If you seek challenging adventures and embody the spirit of thrill, confused about How to prepare for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip then this is the one for you. Most adrenaline junkies across the globe have this famous journey on the very top of their bucket list. And why not? For this route, beginning at the town of Manali offers some of the most beautiful terrains for those brave enough to overtake this endeavor.
Table of Contents
- Manali to Leh cycle trip overview
- Physical Preparation for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
- Mental Preparation for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
- High Altitude Sickness during Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
- Know Your Bicycle for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
- Things To Carry For Your for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
- Things to carry for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
- Documents To Carry for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
- Other Important Tips for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
- Final thoughts for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
Manali to Leh cycle trip overview
Manali to Leh Cycle trip covers a little less than 500 km and will be one of the most enriching experiences you have ever had. The entire ride takes you through 5 treacherous high mountain passes, among which two are above 5000 meters, the highest of which is the infamous Khardung La Pass. But the other passes are not to be underestimated, as each has something unique to offer.
The Khardung La Pass may be the highest motorable pass, but the Bara Lachha La gives it a run for its money by being the loopiest of them all. The twins, Naki La and Lachu La stand side by side, whereas the Rohtang Pass grabs the title of being the moodiest as well as the most unpredictable of them all. The toughest cross? It has got to the Tanglang La Pass with its altitude of 5,360M.
If you think the passes are all there is, you would be mistaken, for one look at the Gata loops with their 21 curves is bound to send a chill down your spine. A few other examples of the awe this excursion has in store for you would include the More plains, considered one of the highest and coldest deserts in the world, offering a constant panoramic view of snow-laden peaks. As you go riding, you would get to witness the glory of the many distinctly-colored rivers like Chandra, Bhaga, and Indus.
As you reach the end of your adrenaline-filled journey, you get to view the high-altitude city of Leh, along with all its raw and untapped beauty. And while we can offer only a word picture of this surreal experience, the only way to realize its true essence is to experience it firsthand. Do not be scared of all this data, however, as hoards of people every year take on this expedition. To do it well, you will need to prepare of course.
Everything you need for those 7 to 14 days, bicycling along the 474 km long stretch between Manali to Leh should be well planned, along with some other important details we will discuss in this article.
Physical Preparation for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
Before going on an expedition such as this bicycle trip from Manali to Leh, it is fair to assume you will need a good amount of preparation. There may be a popular saying that no amount of physical training is enough for this trip to the Himalayas as it all depends on your mental fitness, but that does not mean you need no physical preparation at all.
There are a few factors to keep in mind as you train your body to endure all the excursions that are sure to befall you on this trip.
- Companion: The first thing to remember is that this is a bicycling trip, and for that, you need to make sure you and anyone else in your party have been regularly cycling and are comfortable being on the saddle for a long duration of time.
- Great stamina and endurance: Another thing to remember while checking your physical prowess before the trip is that you have enough stamina built. And for that, you need regular exercise. Building stamina or undertaking endurance exercises enhance your overall system. So, going on this trip is not something you plan over the weekend. You need to take some months and get yourself ready. Walking is a good endurance builder, but you need to match the intensity of your walking to the fitness level required for this trip. So, put on your best walking shoes and go jogging, or even better running to build endurance. This particular activity is free, but if you were to join a gym or go on the treadmill, you can keep a measuring eye on your progress.
- Equipment-based training: If you were to join the gym you would see machines like treadmills, stair climbers, ski machines, steppers, and ellipticals everywhere, and with good reason as well. These can exact a great workout out of you in a small space as well as a little amount of time. And one of their great benefits is the ability to keep track of your progress by recording time for how long you could sustain your jogging stretch or even how fast you were able to sprint a certain distance. The negative side? These machines may be a bit too challenging for a beginner or anyone with low fitness levels. Thus, a trial run becomes necessary unless you overexert yourself on these.
- Cycling: And finally, cycling is the only physical skill that is of utmost importance on this trip. Cycling, unlike the other types of machinery at the gym, does not need a certain fitness level. Most people who are unfit or even 50 pounds overweight find that stationary cycles are a great way to ease into the world of fitness. So, while preparing for your bicycle trip from Manali to Leh, it is important you try and bicycle as much as possible, to lessen the transition.
But it is not just exercising that would physically prepare you, you need to have good nutritious food every day as well. To make sure your overall health is at an optimum stage to undergo this particularly exerting expedition. A proper diet is often as important as physical exercise. Another thing added to your checklist is to get your full body check-up done to avoid any unforeseeable problems.
Mental Preparation for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
While attempting this trip, your body will be the last to give up in those extreme situations encountered en route.
So you need to keep your wits about yourself and make sure you are mentally prepared for this trip.
