The Checkpost

Day 11 | Leh to Pangong Tso

About an hour out of Leh, near Karu, where we fork left off the main Srinagar Kyonon Road to head to Pangong Tso. This was a forced stop at the almost countless CheckPosts where we had to show permits, passports and record the Bike license plates. All of this information is collected manually, handwritten (in triplicate probably), painfully slowly and then that much awaited nod/shake suggesting we were good to roam free towards our destination.

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Day 11 | July 15 | Leh to Pangong Tso II

Leh to Pangong Tso | Multi Terrain | Decent riding

I posted another video of the same stretch taken from the Helmet mounted GoPro. This video was taken with a GoPro 3 facing me while heading up to Chang La  (5,360m or 17,590 ft) from Leh (3524m or 11,562 ft) to get to Pangong Tso (4,250m or 13,940 ft). Nice stretch with warm Sun, clear skies, cool breeze, me and The Steed.

I have attempted to add some background music using GoPro Studio editing software. Music from: BenSound.com

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Day 11 | Jul 15 | Leh to PangongTso

Leh to Pangong Tso | 100kms | Decent Ride

Our penultimate day’s ride took us to the much acclaimed, much awaited destination of Pangong Tso. The Blue Lake or the 3 Idiots Lake. This was a two day ride. A day’s ride there, overnight stay and then another day’s ride back. Kalpesh, due to prior commitments back in the US, had left the previous day heading back to USA. Sam had a flight early next day which meant that he could join us on the ride to Pangong Tso. He was missed. Him and his fear of all things water, crossings and wet! The PoshGoondas group was down to five riders; Vir, Fiona, me, Jatin and Nimish. Jatin and Nimish had decided to split a bike. Jatin ride to Pangong Tso, while Nimish rode the Backup Vehicle taking pictures. And on the return leg they swap; Jatin riding the Backup and Nimish the bike. So, in essence, 5 riders on 4 bikes!

The ride to Pangong Tso was like a summary of all the preceding road surfaces we had to navigate through over the past 10 days. Started off with city traffic riding, narrowing to quite single track tarmac, followed by climbs over smooth tarmac with intermittent water crossings, rock and rubble, reaching Chang La (Pass) at an elevation of 5,360 m (17,585 ft) where the ‘road’ – rather, a track, was lined with snow with an accompanying chill breeze. Then the descend over rough roads, back to smooth tarmac with intermittent rocky roads!

The video below shows the first patch of riding over the smooth tarmac. Undulating, wide smooth curves made for the throttle to open and a nice ride. After leaving Leh, this led to our first Chai stop and a breather. Jatin and I took were the ‘Tail’ group here. I wanted to enjoy the smooth tarmac and the gentle sweeping curves and decided to open up the Bullet and zip ahead. That was a fun stretch indeed.

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The Convoy Crossing

Day 7 | Tandi to Sarchu

We encountered this water crossing riding a few hours from Tandi. This was along the Srinagar Kyonon Road. It would branch out further up, where we would fork off and head towards ZingZingBar and then to our night stop at Sarchu Tents.

This particular crossing had a nicely deceptive dip running right across the road. Easy to push through and get jammed into the dip ensuring freezing cold wet feet! Just as the PoshGoondas Crew reached the crossing, an Indian Army Convoy of Trucks (seen here) trundled along from the opposite side. This was a good thing. It gave us that time to look at the crossing and try and work out a good smooth line through the crossing based on how the trucks made their way across. The trucks were Army and they were bigger. They got right of way. No questions.  The actual crossing allowed only for single lane traffic.  The trucks were driving by young men, driving along with focus and concentration. Respect to them. The wait to cross was fairly long. It was the Indian Army which guards the borders in inhospitable regions. Patience was easy to come by.

Vir, Sam and Fiona had managed to cross (seen ahead between the trucks). Vir, as always, came up to the crossing to guide and help (if needed) others across the waters.

 

Convoy Crossing

 

 

The Plastic Bag Trick

Day 7 | Tandi to Sarchu
The previous day’s ride from Kaza was long and mostly wet. During some of the water crossings we helped others while standing in calf deep water. This had our boots become sealed containers for cold water. My Icon Patrol Boots worked perfectly in keeping my feet dry while riding. But they’re not fishing boots! The Boots have a soft padding inside which soaked up the water. On this morning, as much as we tried, the Boots were still wet from inside. I had a few dry pairs of socks and the Klims were dry as well. Which left that single – but most important item – to get dry. The only way to keep socks and feet was to create waterproof barrier between Boot and Foot. Cue plastic carrier bags (Publix) which were found in the luggage. Feet wrapped nicely and slipped into Boots. Worked just fine. All day! The Drymax socks stopped the feet getting all clammy too.

