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The Leh Marathon!

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  • The Leh Marathon!

    The Marathon legacy continues! Those of you who have read The Spiti Marathon would be able to relate and know what to expect from this tale, and those who haven’t, well, do go through it.

    People of all ages, castes and creed, travel. A subset of those, prefer traveling to religious places to seek the divine blessing of the powers that be. There is a special place for these destinations in the hearts of the worshipers, which also should be, being a disciple. Annual pilgrimages are common amongst travelers.

    Such a destination for me is Ladakh! I feel privileged to take this journey to the land of passes which is no less than a pilgrimage for me. Divinity and sanctity, for me, lies amidst those barren mountains and landscapes which enrich my energy levels two fold!

    This year was a bit different though. I had planned to head out to Leh in the third week of September along with two of my riding companions namely Archit Mittal and Prashant Bhardwaj. However, that idea would not see the light of the day for me as it had to be shelved due to some unforeseen reasons.

    This is where the seeds of a continuous ride from Delhi to Leh were sown, deep down in my brain. I began wondering whether it could be possible or not. And if it was possible, could it be a reality for me? There was only one way to find out! I ain’t going to write no poems now, and would just get on with describing my sojourn!

    Disclaimer: Before I begin, I want to put one thing straight. This is not a saddle-sore attempt! This is not a journey done for a record. I was not racing against time. I did not have to complete a set amount of kilometers in a set period of time. I took my own sweet time. I did this to experience how much I could endure. Hence this is purely, an endurance ride and nothing else.

    Leg 1: Delhi (31st August, 1pm) – Leh (1st September, 10 Pm), 33 hours at one go.

    The CBR had been through a second service recently. The little issues that I was facing were rectified and the bike was in perfect shape. I go the bare essentials and tools/spares ready in the saddle and took the backpack for the extra fuel that I would need on the journey. The time 1 pm was precisely chosen, so that I would not have to cross any high altitude pass at night. I was scheduled for a little stop in Chandigarh where I had to collect the fuel cans, BSNL sim card, camera and other stuff from Archit.
    I arrived in Chandigarh nearing 5pm and went straight to Archit’s place. Procured the fuel cans from him, filled them up and returned. I was carrying 14L of extra fuel with, just in case the pumps enroute Manali shut operations at night. Ranjeet Singh came over as well and both of them saw me off at around 6:15 from Chandigarh.



    The first of many issues came as I crossed Mohali. I was carrying 14L in by backpack and my shoulder had begun to hurt, already. “I have a long way to go and pain should be deferred as long as possible”, I thought to myself. I parked over the sidewalk and arranged the luggage in such a manner that the cans were accommodated in the saddle bags and finally the weight was off my shoulders.

    I rode through traffic until Kiratpur where the familiar hills welcomed me. City traffic subsided and only trucks remained. Bilaspur turned up eventually and I filled up at an open bunk there.






    The distinction of the CBR from the Xtreme was quite evident as the machine was ascending quite effortlessly. I was easily taking corners at 80-90 which was a good 20 kmph more than I usually manage on the Xtreme. The suspension setting was on default, which turned out to pretty good as the vehicle was literally swallowing the potholes that turned up and behaved as deterrents.

    Ner chowk was my next top-up at around 11pm. Now I knew I would find nothing enroute.

    The sky was lit up with the glittering stars and the shimmering moon shining down on me. Traffic came to a complete zero and I was the only one on the road for kilometers far and within! I reached kullu at around 1:30 and a bit of sleep crept in. I didn’t want to take no chances; I was already pushing my luck too far attempting this mammoth of a task. So I looked out for an open Dhaba and luckily spotted one within minutes.

    “Chai hai?”, I enquired

    “Bilkul”, pat came the reply

    “Chai aisi banaio ki us mein doodh ka naam-o-nishaan bhi na ho”, I enforced.

    After what was almost a jug of black tea I got back on my saddle and rode off into the darkness, with the Steppenwolf number “Born to be wild” blaring with its classic glory on my ear drums which, mind you, favored such gimmicks and the signals they sent to the brain released endorphins of ecstasy and jubilation!

    Manali it was at 2:45 am. I did not stop there, I continued. It wasn’t that I plan on scaling Rohtang at night; it’s just that I wasn’t too keen on stopping there.








