Archive for the 'Out There Biking 2007' Category

Sach Pass 2007 Photos

I love looking at the photos taken by people who’ve been on the trips. It’s great to see another perspective; often they trigger forgotten memories, whether they be tinged with smiles or grimaces… And, (I’m not ashamed to say) it makes me proud to think we run trips in this part of the world. Northern India is a stunning, fascinating, testing and complex place, and it’s good to share it with like-minded cyclists.

Mark was our ‘official photographer’ on the inaugural Sach Pass trip. It was a challenging ride. Both logistically for us, due to a limited infrastructure for tourists in these oft overlooked side valleys; there’s very few developed places to stay and the steep sided river gorge rules out camping much of the time. And by the fact that even though we were riding in October, when the weather really should be settled and sunny, 2007 saw the dregs of some serious storms. We even stumbled upon the dog-barking capital of India – and that’s saying something. Not to mention that 4400m Sach Pass is one tough climb to crack. Though much of the way is paved, the road is unusually rough in fits and starts, and the gradient is knee grindingly steep. It still ranks as one of my favourite passes in the Indian Himalayas, thanks to the sheer variety of scenery. The descent is epic and the riding on the Chamba side of the valley is sublimely different – tree-clad Himalayan foothills with quiet villages and a baking, sweaty heat.

Here’s a few of Mark’s great shots that I’ve captioned, from his gallery here.

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The ride kicks off with a massive climb to Rohtang Jot – 52km long – where we wrestled with colourful Tata trucks. Then a storm lashed down on the descent…

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When the skies cleared, white capped mountains prodded out above a stark, exposed river gorge.

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Tut Jack. That looks like more than a dab (-; The climb to Sach Pass was relentless and rough – but stunning. We’d waited two years before running this trip, figuring the new pass would have time to bed in. In fact, a landslide had damaged it over the summer, and it was only just open again in time for the ride. Continue reading ‘Sach Pass 2007 Photos’

Travels in China

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Our 2007 season is well and truly over, so we’ve now loaded up the trailers once more and headed off for our own travels around SW China. We’ve been a bit slack on the blogging front of late, so I hope to ‘retroblog’ some posts and pics…

We kicked off with a week of R&R in the hustle and bustle of neon Hong Kong, where we had headed on a visa procuring mission. A huge thanks to Martin and Clarence, both of whom have joined us on trips in India, for taking us on a whirlwind tour of the city’s alternative sites, from the choicest mountain bike trails sinewing through the islands, to the best places to fritter our profits on electronic goodies, via some truly fantastic eating endulgences- be it the humble, steaming, street-staple Won Ton noodles, Thai delicacies that took me back to SE Asian travels, or even incredible, elborate Japanese sushi of the kind I’ve rarely tasted. And of course our introduction wouldn’t have been complete without a thorough rundown of all the bike shops, tucked down every narrow sidestreet…

Riding singletrack through HK’s bamboo forests…

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The world’s largest buddha, as long as it’s outdoor, sitting, and bronze…

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After draining my lip of a large cyst I’d collected in India (sadly, I forgot to snap a photo), we hopped on a plane and headed into mainland China, emerging in Kunming, Yunnan, to begin our travels on the Tibetan Plateau… 

Two down…one to go!

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With the Manali-Leh and Spiti trips done and dusted, it’s just Sach Pass that lies ahead. Despite a healthy dose of mixed weather during our two weeks in Spiti and Lahaul (the whole gamut – sun, rain, hail and even snow), we were really pleased with how the trip unfolded. In fact, the white tops added drama to the mountains, and when the skies cleared, we saw the valley at its very best. As usual, our support crew (Phunchok, Motu, Norboo and Rana), pulled out all the stops to look after us, and ensure we never went hungry…  Bring on the momos and thukpa!

Plus, we unearthed a brand new slice of singletrack that corkscrewed directly down from the stunning, 1000 year old Dhankar Monastery – Dazzler’s Descent, as it shall henceforth be known, in honour of Darrel’s newfound bike prowess. Elsewhere, Kiwi Craig and his extraordinary bike skills almost tamed the infamous ‘John and Jill’s Climb’, our local 4500m singletrack lungbuster – perhaps if that donkey train hadn’t been in the way…

With everyone from the third trip here safe and sound, and our fleet of steeds primed, oiled and at the ready, it’s time for our last preparations before heading into the mountains once more.

We’ll try and get a few pics up when we’re back in Delhi, before we head off for our own adventures across Tibet in October. The one above is of us riding the singletrack round Chandral Tal. If you look carefully, you can see Marhi, our bionic hound who joined us for several days as official camp pooch. Despite being knee high to a grasshopper, she ran alongside us all the way from Gulaba (near Manali) to Kunzum La – some days, up to 50km! Of course, all this got me pining for Chandra, our Official Mascot last year in Spiti. Phuntsok’s sister was looking after him in Tabo, so I managed to squeeze in a flying visit and tearful reunion (on my part) after an early morning ride from our campsite in Sichling. Here’s the bruiser himself.

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Right now, we’re looking forward to the journey that is Sach Pass…

It’s begun!

After an eventful (and long…) bus journey to Manali, thanks to two landslides on the HP border, we’re setting off on the Manali to Leh ride this morning. We probably won’t be be able to check email until we reach Leh in two weeks, so hopefully all is good with those heading out to Spiti!

See you soon,

Cass and Cara.

Back in India…

Well, despite the innevitable last minute, late night packing/working/house tidying/general fretting, we’ve now back in India for the summer season.

I’ve headed up to Ladakh in the far north, gasping for breath as I check over some of the new high passes on our alternative Manali-Leh route. And Cara’s re riding the Sach Pass route, toiling with landslides and fighting off drunken amorous locals…. Ah, to be back in India.

If you need to get in touch with us, we’re checking emails when we can – but things can be a bit patchy. Here’s all our contact details:

caracoolbaugh@yahoo.com and cassgilbert@yahoo.co.uk

mobile: 09958 366 532 (in Delhi) or 981 621 0998 (Manali)

We look forward to seeing you all soon.

Carrying your kit while riding on the jeep trips.

Seeing as there’s the indulgent joys of Phunchok and his Tata Sumo jeep on the tours this year, there’s no need to worry about cramming everything into panniers, trailers and the like.

However, we still need to carry a fair bit more than the normal trail goodies. Apart from the usual suspects (multitool, tube, mini pump, little spares like chainlinks etc…), extra layers are important too, depending on how cold you get, or how sensitive to rain/snow/wind you are. We’re talking a decent waterproof at the minimum, plus a light fleece and perhaps some waterproof overtrousers to act as a wind stop on big descents, or even covering your legs when exploring conservative monasteries. And a warm pair of gloves in case it gets really chilly. It’s that old adage: if you don’t have it, you’ll need it. Factor in shades, suncream, Buff, snacks/lunch and a camera – and it’s all starting to add up. Although we have a jeep, we won’t necessarily be seeing it much doing of it during the day (if at all) so we still need to be self sufficient while we’re riding.

Continue reading ‘Carrying your kit while riding on the jeep trips.’

One place left on Sach Pass.

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We’ve just had a cancellation due to a work commitment for the Sach Pass trip. The ride begins in Manali and ends in the Dharamsala, home of HH Dalai Lama, via the stunning Sach Pass. It runs from September 18 to October 3. So if anyone would like the place, please get in touch soon…


Please check out our main website for details on our bike trips to the Indian Himalayas.

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