Patseo to Zingzangbar to Keylang 65km
Kelang to Manali 55km
It was raining when we woke, so neither of us was in any hurry to get up, and we dozed for another hour. When we finally crawled out of the tent we realized it was not raining, but snowing, and it was bitterly cold. OK. Well we're going cycling. We decide to travel light, and stash all our kit under the eaves of the "rest house". Let's see how far we can get before being turned around.
The road is in real good condition, and we see why in a couple of kms. There is an abandoned army camp. But it looks smashed up. Some buildings have seemingly been pushed over, others have holes through the roofs. Avalanche? Really heavy snowfalls? Bizarre. The road climbs steadily, but it is not hard climbing, and the vista is a little surreal. There is NOONE about, the snow is falling heavily, and there is just us, seemingly the only living creatures about.
An hour and a half, and we are approaching a bleak looking building, and some scruffy workers tents. We are at 4287m, Zingzingbar. Three guys are standing at a doorway, sheltering from the snow. They invite us inside....into a scruffy, dirty storeroom, that is colder than outside. Thanks guys, but we'll take some photos outside. No words are spoken, but we are left understanding, that we should not climb any further up the road. Basically, we agree. It's cold, snowing heavily, and bleak. Going downhill seems particularly inviting. A dozen other guys appear out of another door. They're waiting for the snowing to stop so they can get to work, clearing the pass. They also indicate that we should turn around. We agree.
And so the fun begins. Downhill. By the time we're back at the army camp, it's stopped snowing, we've covered 15km, and haven't turned a pedal. The views are stunning. We pick up our stashed kit, say "See Ya" to the caretaker, and continue the downhill cruise. It's amazing what you don't see when you don't look over your shoulder, and with the new coating of snow I'm full of "amazing", and Tessa let's out several "fecking awesomes".
40 something kms, with two uphills, a stop for food, and some photos, although we were having too much fun to stop for many, sweeping down between rocky cliffs, and huge drops into a raging river. At one stop, near the top of one of the climbs, Tessa comfortably sat with her legs dangling over the cliff edge, while I'm sweating it, in my vertiginous way, pleading her to move back from the edge. (Blimmen youngsters....got no respect for us oldies and our fears).
And very quickly, we are back at our Keylang accommodation. A hot "shower", bucket wash, and food, and an agreement, what a "fecking awesome" day.
The next 65km, we knew was mainly uphill, with 16km of it climbing up a particularly muddy, tough, and rough road to the summit of Rohtang Pass. We've been cycling at altitude for four days, and are both pretty weary. Yep, a jeep ride to the top of the pass, for $50, sounds like a really great idea. Our host is happy to oblige, and later in the evening I pull the wheels off the bikes and fit them inside the Jeep. Too easy.
7am start. Trailer on roof, bags and cycles in the Jeep, and the driver wasn't even too crazy. Once again, with the clear sky, the new snow, and a new perspective, the scenery is....."fecking awesome". This is an amazing part of the world. In just over two hours we are unloading everything at the top of the pass. On the bikes, it would have been a very very hard day, or even day and a half. A well spent $50.
Loaded and away, and over the pass for 1km, and hit.....India visiting snow. And if it's possible, yes its definitely possible, more chaotic than the ascent. We are stuck, on our bicycles, in a traffic jam, on the top of a mountain, for one and a half hours. Some of our new friends, you can make friends in that time, motor cyclists and tour bus drivers, tell us that it's not unusual to sit here for up to 5 hours, stuck in traffic. Meanwhile, the Dehli folk, those with the sense to get out of the vehicles, are rolling, falling, throwing, riding horses, snowmobiles, quad bikes in the snow, or squeezing between the stalled traffic, trying to find a way to get off the road onto the snow. Without experiencing it, I wouldn't have believed it. And the stalled traffic.....tooting horns, of course. Tessa and I just looked at each other, shook our heads and laughed. All part of this amazing experience.
The other 55km, that took almost eight hours for us to climb .....wonderful, amazing, "fecking awesome" downhill, took us less than three hours. Damn, we climbed some hills to get up there earlier in the week. Photos. No time. Just way too much fun......
Bother, our Old Manali accommodation is full. No problems. The manager arranges for a room at a hotel just across the road. We meet an Israeli, not high on weed, who sneaks into our vacant room before we can claim it..... no worries, we can have his old one or the one next door....sweet.