To read the previous post, click here.
Preparation, planning and choosing the cycle form the pre-stage of cycling in one of the most toughest terrains. During the trip what matters is talking to oneself and keeping the body moving. The body gives lot of signals while riding.
One could fall sick due to altitude or catch a cold due to chillness or feel short of breath due to less oxygen content in the air or sleep disturbance due to altitude. There could also be fatigue due to physical exertion when cycling and also leading to fall in mental strength.
It is very difficult to realize the dip in the mental strength. And it is not easy to catch this signal unless one is conditioned to this regularly.
The biggest issue due to physical and mental fatigue is frustration and irritation and the tendency to lose control and lose temper. This could also be attributed to the altitude.
Another thing is regulating the intake of drinking water. While not properly being hydrated is an issue (which occurs with me most often) excess drinking of water is also an issue. Since I have not yet been able to regulate the intake of water am unable to comment much on what is excess and what is not. Once body gets dehydrated the symptoms are many in terms of salt deposit on face, color of urine.
Where the mental strength plays a part is when you feel really down physically. To give an instance we were climbing up towards Tanglang La from Tso Kar. Every day during the trip our routine was with a ginger tea and some food and in the night pulses (daal) and rice along with chappatis. This had been producing lot of gas inside my stomach. During the ride up towards Tanglang La everything started showing its effect and impact.
Certain kms before the peak my stomach started growling so much that I pooped out after dropping the cycle to one side and finding some rocks on the other. It was not just that, I started to vomit and lot of gas went out. Physically I was getting drained due to loss of body fluids. My mind started playing games and I was contemplating of putting the cycle in support vehicle and just get over with it. Mentally though I was not ready for it. There was huge conflict within my mind whether to stop and hop on or to continue pedaling.
When my one side of brain I had completely taken control I was all set to put the cycle in the vehicle and relax, just then I saw the board Tanglang La 10kms. My eyes popped out, optimistic side of my brain took control. My mind said cycle for 2kms and instead of stopping for 20secs which I was doing while climbing up Gata Loops, I walked for 20-30secs. That way I got breather and also did not lose the momentum and muscles also would not relax. Mentally I kept counting the kms and finally there I was at the peak with my cycle and not sitting inside the vehicle!
Proper diet is also important for the body to function well. Luxury is not possible but what is possible need to be good.
When there are symptoms of body not responding fuck the ego and take a break. While the earlier and current line could be contradicting, this is possible only with sufficient mental strength. Like in my first post more than physical strength, mental toughness is required.
Lastly and most important, don’t abuse the body. Stay away from alcohol and smokes during the ride and well before the beginning of the ride.
Ride from Manali to Leh or anywhere in the Himalayas is not a race. Enjoy the journey and complete it.