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Milos' warning sign to fellow runners during HK100. Photo Courtesy Milos

#11 – Conversation with Milos Pintrava about CCC / TDS

Milos' warning sign to fellow runners during HK100. Photo Courtesy Milos

Milos’ warning sign to fellow runners during HK100. Photo Courtesy Milos

Summary:
In Episode 11 of The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast, we talk to Milos Pintrava about the following. Btw, I butchered the Episode number of this one! I said “8”, “9”, etc but it’s really 11!
Who’s Milos?
1) Trail running addict – started in 2012 after a hiatus and has since done long runs both in Hong Kong and abroad (Europe). Did CCC last year and going to do TDS this year.
2) But, best known to me as the guy who ran HK100 in 2015 with a sign board on him that said “please overtake with care. my ribs are busted. please, don’t hit my left side”
3) Our OTW mule for 2014

Before we get into specifics of his CCC/TDS training routine, a couple of quick questions for Milos so we get to know him better:
1) What is Milos’ favorite trail in Hong Kong and why? Also, what’s his favorite race in Hong Kong? What’s his favorite race overseas and why?
2) What in Milos’ view is his best accomplishment in the field of ultra running?
3) Does Milos have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?

Humble beginnings including time scale:
“Before we listen to somebody we want to know who they are”
1) We touched upon his story briefly but want to hear it from Milos himself. Take us back to the beginning. What is his story? When/why did he get into running?
2) He took a break and then came back at it in 2012 (http://hongkongtrailruns.com/my-races/) He has been running ever since

CCC Experience
http://hongkongtrailruns.com/utmb-ccc-2014-three-countries-in-one-day

Physical training for the CCC
Tell us about CCC last year. What is the course like? What made you do CCC and why CCC?
1) Talk to us about your training program for the CCC. When did you start to train?
2) What were the challenges of training in Hong Kong for CCC?
3) Having done the CCC, is there anything different you would do now in terms of training for the CCC? What advice would you give new CCC “attempters” ?
4) What about TDS? How is the course different and how is he training for it?

Mental training for the CCC
1) Milos did the HK100 with busted ribs. Where does the mental strength come from? What makes him mentally tough?
2) What does he tell himself when the going gets tough?

Nutrition and gear
1) Did Milos get himself a nutrition coach at the very beginning? How did he learn about nutrition and how did the nutrition journey evolve along the way for CCC/TDS?
2) What about his gear? What did he have for CCC and what will he have for TDS?

Philosophy on medicine and alcohol
1) Would he take medicines? When/where does he draw the line?
2) He started the “no alcohol” commitment in HK. John followed. So did Steven. Why is his philosophy on alcohol?

Goals:
1) What are his goals for 2015 and beyond?

Parting words of wisdom:
1) Mantra or motto or creed that Milos lives by (either in his running or his life)

HongKongTrailRuns.com


 

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music

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Kick Ass Motorbiking Adventure in Ladakh (July 2015)

After eight long years, the mountains of Ladakh, India beckoned again. The motorbikes were calling out our names. High altitude passes, river streams and meandering roads were waiting to be crossed yet another time on a motorbike — this time on Royal Enfields. And so began the planning of our motorbike trip to Ladakh from Manali. Prashant, my friend and travel mate on our two previous motorbike rides in Ladakh organized this one too. Bold Swiss motorbike rider and fellow Hong Konger, Hannes also joined us for our kick ass motorbiking adventure in Ladakh during July 2015.

Photo courtesy: Hannes (he’s a better photographer than I am). All photos are here.

Hannes’ PowerPoint collage

2015-07-13, Chennai to Manali

  1. I took a flight into Delhi from Chennai. Flight landed 5 minutes early (Go IndiGo Air!) and met Prashant and Hannes at about 1945 outside the airport
  2. Took a pretty long taxi ride (saw India Gate, Red Fort on the way) and reached a super crowded ISBT (big intercity Delhi bus stand) at about 2100. Bus stand was a cacophony of activity
  3. Took a bus to Manali. Had front row seats. Hannes even helped fix a puncture en route at 3am while Prashant and I were asleep despite the rather uncomfortable seats
At ISBT bus stand

