Nine days of cycling, from Manali to Leh and then to Khardung La one of the highest motorable roads in the world was not simple as it sounded. This needed a lot of preparation, physically, mentally, monitory and logistics. More than six months of physical preparation, I chose not to take any experienced rider’s help as the trip was being planned to test my understanding of cycling, mountain and test of will to conquer all the challenges faced in the process as well as trip.
The preparation for the trip started on April 4, 2015 part of my birthday celebration. I very well remember, I rode the same cycle for 4 kilometers and was at home feeling dizzy, drained and exhausted. Seeing first day records, it looked like I would never attempt going up at 18300 feet, climbing more than 1500 meter every day that too in rain, fog and cold with head wind while paneling up on rough roads.
To be able to achieve what I had dreamt of, it was as far fetched as reaching on moon. To be able to achieve that I had dreamt, I consistently started cycling, does not matter what time I reach home, howmuch ever I am tired throughout the day. I made sure to be up and ready to paddle every morning 6 am, since the preparation was on with daily job as a journalist, I spent one hour. Slowly ODO started encouraging with 10km in 45 minutes, 18km in 50min and then 20km in one hour with number of inclines and off roads while practicing.
Later to make legs strengthen, I chose to have 1kg weight on both ankles and ride for an hour inside river sand that seem working out to build stamina and strengthen my will power. Finally an incline of Mount Abu and a 100km trip without support were biggest injection of confidence part of preparation for the trip.
What all in logistics?
Since I was alone cycling, a back up was much needed in emergency situations also carrying daily supply on the bicycle looked difficult, so I decided to have two enthusiastic companion driving a jeep along the road, Parth Brahmbhatt and Parth Chaudhary happily agreed to join during their vacation after appearing in final exam of their engineering.
We drove down with a 4 wheel drive jeep, loaded with Rashan to keep us alive for at least 15 days, some emergency medicines, we purchased about 5 Oxygen bottles from Manali for any medical emergency. A stove was an issue, so finally we purchased German made camping stove that run on all kind of fuel. Rashan had ready to cook packs, soup packs, about 40leter of water and some raw material to cook for four of us. To keep my self energized, Chees cubes, energy bars.
We drove from Gandhinagar to Behror about 900km on 27 July then from Behror to Manali about 1000km in Jeep. There was three night stay at Manali that would help us acclimatize and do final preparation for the expedition. We hit the road on July 31 for Marhi, a 35 km constant incline from Manali towards Rohtang La.
Economics for the trip was very simple, an average working class had was going on the trip. It was mainly backed on personal savings, support from generous wife who allowed to be out of home for this long. A few friends helped in getting direct or indirect support like a mobile app named as Rooms tonight and Adani Group were that supported. Cousins helped in motivating and brother in law gave his precious possession, the Jeep.
Wait for one more day to know experience of riding and last practice in Manali.