Mobile apps make it so easy to create. Whatever your passion or interests may be. Shooting videos has became so easy. iPhones, well OK – Smartphones – (can’t have the non-iOS folks feel left out, can we?), cameras with video capabilities and the ever popular GoPro. Videos in the droves. However, until recently, editing the videos, enhancing them to tell somewhat of a story meant huge software programs in the computer. With the advent of the smartphones and tablets and the associated apps, the complete life cycle of a video – raw to finished, published (read as YouTubed) product can be completed entirely on a mobile device. And with that the Splice App.
The day after we arrived in Leh, we had the morning to ourselves. #PoshGoondas were free to amble around town; try and get some Indian money out of the ATMs (that’s another story for another day); or do a bit of sightseeing which Jatin, I and Kalpesh decided to do. Nimish was off Snow Leopard spotting.
After visiting the Leh Palace, we went up to the Shanti Stupa. A nice, serene, spiritual location. Although walking barefoot on the sun baked tiled floor was a task. Perched at an elevation, we could look down on various sections that made up Leh, ensconced in the Valley. With it being a dry day, the skies were pristine blue, the clouds snow white and the land saturated in arid browns or lush green. The view of the fertile greens snaking along the valley, appeared to look like a tree lined river finding its course as allowed by the Mountains, as if standing guard. And this scape overseen by the snow capped mountains in the yonder. Such stark terrains, coexisting. Perhaps in co-dependence. Another of Ma Nature’s tapestries.
“Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.”
Mountain range surrounding Leh, Ladakh.
We rode into Leh the previous evening. The general feeling on reaching the hotel was bittersweet. Glad that we had an amazing experience leading up to arriving into Leh and without any mishap or untoward incident, more importantly. Saddened to a degree since Leh was the ‘end’. A couple of days and we would need to fly back to reality. To the concrete jungle. To the rat race. This was, in my opinion, the measure of the quality of the time we spent, on our own and with each other, over the previous few days. Either when riding, or just gazing in amazement at what Nature can really get up to.
Nimish and I were up early(ish) armed with our cameras. I found Nimish on the terrace of the hotel building. The terrace afforded a clear view of the Leh Skyline on one side. The other side looked towards the town but was shielded by trees and hotel/homes reaching up two maybe three stories. Needless to say our attention was drawn toward and captivated by the ‘Skyline’ side. And what a breathtaking skyline it is. We kept swapping lens, positions, zoom in, zoom out whatever we could to try and capture what we were seeing. I don’t believe the images do justice.
Amazing how Nature can take a handful of colors – just the Browns and Blues and the intermittent White – and create such an indelible painting. It was wonderful to see the wind blowing wispy clouds over the peaks, gently caressing the Snow, as if trying not to smudge the painting. A picture of gradients rising from the dark, arid rock merging into the soft white snow through to the wispy white and finally to the vivid deep uniquely blue skies. The image may not fit into the ‘photography rules’ – rule of thirds, leading the eye etc. But it is striking nonetheless. Hope you like it.
With this image I nominate a determined spirit, a great person, and a wonderful photographer, Siddharth. We spent a day together as we rode, or rather, ‘traveled’ out together from Kaza. Enough for a bond to be created. His images are truly inspiring.
“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing”
This shot has been a favorite of mine on many fronts. The memory surrounding it primarily. The composition. The colors. Usual suspects that make up an image. But for me, specially so.
We came to this point on our #PoshGoondas ride after a fairly wet, drenching ride from Nako, via Tabo Monastery. As we ate up the kilometers, the skies cleared up to show off the uniquely blue tint, white clouds and some decent but dirt/gravel roads. The arid, yet mesmerizing landscape we passed through practically tore us between enjoying the ride or stopping every minute to capture Nature as we had never seen before. This particular spot was where the Spiti River was at its widest. As we turned a corner, the world opened up. Spirit River in a wide delta area with sand banks and rocks interspersed, dotting the waters and creating mini wakes, as the water flowed around, past and over them. The road along one shore, and mountain along the other, lined with lush green Trees along bottom. Suffice to say, we spent quite some time enjoying the vista, trying to capture as much as we could into our mind’s camera.
It was easy to cross the river on foot at most sections along sand banks and rocks. The elevation still left us breathless on any sort of exertion and we tread slowly but surely towards the middle. Beyond this point the river flow was stronger and deeper. This spot was about the furthest I could go – trying to get close to the middle for a good composition. Taking a picture low over the water and looking out through the valley; I had to get a shot. I had to bend low and compose the shot through the the tilted LCD screen. This pressed on the lungs and added to the breathlessness caused by the elevation. Few quick shots and I was done! That or being prone in water gasping for air.
In my mind this shot really does justice to the expansive mountains, valleys and the enormous skies! Add to that, the smooth – almost machined smooth – rocks on the river bed. The brown dull waters, the shinning smooth colorful rocks, the lush trees leading the eye through the valley with its brown arid mountains and up to the blue skies protected by the white-gray blanket of clouds.