At ISBT bus stand

15-hour bus ride. Fixing a puncture at 3am

15-hour bus ride. Fixing a puncture at 3am

2015-07-14, Getting bikes plus permits in Manali

  1. reached Manali at 1.15pm (left at 2200 the previous day) making this the longest bus ride of my lifetime. 15 hours on a bus that stopped almost everywhere and even had puncture problems
  2. got the motorbikes from the Trip Advisor rated bikerentalmanali.com. Their shop was in a place called Vashisht in Manali. Luckily, the gears on the Enfield were on the left side. I got the new Thunderbird 350cc which was only a month old. Prashant and Hannes had classic Enfield 350cc bikes. Bike guy whose name was Abhinav Sood, seemed to be running a pretty lucrative business. Reliable guy but made us sign a million forms to indemnify his company against this, that, etc (guess he needs to). Bikes were in great condition
  3. got the permits done to cross Rohtang Pass at the SDM (not sure what that stands for) but it’s a pretty dull looking bureaucratic office in Manali City by the bus stand. We then tested the bikes out and slept like a log for 8 hours to recover from the 15-hour bus ride
Room in Manali

Room in Manali

Hannes with his "Black Beauty"

Hannes with his “Black Beauty”

Prashant and his Enfield

Prashant and his Enfield

Suited and booted and ready to go

Suited and booted and ready to go

Loading up on gas

Loading up on gas

2015-07-15, Manali to Jispa

  1. set off on our kick ass bike journey at 7am in the morning. Meandering roads, slushy terrain and dust-filled air greeted us on the first half of our ride. That and plenty of careful overtaking of heavy tucks that stirred up dust straight into our faces. The challenge of riding on slushy mountainous roads blended with the magnificence of the mountain itself
  2. the new Thunderbird 350cc I was riding definitely looked old after I crossed the muddy roads of Rohtang pass (about 3800m). The shock absorbers were put to good test during and after crossing Rohtang. We averaged around 16km per hour until Sissu (after Rohtang). It was rather an amusing sight to watch tourists dressed up in full blown snow suits when there was very little snow to see! It was like wearing a raincoat for protection from a small puddle of water in the remote distance
  3. we continued on after Rohtang and eventually reached Jispa at around 4pm (9 hours later) covering about 110km on Day 1 of our kick ass riding
  4. Jispa was quite beautiful. We found tent like accommodation with a proper toilet. It started to rain as soon as we were parked and settled! I even caught a rainbow from the toilet window
On the way to Rohtang Pass

On the way to Rohtang Pass

Little but of snow en route. Tourists wore a full snow suit for this!

Little but of snow en route. Tourists wore a full snow suit for this!

Hannes enjoying a Kingfisher in Jispa

Hannes enjoying a Kingfisher in Jispa

This is Jispa

This is Jispa

2015-07-16, Jispa to Pang

  1. Quite a hard day! We left Jispa early but got stuck at Baralacha La Pass. Two vehicles got stuck in a rather ominous looking river crossing. We waited for two hours for the army to clear the road using something called a JCB (some big crane). Later, Hannes was the first one among us to attempt to cross that stream. He rode through the bouldery stream crossing like a daredevil punk and succeeded in his first attempt! I needed help and almost fell. Prashant followed suit and made a successful attempt. More such stream crossings appeared and demanded some heavy motorbiking skills
  2. The lake at Baralacha La pass at 4927 meters was dazzling. Serene and picturesque. I remembered seeing this lake 8 years back in June when it was frozen. Now it appeared vast and was quite a sight. After the lake, came two very beautiful high altitude passes. Nakeela La at 4961m and Lachung La at 5097m. I almost lost control of the bike while negotiating a slope after Lachung La. Prashant had his first fall which resulted in a minor knee injury
  3. We finally ended up at a place called Pang at 4.30pm, which was at about 4500m above sea level. Although we did not want to stay at such an altitude, we were out of time and could not continue riding. Staying at Pang was a nightmare. We had basic tent like accommodation with many others. It was super cold and noisy (I also contributed to it through my occasional snoring). All the three of us had an altitude headache. Hannes didn’t sleep a wink. The previous two times I had stayed at Pang was in 2008/2009. Both times, I vomited and felt like someone had beaten me up. This time, the lady at the place gave me some ginger tea which really helped. I managed to spend the night at Pang without puking. I even ventured out quickly during the night to look at the stars. It was quite a sight! But, my visual treat was interrupted by my olfactory senses which detected the pungent smell of human excreta nearby! I gave the stargazing a rest and went back into the tent to try and resume my sleep despite the sharp high altitude headache
Truck stuck in Barlacha La pass

