Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beating the Winter Chills.

The best way to beat the winter blues is to be active and the best way to be active is to get out and ride your bike! But its cold I hear you say? Well here are some great products and solutions to keep you warm in the winter and to keep you riding your bike.

Conditions in Kathmandu during the winter are dry and dusty, so first let’s take care of the bike and its most important moving bits we call "The Drive Train" (Chain, Cassette, Crank and Derailleur’s). This is the part of the bike that keeps you moving and shifting gears effectively. So in this dry dusty season, make sure you use a small brush to remove the dust from these moving parts after riding and before riding use a Dry Chain Lube to keep your bike running smoothly. Wet lubes can easily "Gunk" up in the dusty Season!

Now what about you.....?If you want to enjoy winter riding then you have to have the right gear to keep you warm!

LAYERING UP
Base Layers- Base layers are good, tight fitting layers that go under your outer layers. They included a long sleeve top with a high neck, fitted wrist bands and a long tail that can be pulled down over your bottom region. Our advice is to buy the best quality inner layer you can afford, with this kind of thing quality is everything! One well made, well design base layer is a good investment.

COLD FEET
Our body looses most of its heat through the feet. So to keep them warm get some good socks, woolen ones are the best, but not too thick, if you wear to thicker socks, then you can reduce the circulation of blood to your feet which again can make your toes cold. Good shoes are important, not canvas ones, something a bit waterproof is good to keep out the cold air. Shoe covers are also a really good idea to keep your feet insulated and warm for riding. Funkier make some really awesome Micro fleece waterproof shoe covers with Lycra for a snug fit over your shoes.

HOT HEAD
We always wear a helmet when we go biking, yes its true, but a helmet alone will not keep your head warm. Try an elasticized cotton buff, or a cycling specific micro fleece head cap for really cold times. Make sure to cover your ears, another key point of our body susceptible to cold.

FROZEN FINGERS
Our fingers play a key role in cycling…we use them for braking and controlling the bike but they are always one of the first parts of our bodies to get cold. So gloves are the way to go. Here you need specific cycling gloves which are not bulky and will not impede your bike handling. Full fingered warm gloves which have a good tight fit and stretchable material.

ACCESSORIES
Leg Warmers and Arm Warmers are two great accessories for keeping you warm or warming up at the start of your ride and cooling down at the end of it. They are easy to peel on and off while riding to regulate your body temperature.

FROM THE OUTSIDE
A good top layer is essential to keep you warm. Stay away from  cheap rain coat fabrics as it makes you sweat, look for a light breathable outer layer that is windproof. This will seal in the heat, not make you sweat to much or overheat and make your winter riding enjoyable. Most cycling specific winter jackets also have nifty pockets to stash tools and tubes.

DON’T FORGET
Remember a few important things, getting wet will make you more cold and getting wet also includes sweat! So if you plan on doing a long hill climb, it’s a good idea to carry a dry top to put on for the downhill. Remember it’s okay to take your outer layer off while climbing, but make sure you put it on for the downhill, this is where you will get cold!

SAFTEY TIPS
*Helmet Fit – When wearing a cap or buff under your helmet, be sure to readjust your helmet fittings and straps to keep your helmet correctly fitted and safe. Many people neglect this.
*Light – In winter time with early starts, it can be dark, always carry a headlight or a cycling torch with you, don’t forget also in the afternoon the light fades fast, so better be prepared.
*Hydration – It’s common in winter for us to drink less, but just because its cold does not mean we don’t need water….always drink, always hydrate and keep your performance level great.

Drop by Himalayan Single Track to see our great Funkier Winter Cycling products.Online Bike Shop

Happy Trails.

