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Indo-French Joint Venture 2010: Ride in North India, Leh and Beyond!

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  • prateek2210
    replied
    Superb log there Ken Da
    P.S : Showing six(still counting) pack ABs

    Leave a comment:


  • tilak_soni73
    replied
    amazing captures backed with lovely narration... loved it.. ken da...

    Leave a comment:


  • rachitkohli
    replied
    vow.. awesome trip Ken..!! I remember u saying on our live updated thread, last year.. "Back to Civilization"
    Lovely narration..!!! Pix are super cool.. feel the chillness in my office here

    Leave a comment:


  • ken cool
    replied
    DAY11Baralach La (In capitals!): or The Day of Reckoning or The Day we Attempt crossing the Big B!

    Despite the cold windy conditions of the night, despite the doors of our shack being forced open in the dead of the night during our much deserved sleep by a lovesick maniac, despite the thought of the horror stories of the coming day lingering heavy on top of our heads, we managed a good night’s sleep of 6 solid hours at an altitude of 4200mts. I woke up early at 0500 hours to avoid the embarrassment of taking a crap in front of the whole world since there were no toilets here! Nature was our great loo.

    It turned out that everybody is as intelligent as I am and most of the guys were out at the back relieving themselves squatting on their haunches with the trousers pulled down to the knees! As the old adage goes, when in Rome, I did the same!

    Sarchu


    Our Shack/shelter for the night


    Our Hostess, to the right who generously made the shack our only shelter for the night and made dinner and paranthas

    If you have read, you will know, she was a life-saver!

    Three Alu Paranthas later we were ready to take on the road on which not too many bikers had crossed over from the side of Leh. Soon we were doing good speeds of 80kmph on the Sarchu tarmac through the meadows. I could however see frozen rivulets on the sides indicating temperatures still well .

    Then came the first obstacle. Thankfully, just as I had calculated, most of the streams and snow was still frozen seeing the temperatures that were still prevailing. It was a narrow trickle with a lot of undulating bumps of well-packed gravel. The bumps were so high that one truck and two Qualises were stuck in it and my undercarriage scraped hard each time. I helped with Brigitte’s motorcycle as well. Lost a good half hour there. This was not all that tough. However, the guys coming across last night found the water levels here at nearly thigh level! For us it was nearly dry! This is what a good night's freezing can do!

    Then began our climb. We started to realize that the tarmac was no longer what it looked like. The melted snow of the previous day had frozen right on the road making a very treacherous black ice. We rode really slow at 20kmph, maintaining 3rd gear, with no jerks, no acceleration, no braking, using only engine braking without strong downshifts. We tried holding a straight line, even on the corners. There was nothing we could do to go any faster. There was nothing that one should have done either! At the slightest braking, skidding was evident. Even a one gear downshift sent my rear wheel sliding across uncontrollably!mentally tiring. We stopped for a break. Photos.

    Some Vistas




    Some example of a short stretch of Excellent road leading to the Big B about 20kms away! However, this was pretty rare






    By this time the snow was beginning to melt at places where the direct sun was beating down and much water had begun to flow on the tarmac. There were places which had been well exposed to the sun and had warmed up and we had to fight up against a relatively strong stream flowing down. At this juncture I was moving up quite fast and I lost Brigitte in my RV Mirror. But I did not want to stop because if I stopped, I might not be able to start again seeing the slippery and treacherous conditions of the road. This climb through the ice and snow and stream flowing down was not easy since the tarmac had disappeared leaving a lot of potholes and gravel. And then I came upon the famous twin bridges one of which was totally covered up in snow still. I took the one that had become “usable” and moved ahead. Crossing the bridge I suddenly saw a frozen puddle in front of me. I could not brake. I could not slow down. Too late, I plunged into the puddle. The front tyre cracked through the thin layer of ice and opened up the puddle. Thankfully it was not too deep or tough to cross. I came out the other side, still with a LOT of snow on the road! And I continued gradually as long as my tyres would take me. And then I came to a standstill in front of a truck stuck in the snow!

    I turned around and saw Brigitte appear from the slope bouncing up and down with the bike on the potholes and managing to cross the bridge and the puddle without too many problems but it was a sight worth watching yet again!

    The truck was stuck in the snow since the previous night! There was no road anymore. Just a track made by some vehicles crossing that place in the two feet deep snow! And this is where the truck was stuck leaning dangerously! And there was no way was I going past the truck on this “track”. And there had been vehicles behind the truck that have been vagaries of life.

