Manali Leh Cycling nostalgia

How I was on a campfire india trek and kristopher and I randomly told each other some day we should cycle from manali to leh. We had heard of those stories somewhere.
How I got a bike to cycle to class and then never used it again since I made friends and walked with them. And then later we made the manipal cyclists group on Facebook and started on weekend rides. However I got regular only this semester and did rides upto 60kms.
How I had loads of free time in the last semester and a long vacation after college until I go to a new one and I could work on my long lost dream. First going to leh and second cycling there from manali. I started googling for travel companies and the only one giving the cost in ₹ was Unventured. The rest were all speaking of it in $ which meant they weren’t catering to Indians. I wrote to them and their brochure blew my mind. It was the most beautiful thing. They were so transparent about every thing, I was amazed.
How I was prioritising the German iaeste internship over manali leh. The moment I got rejected from the first i wrote to guru again. He warned me that it was tough. I took an entire month to decide whether I was actually going to complete it.
How I started cycling for two hours in the morning and an hour in the evening with half an hour of yoga and two hours at the gym for strength. I cut down to late nights and sleepovers to once a week and slept pretty early otherwise.
How I started doing uphills twice and thrice unlike never before. All this while Ganesh inspired me, checked on my routines and told me I could do it if I continued to trained like this. I paid the advance.
How guru kept calling to me to Bangalore and I insisted I would go only after I had prepared enough and I would complete the Nandi. I stayed at tejaswinis when I went and completed 2 nandis on day 1 with 2 breaks each and day 2 in one go. That’s when I felt accomplished and my target had been met. I ended that ride with a fall. And lesson learnt and won’t be spoken about.
How I came back to manipal the same day and rested completely for a week. The next I started cycling at the gym and did lower body strength training. Another week and I was back on the saddle.
How I trained once again though for a very short period and then returned to Mumbai for good. I cycled a few times in Mumbai with dad and Anagh.
How I was super scared when I left for Delhi for I realised that the trip was right here and there was this fear of falling down. The manali leh routes were anyway pretty steep.
How I made it to Delhi Himachal Pradesh bus stand quite late at 6 whereas our bus was at 6 30. Unexpectedly I met a lot of new faces. 
How we got to manali, helped fix cycles and did a trial ride. I got my rented bike – trek 3700.
How we started the tour and I would mostly stay at the back with arpit pushing me to get to the top and guru guiding me with the right gear ratios. We made it through marhi, sissu, zing zing bar, jispa, sarachu, pang nala and tso Kar lake.
How we would cycle on tar marked roads and very often there were no roads at all. I was awfully slow on downhills and Guru would keep telling me to leave the brakes!
How we rode through sun, rain hail and snow. We survived on boiled potatoes, chocolates and juices.
How we bombed Sumedhas selfies and laughed through sharaths puns. Guru was now the haseena and I had become suresh and I had now idea why because i hadn’t seen the ad.
How tej and I became room mates and she mommyed me through hotel rooms and fancy tents. We all became a family through our stay at parachute tents, meals and long rides.
How I made it second at taglang la after pradeep. That feeling was priceless. I didn’t care about khardung la and got bored around south pullu to even finish it. Though as planned I had completed manali to leh and earned the Unventured sweatshirt.
How we played so much of bluff, dumb charades and mafia through the trip.
How we drove down to pangong and experienced snowfall and stayed there for a night. Arpit and I explored leh palace and had my favourite soupy momos. We drove down to Srinagar through the night and made it to a beautiful home stay.
How we took selfies and bid goodbye for all good things just come to an end.

I am a Mechanical Engineer, explorer, photographer, gourmand and all those things. I enjoy working out, practicing aerial yoga, writing postcards and taking care of my plants.


  1. Jayanth Jagadeesh
    July 19, 2014

    Thanks for sharing.
    Keep riding 🙂

    1. Heena
      April 7, 2020

      You’re welcome!

  2. […] for 2 hours; 6 days a week for about 3 months straight. I trained so hard to be able to ride from Manali to Leh through some of the highest motorable passes in the world with Unventured and I did […]


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