On Expedition | M2K2018 Day T-2 – New Delhi to Manali by Bus

On Expedition | M2K2018 Day T-2 – New Delhi to Manali by Bus

Reaching Manali was taking for ever. However like much else in India, you learn to take it in your stride. Landslides blocking up traffic on both sides, transformers blowing up leaving the city in darkness for two straight days and carrying five box packed tandem cycles does slow you down. And all that on a good day. The story repeats itself year after year and we had similar experiences on expedition for M2K2019.

Traveling on roads has its highlights – character revealing incidents, meeting complete strangers, eating at places where you may never stop again and so on. All this and more make up the adventures we have on the Manali to Khardung La Tandem cycling expedition (M2K2018) for ABBF. This was day T-2 of M2K2018 when we traveled by bus from New Delhi to Manali.

ABBF takes cyclists with and without disability on an inclusive tandem-cycling expedition from Manali to Khardung La, since 2017. We cover this distance of 550 kms in 8 days. As the expedition lead, I help people from both communities to come together and interact in a level playing field. The mountains of Leh form a beautiful backdrop for meaningful conversations.

We had started from New Delhi at night and were taking the overnighter to Manali. We’d heard reports of landslides and were prepared for a delay. The sardar driving the bus was efficient and with the powerful machine at his disposal, raced ahead. The roads ahead from Delhi were wide and paved. We made good progress.

A dinner stop, a late night tea stop and a breakfast stop later we were in Mandi. This is where the roads started choking. There was evidence of landslides being cleared, new stream ducts being constructed and general cooperation between vehicles.

A new driver had taken over by this time. This one was Virat Kohli’s brother from another mother. Smartly dressed, formal shoes and pride in his work. Our sardarji had meanwhile purchased some loaves of bread to give the monkeys in the ghats. They welcome the bus with squeals when it approached, so this was a regular affair apparently.

A few people kept getting down at smaller towns on the way. We made a similar stop in Bhuntar and after we left a passenger realised that his bag of mithai boxes was missing. The bus cleaner had noticed another passenger leaving with a similar bag.

Both of them immediately left to track him down. They were back 20 min later with the mithai package intact. The man had apparently tried to siphon off the sweets while the owner slept. They shook him up a little and came back. We were on our way once more.

Finally, after a 15 hour journey we touched down at the bus station only to be swarmed by taxi drivers. Thankfully after seeing our huge pile of our cycle gear boxes they made themselves scarce.

We snagged a tempo meanwhile and loaded our huge pile on. An enterprising taxi fellow who dared to come back got the chance to drive us to the hotel.

Throughout the drive in these difficult terrains, I was not surprised that honking was far and few in between. The self discipline reduced the need for it drastically. They just knew to give way, to wait, practice patience. The mountains teach you that a plenty.

On expedition M2K2018 Day T-2 - New Delhi to Manali by bus

En route

On expedition M2K2018 Day T-2 - New Delhi to Manali by bus

Cycle packs

On expedition M2K2018 Day T-2 - New Delhi to Manali by bus

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