Taking the first step


I had gone to Ladakh as part of a cycling expedition from the 4th of July to the 23rd. After getting back there were a lot of things that needed attending to and I haven’t been able to sit down and collect my thoughts about the tour. It was the biggest, most expensive, ambitious and physically demanding trip I have ever undertaken. As a result it is also the one that has had the biggest impact on me.

I wish I could write it all down immediately, but I haven’t been able to even look at the photos properly till now. I thought hat I should first put down all the stuff that happened in the run up to the trip.

It was in May that the mail announcing the the trip was sent out on the Bangalore Ascender’s mailing list by Rajesh PN, who along with Girish Motwani did most of of the planning for the trip. The mail caught my attention as I had been thinking of going to the Himalayas for some time. But, I didn’t have any company and I wasn’t interested in an ordinary sight seeing trip around Ladakh by vehicle.

The mail seemed interesting. But, when I read the plan and saw the distance that they were planning to cover I felt a sudden pang of doubt. Can they be serious? Is it really possible to cover a 1000 kms on cycle at such high altitudes on difficult terrain? How many people are going to sign up for this crazy trip? Even if I did decide to go how was I going to get my cycle to Leh? What are the risks involved in undertaking such a trip? What sort of preparation would be required for it? What if after arranging everything all the other guys pulled out? Is it really not crazy to do something like this without a support vehicle? Questions kept on popping up in my head. The more I thought about it the more the arguments against the idea piled up. I called up Rajesh to ask a couple of doubts. Before that Renjith had sent me a mail, asking me teasingly, why I hadn’t signed up for it.

After thinking for a while, I decided that thinking was not much use. This was not a trip for a level-headed person. There was no brand of logic or reason which would counsel me to do it. For this trip, for once, I would have to really listen to my heart. See if I wanted to do this. Once I went ahead and booked the airline tickets what would follow was difficult training and preparation culminating in a risky and testing adventure.

I was starting to feel that my travels had become a bit monotonous. I needed to push the envelope. To try something that would test my determination and limits. So, I decided, it was time I did something like this and guess what? “I am doing it!”

It was an impulsive decision. I did not think about how I would do it. Just that I would do it! On the same day, I booked the tickets and called up my dad to tell him about it. Suddenly, things seemed different. Everything I did had one more purpose, one more aim. The trip loomed ahead of me like a mountain before a climber.

Both foreboding and exciting. Both terrifying and tantalizing in its possibilities. Before a trip one always feels some inertia and doubt… It is like a sky-diver hesitating before making the jump. There is fear and anxiety. But, there is also the knowledge that beyond the crucial one step lies the unknown, beckoning to him… To listen to that call and step out of your comfort zone, that is what adventure is all about.

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