By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 8 Aug: The Veterans’ motorcycle expedition from Dehradun covered the Sarchu – Nakeela Pass (16647′) – Lachung La (16600′)- Pang – Tanglang La (17500′) – Leh (260 kms) on the fourth day. This day’s ride provided the toughest as well as the easiest ride experience, so far. Departing from the start point, Sarchu, at 9 a.m. and reaching Hotel Lungdho Residency, Leh, by 8:30 p.m., it meant being on the road for more than eleven hours. The high altitude impacts the performance not only of man and beast but also of the machines. While mountain sickness made their reactions somewhat sluggish, the Hondas would often gasp for air above 14,000′ and had to be coaxed and cajoled to continue the ride. The 80 kms stretch from Sarchu to Pang is undergoing upgradation to two lane, so it’s literally a dirt track, reminding one of the Thar Desert. Dust devils circled in the valleys, sand crushed to fine dust lay 9″ to 12″ thick, army convoys and heavy civil trucks added to the melee. It was 1:30 p.m. after a hard four and half hours ride, that they could reach Pang, after crossing Nakee La and Lachung La. Riding along the famous Gata loops, enroute to Nakee La, was a unique experience. These loops take one from under 15000′ to 17000′, over a distance of roughly 10 kms. It was here that the Hondas started spluttering. After Pang, it’s a cake ride, with a well laid two way road on the Morey plains. Crossing the Tanglang La, the highest pass enroute Leh was disappointing by comparison so excellent was the condition of the road. They are now looking forward to days 5 and 6 maintenance and administration days at Leh before moving to Chushul on Day 7.