AKP

Leh - Ladakh on a Kawasaki Ninja 250R : June- July 2013

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Leh- Ladakh June-July 2013 road updates.

  • Zozila is in decent shape. Dusty but comparatively much easier than before.
  • Zozila - Kargil excellent roads just a couple of patches to look out for before Drass.
  • Kargil- Leh excellent shape again. A few bad patches for the first 15 20kms from Kargil towards Leh.
  • Kargil- Zanskar the only region with very bad roads or may be absence of roads rather. Good roads till Sankoo though. After that you would encounter many streams. Remember to leave early and cross the streams before 11-12noon after which the water level starts rising.
  • Leh-Khardung La- Nubra (Panamik and Turtok as well) around 25kms of bad stretch towards the Khardung La top. Rest is in excellent shape.
  • Leh - Manali is decent till Sarchu. Beautiful roads after Sarchu right uptill Manali. Only a few kms on Tanglang La, More Plains each is in bad shape. A couple of streams and slushy patches to watch out for towards Rohtang.

I did it on a Ninja250R this year, so it's comfortably manageable on other bikes since I doubt any other bike has a lower ground clearance ! :)

I would try to complete the travelogue soon ! Possibly in this same topic. Posting a few select pics !

AKP

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The Day of when it all begins !

It's another Sunday morning. As usual, as soon as I woke up I knew the first thing I have to do is check my Whatsapp notifications. It's Sunday, there must be new messages in the MBC (Mumbai Bikers Club) group screaming the hell out at the lazy ones to get up and leave for a Sunday ride. Trust me, it's therapeutic to begin a week with a ride. It doesn't make Mondays less boring but it atleast gives you the courage to lift your shield and sword, enter the battle zone again and face the Monday monster ! So I lazily go & get a shower, grab my gear and after meeting a fellow MBCian (Ali) at the Majiwade junction of NH3. We impulsively decide the location to be Saputara.

We decide to have lunch at the Hotel on the right hand side just before crossing the border. (Can't remember the name though :P )

It's a May afternoon. Hot temperatures. Both of us sitting at the table in the open terrace. Chilled Redbull in hand.

Ali (Engrossed in some deep thinking for a long time): Main August mein ja raha hai !

Me (thinking it's another good long ride) : Hmm ! Kidhar ?

Ali: Texas !

Me: (Startled) Ride ?

Ali : Nahi, shifting there. Thinking of doing a good big ride before leaving. Ladakh gaya hai na tu? Wapas ayega ?

Me (A brief moment of being blank. Am i supposed to feel low or be happy? Low because one of my riding partners is going for a long, long time, but the very sound of the word Ladakh bounds to make u happy right?) Ali, eyeing me constantly, eagerly waiting to know what I reply. I put my hand in the pocket,take out my cellphone.

Ali : Kisko call kar raha hai ?

Me (on the call) : Vaibhav, Ladakh marega?

Vaibhav: Kab ?

Me: 10 din mein

Vaibhav: Tu aa raha hai ?

Me: Ha

Vaibhav: Ok, I'll get my bike's first service done (Ninja 300R - delivered just 15 days ago)

After lunch and a brief rough itinerary chat we ride back and reach Mumbai by late evening. I reach home, and go for a warm shower. I am standing under the shower. Face up. The warm water hitting across my face and running down. It's not just the warm water. It's also the shivers running down my spine. LADAKH ! The dream of every tourer. The graduation ride ! The flashback from my 2010 Ladakh ride playing in front on my eyes. The fun, the brotherhood of unknown riders waving at you. Am I really doing it again ? The mountains, the snow, the slush, the streams !

I am riding down Khardung La.. I see a stream in front of me. Ali is still behind. It's not that deep, small stones and pebbles. I enter the stream carefully, almost halfway into it, I hear loud noises. What is it, is it thunder? Or is it a landslide ? I look up the mountain on the left to see if there are signs of rocks sliding down. There aren't! The sky up is clear, it's not thunder, I can't see anything. My feet are now wet in the stream water. Why can't I find out the source of the noise ? Another loud banging! I abruptly open my eyes.

"It's been 45 minutes your in the shower, come out we are waiting for dinner"

Mind, the evil illusionist, just as it did before the 2010 ride, has once again started playing with my feelings. I really want to be there as soon as I can !

At the dinner table I tell dad I want him to handle the showroom for some days.

"Where are you going ?"

"Ladakh!!!"

"Again?"

