Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mountain Biking the Valley

NOTE: If any of the below links to GPS tracks do not load, try refreshing the page, or clicking on them anyway - it should take you to where the GPS tracks / photos are hosted.
The final adventure I've been looking forward to (aside from a final bout of food poisoning I am now experiencing in Kathmandu) was a multi-day mountain biking expedition around the valley. This country was made for mountain biking - and I need to come back and do more one day.

Day one was a nice leisurely 2 hour ride down to Kathmandu from Dhulikhel, on the back roads to avoid crazy traffic. Straight through the middle of Bhaktapur, including a cheeky dash through Durbar Square without paying the entry fee (hey I've paid it at least twice while I've been here, and I don't think the guy at the gate saw me).

Scotto and his -24 degree mountaineering gloves

I met Scotto in Kathmandu for lunch then we both tackled the 800m climb up to Kakani at around 2000m. Apparently Kakani is one of the best places to see the Himalayas from the edge of the valley, but we were treated to nothing more than mist - with the slightest hint of massifs the following morning. Oh well - we're here for the comradery and the mountain biking, not the views. Actually, that's not true... we wanted the views!!!

Liz and mountain biking MACHINE Freya met us at Kakani later that evening ready for Saturday's big ride.
This was the big one - less than 40km, but rough, overgrown single-track - with occasional snow remnants from the week before - followed by fun rough tracks that could sometimes pass for roads. The final kicker was having to descend to the valley floor 500 metres below for a final climb of 800 metres up to Chisopani. This was mostly done by us (and occasionally local kids) pushing the bikes. About 9 1/2 hours on the trail all up - tough, but a memorable day. Special accolades go to Scotto who made it through without eating due to happy fun food poisoning. It was about 7pm when we stumbled into Chisopani in the dark. Cold as it was, a beer was definitely appreciated.

Freya holding a snowball

Me, Scotto, Freya, Liz

The mountains finally showed themselves on Day 3 - waking up in Chisopani to some nice views. The trail to Nagarkot was mostly fun up and down dirt road with more views and dodging the occasional hikers (note - if you where an ipod while hiking, you may get the occasional shock - sorry!). We said goodbye to Liz and Freya halfway through as they went to Kathmandu. Scotto and I continued up to Nagarkot - a punishing climb, but after the 800 metre uphill walk from the day before, it was tolerable. The mountains were out at Nagarkot, and as it was only early afternoon we spent it relaxing. Kathryn, an EWB volunteer recently arrived in Nepal met us up there to take in the views as well.

Day 4 of 4 - Nagarkot to Dhulikhel

Woke up in Nagarkot to more fantastic views, so had to invade the roof of the nearby Fort Hotel to enjoy them. After the initial bitumen road climb (still painful!) today's ride was pretty much all downhill through pine forest and villages. It seems to be wedding season at the moment - I actually saw 4 weddings and a funeral.

Saying goodbye to Scotto once we'd descended (he was heading back to Kathmandu), it was back 'home' to Dhulikhel to clean my bike, pack up my stuff and get ready to head home to Brizzy.

A fantastic few days - I definitely could have continued on around the south of the valley for a few more. For another time I guess... for now it's goodbye to muesli bars and trail mix and back to Oz.

Some more photos...

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