Quite a while ago now both Naomi and myself had joined a cycle trip called The World Cycle Challenge, unfortunately it never actually went ahead and I subsequently put out a call on the Facebook page asking if anyone who’d signed up for it was still up for a cycle trip, Naomi was the only one who said yes !!
Naomi then spent months planning the trip and as part of that trip we’d signed up with a company called Exodus to cycle from Lhasa to Kathmandu, again we were left disappointed when at the last minute we were told that the Chinese would not issue us visas !
We decided that we would still come to Nepal and having done so we contacted a Nepalese friend in the UK, Navin Gurung, through his contacts Dinesh and Deepak we sorted out our Nepal cycle experience, complete with Nepalese cycle guide will now be cycling the Annapurna Circuit, sounds ok until you realise that we will be cycling over Thorung La….. The highest mountain pass in the world at 5416m !!
Our original trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu was going past Everest base camp at a mere 5200m, I was nervous then so you can only imagine how I feel now, the trip will take 17 cycling days with a days rest and acclimatisation in Manang, let’s hope that both Naomi and I are as fit, determined and downright bloody stubborn as I think we’ll need to be !!
In preparation for this adventure are Nepalese guide Roshan took us on a three day cycle trip out of Kathmandu to Nagarkot, over night there then on to Dhulikhel for another night before returning to Kathmandu for a rest day, we will leave at 7.00am on Sunday morning for the first stage of 73k,
The road out of Kathmandu goes out past the airport and is extremely busy with just about every conceivable mode of transport known to man and a few that probably shouldn’t exist at all !
Of course added to the hectic roads and constant noise of horns there is also the uncomfortable dust and pollution and hot humid weather to contend with, thankfully at least we had someone to show us the way so all we had to concentrate on avoiding accidents 😉
Shortly after leaving the outskirts of Kathmandu we turned left and headed for Bhaktapur, the scenery changed dramatically as we were heading into more rural areas…
The Elephant Head Hotel, our accommodation for the night 😉
We were made to feel very welcome and although as you’d expect the accommodation was basic it was also clean. The best bit though was the view out of the window….
Not bad is it ??
Both Naomi and I took the opportunity to have a chill out afternoon, we’ve not had that many since we started in July, I sat and posted photos to Facebook and wrote my Kathmandu blog and pretty soon it was dinner time, great food, all Nepalese and lots of it !!
As we’d decided to get up early the next morning to watch the sunrise we retired early, 5.30am and the sound of the alarm clock woke me from a fitful sleep, we dressed quickly and went downstairs to the terrace to watch the sun come up…..
The full album of this wonderful moment is on Facebook, if you flip quickly through the pictures it’s like watching the sun come up 😉
We actually went back to bed for an hour or so before getting up again for breakfast, I settled for the scrambled eggs but I think Naomi made the better choice with the Puri Bhaji, looked good and tasted better apparently 😉
Soon we were all packed and setting of in the direction of Nagarkot Tower, as you’d expect more hills, about 5k uphill, a great way to wake up though !
Reaching the top we came across a group of mountain bikers from Peru, they were having trouble fixing a slashed tire so myself and Roshan stopped to help them….
Good bunch of guys, they got going again but later that day the badly slashed tire failed again and they hitched a lift back to Kathmandu on a truck, riding on top with there bikes !!
After a quick drink we also headed on down towards Dhulikhel, the road was not paved and although started in quite reasonable shape it didn’t last long and our trusty bikes and there suspension we’re put to the test…
Naomi tackling some of the worse roads, not great on touring bikes with panniers !!
Fortunately the road to Dhulikhel was not all unmade roads and finally we turned left of the dirt road back onto paved road, still not perfect but a lot easier 😉
We cycled through villages that look shut…
Until we reached Dhulikhel, a bustling tourist town with lots going on, loads of traffic and the ever present noise of car horns, we fortunately were not staying in town and Roshan soon had us heading out the other side of the town and uphill again, as we rounded a bend we saw this..
And as we ate we watched the sunlight on the hills and valleys transform the landscape every few seconds, what a wonderful day, after lunch we showered then joined our guide Roshan for a walk.
The road outside the hotel arrives at a point where you almost get a 360 degree view of the landscape, quite breathtaking, we decided there and then that we’d wake early again and cycle to this spot to watch the sunrise. In the meantime we watched the local children playing with the goats, they looked so happy…
Come on, tell me they weren’t worth waiting for 😉
A gentle stroll back to the hotel and a chilled out afternoon before yet another fantastic dinner, the hotel had a group of business men in for a seminar and had laid on a Nepalese buffet, fan bloody tastic !! Several trips later I was stuffed and happy !!
Early to bed again and up at 5.30 again for the sunrise….
It was worth the effort !!
Back to bed again for an hour before rising to a good breakfast of scrambled egg and sweet milky coffee 😉
Then the ride back to Kathmandu, mostly downhill through Dhulikhel and on towards Bhaktapur, the scenery to start remained rural but threw up a surprise with this…
A huge statue of Shiva, overlooking the valley !
Soon enough the rural landscape disappeared and we found ourselves heading back into the city, noise, pollution, traffic and constant car horns heralded our arrival back in Kathmandu and we were soon at our hotel. We said goodbye to Roshan and checked into our hotel for the two nights before our main trip starts. A quick shower followed by lunch in the courtyard and we were ready to go shopping for a few essentials, first up spare tyres, after seeing what happened to our Peruvian friends we decided this was a must !!
We were pointed in the direction of a bike shop called Dawn to Dusk and a guy called…
Sonam Gurung, he’s a bit of a legend out here, he’s completed the Annapurna Circuit and Lhasa to Kathmandu and the Yak Attack countless times and also competes at a high level on MTB, the best thing though is that he keeps a book, all the people that come to his shop are people like Naomi and myself, people on a journey, long journeys. Some people at the end and some midway and some just starting, people from all over the world on all sorts of bikes and all with tales to tell and they tell them in Sonam’s book, they leave photos, business cards and write a few words about there adventures. Naomi and I were kindly asked to leave ours to, one day I hope to be worthy of our inclusion in this book !!
As we sat and read the stories and drank tea with Sonam we were inspired all over again and our belief in our ability to complete the Annapurna Circuit was renewed 😉
A perfect end to a fantastic three days.
Naomi and myself with Sonam.
Well that’s it for now, tomorrow morning we’ll be leaving for our most demanding ride yet, we have no idea when we will get a chance to blog or post photos but you can bet that they will be some of the best and most hard won photos yet !!
Till next time, take care 😉