There were two days planned at Manali to prepare for the the trip 29 and 30 July. Final preparation and final workout just before getting onto the highway leading to Leh. After over 2000km drive with cycle in the car from Gandhinagar to Manali it was important to get body used to cycling, final testing of the cycle and shopping of fresh food item were important during these two days.
On the first day in Manali, I stated my ride from our hotel, it was up on the hill 5km steep from main highway. I got down those 5kilometers non stop to reach at Manali market as we had list for shopping of Milk tetra packs, water bottles to help us sustain for 10 days, vegetables and eggs to cook on the road.
As soon as I started pedalling in hilly Manali market, ups and downs, cycle chain started getting stuck. It was not as smooth as it was soon after servicing. The abnormal movement of chain made me suspect it. The only cycle shop in the city was shut as the owner had to attend wedding about 70km away in a village. There were no bicycle mechanics in the town, finally a bike mechanic agreed to try tuning cycle gears.
He worked on it for about an hour, cycle looked better and I was relived. Cycled towards Hidamba temple, the favorite temple for tourists where lot of movies have also been shot. As soon as I started incline for the temple, I saw chain broke from the lock. I had to carry the chain with me in hands to the same mechanic who tried to understand how to fix it. I was carrying extra spares, break shoe, tool kit, Tyre and tube but in my wildest dream I did not thought I will need extra chain.
On checking in the city, I was told there are possibilities I would get a chain in Kullu which was bout an hour’s drive by car, but the shop was shut that day and not sure if that would open the next day. The whole day went into calling dealers and friends in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi. A cousine came to my rescue, he said “my friend in Delhi who is Doctor by profession can try to help but he does not know anything about cycles.”
Immediately I called Pankaj, a voice in low tone, sounded feveryy replied to my problem, “I know a cycle shot near my home what do I ask him for your cycle chain. Because I do not know anything about it.” He purchased a chain spcified by me and rused to tops where Volvo for Manali stats. It was already 6 and last Volvo had left. This Punjabi dedicated friend chased the last left volvo on the highway leading to Chandigrah, stopped at a signal and threw chain into driver’s cabin. He took driver’s number and texted it to me. There was no further communication.
Meanwhile the bike mechanic fixed existing chain and cycle seemed fine. I tested that chain by climbing about 1000meter in 1 hour in just 5Km, it was not my strength but my anger, frustration or may be worry that I had to complete my trip. The first day of the trip and such a big breakdown. Next morning when I and part reached to the bus stop waiting for that Volvo to come, as soon as we asked for chain, first thing driver reacted was a couple of Slang meant for us and Pankaj.
Finally he handed over the chain, I still have it even after a year as I did not need it but the extra chain was good enough to reinstall the confidence and courage that was shaken on very first day. The second day was to relax and ride. I rode about 75km that day on ups and downs to get my body acclimatized. Finally we went for a gala dinner in one of the most luxurious hotels by the river Beas.
It was time to head for Marhi, about 35km ride, gaining 3500meter height in those 35km continuous incline on the way to Rohtang where we were to stay overnight.
Do visit agaion on Tuesday, Aug 2 to read about Manali to Marhi ride.