top, ThanglangLaAt the top, ThanglangLaView coming down from ThanglangLaView of roads coming down from ThanglangLaDownhill ride towards RumtseView from town called RumtseView on the way from RumtseOn the way to LatoOn the way to Lato

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