Truck stuck in Barlacha La pass

We had to wait for the army JCB to clear this mess

We had to wait for the army JCB to clear this mess

Prashant and Hannes wondering what to do next

Prashant and Hannes wondering what to do next

JCB tows away the van

JCB tows away the van

Hannes readies to cross

Hannes readies to cross

Finally made it through

Finally made it through

Barlacha La pass

Barlacha La pass

This is Barlilacha Lake. Usually frozen in winter

This is Barlilacha Lake. Usually frozen in winter

Nakeela Pass

Nakeela Pass

Pang - our resting abode for the night

Pang – our resting abode for the night

2015-07-17, Pang to Leh

  1. with much difficulty, we got out of our horrible tented accommodation in Pang. I got out to look at the toilets and immediately averted my eyes! First of all, I had trouble deciding where exactly the toilet was. The pungent smell my nose detected seemed to come from pretty much everywhere! Pieces of feces lay strewn around like landmines beyond a distance which was hardly a stone’s throw away. I decided that my own excreta was best contained within the confines of my intestines. Hannes proudly announced that he had gotten a nice one out the previous day on the mountains just before we got into Pang. Anyway, we got back on the bikes, happily left Pang, and it was then one relatively fast ride into More Plains, a 50km stretch of flat roads in the high altitude plains. We then hit another high altitude pass called Tanglang La pass at 5353m. Stunning. There was a temple there but I didn’t have enough energy to remove my shoes and go in, so I skipped going inside
  2. after Tanglang La pass, there was a meandering road that took us to Rumtse (4300m). Then we hit Upshi after another 50km of riding. The roads all the way from Pang were very good
  3. riding into Leh from Upshi was such a pleasure! There was a river hugging the winding road and I managed to hit 90kmh on the Enfield on many occasions
  4. upon reaching Leh, we found good accommodation in a hotel called Grand Willow (finally had access to a good toilet again!) After checking in, showering and getting rid of intestinal waste, we walked around to try and get permits done to visit Nubra Valley and Panagong Lake. (Since these places are close to border regions, one needs to get permits). Getting permits for Hannes seemed like a struggle initially. Apparently, non Indians can only get permits if there is at least two of them traveling together! I am not sure what a solo non Indian traveler would do! Anyway, some money and a travel agent up the road solved this problem for us by combining Hannes’ permit with some other non Indians. It was funny to see that they wrote down that Hannes was from “Swaziland” and not Switzerland in the permit!
The Moray plains

The Moray plains

Tanglang La pass (5300m). Couldn't go into the temple here

Tanglang La pass (5300m). Couldn’t go into the temple here

On the way to Leh

On the way to Leh

This is in the outskirts of Leh

This is in the outskirts of Leh

Our hotel put on a cultural show in Leh

Our hotel put on a cultural show in Leh

Not sure what these two gentlemen are laughing at

Not sure what these two gentlemen are laughing at

2015-07-18, Leh to Pangong Lake (aborted Nubra Valley attempt)

  1. armed with permits, we set off for Nubra Valley at 7am. However, around 10km into the journey, we were stopped by some local punks who insisted that we could only go to Kardung La (we had to cross this 5400m pass to get to Nubra Valkey) on Jammu and Kashmir rented bikes, not Manali rented bikes. Hannes unleashed a slew of verbal abuse at the guy which made him get on the phone to his boss. (For a couple of minutes, I thought Hannes was going to get himself killed!) However, the punks won and although illegal, they managed to turn us around
  2. after having been turned around, we decided to attempt Pangong Lake, although we felt we would be turned around there too by the punks there. As we were riding, at some point during the initial ride to Pangong lake, some local punks shouted at us and asked us to stop but we continued on regardless. After several hours of hardcore biking and several stream crossings which rendered by feet numb, we reached Chang La (5378m). As usual, there was a temple there but I couldn’t summon the energy to take my shoes off in that altitude for a quick note of thanks to God!
  3. the ride into Pangong Lake wasn’t easy. Although it was only around 50km from Chang La pass, the road was super busy and we had to cross many more mini streams. There was also some occasional desert like surface, and a lot of bouldery bits which proved to be a bit of a challenge for me on the bike. Hannes seemed to have no problems and even gave his beloved Enfield a pet name, “Black Beauty”. The desert like surface sent my bike and I dancing dangerously on many occasions
  4. eventually, we reached the beautiful Pangong lake after several hours of riding and found ourselves a nice warm Swiss style hut with a proper toilet. Upon Hannes’ insistence, we took a cold shower (my butt froze)
  5. it took me a while to get myself warmed up again as I had wet feet from not wearing proper biking boots. I was wearing Gorerex running shoes and all the streams en route were no match for these shoes. I was thinking of ways to make some makeshift poncho-boots for the next day’s ride to avoid getting frozen feet again!

