Cycling in Spiti: 2012: Day 6 and 7

The 6th and 7th day of the Spiti Cycle ride in September 2012.

Day 6 Pooh to Nako

While exiting Pooh, I rode through the military cantonment. The soldiers were preparing for their morning drill and when they saw me, an Indian cyclist, they all cheered, whistled and yelled out good wishes. It fills one with pride when people who face such hardship on a daily basis recognize your achievements.

The climb from Khab to Ka was difficult. But easily disposed of and I had a very satisfied feeling after that. Unfortunately I was carrying an outdated paper map, which told me that the climb ended at Ka. It wasn’t so! Till 2006 the road went along the river to Chango, bypassing Nako. That road got washed away in floods and landslides. Now there is only one way, up! One must climb to Nako. So I climbed the unexpected climb. Encountering barren desert along the way.

I had carried just two litres of water which soon enough got over. No food, water and a big mountain to climb is no fun! I didn’t have an option but to climb and reached Nako Lake. The lake was a big disappointment as its no bigger than a pond. It is considered holy by the locals, so taking a dip in it might not be a very good idea. Also, it is cold!

There I met Prakash, another solo cyclist, from Chennai. He was the first of the three very interesting people I was to meet on this trip. Carefree, a traveller, backpacker and mountaineer. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn from him. We had a quick chat and as luck would have it we were bunking at the same lodge.

Khab Bridge
The bridge over Khab River. The road climbs from this bridge unrelentingly till Nako
Ka Zigs
The Ka Zigs, which start at the Khab River and climb all the way to Ka Village.
Cycling in Spiti
The end of the Ka Zigs, a welcome relief!
Nako Lake
The Nako Lake which is no bigger than a pond!

Day 7 Nako to Tabo

Prakash and I decided to cycle together from Nako to Tabo. It was strange and fun for the both of us, as we were used to riding solo. When I would went ahead, he thought I had fallen off a cliff and when he got left behind I thought that he had fallen off a cliff! Much less to worry about when cycling solo!

Along the way people kept offering us apples for free. In Delhi and Chennai those same apples sell for 150 bucks a kilo. Here it is such an everyday affair, that giveaway is the name of the game. Nonetheless, the locals are always generous in every way imaginable.

A few kilometres after Nako, was the treacherous Malling Nullah. A fast flowing stream across the road. Late in the afternoon the current is strong enough that trucks wait on the side of the road for the water level to reduce. We were crossing it early in the morning and had no problems.

While descending from Malling to Chango, the road is perfectly paved and steep. I was going at breakneck speed. My ambition outweighed my talent as I raced a car going down, as he was too slow in the corners. I had pretty decent mid-corner speed for an MTB, but he got me back on the straights!

At Tabo the food was extremely expensive. The same vegetarian rice, dal, vegetables at exorbitant rates. Not my favourite stop on the trip.

Nako Mountain View
The view from the hotel room in Nako
Nako Farm
Step farming in Nako. A bit of greenery in an otherwise desolate desert
Malling Nallah Spiti
Malling Nallah in the morning before the water levels rose
The descent after Malling
Welcome to Spiti signboard
The official start of Spiti!


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