Life is a journey .... enjoy the ride!
Planning a trip or holiday usually brings a thirst for information about what we will experience and what we can expect when we get there.
We think our “Cycle Across the Roof of the World” trip is the adventure of a lifetime and we are pretty sure that most of the passengers who have done the trip would certainly agree.
- “Loved it, not sure about the yak butter tea!” (Yvonne Armstrong, Sept. 2007)
- “The trip was very physically challenging,but it was the experience of a lifetime.” (Scott Goldsmith, Sept 2007)
After leading our September 2009 trip (the first after a forced 18 month hiatus), Bike Asia co-founder and director Scott Spencer wrote the following account of just one of the many awe-inspiring days he experienced.
Notes from the Road – Tibet: A Mountain in Memory.
Crossing the Himalaya by cycling from Lhasa to Kathmandu across the Tibetan Plateau is an unforgettable journey that looms large in the imagination and lingers long in the memory; it is also one of the iconic cycling adventures on the planet. For me the great thing about this trip is how it unfolds…each day becomes increasingly dramatic: the people get hardier but friendlier, the landscapes ever changing and increasingly vast, and the mountains bigger! The start point and ultimate destination, Lhasa and Kathmandu, couldn’t be more different but are equally exotic and culturally fascinating. Sure, there are highlights but also there are so few lowlights that the whole experience is an ongoing joy. One of these highlights is definitely the expectation that builds each and every day as you edge closer and closer to Mt Everest, or Qomolangma to the locals.
The day we were to climb Pang La (pass) at 5200m was a near perfect day – few clouds and the promise of another endlessly deep blue Tibetan sky. The rising sun warmed the ridgelines and also our expectations for what would be our first panoramic view of Everest. Spirits high, we left our picturesque campsite by the banks of the clear-flowing Lolo River and quickly warmed the legs on the incredibly smooth and sealed Friendship Highway to a military checkpoint outside the small village of Shegar. The open plains and islands of ridges were a blend of ochre, pink, cream and muted orange almost as if the sunrise had been stirred into a land made of yak butter. Soon after getting the looks “up and down” and, eventually, the nod from the Chinese officials we turned off onto an unsealed road. Before us lay a never ending snake of a road that climbed through endless switch-backs, high into the sky. With a quick “cuppa” and a snack we hit the climb, 1100m up over 20km of road to the top.
As a cycling leader you learn to tell when people are looking forward to something; when the anticipation is high. Sometimes it’s excited, chatty talk; sometimes it’s a quiet focus; sometimes it’s laughter; sometimes it’s tears. This time it was all those things as people sought out their own way to meet the challenge of the climb and the emotion of coming face to face with the object that many feel symbolizes this tour: Everest. Breath-taking views echo the breath-taking altitude on the way up but the heart still manages to leap at the sight of the prayer flags fluttering in the chilly breeze marking the Pang La pass. Just over the rise and laid out in front of us, it seemed almost close enough to touch: Mt Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu like a postcard and as white, bright and wide as our smiles. Even here, the locals had set up tents and were serving hot cups of yak butter tea and selling trinkets.
The biting cold was eventually enough to pull us away from the view and back onto the bikes. A dizzying downhill over 40km’s took us through more endless switchbacks and rural villages where farmers would throw up their hands waving as we sped past. Into tunnels cut-through ridges, past ancient fortresses growing out of the rock-face, across pebble-strewn glacier morass and down tricky sections of jeep-track. The sun was low on the horizon as we rode into camp with the smell of dinner in the air and a cold beer on the mind. We were spent, overwhelmed and utterly satisfied. It was then that one of the participants jokingly remarked, “After that day I can hang up the bike now… I’ve done it all … time to try a new sport as there’s nothing left to top that!”
This was a day we’ll never forget, but I knew there were more equally as thrilling days yet to come!
Get in quick to book your spot on our next Cycle Across the Roof of the World trip departing on 24 April 2010.