Manakamana Madness

Hoisting the bikes up onto Mandil's car
Hoisting the bikes up onto Mandil's car

What could be better than a ski trip? Well, a lot in my book, but for argument’s sake, this trip. A three-day weekend road trip to Manakamana with a few of my closest friends and our mountain bikes!

Mandil driving his 25 year-old Mitsubishi Montero with a custom bike rack on top, Ryan, Tim and I bundled up, we hit the road early on Saturday and got to Riverside Spring Resort by mid-morning. We checked in and dumped our stuff, and suited up for the 2k jaunt over to the cable car. This austrian-built cable car system, in service for fewer than ten years, takes riders up some 3000 feet to the temple at about 1500 meters. Typically the locals go up and back, a ticket being good for an up and return trip. Dedicated worshippers bring a sacrificial goat and the staff puts it in the open-roofed metal “goat car,” giving the goat-owner a luggage claim tag (the other one attached to the horn of the goat) of sorts. This is where we put our bikes. It really is like a ski trip; you’ve got lift tickets, your gear which you’re more than happy to lug around because of the fun to come, getting to know your favorite downhill trails, etc.

We reached the top in time for lunch, which was of course dal bhat a la Thali; seconds was too much for the ride we’d take, but was irresistible. Lunch over and done, we hoisted the bikes on our shoulders and walked up the series of staircases, past the temple (we worship the trail), and up more stairs to the summit in town. We zoomed down the steps and peeled out away from the village, cutting cross country, tracing the jeep track cut into the side of the mountain. Nothing obscuring our view of the Trisuli River three thousand feet below save the haze.

After 20 minutes we reached the downhill portion, and swooped down the vehicle track, rattling through villages at speed, our bike bells and Mandil’s yell of “bato bato bato” (road, road, road) scattering kids playing marbles and making Didi’s giggle. We descended and explored trails and other possible routes down, searching for the elusive shortcut. Some three hours later, around 4, we crossed the Trisuli on a suspension footbridge at Barbang Khola (the village of barbang’s stream) and had a soda. Another few kilometers back to Riverside Spring Resort. Frisbee on the beach of the Trisuli. A hot shower and some whiskey and cards, a chinese-themed dinner. Too bad the pool is empty for the winter.

The following morning, Tim and I peeled out early to get a short ride in before Matt, Jeff and Rich were to show around 11. We ended up cooling our heels at the top of the village for a bit, the whole crowd showing up by 10:30, and we did the medium ride again.

All in all, we got in four excellent rides over the three days, had some excellent food and enjoyed each others’ company immensely. I need to take Jean and the kids there for the scenery, the playground and the pool.