And yes i am the first any Harley Davidson owner and rider to drive to ladakh from my city Surat. I own Street 750. Whole trip was without any backup or accessory of bike. Total of 6000 KMS done in 15 days time. Harley Street 750 works really well on all kinds roads just the rider needs confident to drive. Ride without any kind of backup or bike accessory and it was back home without anykind of problem in my harley.
Though this was my second trip to LEH-LADAKH, last year in 2017 i ride with four friends on 150 CC bikes on FZs and to Spiti Valley and this year i ride on Harley Davidson. The amazing thing is, last year we were the only to ride on 150 cc bikes to ladakh and people used to say it needs guts to ride on 150 cc on high altitude and we did it. And this year 2018, i was on harley street 750 whereas all others coming used 150 cc and bullets 500 cc.
When did we start the journey –
We were only 2 riders one from Navsari, Gujarat and i was from Surat, Gujarat both owns Harley started our trip on 26th May 2018 early morning from our respective cities i.e Surat. On the very first day, the first stop was directly at Ajmer reached in the evening on same day. As it was summer, entering Rajasthan was totally touch as temperature was above 45-46 degree and i had to take frequent breaks for water and some rest to cool down body. So it took some hours more to reach Ajmer in the evening. (Here i am covering of my side because the other rider was not taking enough breaks and driving continously so he reached Jaipur while i was at Ajmer. This resulted in his bad health in later days i will cover later on.) Although we were 2 riders but we were riding like we are on Solo Trip because the other rider was much ahead of me due to many reasons like no breaks in between in heating temperature of Rajasthan and his harley was 1700 CC while mine was of 750 CC.
First day was over at Ajmer and took rest and next day early morning i started at 6 am to reach and cover all KMS to reach Jammu. Passing through Rajasthan was very touch due to heating temperature of 46-47 degree on other day and i used to take couple of breaks in an hour for water to avoid my body getting dehydrated. I was ok with it because health matters than making a record of ride.
The same day on 27th May 2018 starting from 6 am at Ajmer i ride my harley street 750 for continue 16 hours except some breaks in between and i reach Jammu finally at late night around 1-2 am and met my co-rider to start the next day ride together to reach LEH.
I ride on highway no 54 i think where the highway was totally vacant and secluded and i was the only one who was riding on it because this highway has no traffic in daytime and theres no one to go after evening because its lesser known highway. This highway is by-pass of delhi and comes on the way through bikaner. It was like a dream come true to ride on a highway all alone in a late night time.
On 28th May we started from Jammu at around 9 am in morning and during daytime we reached Srinagar and next day to Kargil. Except rest nothing much was there in store. Route from Jammu-Udhampur-Sonamarg, and the most dangerous pass at zero degree ZOZILLA PASS are really bad. Just after a hour passing from ZOZILLA PASS, we got news that ZOZILLA PASS ZERO Degree has been closed due to huge landslide and u cant drive on more than 20 kms speed. Now our main destination was LEH. Next day,
On 29th May 2018, we reached LEH in evening about 5-6 pm. So it took 4 days to reach LEH covering more than 2000 KMS from home city Surat to LEH. We Need to take permissions from LEH to cover NUBRA VALLEY, KHARDUNGLA etc so took 4 day permission till Hanley. Hanley permission got by luck as its non-permit village due to CHINA border.
The adventure begins after reaching LEH. One day was spent in LEH itself. And on 1st June 2018 i was on First motorable Road at 17500 Ft High altitude at KHARDUNGLA TOP on Harley Street 750 and first from Surat city Harley Owner to explore and reach there. This year the roads towards KHARDUNGLA TOP are pretty well except couple of kilometers before reaching from LEH side. But bad atmosphere was awaiting after reaching Khardungla Top. As on Heavy bike Harley Street 750 plus luggage plus Petrol of 25 lts we filled from LEH in drums as theres no petrol pump until you reach Diskit in Nubra Valley. Going down from Khardungla Top to Nubra Valley, the roads are full of snow and sleepery with water flowing down the roads and there are lots of chances to slip if you lose your confident to drive. Its just a adventurous moment to drive in such weather and atmosphere. Reached Diskit in 3-5 hours on same day and explored Sand Desert in Diskit with Camels of Diskit on other day and started towards Pangong Lake on same day.