PS. The irony of the day was that no one had asked us for our permits! All that time we spent getting a Swaziland permit for Hannes was unnecessary!

Chang La pass - on the way to Pangong Lake

Chang La pass – on the way to Pangong Lake

On the way to Pangong Lake - a wild yak

On the way to Pangong Lake – a wild yak

Pangong Lake - where 3 Idiots was shot. There is a Rancho Cafe there

Pangong Lake – where 3 Idiots was shot. There is a Rancho Cafe there

Our Swiss style hut in Pangong Lake

Our Swiss style hut in Pangong Lake

The hut even had a couch

The hut even had a couch

Three quarters of this lake is in Tibet and 1 quarter in India

Three quarters of this lake is in Tibet and 1 quarter in India

 

2015-07-19, Pangong Lake to Nubra Valley via a challenging shortcut!

  1. we decided to take a shortcut to Nubra Valley from Pangong Lake. The shortcut was questionable as the road conditions were unknown but it promised to save us around 50km of riding as we would directly end up at Nubra Valley instead of going through Leh again
  2. the “shortcut” started off with a stream though which half the bike got submerged. Again, hero Hannes somehow managed to cross the stream without killing his engine. My bike stalled. I waited for Prashant and Hannes to rescue me. My feet got totally wet. It took me a while to get the engine going again. Then I met two army guys who told me that the road ahead was extremely bad and that it would be wise to turn back to avoid punctures. We dismissed his suggestion and rode on
  3. at some point, the “road” was non existent. Each boulder I guided the bike over felt like the next sureshot setting for a fall. And, fall I did. Two times. First one was in a stream where I misjudged the size of the boulder. Luckily, it was a minor fall. The bike was still standing although my right mirror broke. What I found harder was to gather myself and recover in the high altitude conditions after each fall!
  4. I have to say – the shortcut was beautiful no doubt but to admire the beauty was a challenge, especially when I felt like I was losing control of the bike. On serval occasions, it felt like I was on a camel, not an Enfield. Fortunately, the bike behaved and it seemed like we were somehow going to make it to Nubra Valley but just a mere 5km from Nubra, we had our first major unstoppable force of nature greeting us. A part of the road was blown away by a recent Made by Nature stream and the resulting deluge meant only two things (1) stay there and wait for the army guys to clear the stream (2) ride back!!! I definitely didn’t want to go back. No way in hell was I going to go through those boulder roads again (I had just narrowly escaped falling down more times than I could recall!) Staying there was a questionable idea as well as there was no guarantee of a foreseeable fix. The army guys couldn’t divert the stream channel as some sacred tree was in the way. So, we improvised on (2) and decided to get to Leh via a “Wari La” pass. Some random truck driver told us that the road condition to Wari La pass was “ok”
  5. I was expecting a puny 4300m pass but Wari La turned out to be the mother of all passes. At 5300m in altitude, it was snowing on top, there was ice on the road and quite some streams were pretty hard to negotiate. My hands were frozen. The views were simply superb but only when admired in hindsight! I saw two gigantic vultures but didn’t have the energy to get my camera out! Hannes managed to get some pictures of them
  6. we lost daylight and had to ride back into Leh in the dark. I was blinded by the powerful headlights of oncoming traffic in the night but it was manageable
  7. we reached Leh at 9pm and covered roughly 254km in one day and went over a 5300m pass where it was snowing! Quite a “shortcut”. We were finally back in Room 403 of Grand Willow hotel in Leh
On the way to Nubra Valley

On the way to Nubra Valley

Some of the road junctions were impossible to cross

Some of the road junctions were impossible to cross

We were stuck here! No way we could cross this stream

We were stuck here! No way we could cross this stream

Deciding on Wari La Pass while perched on this log

Deciding on Wari La Pass while perched on this log

More streams to cross

More streams to cross

A marmut

A marmut

 

Vulture on the way to Wari La Pass

Vulture on the way to Wari La Pass

It was snowing on Wari La

It was snowing on Wari La

My hands were frozen. Wari La was at 5300m above sea level

My hands were frozen. Wari La was at 5300m above sea level

2015-07-20, Leh (rest day)

  1. today being our well deserved rest day, we got up late and went on a leisurely walk to a donkey sanctuary. Some kind person set up a place for old and injured donkeys where they could spend the last few years of their lives in comfort instead of letting them die a painful death outside
  2. we then visited a rock museum which was quite impressive. I had no idea that Ladhakh was home to so many precious minerals
  3. the evening was spent watching a movie about Ladhakh. Quite a good introduction to Buddhism and the beauty of Ladhakh. Did you know that Ladakh comes from the Tibetan word “La Dags” which means Land of Passes? After the movie, I went to the market to buy rubber boots. My goretex running shoes were no match for the intense stream crossings!

