Time To Cycle

“Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. There’s something wrong with a society that drives a car to work out in a gym.”

After a four month break, a break about three and a half months longer than I had planned for, I am ready to hop back in the saddle and become a cycle-tourer again. India and Nepal have proven to be more of a cultural tour than anything else, which is exactly what I wanted. I have spent more time off the bike than actually riding, but I have also had some absolutely amazing experiences. Now though, I’m ready to start cycling a bit more, continuing to gather cultural stories as I go of course.

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The Real India: 3985km

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”


Ladakh and Spiti aren’t really India. I mean sure, they are technically, but the people don’t look Indian, the culture and language is Tibetan, and it’s clean, cold, and deserted, words never associated with the rest of India. For the past week I have been in the real India though. The crazy, chaotic, busy India, filled with people, cows, and monkeys. An India, that, unfortunately, I wasn’t looking forward to cycling through. Though I will someday visit the rest of the country, it is not an endeavor I plan to undertake with my bike. That being said, my last few weeks have shown me that it’s the people, not only the climate or scenery, that makes travel what it is.

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At the Dhaba: 3465km

“Don’t be afraid to give yourself everything you have ever wanted in life.”


After I arrived up and over the pass I decided to spend the night in a dhaba instead of camping since my gear was soaked and another storm was on its way (plus it costs less than two dollars). Dhabas are tea side stalls that sell rice and dal (the most typical meal here), along with a few basic snacks. It costs less than a dollar for an all you can eat meal (they refill your plate as many times as you want), which is definitely a hungry cyclist’s dream. Dhabas are found just outside of cities, or in the middle of nowhere, and out here, they are especially popular amongst truckers. In this area, two or three dhabas make up a village. These “villages” are only inhabited for four months of the year, because starting in October, this mountainous region is snowed in.

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Back On The Bike: 3440km

“If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”

*Since I haven’t had internet the last few weeks, I will post the entries I have been writing along the way every day or two until you guy are caught up! In the meanwhile, I am now making my way to Nepal.


After a three week break from cycling, I found myself, once again, planning a bit of a ridiculous warm-up to get back into the world of touring. I decided that a 55km climb, up a pass with a 2,500m gain, sounded just about perfect. And it was. Though I could feel my legs had lost most of their strength, I climbed 40km uphill the first day through the beautiful lush landscape. Unlike the high mountains in Ladakh, the ones surrounding Manali are much lower, making a green, rather than dusty gray ride. Most of the road was paved, though there were a few difficult sections that were dirt packed and rocky, which left me pushing my bike through ankle deep mud.

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High Highs and Low Lows: 3380km

“And then there are times when it doesn’t need to make sense. It just simply is, and it is all you need to believe in.”


Instead of cycling the 200km back to Leh along the same route we had just accomplished, my British cycling buddy and I decided to try our luck at hitchhiking. After two hours without cars, a few army trucks passed where we were waiting and graciously picked us up. As we hopped into the back of one of the massive trucks, we were greeted by a dozen very friendly Seek Indian army men. They all had dark green turbans and goggles, and smiled and laughed at us as we joined them for a ride until the next army base camp. From there, the driver hooked us up with another truck who was going another 50km farther, but not before shaking our hands and handing us each a bar of delicious chocolate. Our second ride of the day took place amongst many boxes and gear, with two other soldiers, in the back of an equally massive truck. During both of these rides, each time we passed through a village the children would run after the trucks with their arms out wide asking for candy. I have never wished I had a bag of lollipops to hand out more than whilst in those trucks.

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Up and Over the Highest (Motorable) Pass in the World: 3200km

“I doubt if anyone would claim to enjoy life at high altitudes- enjoy, that is, in the ordinary sense of the word.”


I just cycled over the highest motorable pass in the world. I never imagined that someday I would cycle up to 5,602m, and I definitely never imagined I would actually enjoy it. I started out late in the morning and had planned to camp at a village about 15km from the top in order to summit the next day. When I arrived, I realized it was a military base with a few tents of soldiers, and a few other tents with Indian men. After sitting in the “village” reading for an hour I realized I did not feel comfortable sleeping there. The guys stared rudely, and the military men kept coming up and taking my picture. Lucky for me, earlier in the day I had met an English fellow who was biking up the pass as well so I decided to ride down with him. Though I turned around before the top that time, it had been an amazing day. The cycling up had been surprisingly fun, and cycling down at 50km an hour while the sun was setting was absolutely unbelievable.

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Into the Unknown: 3080 km

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”


Before arriving in India I had spent a fair amount of time starring at the Himalayas through google maps. After locating Leh, I realized that there was one small road leading to the north, even farther into the mountains. Obviously after noticing it was there I had to cycle it. After a bit of research I figured out that the first part of the road leads over the highest motorable pass in the world, which at 5,600m, would be extremely difficult to bike over. After that, there are very small villages spread out along the road until it end. Literally, it just ends. To the left is Pakistan, to the right is China, and all around are impassable mountains. Sounds appealing right?

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