Leaving Diskit theres 2 options to drive towards Pangong Lake, either go towards LEH and from LEH go to Pangong Lake or Go to Aagam-Shlok village river route. Or if you are fond of covering high altitude passes move towards WARILA PASS (An lesser known 2nd high altitude secluded pass). I was fond of adventure so decided to go to WARILA PASS. Warning was given not to visit WARILA PASS because once i am on route, there will be no one to help if theres any breakdown of bike or in any XYZ problem as its totally Secluded Pass where there’s no guarantee of weather, roads and no one passes from there for hours or days except if by luck some locals go from there once or twice a day. Making myself confident moved towards WARILA PASS. Road of WARILA PASS is fine enough and i was feeling like i will pass by easily until day was going down and last 8 kms route arrived to reach TOP OF WARILA PASS. It was just unexpected road with lots of snow, melting snow waters, sleppery roads, mud, water cross and whatever we havent expect with lots of cold. A low confident rider will eventually go back down without passing WARILA PASS. It took almost 5 hours to cross WARILA PASS from both sides and until we reach Sakti village it was late evening of 9 pm. Passing through routes of WARILA PASS is indeed full of dangers as whole route is vacant without anykind of help. Except in the middle somewhere there’s army home where on emergency we can get memdical help but staying there is not allowed. In the dark nights anyhow with the help of harley’s head light only passed the WARILA PASS route to come down in total cold weather with blowing winds. One will feel lack of oxygen on the top. One passing through WARILA PASS would sweat no matter how cold the atmosphere is.
Took rest after passing WARILA PASS as theres was no energy to drive another 40-50 kms to reach Pangong lake in night time. Next day we reached pangong lake and as theres nothing except exploring pangong lake for 140 kms long which goes till CHINA, inquired how to reach HANLEY (The last village joins CHINA) as it was first time, just believed what people say and ride on the way but the amazing thing is people used to say “theres a rough road to reach hanley” (Aage kanchi sadak hai). and this means in simple language is that we can atleast drive from road but…….there is no road from pangong lake to hanley. The road which is there is under construction and the rider will only meet huge stones on way and desert going along with pangong lake. This is a one-way narrow road. Once you are in u only have to go ahead with lots of difficulty. I was IN cant take a back step and theres no one to ask where the road goes. After lots of difficulty passing through huge stones and sands and riding for hours and hours (theres no sign board of anything) reached a village called Chushul. In my last year trip my co-rider told me that when theres area like this, somewhere there are stones on stones putted in a proper manner by other people passed by to guide rider and give hope that theres something ahead so i just followed those stone signs. We both rider were riding SOLO unless we met after few kms on way again. The other rider health was not well enough. 3 days were already passed on route and permit was of only 4 days. Hanle was still long ahead to reach and roads till LOMA are worst of worst. You cant drive for more than 30 kms speed. the co-rider told me i can go ahead with my ride to Hanley and he will leave to Manali and than back to home. Its not in my blood to leave the co-rider alone in bad health so i dropped my trip to hanley and started towards Manali. Route from LOMA, Nyoma to LEH-MANALI highway is totally off-roading.
Another adventurous ride was to pass by Sarchu-Pang-Rohtang to reach Manali and it was another milestone if we pass by. Due to last year passed through same route was aware of roads so it was not a problem to drive but it was harley this time.
The main disaster came on the way was at Sirsu before Rohtang Pass and Keylong at Pagal Nalla. Huge landslide has blocked the whole way road suddenly and we were stuck there with lots of water flowing downside with mud and stones from mountains. It took 3 hours for BRO (Border Roads Organisation) to clean the road but still landslide was coming continue and bikers were warned not to go ahead because anything can happen. Water upside was not freeze in cold night instead melting and coming down in huge force and no one can pass by. But there was no way of going back due to huge traffic lines we had to pass by anyhow on harley bikes. It was a do or die situation. Before us there was 2 bullets got stuck already and got out after huge effort and now i can think what if my harley gets stuck. My co-rider drove it anyhow taking risk and unfortunately got stuck and he accelarated for 15 minutes but was not able to come out and i was in the middle was water of landslide cant go to help to push his harley in anyway. It was our good luck that there was 10-15 other riders along with us who met us on same route since morning decided to help after my co-rider harley fat boy was stuck and was not starting. If those riders were not there, it was impossible to take out bikers. Even bikes and rider can flow down the hills it was a situation like that. Thankful to those riders in all ways that 10 riders pushed my co-rider bike to take it out. Now it was my chance. For 5 minutes i thinked how will i go from this pass it by in less effort. Tried to take my last year spiti valley experience and it worked my harley did not got stuck but yes it took huge effort to take it out and ultimately due to over heat, both harleys went down. No networks in mobile to contact anyone. By luck we got one local person in night dark time and called from his number to Harley service and we got some help and that day took rest in nearby Tent. This was the most dangerous, adventurous thing of whole ride. DO or DIE situation.
Than after passing Rohtang-Manali-Kullu from chandigarh, Delhi back to home SURAT on 9th June evening.
In short – The trip on Harley Street 750 was amazing, good to drive on rough roads and mileage is too good at 23-25 per litre.
Precautions to be taken – If on any bike or harley- The rider should arrange for Footer on engine guard to keep legs otherwise legs will get pain and back support is must.
Google maps helped a lot in finding routes but manytimes we cant totally depend on google maps as we get bad roads while showing less kms roads.
In coming years, i had a plan to explore other regions of ladakh and other high altitude passes which are not explored yet like Umlingla Pass.