Traveller Tales: Himalayas By Bike? Oh yes we did!

Cycling Manali to Leh

We’re still buzzing from our latest trip cycling the Himalayas. We had a fabulous tour with five brave soldiers joining us on our cycling tour from Manali to Leh. Here’s how it all went down…

We all met up in Delhi before stuffing our minibus with bikes galore and heading off to Manali at the base of the Himalayas. We had three days to explore the beautiful Manali – lots of riding, coffees, catching up with old friends, exploring the area and enjoying the fabulously warm weather! I think Andy’s favourite part was introducing everyone to the famous Mount View giant spring rolls….

Cycling the Himalayas

The big day arrived and we were off! A beautiful hot day, with clear blue skies and views you’ll never get sick of, distracted most of us from the distinct lack of oxygen in the air, as we climbed up to 3600m at Mahri where we slept for the night.

The next seven days saw us pedal our little hearts out to Leh. From shorter flat days across the Himalayan Desert to long, hard days on rough roads complete with water crossings, everyone was tested, and pulled through with flying colours. Kirsten proved herself to be quite the mountain biker – pelting down the MTB sections with a huge grin on her face. Gregor took out the Gata Loops climb – 21 switchbacks over 10km all above 4000m altitude (yes – it’s a Strava segment…).

Riding through the snow up to Tanglang La.

Riding through the snow up to Tanglang La.

About halfway along to Leh things got a bit chilly… According to Danny, ‘you can’t say you’ve ridden in snow until you’ve heard it crunch under your tires’. Well we ticked that box as we went up and over Tanglang La at 5300m and got a chance to test our snow-riding skills. Shannon absolutely killed this climb, starting to acclimatise and find his legs. After a quick celebration and photo at the top we dusted off the snow and got back on our bikes. This was possibly the coldest descent any of us has ridden and we’re not sure Jeremie, who has lived in the Bombay heat for the past nine years, has thawed out quite yet! Let’s just say we were all very pleased to get to the tea stall at the bottom and wrap our hands around a cup of chai.

Things warmed up considerably on the last day as we made the final push for Leh. With beautiful descents, some bunch riding along the new two-lane bitumen road. Even with a stop to explore the Thiksey Monastery and a chat with a few monks we still made it in with plenty of time for a celebratory beer. Everyone had a lovely rest day in Leh, exploring the palace and monasteries around town and eating lots of momos!

Collecting salt at Tso Kar Lake!

Collecting salt at Tso Kar Lake!

Kardung La – The highest drivable road in the world

Our final challenge was Kardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world at 5600m. Danny took off like a rocket, claiming KOM for the first section by about half an hour over the rest of us. This is a tough day in the saddle – not only is the altitude a challenge, the last 14km to the top is a dirt road which had been muddied by the recent snow! Everyone coped remarkably well with only a few tears of relief from Kirsten up the top. We were so impressed by everyone’s determination, even when things were tough.

To our five soldiers – thanks so much for a fabulous trip everyone. We loved and are so glad you did too!

If you’re interested in tackling this ride, you can find more info including the full itinerary here. You can join one of our tour groups in July, August or September. Or, we can organise a private tour for your bunch – just get in touch with us and we can work out dates to suit you.