Tour de Ladakh [Day 5:Part 2]: Getting Leh’D !

I believe at every given point of time, some motorcycle rider or the other has to be stranded somewhere in the Manali-Leh Highway. A pretty strange stat, owing to the fact that there are less than a dozen groups on it every day at this point of the season. A few miles down the descent from Tanglang La, we came across two men on Royal Enfields waving at us for help. One of them was a Middle-Aged American and the other was his tour guide name Vinay. Looking from the state of the American’s bike, it was evident that they had suffered quite a few falls. His, crash guards had fell off and was now tided to the luggage instead. One of their bikes had suffered a puncture. And to make matters worse, they didn’t have a puncture repair kit. We obviously had to help them out. Instead of taking out the entire rear wheel, we decided to inflate it using our foot pump and ride it to the next village ‘Rumpste’ which was just a few kilometers ahead.

Ladakh, The Pride of the Nation!

Leh is still around 100 kms away.

Well, Heaven is on Mother Earth for sure.

Came across Vinay and the American with their punctured Enfield.

Riding to Rumptse to find a Mechanic.

Half an hour later we reached Rumptse, but strangely, it was completely deserted and no mechanic was around. So, now we had no option other than to try and repair the puncture all by ourselves. We had learnt these things before starting the trip, but obviously it used to give us jitters when the actual time came. “Would we able to assemble back the wheel properly?”, “Why if we unknowingly jam the brakes?”, “What if we miss a screw and the wheel comes off during the ride?”, were some of the uncomfortable doubts that came to us! Anyway Sukesh and Rahul decided to stay back and attempt the repair with the American and his guide while I decided to go ahead and scout for mechanics in the villages coming up ahead. 

Ghost towns after Ghost towns. No mechanics in sight.

 No Samosa in Sasoma. Sorry.

No one in Gya.

Never ride and Enfield unless and until you are properly acquainted with it. Only for professionals.

So I set off on my short, solo adventure! The roads were mostly nice, the twisties were fun, Riding through the rock cut roads while listening to some nice classic rock was an experience itself. Funny thing though, village after village, Everything was deserted. Not a soul in sight. So, I presumed that the natives  must have gone to the plains in the spring looking for jobs and all. Passed three similar village, Gya, Miro and Sasoma. All the same. No People around, leave alone mechanics. Anyway, I decided to proceed on to  the next village ‘Upshi’, which is one of the few villages in the region which you can find on the conventional maps. Ladakhi Roads are famous for having witty road signs throughout and the stretch between Rumptse and Leh serves as a highlights reel for these road signs!

Dusty but fun roads.

My battle weathered knee protectors.

Guess my Licence Plate number!

More deserted villages with no soul in sight.

Sexist but worth a laugh!

Pretty tempting to ‘Fly at 90’ though! Blame the smooth curves.
The most common road sign in those roads.
Three Enemies of the Road. Liquor, Speed and Overload.
Words from the Wise Old Monk.
Some greenery after so many days!
My dear, That’s a beer.
If Gama rode fast bikes.
Patches of bad roads followed by patches of good ones. A Regular Affair.
Bucket List Updated. “Raid de Himalaya” in 5 years.
Misleading. Still 50 kilometers away!
The Indus River! The river behind the the Nomenclature of my country!

I reached Upshi sometime during the afternoon. I found a mechanic there but he was busy tending to other motorcycles and asked me to wait for an hour of so. Meanwhile, a group of 8 Belgian bikers on Royal Enfields and Bajaj Avengers reached Upshi. I went to them and asked if they met my group on the way. They gave me the affirmative that they were up and running, but “The White Guy’s” motorcycle was losing air. SO they have to stop every five kilometres and so to inflate it. The Belgians like us were riding from New Delhi. We exchanged a few stories while they were having lunch. One of them really loved my bike, kind of happy to see a ‘Bike from Back Home’! And one of them offered me some chocolates. Yep! Belgians giving chocolates. How clichéd can that get! After an hour or so, the Belgians left and the mechanic still wasn’t free. So I decided to ride back and see if my group is still stuck.

There’s Upshi on the other side of the bridge. That’s the first proper bridge we saw after such a long time.
With all the slopes and smooth roads, my Duke returned an incredible mileage!

After a 20 KM ride I came across two Familiar faces. It was Robin and Neha again. They could’t go to Tso Kar, so they were back on their original plan. Robin said that Sukesh and Rahul are right behind coming with the stranded guys. Sigh of Relief! We waited for five more minutes and roade together to Upshi. The others has their lunch there and I, tired of the blazing sun took of my balaclava. Bad Decision. Took just under 15 minutes to get a bad case of sunburn. Everyone had a late lunch at the famous Punjabi Dhaba at Upshi and we set off for Leh!

Now, we were starting to see civilization, some greenery, even the consistency of the good roads increased! We came across a myriad of Army camps, a large cantonment at Karu, and regular contingents of military vehicles on the road courteously making way for the puny motorcycles on the narrow roads. Finally before evening we REACHED LEH! After a 5 day fight finally we made it! Robin and Neha left for their accommodation while we decided to explore around Leh to find the cheapest accommodation in the busiest part of the town. We explored for a couple of hours stumbling across all types of Hotels, ranging from Rs, 5000 night to Rs 200 a night. We even stumbled across Raghav and his group in the evening! He was happy to see us alive after the adventure of yesterday! Finally we stumbled across this creepy monastery of some unknown cult in Changspa Road. They had really huge rooms priced at Rs 100 per person! That’s less than $2 per person. We took one room and it was pretty decent for it price. We had our dinner at ‘Le Pizzeria’ in Changspa Road. Great Ambience, but the food wasn’t up to the mark.

Dreamy scapes from Karu
Sukesh, waiting for the military vehicles to pass, so that he can take a leak!
A broken down bus turned into a toll booth. Indian Jugaad! From Kanyakumari to Ladakh!
Dinner at Le Pizzeria
Nice, Cozy, Rustic ambiance with a collection of magazines to choose from while waiting for your order.
Finally, a moment to rest after the last 5 Days’ struggle!

Anyway, the fist phase of our trip has come to an End! We huffed and puffed but in the end, GOT LEH’D! We decided to call it a day and recharge for more adventures coming up for the next ten days. Juley!


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