Day 9: Race the jeep

Because a number of us wanted to ride unicycles instead of jeep seats, the tour leaders gave us the option to start off a bit early. We’d get to ride until the jeeps caught us; they’d give us about a 90 minute head start. Our view was that a kilometer ridden on unicycle was equivalent to a kilometer not ridden in the jeep, so we enthusiastically crossed the river again and headed off down the valley.

It was Nepali Down, of course; there was a ton of climbing, and the down sections weren’t exactly easy. We were also gaining heat, as the terrain changed from sub-alpine to sub-tropical, with banana plants and papaya trees.

Chris got a pinch flat and told me to go ahead, and riding at a consistent pace (gotta stay ahead of the jeeps), I had a good long stretch where I was alone on the road with my thoughts about the trip. It had been an epic, really intense experience, partly because the riding was difficult, but also because the travel was difficult. We had been in a place as remote as anywhere I’ve been on the planet, in a culture where I couldn’t hope to understand a spoken or written word beyond “namaste,” and we were dealing with real life risk. (Thankfully Bruce recovered well and stayed with the group for the end of the tour). I was glad to be riding strong on the last day (despite my knee), but I was also ready to experience a little bit of comfort. Most times at the end of a bike tour I wish I could just keep riding; here, I was ready to get home. I missed Nancy.

Eventually my photo taking allowed Chris to catch up, and we formed a mini-group with Stefan and Eric, with Gilby and Willy also hanging around.

Chris pinch flatted again and we were getting too tired to press on without him, so we hung out while he fixed it. He was out of water and a number of us were out of juice, so we stopped at the next roadside stand and had the best Fanta of our lives.

Just then, Blair rolled up in the jeep. We’d done about 23km in 4 hours, which is pretty good on that terrain. And we only had about an hour left to be in the jeep.

Tomas, Scott, and Corbin beat the jeeps to Besheshar, which was almost 40km in 5 hours. It was particularly impressive for Tomas, who was riding a 24″ uni with 150mm cranks.

We had lunch at Besheshar, then piled into mini-buses to hed off to Pokhara. THis involved riding almost all the way back to Kathmandu on a twisty road, and then getting on the main highway. Both experiences are a little harrowing in a Nepali bus. We got to Pokhara just at sunset, and in a surprise move, they brought us down to the boat house and took us out to the temple island, where a beautiful Hindu temple stood.

There, we ceremonially married Nicola and Natascia, who moved their wedding date so they could be on this trip.

A drive to the super-fancy hotel we’d booked (hot showers! toilets! power! working internet!), a quick shower and change, and we went out to the last group dinner, thanking everyone involved with the trip.

[flickr_tags tags=”unipal, day9″ tags_mode=”all”]

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