Friday, January 31, 2014

Let's go ride a bike (up to the highest height).

I've been riding my bike quite a lot lately.

Today I had a leisurely, and very early, ride around some Kathmandu Valley trails with my friend Jenny Caunt from Himalayan Singletrack, and some quality "urban" trails too given the condition of some of Kathmandu's roads & alleys (Jenny incidentally is also a first class KTM/Thamel restaurant/food/Thungba "guide" and has pointed me to all the hidden hotspots).

Jenny Caunt on our early jaunt!

In the last couple of weeks I've done around 600km of riding, some fun, some training. 
I've got a little regular training route now, starting in Thamel, heading out of the city on sealed road for about Four miles (6km) on the Trishuli Highway to Mudkhu (heading West and then North-West). From there I head off on a short steep climb up a small dirt road to the left of the National Park checkpoint. This "Jeep" trail winds its way around the perimeter of The Nagarjun National Park, undulating up & down for ten miles (16km) to a small pass at Bhimdhunga; and a perfectly located Teahouse. I can then drop down in to Swayambhu via little farm tracks back in to the city for a total of about 38km. What I normally do though is have a cup of tea, turn the bike around, and head straight back along the same trail. This adds another 10 miles (16km) to the ride and includes a testing climb of about 3.5 miles. I have also discovered a few alternative routes along the way, some by trial & error, some by mistake, and some with a little local help. I also found myself a really great bit of technical singletrack, some of which was so exposed that I had to push/carry the bike. The consequences of a mistake are a little too high! I'm not too proud to admit that nearly released a chocolate hostage a couple of times! Scary! I'll be riding it again soon.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Taste of Nepal.

A Taste of Nepal.

Kathmandu has some amazing sights around every corner.

Sights, sounds, smells, and tastes all make up the delicious, myriad, flavour of Nepal. Although not all of the smells are that delicious!
I arrived in the permanently chaotic Kathmandu a little under three weeks ago, and it's been a blast. So much so that I haven't yet extricated myself out to the high mountains for some much needed altitude acclimation. The trails around the Kathmandu Valley rim are perfect for training, and the hub-bub of Thamel has been perfect for relaxing and having fun. The weather is warm (although the locals seem to disagree with me on that; 16-20 degrees Celsius is considered Winter in KTM. That's what we call Summer in England!) and the trails are dry.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Prologue: Yak Attack 2014. Here we go again!

Yak Attack 2014

Once more unto the breach...

The Showdown in the Annapurna's!

Yak Attack; the worlds highest mountain bike race. 8 brutal stages, 400kms. 12000mts of climbing. Heat, Cold, Altitude, Punishing Climbs, Hike-a-bike, Dust, Sand, Rock, Mud, River Crossings, Snow, Ice, Extreme Winds, Yaks!, and the mighty Thorong La pass - 5416mts.
Rightly considered as one of the toughest mountain bike stage races on Earth.
Devised in 2007, by the the devilish (but very nice man) Phil Evans of Extreme World Challenges, to showcase the talents of Nepal's phenomenal mountain biking community, and to test the mettle of the worlds hardiest riders. On both of those counts he succeeded! It is an awesome experience that tests not just your ability to ride a mountain bike but to challenge your ability to survive everything that The Nepalese Himalaya can throw at you. This isn't your common or garden stage race. Deprived of western comforts international riders find themselves in a remote, but spectacular, region; with minimal luxury, basic foods & facilities, harsh - saddle sore inducing - trails, the likelihood of "stomach issues", and debilitating levels of oxygen deprivation in the higher stages. It is a true test for the adventurous rider.