The road less travelled: Riding the treacherous Leh-Manali highway

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
Sep 27, 2017 05:49 PM IST

Actor Vikrant Rai says that road trips are not just about adventure; they are also a catalyst for self-transformation

A road trip to an unexplored destination is about camping, enjoying twisty roads and the ultimate adrenaline rush for most people. But there are few who believe that it’s also about learning life lessons. Actor Vikrant Rai recently undertook a 21 day bike journey from Gurugram to Leh, covering more than 3,200km during the trip. “At times, you need a strong source of inspiration to get you through life. This trip was meant to be one. We often need a break to slow down and introspect, and connect with our inner self,” says Vikrant,who has acted in popular TV shows such as Kkavyanjali, Maayka, Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyaan and has played the lead role in the movie Uvaa.

Vikrant Rai at NH1, Leh-Srinagar Highway. The actor covered more than 3,200km on his motorcycle.
Vikrant Rai at NH1, Leh-Srinagar Highway. The actor covered more than 3,200km on his motorcycle.

The Leh-Manali highway is considered one of the most treacherous places for a road trip. It provides the perfect chance for people to hit a reset button in their lives, says the actor. “I needed a challenge to reinvigorate myself. I wanted to break the monotony of life and do something that will prepare me to face obstacles in life,” says Vikrant.

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Long motorcycle journeys may sound easy to one’s ear. But they are not. They tend to test people to the limit and find out what they are made of. “Ice cold rain, harsh wind, low oxygen level and taking care of my 200 kg bike were some of the challenges. However, the biggest challenge was to have the courage of going at it all alone, the courage to battle self doubts, which often creeps in during such trips. At the end of the journey, I was a transformed man. My confidence was up, my will power to face any challenge was stronger than ever”, says Vikrant.

Camping while on route to Pang from Sarchu.
Camping while on route to Pang from Sarchu.

The trip turned out to be spiritual in nature and ended up giving him lessons for life. “Life is like a highway road...Sometimes it’s bumpy and rough, sometimes it’s smooth. But it never ends, and one has to go on. And when the going gets really tough, that’s your real test. It’s about never giving up and having faith in oneself. The destination is never too far, and the same applies to life,” says Vikrant.

Things to keep in mind while planning a motorcycle trip to Leh

1) One needs to be physically fit. Make sure you have no breathing problems. Get yourself checked by a doctor before you decide to ride.

2) Your bike needs to be in excellent condition. You should possess basic knowledge of bikes. Mechanics are scarce on this route.

3) This goes without saying that you should know the routes by heart. Always carry a map and a GPS with you, all the time.

4) Always carry a medical kit with you. Make sure you carry medicine for mountain sickness.

5) Hydration is paramount. While riding under the sun, you can get drained. Carry probiotics, protein bars and electrolytes.

6) Carry extra fuel for emergency situations. You won’t find refueling stations everywhere.

7) Carry cash in advance. ATM machines are not available everywhere.

8) Always wear a balaclava or use a piece of cloth to cover and protect your mouth from dust and vapors while riding.

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