Back home in Germany, I spent many days riding into sunsets with my girl gang. Women biking groups weren't uncommon there, but here in India, it was a really rare sight. I had recently moved to Mumbai, having spent the last few years in Pune and exploring the Sahyadris with my beloved bike. I was disappointed to find not even one female rider who shared my dream of the epic Ladakh biking trip, even in this forward metro city, so you could understand my sheer surprise when I came across a group of women picking up their newly fixed Enfields from the bike shop I regularly visit.
Trying my best to not squeal as I made my way up to them, I introduced myself and chatted with them over our love for biking. They were part of a small female riding group and asked me to join them and other likeminded women. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was home! Over some coffee the next day, I learned that they, too, longed for a Leh Ladakh bike trip, and we wasted no time in starting our hunt for the perfect biking operators that could make our dreams come true.
We singled out our operator and dates and finalised our travel plans – it was finally happening! With our small bags and big dreams, we flew out to Manali in time to join the rest of the group and crew. Our group of 8 female riders was warmly greeted by the road captain and his crew as we were handed our gear and met our bikes for the first time.
The 12 other riders seemed like a fun bunch as we got to know a little bit about each other over the test ride through Manali. The next day, with prayer flags on our bikes and a whole lot of zeal, we rode out of Manali and toward our first pitstop at Jispa while crossing the Rohtang La. We crossed gorgeous landscapes and spent the night socialising with the other over dinner before catching up on some much-needed rest.
We set off super early next morning and crossed the Baralacha La and Tanglang La over the next two days. At almost 18,000 ft above sea level, the thin air wore us out and we slept like babies each night, only to charge up for another day of thundering through the Himalayas. We soon reached the mesmerising town of Leh and spent a day exploring the surroundings and acclimating our bodies to the altitude. We visited temples, markets and met up with some locals who shared stories of all the bikers and trekkers that would stop for a cup of chai with them.
We then had to say our goodbyes to Leh and set off towards Nubra Valley. That day, we reached the iconic Khardung La and our girl gang took some pictures with the sign that welcomed us to one of the highest motorable roads in the world. Soon, we arrived at our stay in the Nubra Valley, surrounded by mighty mountains. I could barely sleep that night knowing that we were to visit the Pangong Lake the next day. I'm a sucker for beautiful water bodies, and the pristine lake was always in front of me as I closed my eyes. But when we eventually rode there the next day, I realised that none of my dreams or any photo could even come close to the real beauty of the mesmerising lake. This had to be my favourite day of the Ladakh bike trip, especially since we spent our night in tents by the Pangong Lake.
With a heavy heart, we bid adieu to Pangong Lake and set on our return journey back to Manali. Our route took us through the Sarchu, and the changing terrain was like a movie I wish I could watch on loop forever.
We arrived in Manali and bid the most bittersweet goodbyes to our beautiful bikes, road captain, crew and fellow riders. None of us wanted the journey to end, but we knew we had to head back only to return for another epic Leh Ladakh bike trip! With promises to stay in touch, we all headed back home with a piece of our hearts left here in the Himalayas.
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