Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category


Today the skeleton felt strong. With only minimal luggage, the slopes were a breeze and the kilometres to the highest motorable pass in the world zipped by. Only on the way down did I realise just how high we had climbed – over 2000m into the beautiful Ladakhi heavens.

Coming down from Khardung La

Coming down from Khardung La

Jessica and I left at 7, mentally prepared for 40km of climbing. China was invading, it seemed. Whole squadrons of army trucks were climbing the pass. Squadrons of tourist taxis were also plying the roads, and the standard Indian men on motorbikes.

And then there was the skeleton and Jessica.

Jessica climbing Khardung La

Jessica climbing Khardung La

This day was the finale of the trip. This day was the biggest climb to the highest place. We had both cycled so much in the highest mountains in the world. Now was the icing on the cake.

My energy music – Infected Mushroom – pushed me up. In fact, it gave me too much energy, I went too fast, laughed with joy too much, and had to stop to recover my breath. I realised I could do this, but I didn’t have a lot of buffer. My body had made enough haemoglobin, but I wasn’t fit for Mt Everest – yet.

The top of the pass was one big traffic jam. A squadron of army trucks was returning, and there wasn’t enough room for everyone. I (and hundreds of others) stood in the exhaust as the jam was resolved.

Traffic jam near the top

Traffic jam near the top

I arrived at the top, cheered Jessica on from the prayer flags and gompas above the road, and then we went into ‘one of the highest canteens in the world’ as it started to hail.

Jessica arrives at the top

Jessica arrives at the top

In fact, just next to the ‘one of the highest canteens in the world’ was the highest. It was about 20 feet along the road, and a whole 398 feet higher, according to the sign. There were also two miraculous neighbouring signs at these two key altitudes.

Khardung La summit. Not sure of the altitude though.

Khardung La summit. Not sure of the altitude though.

Khardung La

Khardung La

The way down was nothing short of spectacular. The rain stopped, and the evening sun bathed the whole valley in a soft, yellow light. After the 10km before the pass were rattled down, it was a smooth, bitumen road, and a beautiful and incredibly long decent into Leh.

The way down from Khardung La

The way down from Khardung La

The way down from Khardung La

The way down from Khardung La

We passed a guy who had walked from Germany in one year. Pretty quick..

This guy walked from Germany.

This guy walked from Germany.

Arriving in Leh, we were starving. The skeleton ate 3 main courses.

Gompa above Leh

Gompa above Leh


We are climbing Khardung La tomorrow. Terrain is no boundary. We are going to bash on regardless.

Bash on regardless

Bash on regardless

It was an uneventful return to Leh. We got our permit and ate a lot (again). I don’t want to stay a skeleton. 🙂


We got a cheer from the Dutch tourists. Later we got a round of applause from the French crowd. We were superhuman cycling in this heat. Little did they know we only cycled 5km to the river, swam, and lay on the sand.

The skeleton basking in the sun at the Zanskar River

The skeleton basking in the sun at the Zanskar River

We don’t seem to get around to much cycling. After cycling alone for nearly a month, it’s nice to have someone to talk to. There’s also no goal of the cycling. We’re just killing time before our flights back home.

On the way to Nimmu

On the way to Nimmu

Tomorrow is Leh again, and then the highest road in the world – Khardung La.


When I got up this morning, I expected to be sleeping in Leh this evening. A sudden decision to be on the move with the New Zealander Jessica saw us climb and descend in the heat through barren, rocky landscape to end in a Sesspool.

Jessica climbing in the sun

Jessica climbing in the sun

Jessica wanted to go over 100km to a place called Lamayuru and then meander on back in 2 days, doing a few side trips. My friend Mark had said that there was a lot of climbing on the first day, and.. There was a lot of long climbs in the very hot landscape. We didn’t make it over 100km. We made it just over 60 before retiring in a nice café and eating a lot.

Drahtesel in the sun

Drahtesel in the sun

The confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers

The confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers

We spent the late afternoon visiting an old Buddhist cave, and the evening talking.


The road catapulted down a narrow canyon of earth red rock, the sedimentary layers pushing to the sky at 45 degrees. Bursts of green grass and yellow flowers around the villages. That was the small side valley I passed down. The Indus valley was one long military base.

The valley heading towards the Indus

The valley heading towards the Indus

Excuse the weather. It was grey. It rained a bit. Not inviting for any detours to monasteries and the like, so I pushed on straight to Leh.

There I met Jessica again, who I had met with Thomas back on day 1. She’s leaving Leh in a week too, and were cobbling some plans together.

Leh has also been a big feed. And not on rice and lentils.

Getting some calories in

Getting some calories in


‘I’ll take a selfie with you. One minute.’ Then someone else, and another. Phones thrust into my face from all sides. Meanwhile, the wind was blowing the cold hail through my thin jacket. I retired to the warm food hut. My own selfie by myself would have to wait. The trials and tribulations at the top of the second highest road in the world.

Taglang La

Taglang La

Today was the day of the cyclists. I spent a lovely breakfast and 17km ride with the German couple Jane and Daniel. I spent about 5km with two Spanish guys before we split up – my pace being too slow. And I met an American cyclist on the way down.

Taglung La felt like a real pass. The climb went on and on, and the weather was wild – changing it’s mind every couple of minutes. Tailwind. Headwind. Sun. Hail. Thunder.

Approaching Taglang La

Approaching Taglang La

Just before the top, the wind tried it’s best to blow me off the mountain, and it started hailing on cue as I arrived at the top.

Taglang La

Taglang La

The way down was spectacular (even if the photos weren’t). After skirting the side of the mountain a bit, the road dived down to a small stream way below through a bunch of sharp switchbacks on a bright red mountain slope. The hurricane wind was mostly a tailwind, except on some switchbacks, where I pedalled to move downwards.

The road down from Taglang La

The road down from Taglang La

Once I reached the stream at the bottom, I flew, blown by the very strong wind. Travelling between 40 and 50 kmh, I had my first glimpse of Ladakh. Villages with sudden bursts of green and yellow, and gompas everywhere. The weather sucked, so I stopped at Lato to experience this beautiful valley in the sun tomorrow.

The river at the base of Taglang La

The river at the base of Taglang La

The greenery of Ladakh

The greenery of Ladakh


The bike stood there on the dry lake in the scorching sun. Around the bike were circles of tyre tracks from some motorbike enthusiast. Taking a photo of the scene every 5 seconds was the GoPro. Finally shade came, I packed up, left, and it started to hail.

Salt lake

Salt lake

Today was hot with a tailwind – except when it was hailing or raining with a strong headwind. The weather can change at the drop of a hat on these high altitude plains, and it did, numerous times.

This morning I climbed out of the canyon that Pang finds itself in, to be met with an amazing view of both the canyon and the beautiful More Plains.

Above Pang

Above Pang

Above Pang

Above Pang

Rolling along, I took many photos as I watched wild horses roaming in the distance.

More Plains

More Plains

More Plains

More Plains

My intention was to stay at Tso Kar lake, which was a 17km detour from the main road.

Towards Two Kar

Towards Two Kar

I never really found the lake. There were mounds of grass, and hillocks of sand, but no big expanse on water.

Tso Kar lake

Tso Kar lake

Tso Kar lake

Tso Kar lake

There were, however, 2 German cyclists who are cycling from the other direction. We spent most of the evening together, exchanging stories.