It was a Saturday evening at Roopali, Anoop came with a newspaper cutting that said Zojhi La is now open. His next line was, “plan cycle trip”. I was eager to go to Leh since a very long time, so I was very much delighted with this plan. We referred to a book, Himalaya on Bike by Laura Stone to prepare an itinerary.
We got a big sheet of thick plastic with rivets on all edges for packing cycles in from Mr. Tanna and some nylon ropes to tie them. Mr Raju Desai gave us the design idea, he had used this packing method while cycling expedition 0 to 18000 i.e. From sea level 0 feet Jamnagar, Gujrat to 18000 ft Khardung La.
We three gathered at Ozone cycle store on Prabhat Road, Pune. Vivek Marathe came there for help and to see the type of packing. He is also a cyclist and it was a useful packing design for him too, which he eventually used for his Meghalaya cycling trip. We packed 3 cycles. Another friend Rahul Jadhav helped us by giving us his Innova. We loaded our cycles in the Innova on 14.6.2017 at night. Vivek made new weatherproof pannier bags for me.
We reached the airport on time. Check in was an easier affair than expected. Vetya flew to Srinagar via New Delhi in the same flight in spite of booking the tickets late. Anoop and me reached 2 hrs late by changing the flight at New Delhi. (Note- always be careful while booking tickets online. Check all details before payment. Always find option of cancellation/modify.) We reached Srinagar at 13:30. We got out of the airport without any hassle. People were helping us to carry our cycles. Latifbhai, the taxi driver, was already present at the airport parking lot with Innova. We loaded 1 cycle in the boot and fixed the other two on the carrier on the roof of the Innova.