For reasons that will become clear there only a few photos of this experience.
As we set off on our bikes from Shali Heights we were told that the view would have included snow capped mountains if it had not been raining. I am sure that proficient cyclists will tell you that rain does not really matter as you are using enough energy to keep warm. Unfortunately I am not a proficient cyclist therefore rain matters. Thankfully it did not last too long although showers stopped us drying out properly. The hills here are steep, really steep, far to steep for me to be able to cycle all the way up them. Well it is the Himalayas. Sanjay gave me some basic advice, which amounted to “Slow down, don’t hurry, take the speed from your breathing”. This advice was surprisingly helpful and I coped better once I gave up trying to keep up with Sanjay and Jo.
We cycled down 5k and up 26k. The last 7k was very difficult and I was mostly pushing the bike up the Himalayas with occasional bits of cycling when it was not too steep.
The next day was better. It was sunny and we cold see mountains ( anything under 3000 meters is considered a hill), and it was all downhill.
When I say downhill I mean downhill Himalaya style. We cycled 37k during which we defended 1750 meters. I made up for pushing the bike up the Himalayas yesterday by chasing it down today. The difference between being in control and not is very small. Dusty roads, boulders, pot holes, cows and the occasional bus or lorry kept the concentration going.
On the way down we passed a christian church. Inseams that an Englishman settled in the village and brought some apples with him. The introduction of apples transformed the local economy and the villagers let him build a church. Most surprising was the stained glass window. It was like stepping into a19th century England.
After the cycle we had the most extraordinary drive of 7 hours along the Tibetan Highway.
It was the main trade route with Tibet until the Chinese invaded and the trade stopped. The road is still busy with lorries taking provisions to the villages near the Tibetan border and busses taking children to school and people to work.
The road started well but by the time we had got halfway it could only be described as an off road experience. At one stage we passed a bulldozer which was trying to stem flood water that was coming down the cliff face and washing the track away. The bulldozer took up half the track so we passed on the other half. as we crossed the stream of flood water I looked out of the car window I could see the mud on the edge of the track crumbling and being washed down the cliff on the other side of the track. We had about a meter of clearance from the crumbling edge and the huge drop.
It was dark long before we arrived in Kalpa and we went to bed exhausted with no idea of what we would see when daylight came.