The Plastic Bag TrickDay 7 | Tandi to SarchuThe previous day's ride from Kaza was long and mostly wet. During some of the water crossings we helped others while standing in calf deep water. This had our boots become sealed containers for cold water. My Icon Patrol Boots worked perfectly in keeping my feet dry while riding. But they're not fishing boots! The Boots have a soft padding inside which soaked up the water. On this morning, as much as we tried, the Boots were still wet from inside. I had a few dry pairs of socks and the Klims were dry as well. The only way to keep socks and feet was to create waterproof barrier between Boot and Foot. Cue plastic carrier bags (Publix) which were found in the luggage. Feet wrapped nicely and slipped into Boots. Worked just fine. All day! The Drymax socks stopped the feet getting all clammy too. - from Instagram

 

The Water Crossing | Day 6 | July 10 | Kaza to Tandi

We had a number of Water Crossings on Day 6 riding from Kaza to Tandi.

A combination of Snow melt and rains created a heavy gushing flow of water from the peaks down to the Chenab River in the valley quite a fair bit below the roads. This particular water crossing was at the height of 3353m / 11000ft above Sea Level. The gushing water bore no heed to the roads it crashed and thundered over. The only thing that could be done to keep the roads from being unusable was to dump rocks across the road to create some level of traction for the tires. This, however, created a very rough crossing from Motorcycles, Cars and Trucks alike. The big rocks made it hard for the relatively thin motorcycle tires to gather any kind of momentum. The washed out road was traversed inch by inch, step by step.  The videos below show the nature of the ‘obstacle’ we had to deal with.

I was the 3rd rider to cross over. Vir on his Triumph Bonneville crossed first, followed by Vikram, bravely on his Impulse. Kalpesh followed me on his Bullet Desert Storm, then Jatin, Fiona, Sam and Biplov the last one. The first few feet saw my front tire get jammed between to big rocks. The feet had to go down to brace the bike with a throttle and push from another rider, Biplov,  who volunteered to help everyone cross the waters and then cross last. A push and pull from Biplov and some throttle created some momentum which got me out of the water and safely parked up. I then went back to the crossing to help the others to cross.

Nimish made the right decision not to attempt to cross the ‘river road’ with the bike. Instead Vir rode the bike across with Nimish walking behind. Such water crossings are not the situations to worry about ego or keeping up with the other riders. It is all about being sensible and safe. Good call, Nimish.

 

 

 

 

 

Water Crossings | Day 6 | July 10 | Kaza to Tandi

Kaza to Tandi | 181 kms | A long ride; A hard ride

The Vir Man had started prepping us from the previous night about the ride from Kaza to Tandi. Taking a day’s break in Kaza made a whole load of sense once we were underway heading to Tandi. Tarmac was like a figment of our imagination. Instead, our reality was filled with rocks, puddles, river roads, water crossings, soft sand, slimy mud. Anything but Tarmac. Anything but.

We had met up with three other riders heading to Manali from Kaza. They would follow the same route as us but branch off at Gramphu to head over the Rohtang Pass and drop down to Manali and thence onwards to Delhi, their destination. They had a slow ride on two counts. One, the lead rider – Biplov – who rode with Vir on another ride, was carrying a pillion rider, Siddharth, on his Royal Enfield Thunderbird.  Sid was a photog but not a rider and Biplov’s colleague at work. The third rider was Vikram. He rode the Hero Impulse. This was the second count as to why these three riders had a slow ride. (All of us Bullet 500cc riders were amazed at Vikram’s choice of bike. It had a mere 150cc engine and lacked any semblance of power to counter the twists, turns, inclines, and the lack of any tarmac! All of us had a good time ribbing him the previous night and during that day’s ride. However, all of us were riders and came together when it came to helping others, especially our group,  – irrespective of the riders’ choice of bikes!) Vir offered Sid a place in our Backup Vehicle till the point where they branched off to Manali. Which then left just the slow Impluse to contend with. Which is why Biplov and Vikram left earlier than us and we followed later with Sid in our Backup.

Even with about a 2hr head start, the PoshGoondas group soon caught up and passed Biplov and Vikram. However, we more or less, rode together. A good thing. Since the roads ahead had more water running across them than dirt and rocks. We rode parallel to the River Chenab and at times it was hard to distinguish the River from the water flowing on our road, the NH 505!

I was usually part of the front pack of riders; Vir, Fiona, and Sam followed by me between the front pack and the tail riders – Nimish, Kalpesh and Jatin. More often, I would cross such ‘obstacles’ and wait for the tail pack. This allowed me to quickly pull out my iPhone to record video of the riders’ as they tackled their way through the freezing, gushing, cold waters and the jagged hampering rocks underneath.

This was one of the first water crossings. Not dangerous in any way. More difficult and inconvenient. Not to forget freezing cold if the water found its way inside your boots!
Biplov gets a major vote of thanks from all of us for never hesitating to help us out navigate through obstacles. Here, he helped Kalpesh first (not seen in the video), then Nimish followed by Jatin. A pleasure to have opportunity to ride with him.

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Video Upload Test

We had talked about uploading video directly to this WordPress powered site. But various forums suggested that this would need use up a lot of bandwidth which can cause errors in the upload process. Instead, it was suggested that video be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and then embed into the posts here. Apparently uploading to these sites first is a little easier and less prone to error than uploading directly.

However, after innumerable attempts, YouTube iOS app just refused to upload the video. I had to upload to a cloud storage folder then use the laptop to upload to YouTube. This worked fine. But this definitely is not a good workaround. I’ll need to look into this.

In the meantime, the Test upload: