Daijiworld Media Network – Bengaluru
Bengaluru, Sep 21: Vilma Carvalho, a corporate trainer from Kundapur, currently living in Bengaluru, made the news in 2022 after her journey to the second highest motorable road - Khardung La.
After accomplishing last year’s feat, she realized that with a little more determination she can reach Umling La, the world's highest motorable road.
Umling La pass is located around 350 Km from Leh city and it is situated close to the Indo-China border. This famous pass is located at 19024 feet above the sea level, making it the highest motor able road in the world.
Vilma embarked on the journey along with her daughter Cherish, a team of 3 riders from Kerala and a support team from Leh. All 5 riders rode RE Himalayan, a preferred bike for the terrain.
"The terrain in Ladakh is quite tough for riders. However, the journey from the village Hanle to Umling La is characterized with off-roading sections, sand dunes and sandy mountain roads making it extremely challenging for all riders. Hanle is the highest village in India, where we find Indian Astronomical Observatory. As this pass is situated away from Leh city, the roads are still under development leading to fewer riders venturing on this route. Altogether, the Leh tour lasted for 5 days and was a total of approximately 900 km. Every bike rider’s dream is to ride once in Ladakh but eventually no rider, rides just once in Ladakh. They go at least twice," says Vilma.
Vilma, gives credit to her daughter for supporting and encouraging her throughout the tour, an otherwise impossible feat for a woman of 55. This is her third tour to Ladakh.
"All through the tour, bikers face many challenges, like high altitudes sickness or acute mountain sickness, complication due to low oxygen levels, severe headaches, feeling dizzy, nausea and many more. Every joint of the arms ache due to off-road riding. Whether the rider is young or old and man or woman, all need to prepare well. I am preparing from the last one year from diet to fitness and total wellbeing. As I am in my 50s, I choose yoga, suryanamskara, pranayama and meditation. The most important step for any rider is to acclimatize to the weather for a day or two. Take lots of liquids and be on a light diet. All through the journey into the interiors of Ladakh, one cannot expect or be particular on food habit. Need to adjust with whatever they get. Because in most of the places travellers get only noodles or bread omelette during the day. Women bikers need to carry their own personal feminine hygiene products as convenience stores are scarce the farther away you go from Leh city,” adds Vilma.
As this year, her team toured in September, the winter was just setting in. They had to manage zero degree temperature for a night at Tso Moriri.
"We faced challenges like bone chilling cold, low oxygen levels, slippery roads due to fine gravel, deep valley, narrow roads, roads without barricades, off-road sections, chilled water crossings and sand dunes. But the feeling of overcoming all the challenges and reaching what felt like the top of the world is an accomplishment that is satisfying and unexplainable," says Vilma and expresses her joy of achieving a great feat.
The mother-daughter duo reached Umling La on September 11.
“I have a few more adventure tours in the pipeline and reaching the highest motorable road in the world is just one among them, concludes Vilma.