"Yea....again" I say, with a wide grin, and I am already on my way to bed, already making the To-do list in my mind. 10 days, there's a lot to be done, and I doze off while listing what all I need to do!

The Inception !

To be continued.. !

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Great beginning. I just showed your pictures to my brother and he says he thinks he saw you guys. He was in Leh etc as well last week of June first week July but he had driven down there with friends in an Aria 4x4.

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@AKP, very nice pics and it's wonderful to have a detailed travelogue on this forum.

Ladakh is just mesmerizing, the tranquility and sound of silence you experience there is just unparalleled.

.

I had visited there in 2011, though it was with family for a week.

I always had a dream to explore it further on a bike (preferably) or car.

Someday I shall definitely do it.

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@AKP

Welcome aboard , you certainly write very well ,will be waiting for your next piece.

LADHAKH is certainly everyone's dream coming true , last year was there around the same time (Mid June 2012 ) with my gang of Scorpio owners,the sights are nothing short of mesmerizing.

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Continued..

Before I could list all the things required to be done, my weary eyes had already fallen asleep. Although expecting a sound sleep was something only an outright optimistic person could do. I am, for that matter a realist and an opportunist. With another abrupt end to one of the numerous dreams my mind was playing all night, I woke up tired from the lack of sleep.

It's not usually as quiet in the mornings as it is today. What's so different? I look around my room, nothing peculiar. I switch on the light and was just about to reach for my cellphone when perhaps noticing the light in my room, there was a knock at the door.

'Yea!'

'I literally have to throw water on your face everyday to wake you up. You always end up running late! But here you are wide awake at 5.30 this morning and thats what's gonna happen for the next 10 days. I knew this would be the case so I made your tea before your regular time. Here!'

Ah! Damn, just 5.30?So thats why it is quiet. I am up too early!

Taking the cup of tea in my hand with the a face like a puppy who has just been scolded, I took a sip!

This is one thing I can't do without, morning tea. I need one as soon as I wake up. I end up with a headache for the entire day if I don't get one. (I also need it for a satisfying morning dump-someone asked me for a detailed travelogue). There are only two things in life that I am addicted to; morning tea and touring!

With another sip, I transformed from the 'biker' me into the 'philosophical' me, for my thoughts wandered from the ride onto my mom. Mom's could give any forecaster or mind reader a run for his money. How do they always know everything? If you allow me to, I'll like to bring another hidden talent of mom's to the fore. Ever wondered how everytime the last lump of vegetable in your lunch box ends up with exactly the last piece of the roti? It's clinical precision! How do mom's know the exact amount of rotis required for an X amount of sabzi or vice versa? I finished my tea while thinking of every permutation & combination to find an answer to the million dollar question in my mind. Far from finding an answer even while in the shower (I could probably solve the world's biggest mysteries in the shower) I decide to give up and leave the task to mom's around the world!

It's still 7am, so I spend another hour having breakfast and reading newspaper. It took me every single word on the newspaper including various 'grooms wanted, brides wanted, vacancies' ads to spend another hour. 8am ! FINALLY!

I took out my cellphone dialled Praveen's number. Praveen, the service head for Pro-biking at the Ghatkopar ASC! I informed him about me (Ninja250R) and Vaibhav (Ninja300R) dropping down for service. I reached Majiwade junction at 8.30am and after Vaibhav's arrival we headed out for the Pro-biking at Ghatkopar.

Praveen was as ready as the second person in a relay race or perhaps as eager as Brian O'Conner waiting for Roman to reach back! (Yea I know we all relate to the second simile more). He wasted no time in assigning the 300 for washing and simultaneously taking the 250 up on the ramp to save time. Engine oil replaced, so is the oil filter. Steering cone adjusted. Clutch and accelerator cables thoroughly checked. All this time I was lazily seating on the chair right across having a toast sandwich Praveen ordered for us, when Praveen came upto to me and said front disc pads are fine, rear have half life remaining. With a silent second or two I told him to replace them just as a precaution. This turned out to be an important decision! Why? You'll come to know at somepoint later. With the 250 being ready, I had requested Praveen to give me a quick run through about the basics. He obliged taking out timing and gave me a crash course on the basics. Adjusting the chain, replacing the disc pads, reading the signs and codes the FI light transmits during problems, et all! Really boosts your confidence when you know all these things. While at this, the 300 was ready after the wash and waiting for its turn to be on the ramp. The same procedure followed with the 300. Another crash course. With all that the bikes were ready and it was already 5pm. Yes, we were so engrossed, we didn't realise we had skipped lunch and so had Praveen. But a day spent well.

