I just came from Khardung La. Whoooh, what a ride! I was thinking of missing this pass altogether, because it would take me two days (1 for the permit, 1 for the ride), would relieve me from some cash, and I didn't particulary like the "must-do" cling about it.
But, I'm glad I made it. The pass (39 km, 1800 m, 4.5% average) is well laid out, and gives you the view of what you've made and what lies ahead. It was rather easy though, I made it in 30/22, leaving two lowest gears for some emergency, which never came. The previous passess I gruelled in 30/26 and a cadence below 60. Well there's no secret to it: I made it without most of the luggage - I left 4 redudant kgs at my guesthouse. If ever anyone says weight doesn't matter! It made a world of difference.
As I came to the top there were some "cyclists" pulling their bikes off the rack of a van, posing before the Khadung La sing and then dropping downhill to Leh. I was really angry about it, it made all my effort look ridiculous. Going downhill I met another van with bikes on top. I couldn't help myself and gave them a finger (pointing down). I know they can do whatever they want, but, ...
The downhill was, as usual, 2-fold. First 10 km of rocks and dirt, then a smoothest asphalt I've came across in India. This is how it should always be! And if I won't find it in Asia or elswere, then good-buy third world, I'm going to cycle in France.
A-propos, I met two french cyclists on the way up. We chatted a bit and a question of Alpe D'Huez vs. Khardung La came up. I was of the oppinion that Alpe d'Huez is tougher (never being there, but it's about 10 km of 10%), they thought the opposite.
What do you think (especialy those that made both)?
Day 13: 77 km, 6h 6min. Total: 1216.
Day 12: 0 km, 0h 0min. Total: 1139.