Ulysses was a hack compared to what I need to do to get anywhere.
Tomorrow, I take a ferry to the main island. Then the next day, a flight to the mainland, where I will retrieve my bike, eat pizza, pack, run some errands, eat some more pizza, drink 5 bottles of Diet Coke (we've been out on the island for 2 weeks now, the horror!) and pack for real. Then a flight to Delhi the day after. And then a 14 hour jeep ride to Manali.
Thankfully, Mohan and Manish, who are flying in from Bangalore, are getting the most essential of supplies - tinned meat. Everything else, including the bike, is optional compared to that. I am NOT eating instant noodles and omelettes for 10 fucking days, thank you very much.
And I've made a decision on the bike. I'm taking the Ritchey Breakway cross. It has served me well in Bhutan and it should suffice here. I expect Day 1 will have painful segments in the mud, and there will be occasional moments during the rest of the ride (stream crossings, rough road segments) when I will miss the MTB, but I think I should be ok.
Besides, Manish is bringing his Lynskey cross bike. I take great pride in being atleast partially the Enabler for that one (even though he ended up getting his Lynskey before mine despite ordering it afterwards), so I figured that if he is going to suffer, I'll suffer with him.
Mohan the Demon is on an MTB, which means he is still going to drop us, but maybe by a few minutes less. I still have horrible memories of him chasing me for 100+ km on the hills of the Nilgiris during last year's TfN, but my only relief is that this time he will be way out in front.
And earlier today, as I was reading up on where else to ride once we reach Leh (Khardung La for sure, perhaps a trip to Lamaruyu and back as another), I came across a reference to Marsimik La, which is supposed to be higher than Khardung La. It is beyond Pangong Tso - we were planning to ride there, so perhaps we'll drive to Pangong and then ride this instead, provided we can sort out the permits in Leh. Let's see - need to discuss it with the other 2. Also depends on our capacity for soaking in more pain at that point.
After slacking off for the past 4 days (was planning on putting in around 200km between Sat and today, only did 15 on the trainer), it is time for some real riding!
Day after tomorrow, once I have decent internet connection, I'll post some of my favorite photos from Leh from past trips as an appetizer.