On the 34th day we rode on the boring Srinagar-Leh highway from Khaltsi to Nimmu with scenic views. This was part of our 90 day ride in the Himalayas covering Spiti, Zanskar, Batalik, Ladakh, Nubra, Shyok, Pangong, Hanle, Tso Moriri, Garhwal and Kumaon!
Day 34 Khaltsi to Nimmu
We were back on the national highway.
Khaltsi is a small town almost 100 km from Leh. After a butt hurting ride the previous day we weren’t hoping to reach the city.
This was another extremely boring ride along the highway. After riding through horse trails, village paths, back roads, this was awful. Heavy traffic, diesel smoke and the heat was taxing.
Small hill bigger than Everest!
There was a tiny hill to be climbed after Saspul, yet it felt like Mt. Everest. After riding for 30 km I could barely sit on the saddle. It wasn’t the climbing which was difficult, nor the legs which hurt, it was just a broken bum!
Everything that goes up must come down in life and so with cycles. We had a long steep descent. Driftjockey asked me to wear the action camera the wrong way around on my helmet, so that I could ride ahead of him and shoot him as we shot downhill.
We stopped, he said start the camera and go. I did. After 5 minutes I couldn’t hear him yelling out to shut the camera or keep my head straight. So I turned back to see what was up with him. Driftjockey being uncharacteristically silent. He was far far away in the distance, a small dot on the horizon.
I stopped and asked why he was being such a slow poke on the penultimate day of his ride. He was pedalling hard, in a full aero tuck and was doing 67 kmph, yet he couldn’t keep up with me! Even though I wasn’t pedalling and sitting bolt straight. The power of 29 inch wheels was a dampener to Driftjockey’s fun!
To Kayak or not to…
Along the way we stopped at Saspul, Driftjockey wanted to go kayaking as there were many ‘adventure’ points in that village. I have no interest in water sports, so I stayed put. It was around 1500 rupees per person for a 10 km ride and they needed to wait for a team of 10 to fill the raft. Kayaks were unavailable. Except the display piece.
Due to the lack of enthusiasm from half the cycling party, Driftjockey dropped that plan and we rode on. A tailor made adventure, with fake thrills and spills isn’t an adventure when you have actually risked your neck a few days prior. It just didn’t get my adrenaline pumping.
In the midst of another climb we passed the turn off for Alchi. A beautiful monastery we were told, but by then, we weren’t interested. Especially since it wasn’t on the main road. It inspired even less interest when we saw it was a steep climb up a mountain.
As we stood there and stared at the road going up, a female foreign backpacker jumped out of a commercial cargo jeep, pulled out her bag and got onto the Alchi road looking for a lift from a passerby. The comfort in trusting strangers that hitchhikers show is something hard for me to stomach.
There is a point from the road, where the Basgo Gompa is nicely visible on the opposite hill. We decided to take a good photo of the two of us together, for the record book. It wasn’t meant to be. We were both visible in the picture, but not the monastery! We wasted half an hour, during which we saw the German cyclist from Zanskar sitting in a jeep and heading back to Leh.
A few kilometres before Nimmu we bumped into another cyclist. He wasn’t young. He looked closer to 70 and was riding solo, self-supported. A quick chat and a hello later we were on our respective ways. It is meeting such people, even for the briefest moments, which makes life interesting. They are so inspiring, that one cannot help but be humbled by their awesomeness!
It was a Sunday and I was in a bit of a hurry to find a place to stay. On this occasion I was the one desperately in search of a television. We found a nice guesthouse in Nimmu, a room with a television, switched it on and got ready to watch the MotoGP race. All that effort was in vain as the channel wasn’t available.
So I followed the race on Twitter, not the best way to watch the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, but the only way considering the circumstances!
Driftjockey went in search of beer and tandoori chicken, while I was glued to my phone screen. Desperate for every drop of information trickling on Twitter. He failed miserably! There wasn’t any alcohol available and his Hindi ensured he got chicken curry instead of tandoori!
After the mistaken dinner, it was back to watching Bollywood actors gyrating to terrible music in the most stupid manner imaginable. But Driftjockey likes Sheela ki Jawaani, so watch it we did.
We also ended up watching a pseudo sports movie called, Sultan, starring a big star like Salman Khan. It was depressingly bad, there was no attempt made by any actor.
Salman bhai knows that people will clap and cheer irrespective of the rubbish which is doled out. I wonder about the average IQ of the fan!
Route Profile: Khaltsi to Nimmu
The route from Khaltsi to Nimmu is on the arterial Srinagar-Leh highway. As such you will find good quality asphalt to ride on and a lot of trucks for company. There is a lot of traffic on this stretch. To make things worse you will find tourists on rented automatic scooters as well!
There is plenty of food and accommodation along the way with varying degrees of luxury and cleanliness.
The only challenge during the day is a small 400 metre climb after Saspul.
Expenses: Khaltsi to Nimmu
Stay for Two 700
Food for Two 470