Cycling through the seasons…

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July 2015, Khardung La, Ladakh, India

A nice, sunny and warm morning. The small shops on the main marked of Leh are still closed. The air is fresh, the streets are almost empty. Occasionally you see a few tourists wandering around the idyllic city or some locals cleaning the front-sides of their shops. One by one the shutters of the stores open and all of a sudden the just so silent city starts its vibrant life. From one second to the other every street is filled with life, noise, the smell of spices and huge variety of bright colors. Even the little tourist agency at the end of our street opens. It’s time for picking our vehicles of the day – mountain-bikes –  we are ready for take off in a small white van. This is where our adventure of the day starts….

Equipped with lots of energy and motivation we start our journey up the mountain-pass. Our goal, of course, the top – Khardung La. With an elevation of over 18’000 ft the highest vehicle-accessible pass in the world. Our mission for today: get down from there back to Leh. But not in our white van, we decided to take the experience a bit further and take our mountain-bikes… As if it wouldn’t be crazy enough to take jumping pictures at this altitude or watch tarun doing some push-ups.

The driver of the van and his companion are in charge of the camera, and will follow us down this slightly suicidal path. To be honest, we felt a bit like celebrities. Seriously, how often is a white van following you around, taking pictures of the wolfish craziness you’re about to do? (We’re talking paparazzi and to stalker 😉 just to clear it)

So enough of the smalltalk, and let’s see how it turned out, of course guided by a narrator…

“Team 3000kms just arrived at the starting point and is now adjusting themselves for the upcoming race.

GoPro assembled, extremely stylish “safety first helmet” strapped , incredible protective “don’t hurt yourself gloves” put on, extremely en vogue “don’t try to kill yourself sock over the right trouser leg” managed and last but not least the “I look fu**ing awesome sunglasses” in place, so, on the marks, ready, set and now let the madness start…

Its seems that the weather is in favor of our three explorers today. It’s nice and sunny with a soft but cold breeze. The start extends smoothly and close behind them the camera-team.

The road, our explorers have to face turns out to be quite gravelly. It’s like they are riding over a small biotope, with its own little rivers. Not even mentioning the oncoming traffic.

The first few curve were taken elegant as expected, even though the road is barely 1.5 meters wide. On the left side our team faces the steep rockface while on their right side the scarp is waiting for the smallest mistake…

The first third of their way was mastered smoothly and signs of salutations were exchanged with the oncoming cars, motorbikes and suchlike, but wait, what’s happening now… it seems that the weather is changing…

While our explorer where “hit” by sun-rays during there first stage, they now have to cope with little ice-balls. The confusion of our cyclists is big but they are still holding there speed and motivation. The longer stopping distance shows that their breaks are loosing a bit grip and from time to time it might seem as one of them is almost colliding with the oncoming traffic but no, still everything in the green area. Even an almost crash of Daniel with an oncoming motorbike on one side and the mountain on the other side could be avoided.

The more serpentines they have to take, the more the weather gets from hailing to light rain with small gaps of sunlight in-between. Every step – or better every circulation of a wheel – the camera-van is following and documenting whats going on…

Even tough the weather switches like crazy from sun to hail to rain and backwards, our explorer still are on course. Breaks are squeaking and trying to get a hold, the wind and erratic changing weather whipping in their faces and some almost accidents can’t stop them…

… but what’s happening now… Tarun tries to overtake Sid in the middle of the final third… it is getting close… too close… Tarun’s front wheel and Sid’s back wheel snag and they fall…

…silence in the audience …

A brief shocking moment… but… both of them get up again and they seem to be fine. Driven as always both of them are eager to continue their mission totillthe end, if the weather can’t stop them, then a few abrasions can’t stop them for sure…

Back in Leh, where it all started, the wounded get their aid, and all of them get there well deserved timeout. Exhausted of the hardships but still shivering full of adrenaline and full of pride that they have made it, our explorers do what everyone would do…

… find something to eat, a cold beer and already planing their next adventure set for tomorrow.”

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