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Nov
07

Nepal 2001

Pokhara to Kathmandu 2001

If you like riding single track, then this is the trip for you.Starting in Kathmandu with an introduction ride up Nargarjun, if you manage to surface in time after a hectic first night in Kathmandu's clubs, the Jump Club and the Tunnel Club can be recommended. 

A two hour climb takes you to the top of Nagarjun, which at the right time of year will afford you spectacular views across to the Annapurnas about 40 miles to the North, this trip was in April, pre monsoon, and the views were spoilt by the haze, post monsoon offers the best views, which is October time.The ride down is a mix of single track and double track, enough to get you in the mood for what is to come or just tune in again, riding in the dry and off road.

A short flight the following day takes you to Pokhara, I then spent the rest of the day in bed recovering after another busy night in Kathmandu.

There were only six of us booked on this trip, myself,Alex from the States, who had never ridden off road before, trip leader Jamie Carr spent much of the first day explaining how to work the gears on her hired bike, Merick from Canada, Dave and Fiona from the Midlands and the Chris (The Haddock) from London, in addition we had a couple of Nepali guides to show us the way, these guys are fit and really led the way on the uphill sections, although their technical riding let them down on the single track descents.

The days riding usually starts and finishes early, to make the most of the cool morning temperatures, the first couple of days riding out of Pokhara introduces your to the Nepali country side, which is basically hills covered in trees, if there are no trees, then the hillside has been terraced.After a morning of climbing dusty jeep tracks the descending started with a rocky single track downhill, Alex was told to walk, as it was far too dangerous for her limited skills, she was more than happy to take this advice, initially refusing to believe Jamie intended to take us down the hillside on something even a goat would struggle on. 

It didn't take too long to establish that who could ride down hill and who could not, the Haddocks lack of technical skills did not however dampen his willingness to throw himself off things, or down things or over things,Merick, Dave and Fiona all rode at a good pace and Alex ran most of the downhill stuff, Jamie's P7 could mainly be seen disappearing down in a cloud of dust, so no change there then.

The longest days riding saw us being chased by a thunderstorm through the mountains, only the Haddock managed to make camp before the heavens opened, I was stuck in a village about four miles from camp with Ricky one of the Nepali guides who had just punctured, as he fixed this I was busy trying not to get dragged back to a Nepali house by drunken youngsters who had been busy celebrating their new year, Jamie and Fiona arrived next having completed the last part of the journey by bus followed by Alex with Lama a couple of hours later, Dave had sat this day out on the bus, his stomach had rebelled and the poor lad suffered as a result.

The temperatures were consistently in the 30s with 46 degrees on the day we rode across ????? bridge before staring the 8-mile climb to Gorkha.The views from the hotel balcony in Ghorka were tremendous and we were treated to a light show with a number of thunderstorms passing through the valleys below in the distance.

The days riding after staying at Gorkha had to be abandoned, the monsoon rains arrived early and would have made the valley we were due to ride down liable to mud slides, so after a road descent in the rain we travelled by bus towards Kathmandu, camping at Kakani on a hill top, waking at 5 in the morning to our first views of the snow capped Annapurnas.This area is basically around the rim of the Kathmandu Valley, most of the riding is short uphill with amazing single track downhills, much of which is overgrown making it kind of interesting as you don't realise until the last moment which way the track is going next, at one point we passed through an army shooting range, we paid our fee and the Helicopter gunships had a couple of hours off, resuming their target practice again after we had cleared the area

The final downhill from Nagarkot provided some of the biggest slides of the fortnight, wide dusty open tracks, perfect for lining the bike up on the approach to a bend, laying it over with a foot out speedway style and getting the tyres drifting, hoping that you manage to avoid the ruts that will snap you upright and high side you into the undergrowth.

The last night of the trip in Kathmandu once again was blur of activity, culminating in jumping from a hotel bedroom into the swimming pool, with the night staff of the hotel looking on, they seemed only too pleased tohave some entertainment.After a couple of hours sleep it was over to the airport for a Buddha air trip to Everest, the trip takes a little over an hour and at under £100 has got to be the easiest way of seeing the biggest lump of rock on the planet.

As the others packed their bags and disappeared to the airport I packed my bag and disappeared to a cheap hotel around the corner, where £3.00 bought a twin en suite room with TV.I was staying on an extra week to have a look round and do some more stuff.

On the Sunday Jamie, Matt (another holiday guide) and I rode up Nagarjun taking a more difficult route down before going to speak to some people about the rest of the week and organising some activities.

Monday morning and we were up early to catch the bus out of Kathmandu and I was ill, knocked sideways by something, most probably from drinking from a wet glass in a bar the night before.The bus trip was awful, bouncing around on unmade roads is not the way to spend a morning when you are feeling this bad, during the afternoon I slept, on the banks of the Bhote Khosi, one of Nepals finest white water rivers, Jamie and Matt disappeared kayaking, returning for another bus journey further up the river the Last Resort, a purpose built resort high on the banks of a gorge, some 10 miles from the Tibetan border, the only access being a steel rope bridge swinging above the river, some 500 feet below, and yes to make it worse you could bungy from the middle of the bridge into the gorge.After forcing some food down I retired for the night, waking the next morning feeling pretty much recovered.

Which was just as well cos we had a busy day ahead, by 8.30 we were walking further up the side of the gorge to go canyoning, a 270m descent down through a gorge, jumping the small waterfalls and abseiling the larger ones. The water was icy cold but the wetsuits and the adrenalin keep out the worst of the chill. 

Returning to the Last Resort we just had time to get weighed before lunch and Bungy.This was my first jump, but the nerves didn't really set in until the words "stand up and walk forward" were spoken, after strapping your ankles in nice and tight you take a couple of short steps forward, ducking underneath the handrail and standing on the small wooden platform, looking straight ahead, 3,2,1 bungy, fall forwards and head down for a 3 second free fall, another 3 seconds as the rope extends before being fired back up for the process to be repeated, truly fantastic.

On reaching the bottom I shake hands with Matt, who had gone before me and we both settled down to watch Jamie do the same, only whilst riding a bike, nutcase.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent kayaking.Having done quite a lot of paddling on flat water I was not prepared for the whole white water experience, spending a fair bit of the time upside down in rapids trying to get out of the boat and not get bashed about on the rocks too badly.Certainly more frightening than the bungy.

Friday, I rafted further up the river were the water was big, lots of grade 3, some 4 and a grade 5 just to keep it interesting during the course of the day we managed to loose our raft guide for a short time and fold the raft around a rock in the middle of a huge grade 4 rapid, we lost two people from the raft immediately at this point the rest of us managed to hang on until a rope was thrown to us and we were 'rescued' before pulling the raft off the rock using a pulley and rope system.

Another bus journey saw us arrive in Kathmandu after dark, another night in a cheap hotel, and the last, last night in Kathmandu for me, finishing in the Tunnel club about three in the morning, as we piled down the stairs on the way out I threw a switch on the wall plunging the whole building into darkness, exit very quickly.

Nepal is the ideal location for anyone wanting to walk, climb, bike, raft or kayak, just about everything can be booked when you arrive although there are plenty of companies offering any variation of these holidays and more.

Photos: http://howhardcanitbe.fotopic.net/c375142.html