With the bills settled we headed back home. I bid adieu to Vaibhav at Majiwade and reached home only to be asked about the day's proceedings by mom.(Yes, she is as excited about the rides, tours and the on goings as I am!) I told how the entire day unfolded, though all she could remember was me not having lunch! I spent a quiet evening at home catching up on movies I usually don't get time to watch. It feels good to be on leave!

At dinner I got the details from dad about how things went at the showroom. Just as I was lying on my bed about to retire for the day I hear a knock at the door!

'Yes?'

'What preparations are you getting done tomorrow? '

To be continued..

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Great beginning. I just showed your pictures to my brother and he says he thinks he saw you guys. He was in Leh etc as well last week of June first week July but he had driven down there with friends in an Aria 4x4.

Is it a pearl white Aria? I do remember coming across one!

@AKP, very nice pics and it's wonderful to have a detailed travelogue on this forum.

Ladakh is just mesmerizing, the tranquility and sound of silence you experience there is just unparalleled.

.

I had visited there in 2011, though it was with family for a week.

I always had a dream to explore it further on a bike (preferably) or car.

Someday I shall definitely do it.

True, the beauty remains unparalleled!

@AKP

Welcome aboard , you certainly write very well ,will be waiting for your next piece.

LADHAKH is certainly everyone's dream coming true , last year was there around the same time (Mid June 2012 ) with my gang of Scorpio owners,the sights are nothing short of mesmerizing.

Thank you for the compliment!

@AKP

Nicely written, i must say you write and still keep the suspense to guess....what next....what next?

Please add more pics.

Thank you! Yes, I'll keep adding more pics as and when they relate!

AKP we are waiting for the next installment of the trip log. Hurry up will you? :P

Sorry for keeping you all waiting. Since I have returned after almost a month I have a huge pending workload. I'll try to come up sooner with the next posts though.

Putting up a couple of pics as compensation for the long wait! :D

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Aah finally. Loved reading so far and waiting for the pictures. My brother was in a Maroon Aria and he had a couple of bicycles on the boot.

He went to Leh the second time and he really wants to do it on a bike soon. His daily ride is a Honda CB1000R.

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Aah finally. Loved reading so far and waiting for the pictures. My brother was in a Maroon Aria and he had a couple of bicycles on the boot.

He went to Leh the second time and he really wants to do it on a bike soon. His daily ride is a Honda CB1000R.

Oh, I don't remember seeing a maroon Aria. Nevamind!

I am myself planning to do Leh next year, in a 4 wheeler though! Planning to take my parents this time!

Looking at the quality and speed with which roads are being constructed, it wont be long before your brothet could do the trip on the CB itself! :P

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So after another restless night, I once again wake up to an early morning cup of tea. With the ususal breakfast and newspaper routine, I had successfully spent the slow moving morning hours.

Just as we finished our breakfast I answered my mom's last night's question.

Things to do over the next week:

1) Get a good saddle bag(I borrowed it from a friend - which reminds me I still need to return it to him)

2) Get a welded mount support for the luggage(Got it locally made from a gas welder)

3) Carry spares - Clutch cable, accelerator cable, mirrors, brake & clutch levers, extra fuses, spark plug - mirrors and levers for the simple reason that these are the first things that get damaged in case the bike trips (Praveen made all of these available for me)

4) Tools - set of all required ring and T paana's. Tubeless puncture repair kit. Patches.(grabbed all of these from my own showroom)

5) Get Slime filled in the tyres (one of my friend deals in Slime so it was sorted out)

6) Visit the family physician (He was more interested in the details of the trip than getting me checked. He did after all.)

7) Get visors for the helmet (I came home picking up a helmet instead. I really loved it)

8) Buy a power backup for the phone (accessories shop just down the road)

9) Get a postpaid Bsnl sim (which i skipped. It was pure bliss to be without a cellphone for 10-15days. No calls, no whatsapp, no disturbance whatsoever. I wouldn't advise anyone to do the same though. Incase you end up in a fix, you'll be cursing yourself for not carrying one)

10) Medicines- especially Diomox

11) Extra memory back up for cam

The next remaining days were spent running from pillar to post getting all these things in place. It does appear to be fairly simple to do but trust me once you are on it, you realise it takes much more time than you thought it would. Most important thing to remember is to keep a day off just for rest before the D-Day, I learnt it the hard way during my 2010 Leh ride. I was so tired at the last 50kms of the day, if I had crashed I would probably haven fallen asleep there itself. This time I didnt repeat the mistake.