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Leh Market place

Leh Market place

Downtown Leh

Downtown Leh

Leh Marathon! Will do this someday!

Leh Marathon! Will do this someday!

2015-07-21, Leh to Manali (first attempt)
1) the plan was to get up at 6am and head back towards Manali. We did that and left at 7am. I learned that the trouser goes over my newly purchased rubber boots, not under. My boots got wet as I rode the bike through a deep puddle of water. We reached Upshi (50km from Leh) at around 9am when Murphy’s law (what can go wrong will go wrong) greeted us

2) the guy at the checkpoint told us that “Brandy” bridge near Sarchu has been washed away by the torrential downpours the day before. Hence the road was closed. We needed to turn back. We still waited. And waited. Many other bikers and cars were stopped and given similar news. What followed then was a melee of mixed messages. Some guy said that the road would open at 1pm and another guy insisted it would take three days for a new bridge to be put in place. Messages were as confusing as they were ample. Everyone had supposedly heard something. We turned back towards Leh at 1pm after being told by the police guy at the checkpoint that “there was absolutely no point in waiting”

3) having lost our backup day and without any signs of anything improving, we decided to explore buying our way out of the situation. Meaning, we had to book expensive flights out of Leh and pay our bike rental guy many more thousands to get the bikes back to Manali on trucks. We reached the airport at 3pm or so to explore buying tickets but only to discover that it was closed (all planes fly in the morning only). Murphy’s law struck again as Prashant’s bike stopped working. We then split up. We used the remaining two bikes to get to the local mechanic. The mechanic went back with Prashant to the airport to fix his bike while Hannes and I went to the sole travel agent in Leh with a working internet connection to inquire about flight prices. It was INR 25k for a fight to Delhi!

4) after lunch, we asked several more people (police headquarters, Manali taxi stand) about the road condition and eventually, there seemed to be some sort of consensus on the latest news, which was that small vehicles were now being allowed to go through!

5) with this newfound information, we decided to leave at 5.30am the next day to attempt to get to Manali one last time before considering the expensive flying option. To add to the confusion of the route being open, we had another fresh problem to deal with. Apparently, Leh was going to be on strike the next day from 6am to 8pm. No vehicles were to be allowed on the road during this time. To tiptoe around the Leh lockdown, our plan was this: we would leave at 5.30am the following day and reach Upshi by 6.30am. If the road to Manali would be open, we’d take it. If not, we would hang out outside Leh, wait for the lockdown to end, somehow book flight tickets in the interim and come back into Leh after 8pm to try and make a Thursday/Friday morning flight!

6) nature, strikes, breakdowns… We had seen it all in one day! Getting out of our room 403 at Grand Willow hotel was a challenge!

We had a hard time leaving this place

We had a hard time leaving this place

We visited the Leh Palace in the afternoon

We visited the Leh Palace in the afternoon

The old Leh palace

The old Leh palace

The Gongpa

The Gongpa

2015-07-22, Leh to Manali (second attempt)

  1. We got up not at 5.30am but even sooner, at 4.30am ready to take on the 450km ride to Manali. We said another sly goodbye to the hotel room and hoped we wouldn’t see it again anytime soon
  2. Less than 25 minutes into the ride which started at 5.20am, we saw many bikers signaling us to turn around. We eventually figured out that the guys who were striking had created a road block up ahead. No vehicle could leave Leh! It was not even 6am (the supposed beginning of the lockdown) but the striking hooligans seemed to have gotten themselves an unfair early start. About turn. Hello again Room Number 403 in Grand Willow Hotel. Looks like we’ve met before! Time: 6.15am.
  3. We had lost our contingency day and one day of our actual journey to Manali! Now, we had to do the ride to Manali in a mere two days to make our Hong Kong flight in time. And, that didn’t allow any room for error at all. A breakdown, a fall, more road blocks and we would get stuck in India! Our flight out to HK was on Saturday night and we still had to get to Delhi from Manali
  4. we thought up a series of plans. Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, etc, etc. We again opted to buy our way out of the problem by purchasing air tickets to Delhi and paying the bike guy to send someone to Leh who could take the bikes back. New challenge: there were no flights available until the week after! Our only other solution was to ride back to Manali in two days. No room for error
  5. In order to while away time, we visited Leh Palace in the afternoon
  6. Thanks to the strike, we had one less day to return to Manali

Target: Time: Two days. Distance to cover: 450km

2015-07-23, Leh to Manali (third attempt)

