Encountering snow blizzards at Marsimik-la (18,953 ft) that is the world’s highest motorable pass, tricky weather and harsh terrain en route, a 23 member cycling team of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has set off on a 2700 kms long expedition from Gogra, hotspot between India and China on the LAC in eastern Ladakh, to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s statue of unity at Kevadia in Gujarat.
Inspired by LH Lhari, Inspector General of ITBP’s Leh based North-West Frontier, the team led by Adheesh Gupta, assistant commandant, was flagged off by Sandeep Khosla, DIG SGQ Ladakh.
The rally has been organized under the directions of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) to celebrate the 75th year of India’s Independence as the “Aazadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”.
The ITBP cyclists will visit birthplaces and memorials of those martyred during the freedom struggle. Besides we have been promoting different governmental initiatives like Swacch Bharat, Fit India, Plantation activities conducted to seek general commitment towards a better, brighter India, Gupta said.
Such a long distance cycling rally (almost 1800kms till Delhi) has been conceived, planned and executed for the first time in the history of adventure sports in India.
We have traversed over all the major ranges of the Himalayas namely Karakoram, Zanskar, Great Himalayan, Pir panjal and Shiwalik. The team crossed over atleast 7 major passes including Marsimik La. Ladakh has always been an adventurer’s paradise and to be on a cycle with cold raw winds blowing past, crossing icy rivulets with glacial water and the mighty Himalayas looming in the background is a fortunate blessing, the team officer said.
During the ongoing expedition, other challenges we faced were diverse, besides the weather it was always not easy to brave the high altitude rarified atmosphere which threw up challenges of discomfort. One cannot over-exert or ignore any conditions of breathlessness or high blood pressure in areas where medical support was atleast a few hours away.
Though we had acclimatized at every stage but precautions need to be taken. We have to maintain our cycles on our own because the wear and tear of gear over such a large distance is expected. Moreover, administrative arrangements for the cycling team as well as the helping staff in sparsely inhabited locations are other minor concerns, Gupta said.
It is for the first time that such a challenging and intimidating route has been planned meticulously by the North-West Frontier of ITBP. It really made the spin downhill challenging, the raw biting chill in the drier trans-Himalayan desert was indeed intimidating. So Far, we have encountered extreme dust laden winds, heavy downpour and bad weather, the team leader added.