Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond + PIX

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Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond + PIX

Postby spacey1 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:26 pm

While strictly not a club ride :P, I did wear the club tee-shirt :P, rubbed shoulders with folks from the GS club of the Phillipines and the GS club of India.

Where? On the Manali to Leh Highway ( :shock: ??) in the Himalayas 8)

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Joined an old friend and a cast of 11, and flew into the burning flatlands of India (40 to 45 degC and monsoon season), then up to cool, refreshing, rainy, green Manali at 2200 metres.

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The plan, per the above map, is to pick-up the Royal Enfield 500 singles from Bike Rentals Manali, orientate ourselves with these gentlemanly thumpers, then ride over some of the highest motorable passes on Earth to the town of Leh.

Using Leh as a base, ride around and have a bit of fun 8)

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My steed, Royal Enfield 500 Desert Storm number 5151, had only 3,000km on the clock and was very shiny 8) Rather plain looking tyres, very little ground clearance, low seat height and amazingly easy to throw around. Not fast, but the sort of torque only a big 4-stroke single with a flywheel the size of a Leyland truck can sport! And a very comfortable sprung rider's seat.

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Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby Bozo » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:12 pm

Nev

Manali - Leh is an interesting road with elevations twice that of the highest roads in Australia. In July 2017 the following post was made on the highway:

There was a cloudburst on Manali Leh highway causing a landslide near ZingZing Bar. Tourists were stranded on both sides of the road for about 17 hours before it was cleared. Though vehicular movement has started again, authorities have issued warning of further cloudbursts in the area.

I know you got back but I don't know if you got to Leh.

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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby spacey1 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:37 pm

A landslide stopped us from taking the short cut from Pangong Lake to the Nubra Valley.
We stopped at Zing Zing Bar for chai. No problem at that time. It is however very 'young earth' up there. It moves all the time. I experienced it in real-time when a small rock fall unfolded only a couple of metres away. After that I never parked on the mountain side of the road :shock:
Happier to take my chances parking on the precipice side :lol:
Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby spacey1 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:48 pm

A three hour afternoon ride around the sights of Manali (2200m) got us into the gentlemanly rhythm of managing these classic fuel-injected motorcycles.

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Complete stress-free riding. If you pretend that the electric-start is akin to a kick-start, all that is required is 'no throttle' (below 4500 metres), then prod the electric start button and imagine that you're kicking it over.
One short 'whoooof' of the piston being thrown over top-dead-centre is mostly all that is required to get it thumping at a little more than tick-over. Then gently add a little throttle to turn the alternator light off. You're in business :P

There are natural attractions here that support an alternative lifestyle, like 'weed' that grows in the wild... like weeds. The proliferation of tour companies, with names like 'Unf__k the World' Tours, would illustrate said alternative types.

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The altitude in no way affected my ability to ride. I guess that would really depend on who you asked :lol: Climbing stairs however required a little more effort than on the flat lands in Perth Western Australia at sea level. I was glad that I had been up and down the 8 floors of stairs, 3 times a day at work since September last year.

From the lofty heights of the Bike Rentals Manali B&B, we eagerly ate and drank in anticipation of the adventure to come. All the while, the raging river torrents deadened any casual sounds, like snoring...

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With views like this, I wonder why you would live on the flat lands!
Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby spacey1 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:19 pm

Manali to Keylong (approximately 109km)

An 8 o'clock start was called. We were greeted with solid monsoon rain. It plastered down for most of the morning. At about this time, I was glad to have purchased gortex outer gear from Kathmandu (X-series trousers - fabulous :P ) and Mountain Designs (over-jacket). The multiple layers of Dubbin's that I soaked into my BMW boots kept my feet dry and 'comfortable'. The waterproof mittens that I pulled over my GS gloves kept my hands warm and dry.

You really can't ask for more than that... Visibility up here in the heavy rain was, understatement, poor! 25 metres... Not overlooking the fact that this is not Nanny State WA, there are no safety barriers preventing one from launching into oblivion. A very high degree of caution is necessary. The roads at this stage are quite good.

The rain didn't ease off until we got above it, altitude-wise. Here we are. This is what it's all about!!!

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Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby spacey1 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:06 pm

The domestic Indian traffic is very heavy on the road up to the Rohtang La (La = Pass). Rohtang La is the easiest accessible snow and glacier to local tourists. They all 'race' up to the pass, hire snow suits and frolic for a while, snap selfies of, well, themselves and families, then turn around and 'race' back home to the flat lands again.

If ever you're unlucky enough to find yourself in the back of one of these mini-buses, people-movers or plain old taxis, I wish you well. First tip, never sit in the front seat. To the drivers (Alonzo / Schumacher, pick one), you are no more than a cabbage or potato that is being delivered to the greengrocers. Absolutely no care or attention is given to your comfort or your personal safety.

In my mind, the number one choice is on a motorcycle. You are completely responsible for your own personal safety :shock:

On with the ride... the green lush and wet side of the ranges continues to amaze with stunning vistas and waterfalls.