  1. Get up time was 0330. Departure time 0400. We were ready to kick some serious butt today. Two days of intense riding through to Manali to get us the heck out of Leh! Thirty minutes into our cold and damp morning ride, I almost got caught in a muddy section of the road and my front wheel got ensnared. I was revving my engine real hard and real loud at 0430 to extricate myself and my bike from this newly formed slush. Prashant did a dance tune on the slush while Hannes almost ran into a cow!
  2. the day seemed fine and we were all ready to do around 200-something km on the bike. We reached Upshi with bated breath and were quite surprised to see a bunch of Enfields waiting before us! They managed to get up even before 3.30! One of them told us that she had gotten up at 2am in the anticipation of a long day ahead! BUT… Nature had its final say! There are two ways out of Leh. One of them got hit by a landslide (road via Tso Moriri) and the other one had a section of the road swept away! (Road via Rumtse – the way we came). Meaning, we were once again (for the third time) stuck in Leh! The Tso Moriri route might have not been an option to begin with as it was 170km longer. Not something we could do in two days anyway!
  3. three days, three attempts. Three failures. Stuck in Leh. Stuck in Leh. Stuck in Leh. We had to come up with a Plan D to get us out of Leh and in time for our Hong Kong flights. We didn’t sit at Umshi waiting for the roads to get fixed (as we did two days back!) Instead, we rode to the airport to check for available flight tickets out of Leh. None was available. We then went back to our usual hotel where the staff once again greeted us with a smirk on their faces. “Never has someone been unsuccessful so many times”, said the hotel guy. It didn’t make us feel better. What did make us feel better was the news that Ladakh was experiencing a “cloud burst” which only happens once in about 5 years. At least, we weren’t carrying any jinx. It was not our rotten luck but it was Leh and the unique weather that was to blame for our inability to escape from our beloved hotel room!
  4. after showering and “downloading” at Room 403 of Grand Willow hotel, we went to a travel agent hoping for last minute cancelations. Finally, Lady Luck smiled at us and we got three tickets out of Leh for the next day at an exorbitant price of INR 24,000 each ticket. The price of freedom!
  5. we negotiated with our bike rental guy to send someone over to our hotel to pick up the bikes. Then we went for our final joy ride on the bike to a place called Nimmu on the national highway #1. We saw the Indus Valley river and a hill called Magnetic Hill which is somehow supposed to pull vehicles upwards against gravity, towards its peak. It seemed like a bunch of baloney
  6. we came to know later on that the landslide on the Tso Moriri route wasn’t fixed until about the evening. So, waiting at Rumtse would have been a waste of time as we would have been out of time anyway. We had made a good decision by choosing to return quickly upon discovering that the roads were closed. That way, we at least got the last few seats on the plane to Delhi the following day
  7.  we concluded what seemed like our final day in Leh (this time for real) with some sumptuous dinner in celebration of our bike ride into Leh and our three attempted rides back! Hannes added that “if I come back to this hotel room tomorrow, I will hang myself”
On the way to Village Nimmu

On the way to Village Nimmu

Indus Ruver

The Indus River

The Indus River

This river runs from Tibet to Pakistan via India

This river runs from Tibet to Pakistan via India

2015-07-24, Leh to Hong Kong, via Delhi

  1. we got up at 4.30am to catch our 7am fight out to Delhi. Hannes asked if he should leave some luggage behind just in case. We had come back 3 times in the past 3 days anyway. Would we really be able to leave Leh?
  2. I wanted to get the pilot to do a low flying pass over Upshi. If we could see both roads to Manali open, we could always parachute down to ride the bikes back to Manali
  3. all the three of us said goodbye to Room 403 at Grand Willow hotel and hoped that the plane wouldn’t get canceled! If the roads can shut two times in two days and if a strike can stop us on the third day, then a plane cancelation isn’t really far off the realm of imagination
  4. the sky was clear blue outside and the day was perfect! It probably was a good day for riding but … it was also one for flying! We were ready to fly home!
  5. we reached Delhi without incident at 8am and said bye to Prashant. Hannes and I flew out to Hong Kong in the night
Goodbye Leh, for real!

Goodbye Leh, for real!

I almost thought we wouldn't be able to leave Leh

I almost thought we wouldn’t be able to leave Leh

A nice statue of the sun in Delhi airport

A nice statue of the sun in Delhi airport

Summary:

Snow capped mountains, lakes, desert like landscape, ice, snow, high altitude passes… we had seen it all by riding 1255km around Ladakh on Royal Enfields. We’d also seen man made pollution, landslides, experienced plans being forced to change due to nature’s intervention and plans being disrupted due to man made strikes.

