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Route

The Manali-Leh-Khardungla highway stretches over 500 km of predominantly paved roads, with stretches of sand, gravel and rocky terrain thrown in for good measure. The highway will also take you across several passes, three of them being higher than 16,500 ft. The Manali-Khardungla Cycling Championship is a journey of rigorous ascents and heart-stopping descents even as the incredible terrain and exotic vistas beckon you along the way.
The race starts from the alpine forests and meadows of Manali, extends towards the deep valleys of Lahaul across Rohtang, and continues towards the vast plains of Sarchu before entering Ladakh. The race culminates at Khardungla, the highest motorable pass in the world.

Snapshot

  • Dates: 25th July 2015 to 4th Aug 2015.
  • Number of Days: 11 days (9 days of cycling, and 1 day each for arrival and departure.)
  • Average Distance Per Day: 65 km
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Terrain: Climbs and Rolling Terrain
  • Surface: Tarmac, Gravel and Sand
  • Difficulty Level: Moderately Challenging to Extremely Challenging
  • Support: Marshals, Pilots, Back-up Vehicle, Medical Aid, Technical Support, Standard Spares, Sweep Vehicle

Schedule

  • Day 1: Arrival in Manali, Himachal Pradesh
  • Day 2: Stage 1: Manali to Marhi (34 km) [34 km]
  • Day 3: Stage 2: Marhi to Keylong (83 km) [117 km]
  • Day 4: Stage 3: Keylong to Zing Zing Bar (54 km) [171 km
  • Day 5: Stage 4: Zing Zing Bar to Brandy Nallah (73 km) [244 km]
  • Day 6: Stage 5: Brandy Nallah to Pang (56 km) [300 km]
  • Day 7: Stage 6: Pang to Debring (50 km) [350 km]
  • Day 8: Stage 7: Debring to Rumtse (48 km) [398 km]
  • Day 9: Stage 8: Rumtse to Leh (76 km) [474 km]
  • Day 10: Stage 9: Leh to Khardung La (39 km) [513 km]







Day 1: Arrival in Manali, Himachal Pradesh

The participants will be received at Manali and will be taken to the Orientation Camp in the beautiful town of Naggar. Breakfast will be followed by the Introductory Session for the participants and race officials. The Race Director will explain the race - race rules, route details, ranking system, do's and don'ts. After a brief break during which participants can assemble and set up and tend to their respective bikes, they will be taken for an Acclimatisation Ride. Post-lunch, there would be a Medical Workshop to acquaint the participants with medical facts pertaining to high altitudes, preventive measures, first-aid treatments and emergency manoeuvres. Before dinner, there would be a Pre-Race Briefing for the participants.

Day 2: Stage 1: Manali to Marhi (34 km) [34 km]

Stage 1 will see the Race flag off from Manali (6,400 ft). The short 34-km ride would help the riders get acclimatised to climbing in the mountains, as they race along a winding mountain road, ascending all the way to Marhi (11,200 ft). The day's riding would be done in the morning itself, after with the riders get to relax, and get ready for the next day's challenge.

Day 3: Stage 2: Marhi to Keylong (83 km) [117 km]

Stage 2 of the Race will see the riders ascending around 16 km to arrive at the top of Rohtang La (13,051 ft). From Rohtang La, it is a steep descent into Lahaul Valley. Although the route from Rohtang La to Khoksar will descend all the way, the track could be slippery due to bad road surface, heavy snow and rainfall. We cross Gramphu and ride along the Chandra River through Sissu. This stretch, thanks to its vegetation, is good for getting acclimatised to the rarefied atmosphere of the high-altitude region ahead. We cross the town of Tandi and reach Keylong, where we camp for the night.

Day 4: Stage 3: Keylong to Zing Zing Bar (54 km) [171 km]

Stage 3 of the Race is an easy stage begins with a low-gradient climb till Jispa. We ride along the banks of the Bhaga River, which opens out into a wide valley. Riders will pass through meadows along the river near Darcha. With no major climbs along the way, this is a comparatively easy day for the riders. The fast-paced racing ends by mid-morning at Zing Zing Bar, where riders relax and gear up for the next day's climb.

Day 5: Stage 4: Zing Zing Bar to Brandy Nallah (73 km) [244 km]

Stage 4 of the Race starts with the challenging ascent to Baralacha La (16,043 ft). Along the way, we cross the serene Deepak Tal (14,000 ft) and then the Suraj Tal at the top of Baralacha, with the snow-capped Mulki La peaks forming a scenic backdrop. The route descends gradually to the wide Sarchu Plains. The day's ride ends at Brandy Nallah, where we camp overnight.

Day 6: Stage 5: Brandy Nallah to Pang (56 km) [300 km]

The first landmark of Stage 5 of the Race will be the Gata Loops, a challenging collection of 21 steep loops, taking you to an altitude of 15,302 ft. Next up is the third pass on the Manali-Leh highway, Nakee La (15,547 ft). After descending all the way down to Bharatpur, you start climbing again to reach the fourth pass, Lachulung La (16,616 ft). The descent from Lachulung La will bring you to Pang, where we will camp for the night and rest the next day as well.

Day 7: Stage 6: Pang to Debring (50 km) [350 km]

Today is an easy day of riding, post the challenge of scaling Tanglang La, the world's second-highest motorable pass.First, after climbing about 6 km from Pang, you get to zip along at an exhilarating pace on the almost-flat gradient of the famous Moray Plains, a plateau at 15,400 ft. The long stretch of newly laid tarmac on the flatland is the opportunity for riders to make up for lost time. Arrive at Debring, with a surprise in store!

Day 8: Stage 7: Debring to Rumtse (48 km) [398 km]

Stage 7 of the Race would be a testing day for the riders, posing the challenge of scaling Tanglang La, the world's second-highest motorable pass. From Debring, you start the challenging ascent to Tanglang La (17,586 ft). After the 20-km-long ascent on mostly bad road surfaces, you have an even longer descent on excellent roads into the Indus Valley. We camp for the night at the quaint village of Rumtse.

Day 9: Stage 8: Rumtse to Leh (76 km) [474 km]

For Stage 7, the penultimate stretch of the Race, we make a relaxed start from Rumtse. After a 30-km long, mostly downhill ride to Upshi, we ride on rolling terrain along the Indus River. We cross several monasteries along the way and finally arrive at Leh (11,000 ft). We camp on the banks of the Indus and relax for the rest of the evening, getting ready to scale the highest motorable pass in the world!

Day 10: Stage 9: Leh to Khardung La (39 km) [513 km]

The Race to the Top of the World will get off to an early start, for the highly prestigious and extremely challenging Final Stage, to decide the winner of the race. After we cross South Pullu, the road surface changes from tarmac to a gravel road. A gruelling ride over the next 14 km, and... Congratulations! You have reached Khardung La (18,380 ft) - the highest motorable pass in the world! We gather for a commemorative group photograph after all the participants arrive at the pass, for this is definitely a moment to cherish for a lifetime! We then peacefully freewheel back to Leh by late afternoon. The Awards Ceremony in the evening will see the winners being felicitated.

Day 11: Farewell!

Time to bid adieu to your fellow riders and officials. Irrespective of their final position in the race, each participant will be awarded a Certificate of Participation. The Race to the Top of the World will ensure that everyone leaves with fantastic memories to cherish forever and many of us will become even more determined to take on the challenges of the Manali-Khardungla Championship next year!

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