    Then we walked back and we did the same with the Avenger! It was below freezing point, but I was sweating from the effort! We talked to the truck drivers stuck there for the whole night. They reassured us saying that just this stretch was difficult to handle and tough to get past. A little ahead and things get better all the way till Baralach La 8kms away on a tarmac that was clear and nearly clean, they said. I was worried about the interpretation of the part when they said “nearly”!



    The Avenger is waiting its turn. As you can see, one bridge is barely usable. The twin bridge is still completely snowed out!


    Anyway, we went ahead towards the Pass since we were not going back to “Godzilla”! After a point of time, the track did get cleaner with some patches of snow and ice on the road. At times the snow walls were 5mts high on the sides that the board saying “Baralach La” was buried underneath. In such a situation, we even encountered a Karol Bagh type situation, stuck between vehicles where suddenly we found ourselves and everybody else, riding/driving on the right side of the road! Anyway, we got past that too. Baralach La crossing was beautiful, memorable and fantastic.

    A short video of the climb to Baralach La
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75T7HP4wP2A

    The tarmac was newly laid and gorgeous all the way till Zingzing Bar. Curiously, at Zingzing Bar there is actually an Army BarBaralach La had been done! We were one of the first bikers to have done it. Maybe Spiderweb did it on the same day as us or a day earlier! But not many bikers, xBhp or otherwise have done it before us in 2010! We were pretty sure of that.

    We kept at our rhythms of riding. Took one break to regroup our sensitivities. Took another break for lunch. It had got warmer after Zingzing Bar. We had left the snowlines way behind us. We did numerous stream crossings. Each time was a difficult one for Brigitte. She has by now become an expert in crossing streams in the Himalayas on a Bajaj Avenger after having done 50 of those things, easy and tough ones!

    We did the climb to Rohtang in the afternoon. There were three landslides on the way that were being cleared by bulldozers from BRO. There was quite a bit of mud and slush and a lot of water flowing down on the gravel and rocks. There was practically no tarmac for long stretches. But compared to Godzila Pass, this was a cakewalk!

    Rohtang La






    Rohtang Pass was a huge mess. All of Delhi and Haryana had assembled there. From a hilltop view, I could estimate that there would be a minimum of 5000 cars parked at Rohtang Pass! There was no way I was going to spend my night at Manali. I really hate Manali. I seldom go there. During weekends and holidays, Manali becomes a replica of Nehru Place in rush hour! I always stay at the small quaint village 5kms removed from Manali at Vashist. You get hotels there overlooking the Beas. Most hotels have giant screens and you can watch off-beat world cinema movies, not your regular wham-bam-Bruce Willis-gun-toting-good-vs-evil type of mainstream Z-grade Hollywood movies! You can get to watch stuff like, “Perfume”, “Bladerunner”, “2001 Space Odyssey”. We settled down at the hotel for 600 INR for a night with our balcony overlooking an apple orchard and the mighty Beas in the distance.

    At the hotel, back to networks, back to bickering with family and near and dear ones, back to civilisation!


    What a day!

    Brigitte’s Impressions at EOD:

    “Just one sentence: We did it!
    Last edited by ken cool; 07-22-2010, 02:09 PM.

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  • ken cool
    replied
    Originally posted by kurtrules View Post
    Next part sirjee?? Not done, there should be daily updates..

    You leave it hanging at 4000 meters ASL for 2 days, when you are so close to the part I have been waiting for all this while
    Coming up soon!

    As of now, I am going back to your log!

    Leave a comment:


  • kurtrules
    replied
    Next part sirjee?? Not done, there should be daily updates..

    You leave it hanging at 4000 meters ASL for 2 days, when you are so close to the part I have been waiting for all this while

    Leave a comment:


  • ken cool
    replied
    Originally posted by rachitkohli View Post
    Yes they did last month.. Spidy, MOtor & Alankar.. On motorcycles
    Ok! That one? I was reading it.

    Leave a comment:


  • rachitkohli
    replied
    Originally posted by ken cool View Post
    You did? Which day/date? On motorcycles?
    Yes they did last month.. Spidy, MOtor & Alankar.. On motorcycles

    Leave a comment:


  • ken cool
    replied
    Originally posted by Haroon View Post
    Ken- Lovely write-up and pics. True adventure with all kinds of challenges (including the guy waking you up looking for his girlfriend.. ha ha)

    Appreciations to Brigitte and special mention for the little adventurer Mael. Very nice. Keep it coming.
    Originally posted by MotorBreath! View Post
    Much respect to the French lady, helmets off to her spirits!

