"It’s 7am; we are ready to go and start our ascent of the famous Rothang La (3900 meters), the first of the many high mountain passes we'll encounter on our trip. Only a few kilometers out of Manali, we’re already in a complete different atmosphere. The winding road climbs through a few villages and forests, as several roadworks eventually slow us down and give us the opportunity to test our riding skills on mud and rocks. Coming down on the other side of the pass, the scenery takes our breath away. The road is now constantly damaged; we ride along snowdrifts and cross mountain streams. The bikes work fine and all we need to change is a spark plug and a clutch cable. We choose to spend the night in Keylong, a charming little town, where we work a little on the carburetor and meet two crazy guys: Royal Enfield riders that have decided to do a non-stop ride from Manali to Leh, which means they’ll have to ride by night as well…a daring choice considering the dangerousness of the roads and the fact that there is no light whatsoever.
The following days disconnect us from the world as we know it. We lose all modern comfort, such as hot water and electricity. Our average cruising speed still does not exceed 25 to 30 km/h. But since our stop in Keylong, we’re blown away by the beauty of the landscapes and one can really feel the immensity and emptiness of these endless Himalayan Mountains. From snowy summits to jumbles of rock through breathtaking plateaus and steep slopes covered in gravel and sand, the Himalaya is not for the faint hearted! And finally, we arrive in the lush green Indus Valley and reach in Leh. The Bullets are proving day after day to be the perfect machines for these roads. We’re now taking a day off in Leh to rest before trying to reach our ultimate goal: being the first side-car to reach the roof of the world, for which we'll have to climb from 3500 to 5600 meters in only 40 km.
At 6am, we’re on our bikes, ready for the ride to the Khardung La. Until the checkpoint, the drive is easy as the winding road is in (almost) perfect condition, but after the checkpoint, it just turns into a rocky trail and we have to be very careful. In these early morning hours, despite the cold, the mountain slowly seems to come alive as the light changes and the sun rises higher in the sky. It’s finally with a very short breath, but no major altitude problem that we reach the top and get our picture taken next to the famous sign. 5602 meters! The side-car from CS concept, attached to a Royal Enfield and with the logistical support of the Vintage Rides team has made it: It’s the first side-car to reach the Top of the World.
Light hearted, we ride back down to Leh and take in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes for the last time. Tomorrow, we’ll go for a last ride to enjoy one last day with the team. “Incredible India” is definitely more than just a slogan."
And so they did it! Congratulations to them for bringing the first Side-car in the Himalayas to the Khardung La.
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Catch up on Episode 1 of the side-car project.
Catch up on Episode 2 of the side-car project.
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