Two Punctures and Then Some : Ladakh, A Ride to Remember

- Published by Anu 

Well everything was right again in my world again and even after the first glitch on our ride the journey to Leh continued. 

 

(Read the prequel of this post, Puncture Story Part 1 : Biking to the Roof of the World)

 

 

We had crossed some major passes in the past two days, battled the cold, played in the snow, crossed mind-numbingly cold waterfall crossings. We even spent sleepless nights whilst the harsh winds trying to blow off our tents and yet enjoyed every single minute of riding from Manali towards Leh.

 

 

Puncture No 2 :

On the 3rd day we were just a few hours away from the main city of Leh. And as you guys would have guessed it right our bike got punctured again. This time we knew the drill and we knew our shortcomings with respect to the tools we carried. We were supposed to get those tools from Leh but due to our sheer bad luck the tyre got punctured right before we could even get there, how frustrating!

 

This time my friend stayed back with the bike. I hitchhiked my way back to the previous village with the tyre in my hand.  Even this time as fate would have it the nearest mechanic was the one on the way in the opposite direction. By now I knew it was safe to travel around. I must admit it was kind of exciting to be doing all these random things when in a situation like this. I was back with the tyre fixed and we set on our journey to Leh. Fixing punctures and all this seemed like a piece of cake now .

 

 

 

Stakna Monastery in Leh
Puncture spot No. 2 - Stakna Monastery

 

 

 

Yeah yeah ... Puncture No 3 :

 

Today was the BIG day, the D-Day. The day we would be crossing world's highest motorable pass, the mighty Khardung La Pass at an altitude of 18380 ft.  No trip to Ladakh is complete without conquering the pass, without having a cup of coffee/tea here, without a bowl of Maggie, without pictures encompassing the entire city of Leh beneath and a never ending array of mountain ranges.

You haven't been to Ladakh if you haven't been here. Period!

 

So very early in the morning, we set out to ride to the top of the world. The sheer ascent to the top with the stomach-churning hair pin bends makes the ride precariously risky. Reducing oxygen levels in the air due to the gain of altitude causes some severe fatigue. But we were feeling quite well, since by now our body had acclimatized properly being 7 days already into the journey.

My excitement today was reserved until I reached the top. I wouldn’t reveal it just yet. It was too damn cold and literally impossible to even smile with cracked lips. J

 

Right in front of us we could see something painted on two rocks, something like a gateway to heaven as in the picture below.

Khardungla Pass Leh
Puncture Spot No. 3 - KhardungLa

The left sign reads : You are driving up to the highest motorable road  in the world and not a shortcut to heaven!  Drive Safe  And  Enjoy hot momos at the Rinchen Cafeteria. Highest cafeteria in the world.  

The right sign reads : Gateway of Nubra.

 

 

 

Eventually when I had just begun revealing my excitement and asked my friend to stop the bike so I could click a steady picture.  I dint bother to get down from the bike to click a picture and with the click a sound came from the tyre and yes … there was a puncture again!

 

This time it was definitely not a piece of cake. We had to drag the bike with our hands to the top of the pass. And while the whole world on top of Khardung La was enjoying and clicking pictures we were fixing a puncture! Oh God I hated it now. Normally it is advisable to descend a pass quickly and not spend more time on the top due to the chances of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). But for almost 1 and a half hour we were stuck on the top and luckily din't face any issues with respect to AMS.

Completely drained and breathless we fixed everything and sat down to treat ourselves to Maggie and some coffee. Having relaxed we ran out of the cafe to finally get a view and there it was; the top of the world. We stood there speechless.

 

 

 

 Images from atop Khardung La. Click to enlarge the images :

 


 

After a couple of snaps and a feeling of achievement, we crossed Khardung La and headed down the pass to the other side into Nubra Valley. Nubra valley is a natural marvel where mountains, sand dunes, desert, water and trees coexisted all In one place. Truly a wonder in itself.

 

 

 

Hell yeah .. Puncture No 4 :

 

A break was overdue after riding for approx 3 hrs towards Nubra. We stopped to have some water and energy bars with the stunning valleys keeping us company throughout. My friend was still seated on the bike while I got down and sat on the road to relax my butt. Riding for almost 10 - 12 hours everyday took a toll on my butt, butt of-course :P .

 

We were laughing about our puncture incident of the day. Cursing the gods and my fate, I said to my friend  “If this tyre gets punctured again I will bloody throw this bike down the valley”  saying so I kicked the tyre very hard. My friend started laughing aloud at my frustrated expression. Then suddenly there was sound of gas coming out from the tyre. The stupid tyre had got punctured again , the gods had heard me pretty quickly and cursed me back. By now I was yelling and screaming and cursing and I thought of throwing myself in the valley below rather than the bike.

 

 


 

Click to enlarge :

Nubra Valley
Playful shadows at the magnificent Nubra Valley

 

 

 

I gave up on my alternate profession as a mechanic. I just couldn't take it any more and frustrated I lay down under the shade thinking how can we be so cursed, with 2 punctures few days back and 2 punctures today on one single damn day. My friend finally got down and this time instead of fixing the tube we replaced the tube with another one altogether. Now my anger had turned to fear and skepticism about the entire journey ahead.

But as much as I know myself and my mood swings, I knew I would immediately forget all the apprehensions as soon as I spot some gorgeous view trotting happily with my camera. We finally reached Nubra valley where we had a treat waiting for us as we spotted this ...  

 

 

 

Nubra Valley at Hunder
Canteen at Hunder - Nubra Valley

 

 

It was enough to cheer us, accompanied with the magnificent panoramas of Nubra valley .

We hogged as much as we could and carried on our henceforth smooth journey.

 

No more cursing (maybe yes), but certainly no more PUNCTURES. J

 

 

 

Small Lessons Learnt :

 

1) Do not - absolutely do not forget to carry any single piece of equipment required to fix your bike from back home before the trip .You might want to pack less anything else, but never compromise on the tool box.

 

2) Always carry spares and test every part of your bike, your engine your tyre etc etc before leaving for the trip. Servicing is a definite must.

 

3) Also as an added precaution consider replacing your tyres if they seem pretty worn out for having clocked enough kms already.

 

4) If changing of tyres is not required make sure you take out the tyre from the bike, check it and mostly replace a fresh tube before the journey. Removing the tyre and oiling the parts ensures that incase of a puncture or breakdown, the nuts and bolts would come out easily and not jam for eternity!

 

That’s it, you are good to go.

 

 

 

Did u have any such crazy, frustrating  or 'Yes I survived it ' kinda experiences on your road trip?

Do share in the comments below.

You can also have a look at the Ladakh Gallery  for some amazing pictures.

 

 

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