How to Prepare yourself?
- Are you conditioned for such an endurance ride?
- You should plan to complete the trip before the monsoons hit.
- Do you have plans for escort vehicle in case your bike needs repairs/replacements?
- How do you plan to carry your luggage?
- I hope you are not planning to ride at night.
- Get yourselves a complete health checkup before setting out.
- Be prepared to tackle AMS.
- Get yourselves good riding gear (helmets, knee and elbow guards, weatherproof gloves, shoes and proper riding jacket, reflective clothing, sunglasses)
- Get your bike properly serviced before the trip and ride sensibly and carefully
- Keep yourselves hydrated during the ride
- Have first aid kit handy
- Keep nutrition bars, chocolates, fruits and nuts handy
- Plan your itinerary and identify night halts and backup night halts along the route.
- Finally, be prepared to quit and return home if things get too demanding or difficult.
From what I have heard, there are instances where two-wheeler riders have hurt themselves badly (fractures, severe lacerations) when they skidded on the road. Early morning is the worst time to ride because of the presence of black ice So, it is best to have protection – helmet, knee and elbow guards and riding suit along with dust mask and weather proof shoes. Also, avoid riding early in the morning. Ride after the sun has been out for an hour or so, especially at the passes.
Things to be aware of
- Be wary of Acute Mountain Sickness –Altitude Sickness
- If you are going via Srinagar – Leh highway, it is advisable to avoid going around 15th August (Independence Day) as the valley remains tense around that day. Tourists are normally not affected as per reliable sources.
- Also, consider the fact that Ladakh taxi union has recently stopped tourists from using self-drive vehicles in the circuits around Leh. This could soon happen for rented bikes as well. Private vehicles will not have problems. Vehicles with Yellow-on-Black and Black-on-Yellow registration plates might have problems.
Here are a few points worth noting.
- Roads are bad, especially from Sarchu as you approach Pang. So, do not estimate travel time based on distance. We took close to 15 hours from Jispa to Leh with just one break at Sarchu for lunch.
- Acute Mountain Sickness is real and can become ugly very fast. I was hit by AMS overnight at Jispa and had a very bad time till I reached Leh. So, keep yourself hydrated even if you do not feel thirsty, avoid heavy food and do not spend too much time on the high passes. Keep portable oxygen handy, if possible.
- Landslides are quite frequent. We were stuck close to Baralacha La for close to an hour for a landslide to be cleared. So, plan accordingly.
- Landscape is unreal, a thousand shades of brown, if I may put it so! Very little greenery once you leave Jispa. But, the rivers, occassional lakes and mountains give you company.
- Drive safe. Roads are unstable towards the cliff side. So, try to stay on the mountain side as far as possible. Do not attempt to drive if it rains or snows overnight. It can get dangerous.