    “Kothi…Kothi…”, a voice whispered …from my conscious to my ears. I had to obey, I had no other choice.

    I reached Kothi about 20 mins later and pulled over at a shed where a couple of chairs were aligned. As soon as I sat down, it began to drizzle, which after a while turned into a shower! Perfect timing, I thought to myself! Nonetheless, the plan was to rest for 30 mins and then continue, to which I adhered. I had my first red-bull and looked at the watch..it was almost 4am. Hence it was time to head out again.

    The rain got heavier and heavier and visibility reduced to just a few meters. My speed dropped to 20 kmph. It was dark and clouds were floating on the road. On top of that the rain was splashing against my eye-balls making conditions all the more troublesome. I was above 10,000ft and I didn’t even realize.

    I looked for a place to halt at Gulaba. Nothing, absolutely no shed was available for me to sneak into. Every entity was packed closed! That left me with no other option but to continue riding towards Marhi, which is at 11,000ft ASL.

    “Koi dhaba khula hai?”, I enquired from a truckie some kilometers below Marhi.

    “Ha ek khula hai abhi abhi”, he responded, much to my relief!

    5am I was at Marhi. I parked the bike at a dry area near the entrance and dashed in. The riding jacket and riding pants had saved most of my torso and legs, however, my hands were numb and my shoes were soaking wet!
    I took off the heavy gear and shoes, drank 3 cups of tea, before I regained my senses.

    “Scaling Rohtang would be sheer foolishness in rain”, I thought to myself. It’s already muddy out there and would be even worse in the rain. Hence I waited for the rain to go down to bare minimum, which happened around 6 where the heavy rain turned to just a meager drizzle.









    6am, me astride the CBR, began our ascend.

    There’s an element called mud which we come across in day to day lives quite frequently. This mud offers poor traction to the rear tyre. And when this mud is scattered with lots and lots of water, intermittently, it leads to quick sand.


    THAT is what was the condition of the road, when I took the third fork out of Marhi. And then the struggle began. It was a bloody mud-fest all throughout! The CBR’s undercowl was constantly scraping the rocks whilst riding through the mud. Many a time, I had to use my legs and wade through combined with the power of the bike. The boots used to sink in, if I were to stand longer than 10 secs there! At one place the rear refused to move and I had to accelerate hard in half a clutch to make it budge. I fear that I might have harmed the clutch-plates there. Thankfully the bike did not give up.























    Eventually, after a lot of pushing and gasping and cursing, I reached the top, in about 2 hours from Marhi.



    Things hereon were relatively easier. Another hour saw me entering Khoksar where I fed a parantha to my starving-crying-out-loud belly.
    One problem that had surfaced was that the radiator of the CBR was mud-infested. Hence the fan used to turn on more often than usual. I first cleaned it by splashing water and using my hands and when that did not help, I took out my toothbrush and scrubbed the fins to erode off the dry mud. This, although it lead to some bent fins, but prevented the bike from overheating, which would have been disastrous at that remote place.
    Continuing I crossed Sissu, Gondla and Tandi at good speeds as the surface was perfect. In an hour I had crossed keylong and was on my way to Jispa when suddenly the bike began to heat up again. The coolant temp gauge was showing status within limits but he fan was running at a furious speed and the bike was really hot. I got off and looked at the radiator…more mud! I repeated the process of scrubbing the excess mud off the radiator and continued further.

    Crossed Jispa, crossed Darcha and then finally Baralacha la in no time. The roads were in pristine condition so did not face any issues. Towards Sarchu the roads deteriorated but the CBR was taking it all in its stride. Although not as comfortable as and more painful than the Xtreme, but still, this Honda product did not show any signs of dying down. The fairing was stable, no rattle. The under-cowl, apart from the Rohtang incidents did not touch down, no matter how deep the pothole. This was a result of acceptable ground clearance as well as careful riding and skillful navigation.

    Near Sarchu:













    I reached Sarchu at around 2. I parked the vehicle and lay down flat on the ground. I was feeling signs of fatigue and pain now. It had been almost 25 hours since I had left Delhi, and this was the most I had ridden at a stretch. With much effort, I picked myself up. This was the real test. I knew from now on, it was not going to be easy, not one bit! However I consoled myself by telling me that Leh was just 7-8 hours away now and I could do it easily. I gathered all my determination, my character and my wit.

