(the mountain views make the hard work worth it.)
So cycling in Nepal is freakin hard. I’m actually kind of getting used to it, like you embark and then you’re climbing a freakin mountain and it’s like, just another day biking in Nepal! These mountains are so pretty though. On Sunday we rode past Fishtail peak, which looks like a big pyramid way high above everything else in sight. So after pedaling uphill for an hour, or sometimes two and a half, you’re rewarded with a nice long (yet relatively short) cruise downhill. So it’s half & half: half up, half down. I’ve accepted that. The worst, though, is biking for long periods of time at a slight incline, like 5 degrees, because that can go on forever with no reward, and you can barely tell it’s uphill except that under all the weight of the bike your body is pedaling so hard but you’re going so slow, and it really seems like it should be easier.
Sunday was actually my hardest day, as I didn’t stretch on Saturday, everything was sore and tired, and our final day of pedaling to Pokhara was uphill all the way as it’s pretty high in elevation, the last half was one of those subtle and endless uphills. Also, the roads on the second half of the 200km were noticeably narrower (so more harrowing with the buses) and the roads were bumpy and rough. Now I might finally understand what it might be like to run with [big] boobs, as riding over the ripply road made my load bounce endlessly, and it’s so annoying and tiring. And the roughness of the road makes way more friction. Anyway you get the point — this is not easy. But my ass is gonna look great.
I was about to lose it about 90 min from Pokhara. It was way hot and I was sweating bullets, I kept stopping on the side of the road as my legs were like “F you AP”, and I was cursing the buses as the road was too narrow and bumpy and buses were coming too close for comfort. My saving grace: on my headphones came Wesley Willis’ “Fit throwing hell ride” and, although he did not invigorate my tired legs, he gave me a huge smile that lasted for miles. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Wesley’s music, this song is about him having a schizophrenic outburst and yelling obscenities while riding the Chicago city bus, and then getting thrown off the bus and chased for two blocks by the driver. Oh Wesley, I love you!
Today we got up at 7am but somehow didn’t get on the road until 1. Big mistake, as we didn’t have very specific instructions on how to find this farm… it has no address. Our instructions were to find our way to the top of this hill and then ask around. We asked everyone on the whole mountain but nobody knew of the farm or the family name. Basically, from this high point on the road (5km up), you can hike up for 45 minutes by foot to a remote village. And from the village, it’s an hour walk. So basically it’s inaccessible by bike and at 4PM, when we got arrived here, we opted to turn back as we’d run out of sunlight. It’s still a hot debate how we’re gonna do this, if at all. We enjoyed the leisurely downhill cruise back to Pokhara (yay!) to check into a hotel and figure it all out. I vote for paying someone to haul us up in a pickup truck via a sketchy gravel service road, but Jamey wants to bike up the sketchy gravel road in 1st gear. We’ll see.
I haven’t even written about Pokhara. This town is great. We’ve been here for two nights, and now, tonight, for a third. It’s a pretty big city, with a fabulous huge lake, and a hip trekker’s (ie. touristy) neighborhood called Lakeside. It’s great b/c we can stock up on goods you don’t find anywhere else but the big city, and there’s internet. I just got back from playing ping-pong with a bunch of kids down at the lake (I beat 5 of them and then one bested me.) For the last two nights we were staying with a really cool couch surfing host named Prem, and his partner in do-gooding, Ragu. They run an organization called Vision Nepal which has all sorts of initiatives to better the life of Nepalese people, be it educating them about health and water safety, creating child day care facilities, protecting the nature and environment. He rules. I could go on about Prem, but it was so great just talking about his life and views, getting to know a progressive Nepali person who has one foot in the traditional life (with his wife and kids in the countryside), and his cosmopolitan foot in the city. Very very cool.
Yes, it’s dinner time! My cohorts have been on the internet at the cafe and I’m in the dark hotel room with my headlamp and laptop typing away (blackout time). But I’m damn hungry from that mountain, and so I’m off for one last night of city food before it’s Dhal Bhat for a week on the farm (including Thanksgiving! ): Don’t get me wrong, I love dhal bhat, but it’s no sweet potato pie!
I love you all! Gobble gobble, AP!