    We did Mumbai-Leh-Mumbai last month and crossing BarlachLa was as big an achievement as riding all the way from Mumbai to Leh for me. We waited for 3 days @ Sarchu for BarlachLa to get open, we made our 1st attempt on Day1 and one of our bikes clutch plates went kaput.

    We covered Tanglang-La to Pang after 05:30pm, so kinda missed those beautiful mountains right after the Moore Plains end.. thanx for sharing those pics, Ken Da.
    You did? Which day/date? On motorcycles?

    Leave a comment:


  • MotorBreath!
    replied
    Much respect to the French lady, helmets off to her spirits!

    We did Mumbai-Leh-Mumbai last month and crossing BarlachLa was as big an achievement as riding all the way from Mumbai to Leh for me. We waited for 3 days @ Sarchu for BarlachLa to get open, we made our 1st attempt on Day1 and one of our bikes clutch plates went kaput.

    We covered Tanglang-La to Pang after 05:30pm, so kinda missed those beautiful mountains right after the Moore Plains end.. thanx for sharing those pics, Ken Da.

    Leave a comment:


  • Haroon
    replied
    Ken- Lovely write-up and pics. True adventure with all kinds of challenges (including the guy waking you up looking for his girlfriend.. ha ha)

    Appreciations to Brigitte and special mention for the little adventurer Mael. Very nice. Keep it coming.

    Leave a comment:


  • ken cool
    replied
    Originally posted by kurtrules View Post
    I too left Upshi with the same optimism of crossing the mighty Baralacha La. I too was hopeful. I too believed that it is just an over-hype and BTop should open up. I too met a few bikers enroute who instilled confidence, though they had left Manali a week ago, and crossed BTop when the road opened for just a day on the 8th of June!!

    We took the same risk, Ken. The only differnce is that you crossed over, and I had to cover 1350 kms to get back to the place which was merely 500 from Sarchu

    I am surprised to see so less snow and so much water, especially at Kangla jal, which was dry when I crossed it! But I guess that is expected moreover when Moray plains changed from white to green in just a day!

    Great narration Ken! Keep going.
    Thanks Kurt.

    I don't know if I had the optimism of making it or if the Big B was going to be accessible! I just went there taking a chance. Day1: the chance paid off. Kangla Jal was the only major obstacle. Tanglang La was difficult for some, but certainly not impossible.

    But this is not yet finished, Big B is yet to come!

    Originally posted by kurtrules View Post
    And yes, a special congratulations to the the lady who travelled with you. She must have come across such roads/landscapes for the first time. Riding over them is no child's play. Requires strength, grit and determination, especially in June! She did it, crossed over and came back safe and sound. Hats off!
    Yes, really hats off to the lady! She has got real grit and determination.

    Originally posted by Aryan View Post
    Nice narration of the day followed by some pictures. Thanks for sharing. The last part (lover, et al) was hilarious. Waiting for subsequent day's log and photographs, now.
    Not much left now... following day is going to be Judgment Day!

    Leave a comment:


  • Aryan
    replied
    Nice narration of the day followed by some pictures. Thanks for sharing. The last part (lover, et al) was hilarious. Waiting for subsequent day's log and photographs, now.

    Leave a comment:


  • kurtrules
    replied
    I too left Upshi with the same optimism of crossing the mighty Baralacha La. I too was hopeful. I too believed that it is just an over-hype and BTop should open up. I too met a few bikers enroute who instilled confidence, though they had left Manali a week ago, and crossed BTop when the road opened for just a day on the 8th of June!!

    We took the same risk, Ken. The only differnce is that you crossed over, and I had to cover 1350 kms to get back to the place which was merely 500 from Sarchu

    I am surprised to see so less snow and so much water, especially at Kangla jal, which was dry when I crossed it! But I guess that is expected moreover when Moray plains changed from white to green in just a day!

    Great narration Ken! Keep going.

    And yes, a special congratulations to the the lady who travelled with you. She must have come across such roads/landscapes for the first time. Riding over them is no child's play. Requires strength, grit and determination, especially in June! She did it, crossed over and came back safe and sound. Hats off!

    Leave a comment:


  • ken cool
    replied
    Day10: Leh - Sarchutyres with studs on snow! I a not sure about the viability of finding such tyres in Leh. I did not even think about it!

    Lost Keys!sweating profusely in my state of mental disarray. And then I found the whole bunch inside my helmet! After losing 45mts.

    We set off finally. We nearly had 250kms to cover to Sarchu before nightfall. And we had no idea about the condition of the roads. Though we knew that till Sarchu, quite a few bikers had attempted and reached.