The spot; vivid and memorable.
This image; a favorite for years to come.
“There will always be rocks in the road ahead of us.
They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones;
It all depends on how you use them”
“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can”
This was taken during a short 131 mile ride around the North Georgia Mountains near Dahlonega. This is by the side of the Dahlonega Reservoir / Lake Zwerner. One of my frequent riding route passes right by and I cannot pass by without stopping for a few minutes.
More information here: Water Crossings | Day 6 | July 10 | Kaza to Tandi
So finally after months of planning and putting the plans into action, the adventure is over and we all are back home. Most of us are either re-living the adventure or suffering from some of the effects. I have the pleasure of having both my hands in slings each night owing to some nerve damage to my wrists because of constant vibrations and pressure from handling the bike. Losing the dexterity of your hands is no fun and can lead to some awkward situations, but that’s not what I am going to blog about.
It is beyond doubt that most of us participated in a once in a lifetime adventure. I can confidently say that on this occasion the journey surpassed the destination, which considering the natural beauty of the region is no small thing. I will leave it for my fellow riders to describe about our journey and the places that we travelled through. I, on the other hand, would like to present a series of stories of my observations and experiences along the way as side dishes to the main course.
It’s said that the quickest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, which probably also means that a satisfied stomach gives you comfort and security. Whether we deliberately seek for this satisfaction or sub-consciously adopt our behaviour, we often fall back on this approach when in an unfamiliar place.
Two of us, Kalpesh and I, arrived in Chandigarh (our base camp) by separate flights a day before the other two Goondas arrived from US. Chandigarh is a modern city laid out along grid pattern which is different from many of the other major Indian cities. Having checked in a nice comfortable hotel (a little luxury is allowed) we then try to figure out what to do. Even though Chandigarh is a relatively green city, considering the outside temperature of 36*C I doubt if anyone would be mad enough to do some sightseeing. So instead we decided to explore the surrounding area for something decent to eat while taking a stroll in the midday sun. After just walking for few hundred meters it would have been difficult to distinguish if we were sweating or if we had emerged straight from a shower.
Asking around for directions and some false calls, we end up in a huge shopping mall. The comfort of being an air-conditioned environment was too tempting to even consider any other alternatives. Once inside after going through the airport style security, it very soon becomes apparent that even though we may be India, most the stores in there are familiar names from back home, including the eternal symbol of British shopping centre – Marks & Spencer.
Anyway, the hunger starts imposing itself and we make our way towards the Food Court on the top floor. With the choice of restaurants and eateries we are walking around in circles, looking at menus and wondering what we should eat. We do a couple of rounds but keep returning to the same place, and ultimately decide that’s where we are going to eat. The Mall had some tantalising and mouth-watering places to eat, but like I mentioned earlier, when we are in a unfamiliar place we tend to opt for something familiar and comforting, and that is exactly what we did.
WE WALKED INTO PIZZA HUT.
All the spicy aromas and intriguing dishes failed to tempt us against the simple thing that reminded us a bit of home. And to follow it up, the next day when the other two joined us, we ended up in NANDOS for a Peri-Peri Chicken. So much for the adventure and trying on new challenges.
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.
Our website has crossed well over 5000 views/visits since it was let loose on the InterWebs. As at writing this update, 5818 to be precise. Thank you all for your support and encouragement.
We expect that the count will rise significantly once the Daily ride reports roll in and get posted. There has been a little delay in getting around to it. Jet lag, back to life, work and other distractions just forced their way in. To add to that I had to do a little trouble shoot with the loading time of the site. On web as well as mobile, readers had complained that it just took too long to load. After a few days of checking the nuts and bolts, we were able to identify the culprits and remove them forthwith. The site loading time should be much faster now.
More to follow soon.
Back to Life; Back to Reality! This was my Facebook update this morning. Right up to a few days back our ‘reality’ was suiting up, starting the engines, navigating through river crossings, riding on non-existent roads and reveling with open throttles on the few good tarmac roads! All this seemed to evaporate in to the thin air with the ‘Thud’ of the aircraft wheels touching ground as I landed in Atlanta on Saturday. Left only with vivid memories of the Ride and the memories shared and created with friends, old and new.
Now comes the task of managing, curating, assimilating the Gigabytes (probably Terabytes) of media we have collected over the 12 days of our ride and add the non-ride related media before and after the ride was done. Media collected in form of images from iPhone/Smartphone, DSLR camera and the GoPro cameras. Multiply this with seven riders altogether (including Vir Nakai) and we have a mountain to go through.
The intention is to get all the images and videos into a central cloud folder. All seven of us upload our media to the folder creating a pool and then each one of us can download images/videos from the other riders, that we would like to keep for our collections.
We are currently leaning towards Dropbox as the best option right now. But I would like to throw this out to all our followers and friends and look for suggestions of options besides Dropbox that we should consider.
Please share your suggestions in the comments below.
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
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.
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.