- Don’t lose focus: The first thing you need to work on is building your focus. If driving up or down a hill needs focus, you can only imagine how much focus would be needed for riding a bicycle through the mountains.
- Keep calm: If you are someone who does not handle stress well, you might need to work on that before planning this trip. Keeping yourself calm when something unforeseen happens is a skill many lacks, but is needed in unpredictable places like these, where things are bound to deviate from the original plan. So, while on roads like these, be calm as you concentrate and be extremely confident that whatever happens, you would be able to back yourself and get through any kind of terrain or weather.
- Know the basics: Another thing to remember is that this trip is a minimum of a week-long, so there might be times when you get antsy or the destination may seem far away. What is important in those situations is to be patient and trust yourself and your plan. Before setting off, you have had your plans along with certain contingencies ready, and it is important to remember that during those times when you get agitated. Setting off without learning the basics like how to make yourself a meal with certain ingredients or how to fix a flat tire, tighten a nut, or make sure your carrier is not undone is a grave mistake as well. Knowing these basics would make sure your trip is far smoother.
Going on this trip, you can never be 100% prepared for all the challenges, but if you can, try to incorporate all the suggestions regarding your physical as well as mental preparation to enjoy the expedition to its fullest. Once you set your mind and body to it, the surrounding scenery would do the rest and you will find yourself at Leh before you know it.
High Altitude Sickness during Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
While living in the plains most people don’t consider high altitude sickness as a thing. But it is nothing to joke about.
Being on a bicycle may help with acclimatization over the days as you climb the steep grade and generally stays at high altitudes, but still, there are preventive steps that can be taken to help complete the ride without any problems.
- Stay hydrated: Hydration is a must and should be remembered, especially at high altitudes. Drink whatever water you have with you and always remember to refill at streams as they are safe and good to drink from.
- Keep yourself warm: Apart from water, carrying a thermos filled with hot black tea is also advisable. As the temperatures start to drop en route to the passes, you will find that a hot cup of tea makes all the difference in the world. Not to mention that it is probably one of the best ways to keep yourself warm. The problem mostly occurs with those who have had no prior experience with high altitudes. If that is the case, it is always advised to seek a doctor and get some high-altitude medicine. Taking it a couple of days earlier helps the cause, but consulting a doctor is a must.
- Acclimatization is the key: The golden rule to follow in cases of high altitudes is to ride higher and sleep lower. Another way to prepare yourself and acclimatize is to ride in and around Manali or Solang Valley on Day 0 of your journey. The most advisable ride is to Solang Valley – Manali and back. As you see it is not much you can do to make sure you don’t get sick. But if you do keep these pointers in mind, your transition will get a little easier. But ultimately it is time and experience that helps your body, so the more you hike or ride in high-altitude places, your body will acclimatize better.
Know Your Bicycle for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
The very basic of going on this bicycle expedition from Manali to Leh is that you would be bicycling your way through 500-ish km. And for that, you need to make sure you know everything there is to know about bicycles. In the plains, whenever your cycle breaks, you can just go to the nearest repair shop and have the issue solved.
But in the hilly areas, where the population is sparse, you would be hardpressed to find such shops.
- Once you start your trip and leave Manali, you won’t find any mechanic to repair your bike at all, at least for the next 400+ km till Upshi, or Leh. For smaller issues like a flat tire, there are some bicycle repair shops on Manali Leh Highway at Koksar, Keylong, and Zing Zing Bar but nothing beyond that. So, before setting on the trip, take some time and get to know your cycle.
- Knowing your bike also includes learning a few tricks of the trade, which results in you being confident that if your bicycle were to indeed break down in the middle of the road, you could salvage the situation. For example, if you know how to change the tires as well as replace the tubes, you won’t need to rush to the nearest repair shop right away. And with enough practice, you could do it in recorded time and be on your merry way.
- Knowing the basics of cleaning and maintaining the chain on your bike is also important. That way you could change or remove the chain links when needed. Adjusting or changing break or gear wires is also a piece of important knowledge on the part of the rider. And lastly, the spokes, and how to change them without using the spoke tools.
So, you can see knowing your bicycle inside out is indispensable knowledge every rider must have if they aim to complete the trip with minimum hassle.
Things To Carry For Your for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
There are many essential things to be packed for those 7 to 14 days, things humans cannot survive without. And with this list is also included some bicycle parts as just knowing how to fix your bicycle may not be enough if you were to have a malfunction along a secluded highway. So, it is just as important to carry some spares that may be needed along the way. So first things first, necessary items to be packed include clothes.
