Zansgkar has become an annual fixture in the Xplorearth ride calendar. Known for its treacherous terrain and breathtaking views alike, the 2021 rendition did not disappoint as riders travelled from far and wide to explore the unknown with us in early October.

Date : October 4-11, 2021


Day 0
A number of riders had arrived prior to the start of the event in Shimla in order to acclimatize for the days to come. This group joined Team Xplorearth and made the journey from Shimla over Jalori Pass to Manali for the start of the ride. Scrutiny, stickering and a rider’s briefing followed, before a good night’s rest in preparation for several intense days of riding.

The riders set out from Manali through the Atal Tunnel. The group then turned off towards Gramphu and further towards Chattru on an old Raid-De-Himalaya stage to give the riders a taste of real off-road riding. After lunch in Chattru, the group returned on the same road and continued towards Sissu for the night.

Day 2 was set to be a marathon run between Sissu and Padum. The smooth tarmac at Sissu gave way to dirt, loose rocks and shale as we neared Shingo La. The descent was even more treacherous, though the stretch between Kargiak and Purne had been widened substantially since the previous year, making it a high speed dirt track. The infamous fech fech greeted us beyond Purne, and true to form caused plenty of “unplanned dismounts” in a matter of mere kilometres, much of which was only navigable with the assistance of the backup crew.
The off-road section lasted till about half an hour short of Padum, and most were glad for the feel of tarmac under the wheels by the time light was fading. 

After the toils of the previous day, Day 3 was an optional rest day for riders who wished to recuperate for the return leg. Those willing and able set out towards Pensi La on the road to Kargil, a stunning dirt road with picturesque views aplenty. Most of the day’s riding was high speed and the sight of the Drang-Drung Glacier was the cherry on top of a very rewarding run.

Day 4 was an extremely unforgiving one, with the group starting at the crack of dawn to make it to Leh by the evening. Freezing temperatures made up for whatever little respite the initial smooth tarmac provided, and the surface soon changed to dirt for the majority of the remainder of the day. The group surmounted Singe La and Sirsir La, passes both carved out only this year, on a fantastic day that tested man and machine both to the fullest. A couple of hours of smooth tarmac greeted the riders on the other side, before rolling into Leh in the early hours of the night.

After the toils of the previous days, the riders were provided a rest day in order to care for any bumps and bruises, and particularly for maintenance and repair work to be done on the machines!!

The group expected the final day of the ride to be simple and straightforward, with a tarmac run from Leh to Manali being the order of the day. What they forgot to take into account however, was just short of 500km to be covered in the freezing cold, along with extreme altitude to be dealt with over the various passes. Battered and broken, the group entered Manali around supper-time, ready for a hearty meal and a hot shower.

Zanskar is, and will always remain one of the most sought-after destinations for motorcycling in our opinion. The entire journey is grueling from start to finish, and truly tests what the rider and his machine are made of. Keep an eye out for the next one!

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