Stream of Bikousness

Ryan and Diana determine our route
Ryan and Diana determine our route
Another crazy ride, especially because I haven’t ridden for four or five weeks. Hence, this ride will be presented in stream of consciousness style.

Hoof it to the apartments, need to get there by 8. Borrowing Ryan’s bike. There! Diana says my halloween costume looked great, awesome. Here comes Ryan, and off we go! Mask on, run the gauntlet down Lazimpat. Taxi’s honking, motorcycles and mopeds swerving. Click-shift, click-shift, drop the chain to the higher gears, pedaling hard. Ryan slows, hand signals he’s making a move and jumps to the sidewalk. Our small peloton follows. Hard right to a back street, I screech to a halt to avoid a t-bone from a motorcycle. Back streets offer respite from traffic, mask off. Odors and smells, before muted or altogether not there press in: Bagmati river, Cinnamon and clove cooking somewhere near, motorcycle exhaust, Sel Roti frying right in a shop front. Fainter still, sheaves of harvested rice grain drying. push-shift, push-shift, bring the chain up to the easier gears…we’re climbing out of the valley, winding our way through the suburb backstreets.
Bamboo Bean Poles in the KTM valley
Bamboo Bean Poles in the KTM valley

Now we avoid different traffic; goats, small children, ladies with washed (or yet to be washed) clothes in baskets. Further out still now, the backdrop of buildings is gone, replaced by shorn rice paddies. The sun beats down, but the mountain breezes continue to cool. A lone prop plane whines up and out of the valley like a bass mosquito. click-shift, drop the front chain down to the climbing gear. Crap this is hard. It’s wash day apparently; everyone is washing hair, clothes, bodies at the community water taps. Little kids smile, wave and yell “helloo, where are you from?” and we answer back, wheezing “USA” and “Namaste” as we pass.
Our track through the valley on ride six
Our track through the valley on ride six
We pass herds of goats, random cows. The road has gone from pavement-brick-gravel-dirt in a matter of minutes. The washboarding throws me up and down like an off-balance washing machine. Ryan and Diana are far ahead. Finally I come to the final summit before the military check point and tea station. Sweating, steaming, like the milk tea before me. Those guys are sure to fall off the top of that bus…Chat a bit, savor the tea, only 25 nrs for the three. Diana heads back to town for Tihar festivities and we push on into the single track. Runny-go to get some speed and then up the hill side, push-shift, push-shift, pedal pedal pedal. Rounding bends, my pedals brush the mountain-side and the foreground shifts against the backdrop of the valley like a fish-eye lens…don’t make a wrong move or you’re over the side onto somebody’s roof!
Rice paddies, harvested, pushed down into artistic patterns by the harvesters
Rice paddies, harvested, pushed down into artistic patterns by the harvesters
The shade of the jungle is nice, the cicadas and birds soothing. Namaste to the folks washing laundry. Helloo to the kids. Firecracker reports echo on the valley mountainsides. Upward and onward, through the villages on the ridge, then back down the technical path. Villagers advise against it, “Chaina Bato!” Drop the seat, control my skid. Bail! Walk it down then back on again. Duck the water pipe! Walk across the stone bridge.
Ed on the single piece stone bridge after a technical downhill
Ed on the single piece stone bridge after a technical downhill
Back into the sunshine. Suck down my water some more. Across the northern valley and climb the next ridge, long and slow, winding and hot. Duck through the Pings (swings) that are mounted right on the path. Tihar celebrants are noisy, dancing is entertaining. Avoid the cows. Where are we? Pull out the GPS…oh crap. It’s late. Push across a new construction site and pop up into town. Brick roads no less! Ryan buys us a beer and magic masala chips. Dang I’m hungry. Scarf down a cliff bar to boot. Onward. Pavement! We backtrack a bit and then finally find our way to the main road. Zoom down the road on the downhill, uphill sometimes so slow that Tuk Tuks pass me. I see Ring Road and I’m done. Spent.
FIN.

2 Replies to “Stream of Bikousness”

  1. Beautiful commentary. I like “being there” in a nice solid seat at home. I was exhausted just reading about the ride; I can’t imagine doing it!

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