Funkier Winter Base Layer

Full Fingered Riding Gloves

Micro Fleece Leg Warmers

Micro Fleece Head Cap

Winter Shoe Covers



Thursday, November 28, 2013

2014 SPECIAL MOUNTAIN BIKE TRIP - UPPER MUSTANG TIJI FESTIVAL



We have written May words before about the simple awesomeness of mountain biking in the Upper Mustang Region. This natural desert like area abounds with trails, single tracks and challenging passes with some very very spectacular scenery along the way. But to make it even more special, in the month of May, during the Full Moon the local people celebrate the Tiji Festival.  Tiji is one of the most colorful and authentic Buddhist Festivals in Nepal and it makes a special trip in Upper Mustang even more spectacular and memorable.



Its a three-day ritual known as "The chasing of the Demons" that centers on the Tiji myth. The myth tells of a deity named Dorje Jono who must battle against his demon father to save the Kingdom of Mustang from destruction. The demon father wreaked havoc on Mustang by bringing a shortage of water (a highly precious resource in this very dry land) and causing many resulting disasters from famine to animal loss. Dorje Jono eventually beats the demon and banishes him from the land. Tiji is a celebration and reaffirmation of this myth and throughout the festival the various scenes of the myth will be enacted. It is of course timed to coincide with the end of the dry winter / spring season and will usher in the wetter monsoon season (the growing season for Mustang).

Tiji comes from the word "ten che" meaning the hope of Buddha Dharma prevailing in all worlds and is effectively a spring renewal festival. Its a colourful festvvial of dancing demons, horse back riding and racing and many other local tradition, surely an added highlight to any mountain bike trip in the Upper Mustang Region.

ITINERARY

17th May - ARRIVAL IN KATHMANDU- Accom: Hotel Courtyard
18th May - KATHMANDU SIGHTSEEING & WARM UP RIDE- Accom: Hotel Courtyard
19th May - DRIVE TO POKHARA- Accom: Attiti Resort
20th May -  POKHARA FLY TO JOMSOM & BIKE TO JHONG (3550 meters)-  Accom: Teahouse
21st May - JHONG TO SAMAR (3660 meters)- Accom: Teahouse
22nd May - SAMAR TO GHAMI (3520 meters)- Accom: Teahouse
23rd May - GHAMI TO CHARANG (3560 meters)- Accom: Teahouse
24th May - CHARANG TO LO-MANTHANG (3810 meters)- Accom: Teahouse
25th May - LO-MANTHANG – Full Moon and Start of the Tiji Festival
26th May - LO-MANTHANG – Tiji Festival
27th May - LO-MANTHANG – Tiji Festival
28th May - LO-MANTHANG TO GAMI (3520 meters)- Accom: Teahouse
29th May - GAMI TO SAMAR (3660 meters)- Accom: Teahouse
30th May - SAMAR TO JOMSOM (2980 meters)- Accom: Teahouse
31st May - JOMSOM TO TATOPANI (1190 meters)- Accom: Teahouse
1st Jun - TATOPANI TO POKHARA- Accom: Attiti Resort
2nd Jun - POKHARA TO KATHMANDU- Accom: Hotel Courtyard
3rd Jun - DEPARTURE- TRANSFER TO THE AIRPORT


Monday, July 29, 2013

The Annapurna Trail- An Epic Mountain Bike Journey




Annapurna Circuit – 14 Days (Kathmandu to Kathmandu)
2103 Winter Season Departures Sept 16th , Oct 4th, Oct 25th
2014 Spring Departures – 5th April, 3rd May

Annapurna is a Sanskrit name which literally means "full of food" (feminine form), but is normally translated as Goddess of the Harvests. In Hindu Culture, Annapurna is  "... the universal and timeless kitchen-goddess ... the mother who feeds. Without her there is starvation, a universal fear." Not only is Annapurna the Mother Goddess, to us she is also the Goddess of Mountain Biking!

The Annapurna Circuit Trail is by far one of the most popular mountain biking journeys in Nepal. Its highly scenic path takes you around the Annapurna Massif, showcasing the spectacular scenery and mountain culture of Nepal along the way.  The crossing of Throng La at 5580 meters, makes this ride ideal for anyone looking for a mountain biking challenge in the Himalayas  which is featured in “Yak Attack” one of the fifth toughest mountain stage bike races in the world.