This trip has definitely had the hallmark of yet another kick ass adventure in our beautiful Planet Earth. The more I travel and immerse myself in the beauty of nature, the more captivated I become with what our planet has to offer! I will miss my Royal Enfield. And, next time, I think we should avoid biking in Ladakh during the July monsoons!

Thanks to Hannes for the photographs.

Julley. (That’s some kind of greeting in Ladakhi).

View from Pat Sin Leng (Courtesy Milos)

#10 – Taking a break for 3 weeks plus my favourite Scott Jurek Quote

Quick Summary:

Three short things I want to do in this podcast:

  • Firstly, I want to say “thank you” to all you listeners for your support. In less than a month, this podcast has received around a 1000 downloads and that’s largely been due to the phenomenal guests we have had on the show. Sharon Shek, Martijn Doekes, John Ellis, Steven Carr and of course, Andre Blumberg, a big “thank you” to all of you for imparting so much knowledge to the HK trail running community. A big thank you to Hannes for the segment on Plover Cove and also to all the runners who spoke to me after sweaty runs on a hot summer day. Yes, Milos, Rupert, Steven.. I am referring to you guys
  • Secondly, I wanted to let you that I am going on vacation for 3 weeks. I am going to be in the mountains in Kashmir riding a motorbike! Fellow Plover Cove owner Hannes, a friend of mine from India, and I are going to be riding Royal Enfields in the Leh region of Kashmir
  • Lastly, I wanted to let you know that although we may not have new episodes in the coming 3 weeks, I have really enjoyed doing this show and thanks to my secret agent Steven Carr (not so secret now), I hope to have the likes of Vlad, Clement and other phenomenal runners on the show who we can learn from. All this when I am back in about 3 weeks’ time.

Thank you again to all the listeners and to everyone for all the valuable feedback. Martijn Doekes for getting me prepared for Andre’s interview, Tony Lai for the short questions to all interviewees, Philip Forsyth for telling me to cut down on the intro music and so on.

Until 3 weeks time, have a great summer in HK and happy trails. I will leave you with my favorite Scott Jurek quote:

“I reminded myself to be grateful for my latest injury. It helped me remember why I ran ultras in the first place. It wasn’t for the chance to best a record. It wasn’t for simple physical pleasure. It was for something more profound, something deeper. To run 100 miles and more is to bring the body to the point of breaking, to bring the mind to the point of destruction, to arrive at the place where you can alter your consciousness. It was to see more clearly. As my Yoga teacher would say, “injuries are our best teachers”. I am convinced that a lot of people run ultra marathons for the same reason they take mood altering drugs. I don’t mean to minimize the gifts of friendship, achievement and closeness to nature that I have received in my running career. But the longer and farther I ran, the more I realized that what I was often chasing was a state of mind – a place where worries that seemed monumental melted away; a place where the beauty and timelessness of the universe and of the present moment came into sharp focus.”


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music

Selfie with Sha Tau Kok in the backdrop

#9 – Six Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Our Plover Cove Trail (With Hannes Niggli)

Hannes and I in Robin's Nest

Hannes and I in Robin’s Nest. Sha Tau Kok in the backdrop

Summary:
In Episode 9 of the Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast, I co-host the show with Hannes Niggli, fellow owner of Plover Cove Trail in Hong Kong. He and I fought to own the majority shares in Plover Cove and our fight still remains unresolved. Hannes has been in Hong Kong for 2+ decades and he knows the trails of Hong Kong very well! He used to live near Plover Cove for almost a decade.
A few points on the Plover Cove Trail:
  • Plover Cove is MY TOP trail in Hong Kong. 100% trail (until you get to the dam at the end) and it presents some of the most beautiful views that Hong Kong trails have to offer
  • Hannes and I have done gone around this 17km trail (with around a 1000m elevation gain) so many times that we claim to “own” the trail. We even set up rules for ownership. For example, you have to have gone around the trail at least 10 times during the year and if you are a member of the sub 2-hour club, you get extra ownership points. See HKTR Plover Cove Challenge.
  • If you are training for a run under the hot sun, make sure Plover Cove is your training ground. It’s totally exposed, the hot air is trapped by the shrubs on either side of the trail. It feels like you’re in an oven. The second half is when you feel like there’s no other place in Hong Kong where you’d rather be

Plover Cove Amazing Facts:

As we are disputing our ownership shares in Plover Cove rather heatedly, Hannes sent me an email that read: “good morning, have been stuck at the airport for 3 hours so took the opportunity to create some educational material with the aim to close our knowledge gap on the subject as I eventually have to handover the property one day to younger generation. Everyday is a slide show, some of it is public information, some of it is personal”.

