Apologies for not writing anything here. I have been very busy trying to set up a new 29″ MTB for mountain travel, but it seems that it’s too late for the Manali-Upshi or Manali-Leh trip. Winter has set in at the high altitude Manali-Leh road and most of the tented accommodation on the high passes will probably be winding up.
The new 29″ looked good for starters but as I started using it, there were probably dozens of tweaks and modifications required for a high altitude trek. First off, the rear hub was changed and a 9 gear cassette installed, then the triple chainwheel front gear system. A rear pannier was installed. It turned out that the handlebar had to be elevated for a comfortable ride, this was one by installing an adapter. It took me nearly 2 months to order all the parts and modify the bike. Everything else seems OK but transportation remains a major issue and I am not confident of boxing the bike and re-assembling it in Manali. Hence, I dropped that plan for now. Working on alternatives.
All-in-all, I will probably head for the Rishikesh-Gangotri section rather than Manali-Leh, as the road, there is open till October 27, 2019. The Manali-Leh road will close up by October 15, 2019 ( probable date ). Temperatures in the high passes on the Manali-Leh road are already below zero and will drop further, with rains on the lower segment. Most people have advised me to drop the Manali-Leh trek plan, and that is what I am probably going to do. If a good opportunity for hassle-free bike transfer to Manali does open up, with someone tagging along ( both seem impossible now ), I will reconsider my decision to drop the Manali-Leh route.
The Rishikesh-Gangotri road is OK after Chamba, and I am planning to take it up from Chamba with my bike. It will be quite cold but not anywhere near the cold in high passes of Manali-Leh road. On further inquiry, it turns out that the Uttarkashi-Gangotri stretch is under heavy repair/construction work. The stretch from Chamba to Uttarkashi via Mussourie road is in better shape.
I will be posting a pic of the modified 29’er soon.
Added Later: Here is my new beauty:
The bike is meant to carry weights up to 15 kg., and is geared for faster runs in mountains. It is a hardtail, has one shocker in the front. The tires are 29×2.1 which will hopefully tackle grit and dirt tracks on mountains too.
Update on 08/10/2019: Heavy snowfall (6 inches) reported in Rohtang Pass on 06/10/19 night and 07/10/19 morning which means the link between Manali and Keylong is broken. Snowfall was also reported in Marhi, Gramphu, and Darcha. HRTC has decided to suspend bus services between Manali and Keylong. Rescue operations to evacuate tourists trapped in Rohtang pass are on.
Update on 18/10/2019: Manali-Leh road has been officially closed as on 15/10/2019. Government picket at Darcha has been removed, the one in Sarchu had been removed earlier. Tourists can still travel on the road but at own risk.
Update on 05/11/2019: Air pollution levels in North India have reached unhealthy/hazardous levels and it doesn’t help to see the cavalier attitude of people in India, mainly the authorities, who are unable to stop this situation year-after-year. My city Kanpur is registering very unhealthy/hazardous levels for the past two-three weeks now. This is also taking a toll on my health as I am quite sensitive to air pollution. Trying to recover and escape this disaster by making a cycling trip somewhere else, as soon as I can.
Stay in touch!