While there is a huge amount of data available on how to go about planning a motorbike ride to the holy grail of motorcyclists- Ladakh, we have observed time and again that there are certain common mistakes people commit despite having planned and researched very well for the ride.
Are you planning a ride to Ladakh? Then be sure not to commit these mistakes!
1. “I don’t need acclimatisation”
A phrase used every often by people riding to the mountains, and a very dangerous one at that! If you have been in the mountains before and did not face any symptoms of altitude sickness, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen to you this time around!
Never pack your schedule on riding days in the mountain too tight. For example, if you are from the plains and land up in Manali one day, don’t decide to ride out of Manali to Leh the very same day. Stay in Manali a day, and take your time in riding till Leh, rather than packing it all in a day or two. This helps your body adjust to these altitudes, giving you enough energy to complete your journey without any problems.
The simple rule is: Don’t be overconfident :)
2. “400 kms is nothing. I always do it in less than 7 hours”
400 kms in the plains, on highways, with pretty much most conditions being constant, is very very different from 400 kms up in the mountains. These are areas that are landslide prone, may have innumerable water crossings, caved in roads, and to add to it, the altitude may have physical effects on one’s body. With a dip in oxygen levels, your motorbike may not function the same way it does in the plains either!
Do not plan a ride in the mountains keeping an average of 300 kms of riding per day. It won’t happen, and if it does, it will be a huge push for you and your bike, leaving very little or no room for relaxation and enjoyment!
3. ‘Go with the Flow’ Attitude
It is not rare that I hear riders saying they have never planned a ride, and always go with the flow. While there is a kick in doing that, not knowing what to expect, this is definitely not something you can afford to do riding in the mountains. I am not saying everything needs to be planned to the minutest detail, but you don’t really go with the flow either.
Riding in the Mountains in most parts of India involves permits, which you need to know about. Also, habitation is limited in many parts of the mountains, which means you need to know what your options are for accommodation each night- how much more can you ride on a particular day, keeping in mind where you can stay that night. While the above is an example of why planning is needed, there are many such things for which going with the flow might just mess up the entire plan.
4. “I need my drink every night, the mountains aren’t going to be any different”
Drinking in the mountains, specially if you aren’t well acclimatised yet, can have extreme negative effects on your ability to ride.
The beauty of the place has such a charm, you won’t need anything else to be high on!
5. Spend hours on top of a high altitude pass
While the high altitude passes give you a great sense of accomplishment and pride, spending too much time on top of a pass can prove fatal. Despite acclimatisation, symptoms of AMS can kick in if you spend too much time.
Again, because nothing happened to you when you went last time and spent 6 hours on top, doesn’t mean that it won’t happen this time. Get done soon with the pictures with the board on top of the pass, and lose altitude soon!
If you are travelling to the mountains soon, do keep these in mind. If you have any other clarifications, feel free to leave us a comment and we will try our best to help you out!