The Solo Cyclist
Posted by Super User

Soman Rana, The solo traveller who cycled all the way to Khardung-la from Dehradun, Uttarakhand

Frustrated with the lockdown and monotonous life, Sonam picked up his bicycle for a dream journey from Dehradun to Khardung-la via Kinnor in Himachal Pradesh.

Many have done Khardungla rides before but the unique part of Sonam’s journey is, He did it solo. Without much planning put his bags on his cycle with all the necessary gear like a tent stove, utensils, a pair of clothes and a lot of enthusiasm. 

Sonam completed the journey from Dehradun to Leh in 12 days. In his entire journey, Sonal cycled more than 1200 kilometres and visited many places.

In his entire journey, he didn’t stay in any hotel, he used to stay at his friend’s place, at roadside dhabas which are meant for drivers, with nomads of Ladhak and sometimes in his tent which he used to put on the roadside. Once while he was trying to put his tent on the roadside an old man offered him shelter and food at his hut. 

It is not the first time that he is travelling solo, last year he cycled from Dehradun to Kedarnath that too a solo journey.

Sonam started cycling in 2019 to control his increasing weight due to bad eating habits and lack of physical work and exercise. He started cycling and soon started riding with cycling groups of Dehradun, Dehradun is a good place for cyclists to train for hills. There are many places nearby where you can train yourself for high altitude cycling. The regular group rides to hills helped him to get prepared for high altitude cycling.

After the first unlock of 2020, Sonam decided to ride solo to Kedarnath and successfully completed the journey. It took him two days to reach Kedarnath from Dehradun.

It's a dream of every cyclist, especially mountain cyclists, to ride to Leh someday.  The solo ride to Kedarnath boosted Sonam’s confidence and he started dreaming of cycling to Leh one day.

The journey was full of adventure and challenges. High altitude, lonely roads, tough elevations, treeless & shade less route, broken roads, crossing through the dried rivers with huge boulders on the route, unexpected weather and rain, chilling winds and lack of oxygen makes the journey a real challenge and once you are through all these you come out be a different and confident person. Sonam said he was able to do it because he was alone, he was his only motivation and no other was there to demotivate him to pass through these challenges. The fear of restarting it again if he quit kept him going day by day. 

During the journey, he got various reactions from people. Some assumed him a betrayed lover, some asked him why are you doing it?  Some thought he was crazy. While many were amazed to see a solo cyclist and appreciated him, especially the bikers in motorbikes, who said “Hats off to you man we are tired sitting in the bikes and you are riding a bicycle in this tough terrain”, Many car drivers stop to praise him & click photographs. Many cars stopped him and offered water, snacks and food. 

The best part of the Journey

My two days with the nomads of Ladakh was the best part of the trip. I got a chance to experience their life, their culture & how they preserved it.  How they collaborate and work in the community.

Explored the area of Kaza and Leh.

Got a chance to do Kayaking in Leh.

Advice for cyclists who want to cycle to Leh

Be prepared, keep practising on hills, when in Leh don't push yourself, listen to your body. Keep yourself hydrated and fuelled.

Feeling at Khardung-la

Literally, I was on top of the World.

It was a dream come true. However, I had to return on my first trial due to bad weather but completed it the same day.

When asked If he would like to do this journey again “Yes, I would love to do this journey again and solo, I made a lot of friends during my journey and experienced the life and culture in those tough terrains and high altitudes” replied Sonam.

If you are dreaming of something JUST DO IT, don’t think much, more thinking weakens the intent.