As I was getting these things in place, so were Ali and Vaibhav.We kept in touch constantly to know the progress on each other.

On one of these days, Vaibhav & me decided to visit the OTG ( outdoor travel gear) at Bandra to pick up a Cramster Colt(saddle bag). For reasons unknown, I found the person to be 'not as polite as one would want him to be.' Just as we were about to enter the shop,'Sir please remove your shoes outside'

We did so and were about to enter again. 'Sir your jacket'

We obliged and the third time,'Sir your backpack too. It's wet and dripping water as well' I had killed him in my mind till now.

Entering this time just in my jeans and tee I asked if ' you sure you don't want me to remove anything else? If you want me to tell me right now!'

The guy stared at me looking startled.Must be having a bad day, I thought.

'Cramster Colt' I said

'Which bike do you want to use it on?'

'Ninja' I said.

'It might touch the exhaust'

'I am making a rack for it so it'll be taken care off'

'No please don't buy it. All you guys say the same and then when it touches the exhaust you come back to return it and ask for a refund'

I had already killed him twice in my mind till now. But keeping our laws in mind I replied 'Don't worry I am not coming back for a refund'

'I am not gonna entertain a refund if your calculations go wrong, u sure u still want it?'

'In that case, I'll take two'

The killing part, make that thrice ;)

Secondly he quoted 400 for a single bungee net! What a RIP OFF! I chose not to buy the bungee net from him. 'Thank you sir please do come again' he said giving my card back.

Yea as if I am really gonna do that!

Weird guy! But this experience was highly personal. There are many who have a good one too.

With the saddles in place, we went on to the helmet shop on the way home where I picked up a new helmet.(Pics attached)

With visors and helmet in place we were finally done with all the preparation we had chalked out.

Vaibhav came over at my place for dinner and stay.

' Is there anything we have missed?', I asked him as we laid down in my room looking at the ceiling. At times like these when you are in deep thoughts the ceiling & ceiling fan suddenly appear very interesting and engrossing.

'Not that I know off' he said.

'Just another day to go' I said

'Thanx for letting me tag along in this ride, It's gonna be the longest ride I have ever done' he said cheekily.

' Hmm.. your not gonna hug me and drop some tears next, are you?

'@#$& off!'

'Yea good night to you too'

To be continued. .

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We had decided to sleep late into the day since this was the only night when we could have a proper sleep. For tomorrow we start riding and you can never sleep properly a night before the ride.

'Morning', Vaibhav said as I woke up. It was bright and there was ample sunlight coming in from the window. In fact, the light was the reason I had woken up. It was 11am. Finally, a good night's sleep.

'Morning', I said, as I sat upright. Vaibhav was just finishing his breakfast.

'I gotta go home. Will see you tomorrow morning at 5. I'll come here at your place and we'll ride together ahead'

'Yea, pack your stuff well, cya tomorrow'

Once Vaibhav left, I went about my daily routine of tea-shower-breakfast-newspaper. I decided to get my stuff together and get it all packed and ready early rather than keeping it for later in the evening. An important thing to remember is carrying just the right amount of luggage. Most of us end up carrying more than required which just adds to the weight, making it difficult to manage the bike in streams and slush. I further needed to keep the weight as low as possible since Ninja250R is very low on ground clearance. Added weight meant it would further reduce the clearance. Since I have already listed most of the things in the post earlier, I'll keep it short here. Only things I carried:

  1. 2 Loose fitting cargo pants. One which I would wear while riding and one spare. Jeans become really uncomfortable for long rides. Hence, cargos.
  2. 3 T-shirts in total. 1 in use 2 spare
  3. Around a dozen briefs
  4. 1 thermal wear
  5. Foot pump
  6. Puncture repair kit (tubeless)
  7. Engine oil
  8. Camera, lenses
  9. Tripod
  10. Diomox tablets
  11. Spare visor
  12. Tools, spare mirrors, levers and cables
  13. Bike cover

That pretty much sums up all that I was carrying.

Loading the saddles takes quite a few trial and error attempts since you need to end up with approximately the same weight on either side so it doesn't disturb the bike's balance or composure. After quite a few attempts I finally got a balance which I was finally satisfied with. I spent the evening watching movies while cleaning my riding gear. I went down to the parking, mounted all the luggage the way it was supposed to be while riding and did a trial run of around 20-30kms at various speeds. The trial is very necessary since, we do tend to find a few niggles in the luggage setup which could end up irritating you once you begin your ride. Like in my case, the tripod was positioned in such a way that I could sit on the bike only from the one side. I kept it in mind to mount it properly the next day.

