The Passes – Rohtang (Rotties)

This is the third time I have been privileged enough to have cycled the legendary Manali-Leh highway, a roughly 600km most unsurfaced road which connects the foothills to the great crumpled mass of mountains called the himalayas. Each time I am, as amazed and in awe as the last. Instead of documenting this trip in a diary format I will rather highlight some aspects under different entries. Starting off with the passes….

The Rohtang pass sits just under 4000m and entails a climb from Manali (2000m) over 50km. This is so very different to the others along the Manali-Leh highway in that it receives the brunt of the monsoon resulting in a lush, forested ascent through veils of cloud.
We always break this ascent by camping at Marhi, leaving the final exhausting 15km to the summit for the next day. This usually entails some negotiating across landslides and hauling bike through the 'slurpy' quagmire.
Roads and rivers: Caroline enjoys a mud-free section
Jo sensibly prefers to portage (an almighty effort at 3500m), rather than slog around another clogged corner.
A light at the end of the Rohtang: clear skies and soaring for the summit.
A satisfying summit - views over Lahaul and the Chandrabhagga valley: clear views aren't always guaranteed, but one thing is for sure the descent is mostly mud-free.
A thrilling descent to Koksar
Anthony enjoying 20km of downhill down 'Rotties', Lahual. The name is derived from a Tibetan word meaning country of the gods.

Bridget Ringdahl

Pedaling has been natural to me since the tender age of three. Cycling is practical, fun, it gets you to the corner café, across countries, continents, keeps you fit and is by far the most efficient and environmentally friendly transport option around, being virtually carbon neutral.

I live in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal which is great cycling country, within 10 minutes I can be bouncing along some of the finest single tracks in the province.