We had no choice, we were well behind our schedule and there was no going back from there, we all left together. But everybody knew deep down that we are on our own from this point, everybody tried to go as fast as possible, one overtaking another, no groups, no leader, no guidance, everybody loves their life. IT was raining hailstorms, every meter we went up temperature started to slide, oxygen became a rare entity. I was not feeling my legs anymore, I had to try very hard to shift my gears. My pace started slowing down, I had enough petrol, my bike was properly serviced, I had no idea why I was not able to cross even the speed of 10km/h, I realized the lack of oxygen is killing my bike too. On top of the Tanglangla, my bike stopped moving. I tried pushing my bike with my entire energy it wouldn't climb any further.
I was alone - I knew I have to spend a whole night without a shelter, with wet clothes on the top of Tanglangla. I knew it impossible to stay alive until morning. I had no hopes, I was not waiting for the backup van to show up somehow, I was not angry at my friends for leaving me behind, I was not afraid, I was not praying the god to help me. I WAS JUST BLANK.
That was the time of my life, Those 30 odd minutes changed me as a person, the guy who was wearing monkey caps all the way, the guy who ate many "Diamox" like a chocolate was not feeling anything, I stood there on top completely wet, in freezing cold, and none of the bad thoughts hit me, Knowing the condition I was in, If not due to cold I would have died simply because of fear. Nothing seemed to affect me!, in-fact that was the moment in my life where I felt the strongest.
I could see a ray of light coming towards me, I waved my hand, It was our back up van with the mechanic Yogesh.
"What happened!? Why are you standing here alone? Yogesh asked,
"I don't know it just wouldn't climb".
"Hmm, let me see, get inside the van".
I nodded and settled into the van. He stood there in the cold for a half an hour or so and my bike was ready.
I was an hour behind my fellow riders, they might already be reached the bottom of the Tanglangla, I had to catch them up. Thanks to the series of events unfolding before me, I was a different person by then, next 45 minute ride was the fastest ride I ever had in my life, Nalas, curves, Rocks, nothing seemed to stop me, I was not afraid of falling, sliding, I just knew if I had to die today I would have already. As I moved further I could see small lights moving together far away on the other side of the mountain, it was my group, it had to be. I was so much excited to see them and my only goal was to join them, it seemed like every small light was the stages of a game which I need to surpass to reach the destination. I reached it finally and I was the third person to reach Rumste.
Rumste was not the place we imagined to be, it was not a town with hotels and restaurants, it was not the place where you can buy new dry clothes either. It was a small village with very few homes, where the homeowners cooked Maggie for a living and gave shelter to the travelers. Unfortunately, there were no rooms available for us and as the bridge between Rumste and Leh has been washed out, we couldn't ride further. We had to stay there, completely wet, shelterless.