    Combined all those and sped off to the Gata-loops, smiling!







    The roads were pathetic after Gata loops all the way till Pang. Bad, real bad! It took me 2 and half hours to reach Pang! Sat down at a dhaba there and had a cup of tea. The clock on the console of the CBR read 4:45pm. Sundown was still 2 hours away and I was confident that I could scale Tanglangla before 6 as Moray plains should be a piece of cake. How wrong I was!

    It began drizzling as I entered the plains. 10 kms were of fantastic tarmac.





    Then troubles arose again. Authorities’ maintaining the road from Moray plains to Tanglangla have put in several diversions on different sections of the road. One has to leave the road, enter the sand, ride through it and then come back on the road. Now water in sand is synonymous to a man’s wife when she catches him cajoling another woman: DANGEROUS!


    I had the first taste of that danger when I began to wriggle furiously through the wet sand at the first diversion. After that I began looking for alternate route which were less ‘sandy’ and where I could cross over without much effort. At 16,000ft effort was the last thing my weak body needed after all it had gone through. But that relieved was short-lived. Just as I crossed Debring, on my next diversion, the bike got dead stuck in a diversion that I had created. No amount of pushing would help, the vehicle just wouldn’t budge! Perfect! This is what I need at 6pm into the night. I walked up to debring and called for help. A very kind gentleman accompanied me and we together were able to dig out the bike, finally.
    I continued. The road to Tanglangla was again, bad! This word would have been the most utilized word in this log, I believe!

    Tanglangla Top by late evening



    While descending to Rumtse, it began to grow dark. Now here’s where the mother of all troubles began. I started to hallucinate!! Rocks began to take the shapes of humans, the sky started turning green and animals mainly dragons and dinosaurs began crossing the road with such frequency that I actually believed that I was travelling through the stone age.

    This was dangerous and I realized that. It had been over 30 hours of riding and only riding. All I had was an aaloo parantha some tea and some red-bull over the last 24 hours! I was weak and weary. I needed something to eat. I could not run more on pure adrenaline!

    I hurried carefully to Rumtse. I got of the bike and my legs began paining, like someone put a knife through them. On top of that, my forearms as well as my back hurt a lot. Nothing like ever before. I stumbled up to the nearest dhaba and all they had was Maggi. That time Maggi was like mutton shahi korma dipped in khameeri roti with a bowl of rabri! I gulped down them noodles in like 3 minutes. Then I just sat there for around 20 mins, shot my last red-bull before continuing.

    For the last time, the Rumtse – Upshi stretch was……..bad! The flash floods last year had washed off this stretch and whatever makeover they had done to establish connectivity was in a pathetic condition.
    I reached Upshi in an hour. Leh was just 49 now. I could see my ride looking straight at success now. It should not be more than another hour now. I feared that something might go topsy-turvy and I may not be able to complete my marathon to Leh.

    I was wrong! I did complete it. At precisely 10pm, an overjoyed soul entered the Padmaling guest house on the Changspa road, Leh, where Gaurav (A friend who was already in leh) was waiting for me with a couple of Kingfisher Lager and good food to savor on………

    To be continued!
    Last edited by kurtrules; 09-12-2011, 11:04 AM.
    " I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not" - Kurt Cobain

  • #2
    Triplog approved

    Awesome pics there.
    Happiness is finding you have another Gear left....

    Join xBhp On

    Comment


    • #3
      yeh bas tu hi kar sakta hai mamu
      sigpic

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by darkknight
        yeh bas tu hi kar sakta hai mamu
        Tu bhi kar sakta hai dost..delhi aaja saath karenge
        " I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not" - Kurt Cobain

        Comment


        • #5
          Oh! the log is up.

          Kambakht mazaak banaa dia hamaari ride kaa Kehte huye bhi sharam aa rahi hai ke we took 4 days.
          But seriously, what an incredible achievement. I am already inspired and have instructed my wife that next year, i am going solo
          Waiting for the next installment.

