I’ve been hanging out in Pokhara for a while now; it’s a lot busier than when I first arrived! Mind you I am still being tracked down the road by the “Tibetan Ladies Mafia” who for some reason still want to sell me jewellery.
When I’m in the bar of an evening you can tell which group of people have come back from trekking and which have yet to go, just by the look of relief and sense of achievement that is on one set of faces
For the last week I have done absolutely nothing at all. Well unless you count lounging and sleeping as something, which I don’t. So it was time for some punishment!!! Definitely cruel but not that unusual
In the morning I got on my bike and started cycling uphill (which is pretty much all you can do from Pokhara) heading along the road to the Sarangkot turn off. Sarangkot is a place I’ve been to once before, it’s where the paragliders take off from and overlooks the lake and the town several hundred metres below. As such I knew how steep the road was and yet I still turned left when I came to the turn off!
I would like to say that I didn’t start off in the lowest gear possible but if I did that I really would be lying. It’s about a 10k ride to the not quite top, but it’s where the road stops so that was good enough for me!
Oh dear oh dear oh dear….you can spilt the ascent into thirds. The 1st third was quite frankly steep. Lots of little switchback hairpins, each one just a little bit steeper than the last. In between each one was a stretch of road that just went up. A couple of times the road flatten out to an easy 12% incline but most of the time it hovered around the 15%-18% mark.
The 2nd third was just a long crawl with sweeping bends that tighten up on the apexes. Passing along tree shaded tarmac with glimpses of snow covered mountains and fast flowing glacial rivers beyond the bark. As the ascent got higher the road got steeper. Coming round one bend I looked up and thought to myself “this has got to be a 1 in 4” which I believe is 25% in the decimal way of thinking. Personally all I was really thinking was “f##k me” as I lifted my sorry arse out of the saddle and pushed the peddle downwards. I have to admit I did stop a few times, just to let my heart rate get back below 130 beats per minutes and make apologies to my legs before continuing.
The last third…well that was easy (ish). By now my legs had warmed up. For some reason it takes my legs about an hour to get up to “racing” speed, which is a really annoying sometimes…like today for instance! Around one corner, oh joy of joys, the road went downhill for a few hundred metres. However joy quickly turned to pain as once again the road continued its relentless uphill journey. The final kilometre was a tale of two halves with the final 500 metres definitely making up for the relatively flat 1st 500 metres.
When the tarmac gave way to dirt I stopped, my head drooped and the sweat dripped of the end of my nose.
Easing myself of the bike I got a cool drink from the nearby shop. The shopkeeper chatted away and then asked if it had taken me 20 or 30 minutes to get here. I replied 20 minutes but only if you add an extra 60! Bloody cheek!!!!
Once refreshed it was time to get back on the bike, sing the uphill song* and descend. 10k of downhill fun and frivolity followed and as I passed the half way mark I started to brake earlier and earlier as my brake pads got hot and started to fade big time. Near the end I was pretty much braking all the time just trying to slow down enough for the multitude of hairpin bends which nestled on the edge of large life changing drops.
Yes I know I could have stopped and let the pads cool down but where’s the fun in that!
The uphill song
This is why I go uphill, go uphill, go uphill
This is why I go uphill, to go down again
Going down again, I’m going down again
This is why I go uphill to go down again