Briefly Back on the Bikes

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Landmark Hotel

Flag of Nepal  ,
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What a cracking day for all 5 of us!

Getting dressed in cycling gear for a day's mountain biking was very strange and I was actually really nervous that I wouldn’t be any good and/or would have lost all my fitness and show us up! Mikey had also been so ill in the night that I wasn’t sure he would make it. After a small breakfast however he said he was good to go and, after stocking up with chocolate bars and sweets, we set off to meet our guide. The mountain bikes felt very strange and mine felt like a child’s bike until after the first 20mins I put up the seat! Our guide Dal set a great pace and by the time we reached the bottom of the long climb to Sarankot I was feeling more confident. He said it was 6 miles to the top and we could stop or speed up as we liked. Despite the fact that it was insanely steep (definitely not possible on our bikes with panniers) neither of us had any problems and our guides actually suggested we stopped for a rest. We did get a bit breathless near the top, but I think it was altitude as much as effort. The views were the best we’ve had and so worth the climb.

               Even better, when we reached the first paragliding take off point and stopped for a look, the Blue Sky Paragliding bus turned up and the last passenger off was none other than Daniel! He hadn’t expected to fly today, but had suddenly been given the opportunity and jumped at it. Dal said it was absolutely fine to stay and watch him take off and I was glad because despite feeling much better, Dan was still looking shaky. They weighed him at the paragliding centre and he has lost 9 kilograms. He was also nervous about being in the air and away from a toilet for too long! Despite looking a bit nervous before he got the gear on, as soon as he did some practise manoeuvres, Dan looked totally at ease. He took off without a backwards glance and I sighed with relief.

                Cycling along the top of the mountain ridge was spectacular and the downhill amazing fun. It was at this point that Dal came into his element and raced off down ridiculous rocky tracks, leaping over trees and speeding along impossibly narrow ledges. I think he thought we were a bit more capable than we actually were after our prowess uphill, because there were definitely  points when he should have warned us about near death obstacles and Mikey ended up going over the handle bars and landing with the bike on top of him at one point.  Some of the bits he said were very 'technical’ (for this read totally uncyclable, rock covered, vertical descents)  I happily carried my bike for. Mikey did nearly all of it though and had a brilliant time.

                About halfway down Dal pointed out his family farm and asked if we wanted to visit – yes we did! It was incredible to see how he had grown up, in an area totally unreachable by car. His dad greeted us with a gorgeous smile and handshake and made us some milky Nepalese tea while we played with his baby goat and tried to get Dal’s baby nephew to smile at us. It was amazing to see how self-sufficient they had to be up there, and we could see a loft stacked with food for the winter. Later in the cycle we saw women carrying huge sacks of salt up the rock face to the village. No wasting food after you’ve trekked 5 miles uphill with it. Before we left Dal packed his backpack with home-grown spinach and filled his water bottle with yak yogurt.

                Returning back to the bikes, they were being looked after by giggling village children. Further down, we passed a school which Dal said had been his. All of the children shouted and waved – it was either break or they weren’t very well controlled! Dal said that when he was little trekkers used to pass the school and they would all tell them to go the wrong way. Only stopping for a quick beer at the landing spot on the way home, we arrived back at the shop tired and hungry, but with a massive sense of achievement.

                Back at Landmark, Mum and Dad had had a brilliant day chilling at the landing spot watching Dan land twice. Mum had discovered the hotel there serves lovely white wine perfect for lazy lunches and so was in heaven. They seemed to have chatted to everyone there and found out what the owners and most of the guests were up to.   Most amazing are the hawks they keep there, which somebody has trained to fly with the paragliders and help them find the thermals they need. They’ve even got a couple of rescued vultures helping out.

                When Dan finally got home, he had also had a brilliant day, and was able to come out and eat with us for the first time.  We had a family meal, by the fire in Moondance and Mum and I got stuck into the Mojitos again – delicious. Feeling sick, Mikey stayed in bed, but as there was football on, he was pretty content and probably glad to have some peace and quiet after 3 weeks!
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