● 4 Full sleeved non-cotton T-shirts
● 1 Fleece T-shirt
● 1 Fleece Jacket
● 1 Hollowfill/ Down feather Jacket
● 1 Wind and Waterproof Jacket and pant combo
● 3 Synthetic Trek pants (avoid shorts, capris, or fitted denim)
● 1 Pair of Fleece or woolen gloves
● 1 Poncho
But clothing is not enough, everyone needs at least some grooming products every day. So, it is safe to assume products like moisturizer, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, toothpaste, anti-bacterial powder, chapstick, toilet paper, wipes, and quick-dry towels are something everyone must pack.
The terrain is considered while packing the essentials, so, it is advisable to pack a woolen cap. For those who need glasses, it is advised to wear contact lenses and use UV-protected dark sunglasses with side covers. Trekking shoes with both cotton and woolen socks are also a must.
Things to carry for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
And now for your bicycle, there are a few spares and tools you should carry on the Manali Leh cycling trip, and they are-
● Spare tubes- 2 sets
● Puncture repair kit
● Hand pump
● Spare chain link- 1 set
● Chain link removal tool
● A basic bicycle tool kit
● Spare Spokes- 2 pc
● Break or Gear Wires- 2 pc
● Extra screws and nuts
● Machine oil or lubricant
For basic gear, each rider carries a backpack and rain cover, water bottles, hydration packs, necessary snacks, and a personal medical kit. These are the pro mobile times, so everywhere we go, we take our mobile phones with us. But we should remember that services like an excellent network are not accessible everywhere.
The area post-Marhi to Leh is notoriously famous for its lack of a good mobile network, so all you will be left with is to keep your phone down and enjoy the scenery. Some networks may be available in places like Keylong, Darcha, and Sissu but mostly there is very limited connectivity present. That being said, if there is an emergency, you can always go to the army camps at Sarchu and Pang and use their satellite phones to call anywhere across India and the globe.
Documents To Carry for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
As you pack your things for a trip that may last from 1 week to two, you remember to adjust your luggage in a way that accommodates sudden delays. And along with these essentials, you must carry some personal documents as well, such as:
- At least one form of government identity card like a Voter ID, Aadhar Card, Passport, or Driver’s license.
- Multiple photocopies of the documents as well.
- Printout of your planned itinerary
- A copy of your flight tickets
- A copy of your medical insurance,
- Hotel reservation slips
- A couple of passport-size photographs.
These things may help you get out of various troubles should you be unfortunate enough to get in them.
Other Important Tips for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
There are a few other necessary tips you must remember as well if you plan to take your bicycle and go on a trip from Manali to Leh.
- Firstly, you have to take your bicycle with you, and transporting that is a hassle. If you were to take a private bus, they could charge you anything between Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000 for your bicycle. Considering this, an HPTDC bus would be your best bet as they charge just Rs. 300 extra for the bike. If you wish to buy a bike though, the Bike Shop at Greenpark, Delhi, is an excellent recommended place to get one at a nominal price. Their packaging also makes sure your bicycle is safe for the journey.
- Apart from buying one you could also rent one, either from Delhi or Manali itself. A good MTB bike is usually rented for around Rs. 500 a day at Delhi. On the other hand, carrier racks and pannier bags for rent are not a good idea, and neither are they readily available. So it is best to buy them yourself. And once you reach Manali, it is usually advised to stay near the bus station in New Manali. That way you won’t have you move around with your big bicycle box in the town.
- It is also important to remember to bring a map with you. There you will not find any reliable network connection, so Google Maps will be out of the question. However, some websites provide maps, which in turn work flawlessly and are therefore a savior on this route. So, download a map of the area and take it with you on the trip for safety. Keeping a list of all the places on the highway that offers food and accommodations on your bicycle trip is also a good idea. The places in order are- Kothi → Marhi → Koksar → Sissu → Gondola → Tandi → Keylong → Jispa → Darcha → Zing Zing Bar (Lower and Upper) → Bharatpur → Sarchu → Whiskey Nala → Pang Debring (Lower and Upper) → Rumptse → Upshi → Karu → Thiksey → Leh
In the end, no matter where you’re going, either from Manali to Leh or even the Manali to the Khardung La cycling trip, knowing the things mentioned earlier is enough for you to prepare yourself for a cycling trip to Ladakh.
Final thoughts for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip
While going on a bicycle trip through such an area as Manali to Leh, it is important to gather all the information that you can, as no one can be too prepared. But at the same time, it is important to enjoy the entire ride. In expeditions such as these, the destination is not your end goal, the entire journey is.
So, it does not matter whether you are planning a solo trip, hoping to get some perspective in life and make new friends on the way, or going along with lifelong buddies to create a core memory, enjoying the trip is as important in itself as preparing for the exhaustive excursion. So, start your planning and just grab the opportunity as you see it. You can refer to this “How to prepare for Manali to Leh Cycle Trip” for your all preparation.