Day 40-41, August 23-24, 2017. Sarchu to Pang, and Rest day at Pang
Distance 80 kilometres
Duration 14 hours
Sunita rates this day as the toughest and most challenging so far though her experiences gained over the par 40 days had made her a ‘pro’ at handling whatever hurdles the road had in store for her. Her initial 27 kilometre ride to Brandy Nala was rather uneventful but then the ordeal began as she started climbing the notorious ‘ Gata Loops’.
As she ascended the steep slope it seemed the loops would never end-Loop 1, Loop 2…….Loop 19 , Loop 20 and then fog struck and it became completely dark at 4:30 pm. Nothing was visible and they still had one more loop to go. Sunita was herself physically drained out but she kept egging on Jen and Miguel to keep moving – “ one more loop and then it will be downhill”. But that wasn’t to be – after crossing the last loop it was another 10 kilometres of uphill road before the cyclists reached Nakeela pass at 4937 metre.
Though the road was downhill after this till Whisky nala it was in a very bad condition. The next pass was Lachungla at a height of 5070 metres. The road now was very dangerous .The brakes of Jen cycle were not working and the road was downhill. It was past 7:00 PM and dark- the only light was from Sunitas cycle which too had limited battery life. Sunita regretted her decision of not having halted earlier on the way for the night but now there was no choice but to carry on. Finally the trio reached Pang at 10:00 pm in the night.
Before going to sleep at the end of the exhausting Day 40, Jen had categorically conveyed to her elder sister that under no circumstances should she be woken up at wee hours of the morning and asked to move on for the next destination. Sunita took a decision to stay the day at Pang as not only did the cyclists need rest but the cycles too needed attention and maintenance . Sunita could call up and inform us about her well being from an Army STD phone booth. Her parents back in Rewari who had been praying for the safety of their daughters were relieved to hear Sunita and Jen. But the highlightof the day was the hot water bath which Sunita describes as a luxury while travelling in these regions. Bythe end of the day Sunita and Jen were relaxed and braced up to be back on the road.