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Rolling the Rohtang


My first day on a motorbike was spent dragging man and machine across one of the harshest roads on the planet. The Rohtang Pass.

And I’ve never felt more alive.

It ended was up as one of the most ridiculous decisions I’ve embarked upon in my life, yet one of the most rewarding. Thoughts of “it’s me where talking about here” swung around my mind as I tried to jostle between the pros and cons, which included many horror stories of people on the mountain sounds arrogant, yet through this I learned that taking on challenges far away from safety give you a true achievement and make you proud.



The Rohtang itself stretches about 50km along the Leh-Manali highway, connecting the Kullu and Spiti Valleys and well to what it looks like, I’ll let the following picture do the talking…

Getting the motorbike for the first time took me back to the stall ridden days of my 17 year old self as I sling-shotted like a bull in a china shop around the narrow streets of Manali. 30 minutes down the road, starting to feel some beginners confidence I hit a sharp corner and came off the bike, head over handlebar and across 2 lanes only to be dragged with my bike to the side by a couple of Indian gents. Evil Kinevil would be proud. Confidence shook and headlightless I decided jumping back on and tackling the challenge ahead was the best way to proceed. I laugh now at how little did I knew the shock I was in for.

The edges of the serpentine road are littered with rusted vehicles and my earlier crash starts to become all the more real. What happened to these people and how long had they been driving this pass for? Certainly a lot longer than the few hours I had been up there. This is where concentration kicks in as you pass corner after sweeping corner.

The descent of the rohtang is like a swirling mud pit as trucks, cars and bikes battle to pass each other on the narrow lanes. At times you have to take your chances overtaking into head on traffic while trying to steer a (insert weight) bike through (do measurement) thick mud. Not realising how to handle a bike in these conditions I came off several times and the adrelain truly works when you do. Fighting these bikes off the ground on an empty stomach due to food posisoning just seems to be doable when you’re under pressure like this.

Never feeling more alive is what you get from this though and although going with experience before hand would be useful don’t let the lack of it stop you. Throw yourself into situations that involve near misses and insane amounts of physical and mental energy to conquer them. It is these memories that will stick with me in the end.

Elliott Clay