Here's a guest blog by Tony Moffa of Big Maggy's
: A Nepalese Adventure on my OPEN O-1.0
We set off from Jersey on 1st March 2014 via London, Delhi and then Kathmandu. A fairly simple 24 hours of travelling and some amazing views of the Himalaya's on approach to Kathmandu got us all sufficiently excited. There were four in our group and we arranged a private guide through H&I Adventures who did a superb job. In all, they had around 8-10 logistics staff running the adventure for us behind the scenes, including the two mountain bike guides throughout the 2 weeks. One guide to lead and one to follow, both hooked up with radio's and in constant contact.
After unpacking our bike bags and making sure my Open was safe and sound post-BA carriage to Nepal, we spent 3 days in Kathmandu valley and stayed in a stunning hillside cottage with an amazing view of the city at night. During the three days, we acclimatised to the 1,500 metre Kathmandu hills with some gradually increasing technical ride levels and a few 10-14 km long climbs to Monastery's with culture and history I did my best to appreciate. It's hard to explain if you haven't been to Nepal, but the simplest and most sedate views of anything just seem breath-taking.
Day 4 came and we took a ride of around 90km from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur, which is a medieval town protected by the Gurkha armed forces or 'Gurkhas'. The riding to Bhaktapur was superb, very varied terrain and gave us some clues as to what might lay ahead. Especially given that the guide, explained that whilst the riding so far was special.. the riding to come was off the charts! We hadn't even got close to the mountains yet.
We took a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara on day 6 and we got our first close up glimpse of the Himalaya's on board a small twin engined plane. Even though the mountains were still over 100km away, they stood tall around the airport as though they were a few blocks away! The scale of everything in the Himalaya's is almost mythical and movie-like. Pokhara served as a day off after the initial acclimatisation period so we got to enjoy a bit of culture (although not too much, we're mountain bikers after all if you know what I mean…). A microlight flight passed away from time on this rest day too and a massage at the spa hotel our guide selected.
Day 8 came and with it, a phenomenal flight over the mountains into Jomsom, a small town at 2,700 metres above sea level. The airfield is tiny and boxed in all all four sides by huge towering 5,000M+ mountains! The approach and descent to the airfield was breath-taking and quite scary! The plane, a twin-otter was loaded to the hilt with our bags, sherpas and bikes! Apparently, this is one of the world's top ten most dangerous airfields… after taxying in, we spotted the burnt out crumpled wreckage of a previous flight that clearly didn't make it! We didn't need to question the statistic..
What followed was a week long tour through the Annapurna Valley with the best trail riding I've ever seen in a magazine, let along ridden myself! From pine forests, to mountain climbs 18km long, to long hour descents and snow lined roads, laden with trekkers, yaks, mountain goats and various other wild animals.
The undoubted highlight of the whole mountain section of the trip, was a 2 hour hike-a-bike up to the ridge of a 4,300 metre peak. The experience was amazing, thrilling, tiring, cold, hot, windy, scary and then the most enjoyable riding ever experienced. A two hour descent off the summit down to the valley through natural switchbacks, free-ride and fast paced sections with sheer drops either side! The scenery was so striking and awe-inspiring, we had to stop periodically just to take it all in.
All in all, our Nepalese experience ranked at number 1 for mountain biking and cultural experiences. The food was superb throughout and the guiding and logistics by H&I Adventures (http://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/bike-tours/nepal
) were near-perfect and seamless.
If you have an Open - you need a Nepalese adventure to get the most out of it!