Following a night of bachelor debauchery for Grant, I went on a bike ride the following morning, EARLY. No Grant (surprised?), but our group did include Ryan, Ben, Katy and myself. We left the apartments and headed through the busy streets of Kathamandu. Still feeling the previous night’s rounds of pub golf, I was nearly set off my seat by a pigeon to the face in the outer suburbs! Fortunately I was wearing my mask and glasses, so did not get any feathers in the mouth 🙂
We made our way up the gradual slope of a foothill, the sun obligingly making an appearance for the most grueling, muddy part of our climb. We popped out onto a shaded part of the Trishuli Highway for a tea stop at the military checkpoint, just south of the entrance to Nagurjun. We coalesced, sweated, and enjoyed our tea and snacks. The tea energized me, and I was refreshed for our next leg, the jungle-edged single track that wraps around the southern slope of the northern foothills.
Up and up, around the bends, cool green foliage lapping my calves and pushing me closer to the edge, hiding our next corner. To the top, through a village and a swarm of dragonflies riding the breeze. Then down, down down into the valley again, into the mud. The hills are bursting with green now, the monsoon rains delivering ample water to the valley, the hills trickling even more down. The rice paddies are like glass in some places, brimming with water and the image of the foothills only broken by the countless stems of rice plants.
Falcons circle and then swoop and hop to catch frogs, women and men bent over and calf-deep in water, scooping together bunches of rice plants to harvest, an old man with hands behind his back for balance sloshes footfulls of water onto the clay embankment and slaps his foot down, all in one motion, smoothing and reinforcing the divider/walkway.
Nick breaks off 2/3 of the way through the ride, his tennis beckoning him. We push on, splashing through water features and finally into the mucky muck. I find a puddle too deep for my wheel and go sprawling into it. We navigate around construction crews of villagers repairing their roads against the onslaught of rain and mud from the season. Sometimes we spin our wheels in place, making less progress than the water buffalos we pass. Finally Ryan breaks a chain and bends the cog on his rear derailleur, rendering his bike useless for all but coasting.
Ryan jogging and us meandering, we made our way to Lazimpat where the route is all downhill. Ryan was able to coast moderately, and we helped him past pedestrians, taxis, tuk tuks and cows by pushing him with our free hands, a linked peleton of expats cruising down the road.
At the apartments we washed the accumulated sand and mud from our bikes and legs, then sloshing up the street to have a delicious Chinese food lunch at Chu Fang, where we met up with Diana. The ensuing monsoon rains washed away all but our fatigue. Amazing day.