Day 6 Leh to Pangong Lake (164 kms)
The road is initially fairly good (continuous tarseal), but as always you have to be super vigilant because of occasional potholes and the concrete spillways which channel water off the road high side. For these, it’s a case of get up on to the pegs and not throttling off, but the bike has a nasty habit of jumping out of gear as it receives a great whack. Still there’s no way, you want to be on the seat. We stop as usual at one of the many ”restaurants” that serve chai and have a long break. It’s the usual “herding cats” problem when we need to get going.
We approach the Chang La (17688' ) and the road up is turning to icy patches and slush with the air temp at freezing.
I’ve got rid of my old mesh gloves and have padded ones but have frozen hands so stop and try and get warm.
The road now has short bad sections of dirt and as I’m coming down a hill I see a broken piece ahead but I’m travelling too fast and maybe grab too much front brake. I go down and end up in a boulder filled drain on the side of the road. I lie there, and am too winded to get out. One of the guys following, gets the bike up and off the road and then gets me up. I’m feeling a bit shaky but the only thing is to get back on the bike and get moving. My knees feel a bit knocked about and could be bleeding but I don't check (big mistake as I later find out) Seems that's all and I’m very lucky. I went down on my previously broken shoulder side but fortunately there's no damage to it. I’m not looking forward to arriving at the camp because I know that I’m going to get ragged unmercifully by Akarsh, and this is my own fault for previously baiting him with the remark that this has been a ride for pussies and questioning the "adventure" content. The other guys are wonderful and all ask me if there’s anything that they can do – very heart warming.
We get to Pangong lake and stop by it for a rest. It's a beautiful azure colour and 70% is actually in Chinese territory.
Unwisely I stay too long on the "beach" and have to ride with one of the guys who says he knows the track to the camp site. He doesn’t and we end up pushing bikes out of the sand stretches – pretty exhausting at over 13,000’ and I’m feeling knackered by the time we get to the camp.
Camps like this are used by hiking groups and bike riders for about four months of the year and then dismantled. They have a large tent as a dining room and buffet style dishes on burners.
It's cool but not really cold so there's no need to put on heaps of clothing at night. Thermal u/wear is enough.