A recap of the ride till now:
Started on June 16th from Delhi and rode till Mashobra, written in Wishful Riding Part 1. Day 2 i.e. 17th June saw me in Sangla (Wishful Riding Part 2) and Day 3 (18th June) saw me in Kaza (Wishful Riding Part 3) and 19th June it was Keylong (Wishful Riding Part 4).
This is part 5 and would cover the route from Keylong to Sarchu. Since I am yet to travel this entire route, errors/omissions are regretted and feedback and helpful hints are welcome.
20th June 2008
With about 125 Kms to ride to reach Sarchu, woke up at 0800 Hrs, with a relaxed mindset and lazed around for some time. Had a late breakfast at 1000 Hrs and decided to up anchor from keylong and leave at 1030 Hrs.
Since this was the road of my dreams, I decided to savour every moment of it and then some more. However, before i could attain Nirvana, there was a small problem…
BB refused to thump to life. Kicked her for about 10 times and it was a case of Close but no Cigar…
After a futile effort to revive her life, decided to check for the fault. Checked the wiring (OK), checked battery terminals (OK) checked the fuel levels (almost full) checked for oil flow in the engine (perfect)… Now with all things looked at, and still not finding any fault, I was flabbergasted and at my wit’s end as to what was plaguing my BB… Just then decided to call on the mechanic seated in the sweltering heat of Delhi… Conveyed everything I had done and waited for his assessment… He says “Check the Spark Plug.”
Out comes the plug spanner and surely the stupid thing is shot. No spark emanating from the business end of the contraption. Check for current flow in the sparkplug cable and get a jolt of electricity… so the fault was where he said it would be.
A quick change of sparkplug later, I attempt to kickstart BB. Lo & Behold… She thumps to life and I felt relieved… Will not have to desert her or load her up in a truck and head for Manali like I was thinking.
In go the tools and on come the helmet, jacket and the gloves… and its that sweet time to roll out and fulfill THE Dream… the dream of riding on the road to Leh.
I slowly trundle along admiring the sights… The ride along the Bhaga river can be a treat and it was just awesome. That wild rivulet was as crazy as most of us who decide to do this route on a Legend called Royal Enfield. Rode for about 15 kms and came across a campsite with about 50-60 bikes parked… Stop to admire the sight and figure out this must be the Royal Enfield’s Himalayan Odessey and pretty surely that is confirmed by the presence of loads of people wearing the Blue logoed T-shirt. Wanting to be away from all this crowd and to enjoy the serenity in relative peace, I decide to ride on and about 45 minutes later, I roll into Darcha.
A smoke break and tea later, its time to kickstart and start thumping… Watercrossings, bad roads and loads of mind blowing mountain views later I reach Patseo… Not much of a place and I decide to ride on. Pretty soon I am the only one on the road and the going is tough. High altitude and rarified air and bad roads start taking their toll on me as I limp into Zingzing Bar. I remember reading this name in Manali when I had gone there for my honeymoon… Always wondered whether this was the name of a Pub or a place. Now I know… ;-)
This mind wandering results in me feeling cold and hungry and I decide to crack open the packed lunch box I carried along from Keylong… Dal, rice and salad and a veggie… not what I felt llike eating but it was food… so gobbled as much as I could and then disposed off the remains in a garbage bin… (hard to come by in this part of the world)…
Zingzing Bar (wonder who would have gone crazy enough to name a place as such) was a small settlement and ahead of this was the 2nd high altitude pass (Baralacha La) out of 5 which I would have to cross to reach the dream destination Leh… well I undertook this ride with the mindset that no matter what happens, I am going to be in leh as planned… I wish I knew what I was getting into when I started riding… no amount of guidance, talks or tips can prepare you for what the road and Mother Nature dish out for you. But there is a saying in Hindi… “ab Okhli mein sar diya toh Muslo se kya darna”… roughly translates in English as “Now that you have put your head in the Mortar, why worry about the pestle blows…” (Does not have the same effect or ring to it in English as it has in hindi…)
This thought comes to mind when riding and decide to face whatever comes my way the way it should be faced… head on. Keep riding and I am on the ascent to baralacha La… WOW… its cold, its grey and its… beautiful… bad roads jostle me into reality and I start riding again… the rarified air can make you do crazy things like staying at the summit for long and then its a lost war with hypothermia and low oxygen and then the hallucinations come and you are in wonderland… on the Highway to hell… (haven’t done enough good deeds to guarantee me a place in heaven)…
The going is slow as the terrain isn’t conducive for high speeds and I am not foolish enough to risk my life to reach any place sooner than necessary… I ride (read trundle) for about 2-3 hours more and I am in Sarchu… The destination of the day and I am glad I made it in one piece and that too without any battle scars… no spills, tumbles and no breakdowns… I thank my lucky stars and roll into the 1st campsite which I see… I need a bed to rest the body and the spirit which have taken a beating… but the feeling of having accomplished this leg is just awesome…
Its getting dark and its time to eat, pop a Diamox and meet the stuff of my dreams… could be monsters or fairies or just… Roads… I am betting on the roads… thats what a biker usually dreams of… wide open roads to keep riding on till eternity… Freedom & peace and the wind in your face… reminds me of a quote I read on the net… “Only a biker knows why a dog sticks out its face when travelling in a car…”