  1. Fact one:
    • Plover Cove was the first “reservoir in the sea”all over the world. Started in 1960, finished in 1968, providing a capacity of 170 million cubic metres.
    • It as once famous for pearl production. Now, it’s a famous, natural fishpond
    • Many Hakka villages were displaced. The British colonial government gave them shops along Kwong Fuk Road instead in Tai Po
  2. Fact two:
    • The famous KOTH Series run by Keith Noyes was known as “Tai Po marathon” between 1984-2006. Then the route went around Plover Cove. Hannes organized the newly set up KOTH series between 1998-1999
  3. Fact three:
    • Plover cove is an undulating trail. The highest point on this trail is at a trigonometric station which you can reach if you continue walking for another 5 minutes after the halfway point. You see a sign there that reads “11km to Tai Mei Tuk”. It’s a major landmark of the reservoir
  4. Fact four:
    • There are 3 routes around Plover Cove. Not just the standard Wuk Kau Tang to Tai Mei Tuk. The Ridge Trail, The Middle Trail and The KOTH Trail
  5. Fact five:
    • If you continue to go straight from the halfway point, you reach the most remote place in Hong Kong. It’s 15k of walking to the first settlement or house! There’s no other place in HK where you need to walk this distance before seeing civilization. Over here, you see the Finger Rocks or the Devil’s Hand which is over 200 million years old
  6. Fact six:
    • The tolo channel floating barriers were set up in the early 1990s as all smuggling was done by speedboats through this channel. The smugglers could easily load cars at the Plover Cove reservoir main pier. Once the police barrier was installed, all smuggling stopped

And, a “Fact 7” is that the image you see of the Hong Kong Trail Rockers podcast on iTunes is an actual shot of Plover Cove! When I had to pick a photo as the cover of the podcast, I naturally chose Plover Cove!


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music

 

Talking to Andre Blumberg

#8 – Session 3/3 – Andre Blumberg (granddaddy of Ultras) – Medicines, Injuries, Nutrition, Goals and the Hong Kong 4 Trails Ultra Challenge

Continuation from Session 2. This is the last Session in this 3-part podcast with Andre.

Before summarizing what we spoke about in Session 3, I want to briefly write about my key takeaways after speaking to Andre. I keep track of certain traits that I want to emulate in my role models and if I can copy at least some of these qualities that Andre possesses, I’d be happy.


 

[Adopting a “never give up” attitude even during trying circumstances. Believing in yourself and gathering the determination to face and conquer challenges while enjoying them, instead of being overwhelmed by them. Achieving results while remaining humble and always feeling a sense of gratitude]

Andre Blumberg
He peed black urine yet knew not to give up. When confronted with challenges during his ultras, he solved each challenge as though it were a puzzle. He doesn’t let challenges overwhelm him. The greater the challenge, the greater the satisfaction he derives from it. He practices gratitude and is extremely humble despite his long list of accomplishments. He cares for others and gives back to the community. An inspirational person who serves as a role model to many people


 

Summary of Session 3 (the last part of Episode 8)

Medicines, Injuries, Nutrition and Gear:

  • What kind of gear does Andre swear by?
  • What did he do regarding nutrition when he did his grand slam?
  • What’s his philosophy on medicines? And, alcohol?
  • How does he deal with injuries?

The Hong Kong 4 Trails Ultra Challenge:

  • What gave him the idea to start this challenge?
  • Why did he change the format of the challenge?
  • Finishers for 2012, 2013, 2014
  • His invitation to me to do the 4 trails (?!)

Philosophy on supporting during races:

  • Where did that cowbell idea come from?
  • What part of the race does he enjoy supporting most?
  • Giving back to the community

Misc:

  • Goals for 2015
  • Parting words of wisdom
  • Best place to reach Andre

This show also includes a Tailwind Trail Tip on pacing by John Ellis. Don’t miss it.

Conclusion:

I’d like to thank Martijn Doekes from Lantau Base Camp for his help in getting me prepared! Also, thanks to John Ellis for providing a very important trail tip on pacing. And, of course, to Andre for spending close to 2.5 hours with me and imparting all this knowledge and inspiration!

Feedback and comments are welcome! My podcasting skills are still rough but on the mend! If you’d like to hear a certain guest on the show or have any sort of ideas, please write to me or leave a comment here. Thank you.


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music