          Comment


          • #6
            Kurt - One question to you. You're using Cramster colt isn't it? But how come the heat from C250R's exhaust isn't melting your bag? I did a trial check on day 0 of my trip & found this. So I put 80-85% on the front seat & remaining on the rear seat & this is helping me so far.
            Skill is what keeps you on a Motorcycle
            Awareness + Skill is what keeps you out of harm's way
            ATGATT + Awareness + Skill means you might Live To Ride another day

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Mik View Post
              Oh! the log is up.

              Kambakht mazaak banaa dia hamaari ride kaa Kehte huye bhi sharam aa rahi hai ke we took 4 days.
              But seriously, what an incredible achievement. I am already inspired and have instructed my wife that next year, i am going solo
              Waiting for the next installment.
              Nothing like that bhai...first time I went I too took 3 days.

              Originally posted by aargee View Post
              Kurt - One question to you. You're using Cramster colt isn't it? But how come the heat from C250R's exhaust isn't melting your bag? I did a trial check on day 0 of my trip & found this. So I put 80-85% on the front seat & remaining on the rear seat & this is helping me so far.
              Nothing like that happened. However, the muffler got stained a bit at the end as the color from the bag stuck to it...but not melting as such..
              " I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not" - Kurt Cobain

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mik View Post
                Oh! the log is up.

                Kambakht mazaak banaa dia hamaari ride kaa Kehte huye bhi sharam aa rahi hai ke we took 4 days.
                But seriously, what an incredible achievement. I am already inspired and have instructed my wife that next year, i am going solo
                Waiting for the next installment.
                Nothing like that bhai...first time I went I too took 3 days.

                Originally posted by aargee View Post
                Kurt - One question to you. You're using Cramster colt isn't it? But how come the heat from C250R's exhaust isn't melting your bag? I did a trial check on day 0 of my trip & found this. So I put 80-85% on the front seat & remaining on the rear seat & this is helping me so far.
                Nothing like that happened. However, the muffler got stained a bit at the end as the color from the bag stuck to it...but not melting as such..
                " I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not" - Kurt Cobain

                Comment


                • #9
                  Purely Stunning...! Amazing man. Glued now..!
                  Whenever there is a Rainbow in the sky, I know it's u mastering the art of Cornering. U will always be remembered brother, R.I.P Arun.

                  The 5 Speed Restoration
                  The Z Restoration


                  /2001 Yamaha Rx 135 5 Speed/ 1999 Yamaha RXZ 135/ 2012 Honda Dio/ ?

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                  • #10
                    This is super stuff.So the CBR got lehed finally.

                    Cheers
                    Biru
                    MyTravelTales-India
                    Australia||Thailand||Nepal||Singapore||Finland||Estonia||Norway||Latvia||Lithuania||Poland

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Man you are something!! You did a marathon to LEH!!

                      I am out of words. Helmets (Forget helmet full clothes off to you man!!)

                      Bravo!! I am glued to this thread.

                      And when will I get the privelage to ride with you?
                      Rachit K Dogra

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                      • #12
                        Freak.!! Awesome..!! What expression should I use

                        Infact for me, this time I was delayed by a day & had to spend one extra day in the mountains before reaching leh. So it took me around 4 days from Manali to leh. Because of the rohtang mud mishap & several water crossing with a huge one at ZingZing bar..

                        hats off to you - One Crazy Soul..!! keep it up & bring on the rest..!!
                        ..»».. I will rather ride my Bike thinking about God, then sitting in a Temple thinking about my Bike.. »»..

                        Blog : Mumbai - Leh - Mumbai : 21 Days, 6500kms. Journey to Heaven..June'09
                        GreatIndianRide - West India on a 110cc for over a month
                        Mumbai-Leh-Mumbai - A Sequel : July'11 (Blog coming soon)

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                        • #13
                          Sir Albert Einstein will define this stunt as 'insanity' & I call it 'pagalpanti'. :P
                          Hats off.

                          CHEERS!!!

                          The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.
                          ~ Spiderweb

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                          • #14
                            You did a marathon ride, i did a marathon read (of your travelogue) , read it in one breath without stopping.

                            This is super stuff. Bravo Vaibhav.

                            one question: What about AMS, did you face it?
                            (Been There Done That) x 3.25

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                            • #15
                              33 hors non-stop :O
                              awesome pics as usual and some nice narration too. waiting for the rest.

                              Now water in sand is synonymous to a man’s wife when she catches him cajoling another woman:
                              LMAO
                              CRAP Blog

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