It’s that time of the year again. When people start thinking about ‘the’ great Indian cycle ride – the Manali to Leh cycling trip. A couple of people have written to me in the recent days asking me questions, many of which can be classified under: ‘what does it take to cycle from Manali to Leh?’ While I have replied to many people individually, I thought it might be a good idea to post a consolidated response here.

To provide a perspective, I cycled self-supported from Manali to Leh in September 2010 . Of course, riding this route once does not make me an expert. I should also clarify that I am now a middle-aged bloke, and for over a decade after college, I wasn’t really involved in any athletic activity. I also carry a torn meniscus in my left knee and a stent in my heart. Why am I telling you all this? Well, I am trying to drive home the point that while you do need to be fairly fit you do not need to be an athlete. So what does it take?

The single most important thing you will need to successfully cycle from Manali to Leh:


While a passionate desire to do it is not enough by itself, it is a crucial ingredient.

I think it is good to begin with the understanding that this is not an easy trip. Especially for those who have not spent too much time cycling in high-altitudes, climbing endless steep inclines, sleeping out in tents, cooking on stoves in the outdoors (or eating every day in roadside ‘dhabas’)… In my view there are broadly two kinds of people who are likely to do well on a trip like this: either you love the mountains or you are driven to prove a point. To the world or to your own self.

Try this before you embark on the Manali to Leh cycling trip:

If you are thinking of embarking on this trip and have never done any of the following, I’d urge you to try all, or most of them at least once before going:


How much does a Manali to Leh cycling trip cost?

Depends. Some decisions are likely to have a major impact on your budget:

I have already posted a detailed cycling equipment list. The only thing I’d like to add is that you should avoid trying out new equipment on this journey. Make sure that you have clocked a couple of thousand kilometres on you bike, saddle and shoes.

Some other Manali to Leh cycling posts on this site that might interest you:

First published on May 3, 2011
#cycling#cycle tour in india, #cycle touring, #manali to leh cycling, #bicycle adventures, #cycling in india, #indian himalyas, #manali to leh

You may also be interested in these related posts:
Manali to Leh — Self-supported cycling trip
Cycling trip across the Jalori Pass, Himachal Pradesh
Storming of the Indorie Qila
Why do I cycle?
Packing suggestion for multi-day self-supported cycling trip [1.0]