Still somewhat unused to actually having a full day off together, Kelly and I found ourselves at a loss as to what to do – after much overthinking, it was decided that the best thing to do was to get out of the city for a while. Now, how best to do this? We could walk, or get a bus, or join an organised walk/run, or we could hire a couple of bikes – the latter made the most sense, as we would be able to get out quickly, and so we went on a Kathmandu Valley day trip with Everest Mountain biking, who offered a 30km easy-moderate ride north of the city.
After some getting used to the fancy bikes (the disk brakes were a bit too effective), we set off from Thamel, slowly weaving through the traffic until we crossed the ring road into relative peace and quiet.
Within a very short time we were well out of the city – we ascended a gentle incline for the first 12 km, emerging from the smog, going round a hill and ending up in the very rural setting of Tinpiple.
At Tinpiple we left the highway/paved roads, and set off on tracks in between paddy fields. It was at this point, when trying to climb steep rocky tracks, that we realised quite what we had let ourselves in for. We are rubbish at this bit – constantly choosing the wrong gears, stumbling and tumbling over, and generally embarrassing ourselves. This went on for quite some time (with a stop for Chiya and Chaana Masala in a grubby roadside kitchen – Kelly was sensible, I ate all hers), until I started grumbling that I couldn’t go on much further due to various pains. It was at this precise moment that we arrived at the Thoka Bhagawati temple, where there were two big parties going on – a marquee of sorts had been set up on one side of the temple, with music and food and chairs, but tucked behind the temple below us was a more haphazard feast with much louder music and enthusiastic dancing. This one looked more fun.
After resting here for a while, we set off again, having been given the option of a longer, more challenging ride, or a more gentle one. I decided that the gentle one would be best, as I felt unable to commit to the longer one – I was glad of this decision as I got on the bike and, due to the aforementioned pains, felt forced to ride sidesaddle.
The journey was, in spite of my grumbling, a lot of fun. We headed out onto some more tracks, up and down hills, and onto the ocasional (blissfully) smooth paved road. We got a little better at going up the hills, and more confident going down again, and once more at my point of exhaustion a coincidental halt was called – our guide, Krishna, took us unto a little, umm, kitchen? Café? Bar? where we were served with Chhaang – this is a rice based “beer” which is apparently drunk by farmers to ward off cold and make them strong. It was good, and of uncertain alcoholic percentage, but my generous bowl (and half of Kelly’s) certainly made the journey back to Thamel go much easier than I had expected. I think I would do this again, but maybe only when I can get a bigger saddle/lungs/legs.