In the remote Himalayas of Nepal, life can be challenging on a daily basis. Yet, there are certain tribes who are living in peace and harmony in these hostile environments. To find these tribes I’ve had to travel to the Manang district of Nepal sitting at 3519m.
Growing up, I’ve heard stories about the heavenly beauty of Manang and seen images too. However, little has been researched about its people and the region. Perhaps, the remoteness of Manang, the rocky mountains and the constant change in weather make it hard to access let alone research. Hence, it would only make sense for me to go and find out first hand, everything I can about Manang. Riding a bike in the high Himalayan rocky terrain is definitely on my bucket list of adventures. Annapurna Conservation Area is linked to Manang with a trail which was completed in 2011. This is the route we will be cycling up to reach Manang.
BIKE (HIMALAYAN SINGLE TRACK)
As with any project, planning is very important. This route was going to be challenging in terms of weather, altitude and the rough terrain of the Himalayas. After countless research and meetings with Mountain Bike Enthusiasts, I finally found myself in the store of Himalayan Single Track, located in Thamel. This bike store serve fully customised Mountain Bike Tours all around Nepal. They are also the only licensed distributors for GIANT Bikes in Nepal and have an authorised workshop for all kinds of repair and maintenance. Here, I met with the director of the company, Santosh Rai who is one of the nicest and aspiring guys I’ve met. A brief meeting led to couple hours of conversation. This really gave me an opportunity to understand his reason behind starting up this company and more importantly his dream to make Kathmandu a Go-Green cycling metropolis. To know more about Santosh Rai and his company, please click the link below.
THE CYCLIST OF THE HIMALAYAS – SANTOSH RAI
First things first, I got myself a Giant MTB Trance 2 from Himalayan Single Track (more on this down below). A very light MTB with full suspension is the perfect match for the rough Rocky Mountain trails for a better ride compared to a hard trail bike in my opinion. I seriously recommend to get the Full Suspension MTB which makes a huge difference for a long ride on the Annapurna Circuit. I was also given a quick induction on the bike and with the repair tool kits.
Other support I received was from Switchback Apparels who provided me with cushioned tights, gloves and a cycling top. This company are the only licensed distributors for FOX gear and products, located in Sanepa, Laitpur.
Pack light, Pack Right would be my only words of advice.
From wearing lightweight basics in the green valley on the beginning of the journey to layering and puffer jackets up to the higher cold altitude in the rocky mountain is very important. A Cap, a pair of MTB gloves, riding sunglasses and wind/waterproof jackets and trousers are key pieces as they can double up for layering to keep warm. I took 3 sets of cycling outfits, one puffer jacket, one rain/windproof jacket, a pair of trainers and hiking boots. Cotton stays wet and extracts heat from your body. So I’d advise to leave it at home. Any extra clothing is strongly discouraged. The Weather changes within a matter of seconds as you incline higher. Hence, one main tip I’d give anyone is to always ask the hikers and cyclists coming downhill regarding the weather upwards towards your destination. This will keep you one step ahead in terms of preparation.