A Ride Through the Sunset: 3380km

“The greatest part of life is to go to places you’ve never been before, and to live dangerously.”

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As I was sitting outside a cafe chatting with friends, two motorbike touring fellows I had briefly met on the way to Turktuk ask me if I wanted to ride up part of the pass with them in order to watch the sunset above the city. Motorcycle ride and a sunset, of course!

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And So it Begins: 3,080 km

“The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.”

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I decided to do a little 300km trip to a lake and back as a sort of warm-up for cycling in the Himalayas. Little did I know that this “warm-up” actually involved the third highest motorable pass in the world (5,320m). After a 45km excruciatingly slow accent, multiple river crossings (while pushing my bike), and less than perfect road conditions to say the least, I have now officially cycled over one of the highest passes in the world!

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Ladakh: 2903km

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

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I am here, in the middle of the Himalayas, surrounded by snow-capped giants on all sides. I am in a place I have dreamed about since I first started to travel, and even more so since I started reading about mountaineering expeditions to this majestic area. It is the mountain lovers heaven to say the least.

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Into the Himalayas: 2903km

“Some people follow their dreams, others hunt them down and beat them mercilessly into submission.”

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I am currently curled up under a very thick handmade quilt at 4,400m (14,500ft) in a tent that is part of a makeshift village in the Himalayas. It is amazing to think that I’m still in India, as I am currently in a scarcely populated mountainous region that couldn’t be more different than Delhi. The people are friendly, and unlike the rest of India, the women work alongside the men. They no longer wear the colorful silk outfits of the south, but rather boots, jackets, and warm scarfs, because even during the summer time it’s cold. They no longer look indian either, but rather they look like strong mountain people, and rightfully so. This makeshift village is situated on the road from Manali to Leh which is the only access to the north. Because there are passes over 5,000m, this road is only open three or four months of the year. During the rest of the year, Leh and the surrounding area is cut off from all civilization. On this “highway” there are tents about every 30-40km that sell food and water, and occasionally have a bed or two to stay in as well. There are also people every ten or twenty kilometers working on the road, a never ending hopeless project. Between the heavy rainfall during the monsoon season, then snowfall for the rest of the year, it’s amazing there is anything left of the highway. There are numerous landslides that wipe out sections of the road every year which is one of the reasons we only averaged 25-30kmph while driving along it. The road, for the most part, is also only wide enough for one car, so it was always interesting meeting a vehicle coming the other way. Though the road was rough, it was an absolutely spectacular drive though the highest mountains in the world, and I was lucky enough to have the front seat. This is the road I will be cycling on in a few weeks once I leave the Ladakh region.

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