Wishful Riding Part 5 (Keylong to Sarchu)

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…”


  • nandanjha says:

    Go, go, keep going.

    I drove a bike (if at all you call a Kawasaki Caliber a bike) for just a couple of years, as a conveyance vehicle (home-office-home) so can’t say much on the experience but I did read ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle…’ (a tough read) and I can definitely imagine the feelings.

    How much more of it would take to reach Leh. Dont worry I can sustain long :)

  • bikerdude says:


    Will go on till Part 12… one chapter for each day ;-)

    But seriously, will try, mind you I said TRY, to cut it short by condensing the Leh – Khardungla – Leh, Leh – Manali and Manali – Delhi in one chapter…. So you would not have to take much of this any more… :-)

    As for my thoughts about a certain Kawasaki Caliber… although a piddly lil bike, it sure packs a punch… the short stroke engines give the bigger long stroke ones a run for the money… (Check out the crotch rockety Pulsars churned out by the Bajaj stable)….

    On a different note, a Hero Puch/Luna Moped is also fun to ride if you want to RIDE…. Speeding is different… you do not enjoy the roads, surroundings and the smells and the sounds and the sights… coz you are whizzing past everything.

    Back in my village, I putter around on a HH Spelndor… and it is fun. Oh and we reach Leh in Part 6… which should be up in say 1-2 days… and hopefully the end of this series.

  • Celine says:

    Don’t be troubled by AMS – it doesn’t always affect. :)

  • Celine says:

    I got back here again after giving up on my search for Part 6.

    How long are you gonna be put up at Sarchu? Let’s get moving. ;)

  • manish khamesra says:

    Beautiful Manish.

    After reading all these I am eagerly waiting for your real journey and wish it to be equally enjoyable and may you come back with beautiful memories and photos to share with us.

    We all are wishing you the very best for the real travel, but yes June 16th is far and before that we hope that we will complete this wishful ride to Leh and back.

  • bikerdude says:

    @Celine, thanks for the words of support… I was actually touring till my campsite in Mashobra (near shimla)… planning something wonderful there… That is the reason why I was missing in action… Will not disappoint you any further and will put up Part 6 Asap.

    @Manish thanks for the wishes and yes I would not disappoint you and will definitely finish the ttravelog/journey chronicle Asap.

  • Celine says:

    Can we join in to what is wonderfully planned in Mashorba? haha!

    On a separate note, with reference to your comment 2, para 2 of your response to Nandan, once you reach Khardung-La, would you really have the heart to return to Leh immediately?

    Why don’t you go yonder right up to Nubra Valley, passing through the beautiful Khardung village up to the Diskit village? You can also go to Hundar and Panamik (of the Silk Route fame) if you feel adventurous enough. I did, and I’d highly recommend it to anybody.

    And if you feel the ride turns out too tiring or long upon return to Leh, there is always the option to take a flight from Leh to Delhi, rather than take the same route back to Manali. Not a good idea? :)

  • bikerdude says:

    Celine, this is a customized itinerary for a group of BPO professionals. They do not the time to go beyond Khardung La. I had presented the route suggested by you but it was shot down :-( due to the timelines involved. This is a 12 day ride and going beyond Khardung La would add atleast 2 days to the duration…

    Gotta do what the clients want coz they are god… The Motto of the Service Industry.

    If this means that I have to cut down on wonderful places like Hunder & Diskit… so be it. Will go there on my own sometime later.

  • bikerdude says:

    As for the plans for Mashobra, well lemme share it with everyone… it is being converted into a Deluxe Campsite… Swiss Tents with attached loo and washrooms are being pitched and the works are ongoing… once done, it would offer 15 swiss tents and about 15 alpine tents.

  • bikerdude says:

    as for taking the flight back, who would transport the bikes back to Delhi once the riders are gone? That would mean added costs which they are not willing to shell out. Hence the limited timelines and costs.

  • Celine says:


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