It's natural for us motorcycle riders to have a "bucket list" when it comes to rides with our beloved steeds. More often than not, these bucket lists are composed of places or rides that a motorcycle rider hopes to 'unlock' or experience in his lifetime. For example, some riders consider riding up to Tagaytay or Kaybiang Tunnel as an achievement, while some consider finishing a motorcycle endurance challenge as an even greater achievement. Then, there are those who ride the entire Philippine Loop with their motorcycles and tick it off from their bucket list.
For these 9 Pinoy riders, riding for 21 days in the Himalayan mountains – that includes riding on the highest road in the world – is the ultimate adventure of a lifetime.
The last stretch of asphalt road going up to Khardung La.
Their 2,000-kilometer journey just started from the city of Chandigarh, just outside the state of Himachal Pradesh in the northern part of India. They then head to the "world's highest motorable road" in Khardung La and back to Chandigarh. Naturally, there are stops along scenic and significant points along the way.
Asphalt roads turn into gravel, making for tricky portions along the pass.
Khardung La, or Khardung Pass, is a mountain pass in the Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, a part of the Himalayan mountain range. It is about 5.5 kilometers above sea level. By comparison, the current highest point in the Philippine Highway System is 2.4 kilometers above sea level and is located in Tinoc, Ifugao.
As of November 2017, the BRO (Border Road Organisation) of India recognized Umling La as the highest motorable road, however, this is still being disputed, and due to border restrictions, foreigners are still not allowed to pass Umling La. Thus, for now, Khardung Pass still holds that honor.
Notice how the road conditions and weather drastically changed in just the span of a couple of a hundred kilometers.
The 21-day ride spans just around 2,000 kilometers. However, due to the extreme altitude, riders have to pace themselves and take on just a few kilometers a day. Riding for just a few hours in high altitude with little oxygen can be tiring for even the most experienced rider.
According to Cheggy Medina, who joined this adventure as a birthday gift to himself, the greatest challenge that this journey has for them is acclimatization. Their bodies need to slowly get used to extreme altitudes and lack of oxygen. Taking on the entire stretch in a short span of time can be dangerous to one's health. As such, the safest course is to spend a few days at certain altitudes, slowly getting higher to get your body used to the lack of oxygen in the higher atmosphere.
Besides the altitude, the group also had been preparing their stomachs as well, by eating Indian-inspired dishes which are typically spicy, for the last couple of weeks leading to the ride.
While taking on an international ride, in the Himalayas no less, may seem intimidating for the average rider. These men are proof that this dream ride is attainable. They are regular Juan Dela Cruzes just like us, with day jobs to support their families and their passion for riding motorcycles. The participants say that a trip like this would set you back around PhP 300,000 or less in total (including airfare and bike rental), as opposed to rides in Europe that could cost nearly double.
Most of these men have been training with their trusty Royal Enfield Himalayan bikes for about a year before the ride, as it will be the same bike that they will use to conquer the highest road in the world. Follow their journey at www.facebook.com/PhilippineMotoTours.
We may have our own dream rides and bucket lists, but few others can boast of taking on the highest motorable road in the world, at 5.5-km above sea level.
Consider adding this to your bucket list. And of course, pray that the wife will approve.
*Motorcycle action shots taken from Team 'Pinas Himalayan Tour 2017.