I reached back home and was early to bed to ensure proper rest. As expected, I was just not sleepy at all. I was just fooling around on the bed, looking straight at the ceiling in the dark. Why does it happen that the night before a big ride has to be the longest? Theory of Relativity does come into play after all.

Vaibhav and Ali both had informed me about their luggage being ready and going to sleep early. Could it be that they are awake too? Just as I was contemplating whether to call and check if it was true, the screen of my phone came to life spreading light in the darkness filled room. It was a call.

Swipe I did on the screen, ‘Yea?’

‘Were you asleep? I cannot sleep at all!’, Vaibhav’s voice said.

‘Same here, no hint of sleep’

Ali, amongst all three of us, is as calm as cucumber. He does have the excitement but his rational side is stronger. Unlike Vaibhav and me, who hardly have any rationale!
:P

‘We anyways aren’t sleeping. Should we leave now?’, said an elevated voice over the cell phone. The idea wasn’t bad. Rather than wasting your energy all night without sleeping, one could rather start early. But quickly coming out of the ir-rationale I said,’ We would have thought about it if it was just you and me. Anyways it’s hardly any hours left. We have waited patiently for over 10 days. Let’s not do anything impulsive or silly that could jeopardize our ride. Even if we do call Ali, only thing we would get from him is “ch&^%*a hai kya tum log”, so try to go to sleep and be here in the morning.’

‘Hmm..okaaay,’ replied a disappointed Vaibhav. I could imagine him with a long face.

After another session of fight with my blanket to get my feet inside and mummify myself in, I finally fell asleep.

After what felt like just a couple of hours, my alarm went off. It was 4am. This could easily be my fastest timings to wake up and get ready after an alarm in my entire lifetime. I guess I probably had beaten my own timings from the 2010 ride.
:P

Everyone at home was still asleep, which meant the first thing I had to do was make tea for myself. After the routine, I went down with the luggage. I reached my stilt and there stood Abhi standing next to my bike. Abhi (Abhilabh), one of my best riding partners and fellow MBCian, who stays close by, had told me he would come down at my place in the morning to help me with the luggage and wish me luck. We mounted the saddles, put up a bungee to avoid the saddle from slipping towards the front seat. Mounted the backpack on the rear seat and secured it with the bungee net (Yes! the cheaper one
:P
). Remembering my mistake from yesterday, I mounted the tripod properly this time, which allowed me to access the front seat from either sides. I opened the bike cover and wrapped it around the luggage to protect it from rains. Just as I was about to mount my last bungee cord we distinctively heard the rev-happy sounds of the twin-pod. We turned around , there it was the mean looking Ninja300R, with the entire luggage mounted and the rider completely geared. A completely geared rider, on a bike like the Ninja is such a sight. Black jacket, black tinted visor, green bike. Lovely!

I went up home to collect my gear and bid adieu to my parents. ‘Ride safe, keep calling whenever possible’, said my beaming parents. With a sudden streak of pure Indian genes, I touched their feet and entered the lift. As the lift started its descent, I began wearing my gear looking into the mirror. The transformation from the 9
th
floor to the ground floor felt nothing less than Iron Man
:P

I couldn’t stop looking at myself in the mirror fully geared checking out the new helmet but the excitement of beginning the ride was much more than the pleasure of watching oneself in the mirror.

As I came out of the lift, I get a call from Ali, informing that he is leaving from home (Charni Road) and meet us at Fountain Hotel (Ghodbunder Junction).

Abhi wished us the best of luck for the ride as I brought the engine to life. I sat on the bike and waited the RPM needle to settle down after idling. Just as it did, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and said to myself,” Yes you are finally once again doing it!” With a small prayer to keep us all safe, the Ninja250R and the Ninja300R began the ride, riding in sync!

Too be continued… !

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Guys, first of all extremely sorry for not being able to update the post. Have been extremely busy, and will further be as well.

I'll just put up pics from the ride, will complete the log as and when possible.

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AKP

You started a wonderful thread and just disappeared. Hope to see details and more pictures from you more often now

Yea, too hectic workload, was supposed to leave for Ranthambore-Pushkar Mela-Ajmer ride today, had too cancel that too !

Will keep updating pictures as and when possible ! :)

Nicely written AKP, And those pics were just awesome :). I'm really keen to go there seeing your pics. Update this thread regularly, I'll be glued to it. :)

Thank you, Will keep posting ! :)

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