WHERE : Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Jammu-Kashmir WHEN : July - November 2013 OBJECTIVE : Cycle the Manali-Leh Highway & Zanskar Valley; Fly at Bir-Billing DISTANCE : 1,200 kilometers / 745 miles CLASSIFICATION : Wheels, Wings
If you are reading this, you are either a very dear, very old friend upon whom I have imposed—well beyond what is tasteful or acceptable in polite society—to assist me in proof-reading and editing this website…
… you have arrived here from ports unknown, imagination rapt in told tales and captured images. (Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?) Perhaps you are trying to decide where you’re going to book your life-changing trip, and thought you might find a wise word or two to push you over the edge.
Whatever brought you here, you have landed just a jinth—a wee tad, an iota, a smidgen—beyond the map’s edge. Meaning I haven’t quite gotten here yet. I am writing these travelogue introductions in reverse chronological order based on journal entries, memory, and probably an imagined detail or two. And I simply haven’t retreated this far into my own sordid past.
It seemed easy enough ten days ago. I thought: how long can this take? A short paragraph by way of introduction, and let the existing content do the rest of the legwork. “HAHAHAHA!” sez my OCD–screaming, gasping for air between peels of uncontrolled, mocking laughter. In place of a short paragraph, a string of 500-word essays springs forth from criminally compulsive fingers. Whole days are lost, god knows where, never to be seen again, nor remembered.
So here we are. Many deadlines have come and gone, and this website is begging to see the light of day. My efforts will out, and my other efforts will just have to wait a bit. Who knew that the Transglobalist was a ship’s captain, in command of Neurath’s Boat? Or was that the Ship of Theseus? And, well, who gives a damn?
Much Love (and Carpal Tunnel, too),
October 24, 2016
‘we are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom…’
–some guy named Neurath
When I left Manali, I planned to cycle Manali-Leh alone, to stay in the dhabas along the route, and only camp if I got caught out. But four hours into my first day, I met Jean-Daniel, Leonie, and Anthony. Two French-speaking Swiss and a German Croat. My plans changed.
One often meets other cyclists on the road, and often you’ll ride together for hours–or maybe a couple of days. But it’s rare that everyone’s personalities, abilities, and interests line up for longer than that. Well, the four of us stayed together for four weeks, until Anthony’s visa was near its expiry. JeanDa, Leo and I stayed together another two weeks, into Zanskar Valley–until a very unpleasant encounter with a very unpleasant, alcoholic horseman led us to part ways .(I had no choice but to continue onward, they had no time constraints and turned back rather than deal with this horrible human being, but that’s another story, which I promise to tell.)
It was the greatest camaraderie of my cycling career, and you see our little coterie above, plus the delightful Brit Vickie–who joined us for the final five days into Leh.
If you’re out there, guys, I miss you all!