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Note the traffic in the following image. This is a small convoy on the best section of highway. There are endless truck convoys to'ing and fro'ing supplying the border regions. Military or otherwise. The military drivers are very good and well disciplined. However the non-military ones............ :roll:

As the Highway is only open for 3 to 4 months of the year (it is the Himalayas after all, there is that snow :shock: ), much is made of the time supplying the highlands. These convoys can create significant hold-ups in the higher areas on roads that are basically built for these convoys to pass each other (in opposite directions). Ergo 2 trucks wide plus a little extra clearance (or as I say 2.05 trucks wide). Thankfully, as you get more experienced in riding as the locals do, (thanks to Kelly, our guide) you soon learn that that leaves enough room for a motorcycle to overtake on the precipice side of the road. One metre between the lead vehicles on two approaching slow moving convoys means enough room for two motorcycles to slip through.

Lesson 1: Learn how the locals ride. Understand what it is possible to get away with! After the first day, I discovered that anything is possible 8)

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The increase in elevation is becoming apparent. There are less trees as we are getting above the tree-line. Vivid views of the excruciating forces of the Indian Tectonic plate smashing into the Asia are coming more regularly.

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And so, passing over the Rohtang La, through Khoksar to Keylong and sleeping at the appropriately named, Valley-View Hotel.

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Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby Kenny Gawenda » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:39 am

Great pictures! Bet it was fantastic riding through those areas.
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby spacey1 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:45 pm

You better believe it KG, it only got better from here :P
Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby spacey1 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:59 pm

And as the cloud sweeps in and breaks over the mountains...,

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We capture our first glimpse of heaven, errrr, the high Alps 8)

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All dished up at breakfast from the landing at the Valley View Hotel...

And if you've overlooked the importance of cows in India, this hay shed highlights that importance! Strictly speaking they are Himalayan Hill cattle around here, an intermediate species between your standard cow and yaks. Altitude determines the prevalence of bovine species in the region. Yaks generally need +5 degC to -40 degC and are usually found over 4,500 metres. We didn't encounter yak herds until much higher.
Also of note are the building techniques applied in the region. Notice the steel reinforcing rods sticking out of the roof. Planning for adding a future storey to the house :P Imagine the amount of paperwork that would require in our Nanny State! :roll:

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On the bikes now, we soon realized that there was more than spectacular scenery in store. The endless corners, hairpins, and switchbacks on beautiful bitumen roads that snake across the mountains added to the pleasure. Simply awesome motorcycling 8)

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And we had to 'endure' every turn :P The pain from continuously grinning from ear to ear got me thinking about if I had packed my mouth guard. It surely would have reduced the ache on my jaw. No amount of emoticons can describe the euphoria riding a motorcycle up here. Then maybe the euphoria was the altitude getting to me :shock:

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One lush green valley after another, snaking ever higher...

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And then... our first 'nalla'...

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Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby BillB » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:24 pm

Great photos and story Nev.....
BEWARE .... I'm looking at your teeth .....
R1200 GSA 2009, K1200 LT 1999, Suzuki DR 650 2012, C650GT 2016
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby Bozo » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:25 pm

Nev

The same crossing with large pillion passengers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ETDaXZg8zo&spfreload=10

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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby Bozo » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:41 pm

Nev

They seem to become more interesting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DnOzZorr4g

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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby spacey1 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:13 pm

The highway is only open for approximately 3 months.

Just goes to show how quickly things can change higher up in our atmosphere :P

A sudden storm can make the world of difference. I've been lucky in my travels in that it has rarely rained... hope my angels are on a tea break :lol:

There was a section of road on the way up to the Pangong Lake that was under water for about a 100 metres. The wave of water from that maniac in a jeep made for some interesting riding. Then on the other hand if I hadn't seen him hit the water first, I probably would've been quite surprised, as it was hidden between embankments and a blind bend :shock:
Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby spacey1 » Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:27 pm

No riders were washed, or washed away during the nalla crossing, well not this time. :lol:

Moving on through the valleys ever higher.

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The rising dust cloud illustrates how dry the region is. We've moved over the ranges which act as a rain shadow transforming the land from lush and green to a high desert.

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Scree slopes everywhere now. Rocks are even in the mirrors :P
Odometer: 3,900 km - almost brand new. I reckon I'll have it properly run-in by the time I give it back 8)

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And to our first chai stop for the day at the Peace Cafe, Zing Zing Bar, 4320 metres...

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Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

Postby spacey1 » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:47 pm

After a chai top-up, it's back to the sweeping bends...

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And before you know it, time to stop for lunch 8)

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Plenty of carbs available to fill the human tanks. Water is vitally important up here. Reminder: Drink 4 - 6 litres a day!
There are beds in tents everywhere along the highway. Cheap, a little cosy but comfortable, possibly a little noisey :lol:

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There aren't many visuals on our planet that match these :mrgreen: So beautiful, it hurts your eyes :shock:

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No matter where in the world you travel to, whether it be Toodyay or the Himalayas, the bicycle brigade is always there. These hardy buggers are pumping pedals at over 4000m. Haven't they heard of motorcycles?

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Stopping beside a snow field at over 4000m, well stopping at any time really, guarantees that those 15 trucks, mini-buses, taxis, and bikes that you just went to all the trouble of over-taking, are going to rumble past.

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Himalayas Royal Enfield Tour 2017; Camp Cook-Off Winner 2017; Kennedy Ranges; Three Oceans Tour Australia; Hyden-Norseman Breakaways; R1200 series final drive repair; Mt Augustus; Bimbijy Station; Around Oz
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