    I had promised a photo-stop to Brigitte near Hemis, right next to the Indus. This stop was made a little short of Karu.



    Hemis in the distance:






    Loved the colour of the mountain rocks here:




    And we kept moving. Turned right from Upshi. The road remained quite good till Rumtse, 100kms from Leh. Covered that in less than 3 hours. But then we came across disappeared tarmac, road laying working going and a lot of ice and snow and quite bad roads and a lot of melted water in huge puddles, all the way till Tanglang La. On one stretch I even had to help Brigitte cross over a patch of construction work where they were had laid broken stones on the road before continuing laying the road on top. It was a tough stretch of about 50 odd metres that I helped Brigitte cross.

    You can see the path leading to Tanglang La behind my head!


    Photo and Diamox time. Then I let Brigitte go ahead for the second time in our trip. She kept going. The next 15kms took an hour! Brigitte had already reached Tanglang La.

    YouTube - Climb on Tanglang-La

    Registered by my GPS.

    Brigitte First


    Me following later:




    Tanglang La Baba watched over us!DebringBreakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Beds also available!Tents near Debring


    The Lovely Kitchen that prepared our Maggi Noodels!


    More Plains Guess what those black spots are in the distance...


    They are this:


    Getting out of Debring and on to the More Plains was a tough affair with deep stretches of sand. I spent a great amount of time of my ride looking in my rear view mirror to see if all was well with Brigitte in the tough Indian riding conditions. What I saw Brigitte do in the sand at More Plains was nothing short of Chris Pfeiffer spectacle. She swerved to the left, she swerved to the right, trying to maintain a steady line, her front wheel came up; it was almost miraculous and I had my heart nearly out of my mouth. And she left a blazing cloud of dust big enough to show that she has been riding a tank at full throttle! But she did not drop the bike.

    I have enjoyed riding on More Plains before. But not this time. BRO in its efforts to widen roads, most of it was unfinished and the rest of it was deep sand, difficult to ride in if you are not a seasoned off-road rider.

    Reached Pang. Photos.

    Road to Pang




    Everybody knows where and what this is...


    Closer look of what Brigitte calls Fairy's Chimneys!


    Then came Kangla Jal. It was past 4 in the afternoon. The melting snowcapshit boulders under the stream and nearly lost it. The current was strong and I tried countering the current. I hit another boulder and the bike swerved to the left and I climbed a rock piece. The rear axle was still in the water. The bike had not stalled. Thankfully the current here was manageable and I pushed a rock to reverse a bit and with gradual throttle I managed to cross the stream. I had broken into a heavy sweat.

    I was not scared of dropping the bike or falling into the water. I was mostly scared of dropping my expensive photographic equipment into the water.

    I went back jumping on rocks and helped Brigitte with her bike. There was no way she was going to manage this all on her own. This time I chose another trajectory to cross the stream. It was deeper with current but there were lesser boulders. I managed it.

    Then came the second part of Kangla Jal. This too was nearly axle deep and a pretty strong current. This was when two Europeans came on their bullets. I showed them what to avoid on the first part. And I let them go first on the second part. Checked out the gradient, depth and current while they made their crossing. I got it too. This time Brigitte managed to do it on her own. She looked happy having done it. It was fun. Ten minutes ago I was not smiling when I was stuck in the middle of the crossing!



    The depth was till the axle, but the current hit me till nearly my thighs!


    YouTube - Kangla Jal Crossing after Pang

    Back on the road again. Or what was left of what was once a road. I calculated; two more major passes at 5000mts+, Gatta Loops and then another hour to Sarchu. I feared that we would be riding in the night. I stopped thinking and started riding. I maintained a brisk pace and Brigitte kept up. We did a brisk stop at Lachlung La, none at Nakeela and then came the 21 sharp hairpin bends of Gata Loops as we descended a thousand metres in less than 8 kms. All of it was thankfully tarmac.

    Lachlung La








    So far we made it


    The only person from xBhp who made it past this point before us this season was KurtThere was not a single bed available! Everything was sold out to such an extent that I saw people lying down in the seats of their cars with engine running and the heater on! Then I came to the last tent and there was a lady who was wo-manning it! I pleaded with her saying I got a small son, a lady and I could not find a place to staytin shack abandoned by the armyOur Army Tin Shed




    The following day was the acid test! I already knew that we would make it till Manali. But the thought was, in what conditions and under what circumstances! Kurt had said, attempt it only if you are an accomplished rider on snow, black ice... One cannot do much on black ice! One falls.

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