India Details & Gear

David was born in Mussoorie and lived in India till he was 18, parents working as missionary admins and teachers. His Hindi helped in many ways, would have been a good but different trip without it. Always amusing to see people’s faces when he spoke. This was my first trip to India. His 5th since leaving in 1970 and second bike tour there. We started in Shimla, rode through mainly Himachal Pradesh state and finished in Dhariwal, Punjab state. 1216kms, 60,600 +/- ft elevation gain, 70,500 +/- ft elevation loss/descent. Temps ranged from below freezing to over 100deg F, and only rained about 8 days total. Sept 10-Oct 18, 2015 which was after monsoon season and before winter snows moved in.

About $3300 for 2-1/2 months travel including $1200 flight. India is fairly inexpensive if you stay out of the Western style hotels and tourist places. Big cities cost more of course and most of Himachal Pradesh is very inexpensive. I splurged on some beers, a massage and a couple nice dinners, plus some gifts for my daughter, but I didn’t overspend and came in at 75% of my budget (sold my motorcycle).

David had two hospital trips (Rekcong Peo, Manali) for an inhaler, anti-biotics and cough syrup and drops, some gut issues in Chitkul and Basunti, lingering chest congestion from wet Holland. My gut issues were after the bike trip while in Dhariwal and in Mussoorie, one hospital trip (Arpana Ashram) for anti-biotics/antidiarrheal meds. On the trip only had a cold in Chitkul/Sangla. No accidents but many near misses.


Khojana Wala India Bike

Khojana Wala, my trusty 25 year old mountainbike

Mine was a unsuspended 26″ wheel 1990 Novara Ponderosa I bought for about $180 and had Corey Thompson add S&S couplers, change to 1-1/8″ stem and a few other additions. Ran a packless system with a Nitto R12 rear rack to strap street shoes and dirty clothes on. Schwalbe Mondial marathon tires and Jones 710mm H-bars. Original 3×7 Shimano Deore drivetrain, hubs and canti brakes from 1990, Suntour brake levers and thumb shifters. Gearing was 46-34-24 and 13-15-17-20-23-26-32 hyperglide. Rebuilt wheels with new spokes, same 1990 era rims. Homemade coroplast fenders zip-tied on (fenders highly recommended – mud, feces from everyone, dead animals and other debris). No computer/GPS. Bike name is Khojana Wala, in Hindi it roughly means “the one who helps you get lost” or “the scout who helps you search”. Weighed about 31.5lbs without bags.

David had a custom Hinderyckx unsuspended 26″ wheel S&S bike with similar setup except a small Tubus rear rack and Arkel narrow panniers instead of seatpack. Front rack, generator hub for charging devices. He opted for drop bars, bar end shifters and 3×9 gearing, 46-24-24 and 14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30-34.

Both bikes worked flawlessly with only one light cleaning and some sporadic chain lube. No mechanicals (save David’s chainring bolt), no flats.

Gear (total weight between 30-40lbs):

Clothing (packed/worn) —
1 wool SS SIR cycling jersey
1 LS Smartwool wool zip-T
1 Smartwool wool tights (also ride tights)
1 SS Ibex wool undershirt – ripped
1 Saigon button-down SS shirt from the 50’s – rarely used
1 North Face button-down LS shirt
2 pair Nylon REI/NF zip-off leg pants (also ride shorts)
2 pairs Andiamo cycling undershorts (only needed one)
2 pairs light wool underwear (tore one)
1 Patagonia Torrentshell wind/everyday jacket (packable)
1 synthetic Patagonia nano puff jacket (packable)
1 NF nylon full side zip rain pant
1 Wool cap
1 Arm warmers
1 Leg warmers
1 Light wool gloves
1 pr fingerless gloves – rarely used
1 longfingered gloves
3 pair wool socks (2 short, 1 long) – one pair wore out
1 pr Shimano cycling shoes
1 pr Keen sandals
Helmet with mirror – never used
Black Diamond LED headlamp on helmet (3 AAA) – never used

On route bought:
1 LS cotton shirt
1 LS button down nice Kudi shirt
1 SS cotton t-shirt (replaced worn-out Ibex SS)
1 pr underwear
1 Sikh headscarf

Next time:
1 pair Pearl Izumi mtn bike over shorts or NF Libertine zip-off leg pants (as ride shorts)
Flat pedals and hiking shoes?

Sleeping —
Montbell 40deg Hugger downsleeping bag
Therma-Rest 3/4 air mattress
Silk sleep sack sprayed with permethrin bug killer – tore but repaired in Amritsar
Silnylon 8×10 tarp (plus line and stakes) – never used
Emergency bivy bag – never used

Camp/Personal —
Petzl LED headlamp (2 AAA, off bike)
Pack towel (M)
Old pack towel (wash cloth) – rarely used
Dr. Bronners
Tweezers (from tire repair kit)
Sun screen 30 SPF
Lip balm 30 SPF
Prescription glasses – broke nosepiece
Clip-on sunglasses & case
Boyle prescription cycling glasses & case
Emergency toilet paper/wet wipes
A16 mug with lid
Sea to Summit titanium spoon
SteriPen (2 AA)
McNett Aquamira – never used
Endurolytes – never used
1 liter camp bottle

Packing —
Cleaveland frame bag
Cleaveland front roll & pocket
1 Carousel Design seat pack
1 Carousel Design top tube pack
1 Osprey Manta 20 pack (holds 3L bladder)
1 Sea to Summit 12L dry bag (in front roll)  – tore hole in it
Jandd handlebar pouch (for camera and documents)
Nitto rear rack
Sea to Summit drybag and 2 old Chouinard stuff sacks
1 cardboard/nylon S&S case & bits – shipped or stored at destination

Tools —
Allen wrenches, 4, 5, 6 plus 8 for pedal removal
Spoke wrench, spare spokes and nipples – never used, but will keep
Chain breaker tool, spare links  – never used, but will keep
Chain lube
Duct tape, bailing wire – never used, but will keep
Patch kit, 2 glues, boot, levers – never used, but will keep
2 Spare tubes 26×1.75 shrader or presta – never used, but will keep
Mini pump/shrader & presta

Navigation —
iPhone 4s, wifi only
Cannon SX120SI camera (2 AA batts)
2 SD cards (16Gb, 32Gb)
Planet Bike taillight (2 AA batts) – used once, but will keep
Cateye Halogen headlight  – never used, switch to generator light
Coroplast splash guard mini fenders

Things brought and never used:
Extra Eagle claw brake pads (not much wear, not much rain)
MSR Water Filter (never required but would bring again)
Aquamira Water Treatment (SteriPen worked for all sources)
Gorilla tripod (too much bother)
Pearl Izumi balaclava (never THAT cold)
Cateye Headlight (had a Petzl headlamp)

Not brought, but may next time:
Sanitation pills for cleaning bladder – needed once
MSR 1.5L pot with handle
Primus Omnifuel stove (
Kovea LPG Adaptor (Lindal Valve output, propane small tank input)
Kovea Dual Stove Adaptor (Lindal Valve output, CB-type/Coleman input)
Fuel bottle (empty, fill in country or find 7/16ths UNEF thread LP cartridge)
Wind/waterproof matches in container
Garmin Etrex 30
Lumix DMZFC-200 camera with extra battery and charger (w/32Gb SIM, need bag)
Schmidt generator hub and Sinewave Reactor
Cables for device charging
GoPro with mounts

About Jon Muellner

Jon's Random Adventures. Cycling, Travel, Life and Other Stuff
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