The inbound trail follows the Marysandi River as it carves its way through the gorge between Annapurna and Manasulu. Riding up the Valley, we halt for two nights in Manang, at an altitude of  3540 meters, this is an ideal place to rest and acclimatize before breaking the 4000 meter mark. Manang is home to the horse men and archers famous in the region and is a nice place to rest and explore with many possibilities for day hikes in the hills around the region.The region is mainly inhabited by the Thakali and Gurung People of Nepal who mostly practice the religion of Buddhism, given the areas proximity to Tibet. Spend some time exploring the unique mountain lifestyle and

The trail peaks at Throng La, a five to ten hour ascent from Throng Phedi, where you leave at 5am in the dark morning, climbing on wards and upwards on the snow covered trail. This is the day you will test your metal! This part of the trail is 100% carry. You reach up to 5580 meters, hold your breath here for some of the most amazing views in the Himalaya! Steal yourself the descent (The trail maybe snow covered)! Enjoy the ride as you drop down into the Kaligandaki Valley on the boarder of the fabled Upper Mustang Region.

The descent from Throng La must be one of the most thrilling 3000 meter drops in the world! A real challenge for any XC rider, no matter how skilled you are. Watch out for Yaks and Trekkers as you go speeding by down the holy temple of Muktianth. Stay here overnight or head on further down to the quaint village of Kagbeni. From here its two days of all downhill. Take the jeep track, of choose the side single track trails that explore the alpine forests and remote villages. You will be well rewarded for the days of uphill.

This ride is a gift of unforgettable images and memories, as you cycle along the ancient trade and supply routes you can almost lose yourself in time as if you were one of the original explorers of this area (though they were probably riding a donkey). You will also relish the challenge that the Annapurna Trail presents to mountain bikers, and let’s not forget the views are nothing less than spectacular and the village scenery truly inspirational.

PLANNING TO RIDE THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT? – HERE ARE SOME TRAIL TIPS

What to Ride- The choice is tough here. You don’t want to lug a weighty beast up the mountains, but it certainly would be nice to ride it down! We suggest you to bring a light Hardtail or an XC style Fully, something like an Anthem X is good for this kind of trip. Remember you might have to carry it for long periods of time. If you are bringing your own bike, bring along some spare parts, tires, tubes, hanger/drop out and perhaps a chain and derailleur. Most importantly make sure you are comfortable on your bike.

Does HST Hire out Bikes for the Ride? Yes we have for Annapurna 10 speed XTC Hardtails(US$18 Per Day)  and Giant Anthem X ($35 Per Day) for the ride. Bike hire includes all the bits and spare parts you will need and a helmet if you need one. We are also happy to put your own peddles and seats on the bike to make it more comfy for you.

GOT SOME EXTRA DAYS ON THE TRAIL - ADD IT ON

Ride the Yak - The journey is already epic, but make it more epic by adding on an extra four days and riding right from HST door step in Kathmandu and ending in Pokhara, just like the race Yak Attack. The journey to Besishar itself covers about 200km with over 5000 meters of climbing as you cycle through the Himalayan Foothills dotted with rural farms, temples and subtropical jungle. You will already feel challenged before you reach the mountains.
 
Raft the Kali - Just 12km from Beni is the put in place for rafting on one of the world’s most beautiful rivers, the holy Kali Gandaki (The River named after the goddess Kali the goddess of “Time and Change and empowerment”). This three day rafting journey is epic, taking you through the deepest gorge in the world and leaving far behind the mountains you have just ridden through. Camp out overnight on white sandy beaches, sleeping under the roof of a thousand stars.

Friday, June 7, 2013

KATHMANDU VALLEY – HIDDEN GETAWAYS


Paulines Guest House – Perfect Midweek Getaway

Tucked away in a mystical northern pocket of the Valley just above the Newari Village of Tolka you will find Paulines Guest House. Owned by two French ladies and their assortment of Dogs, Donkeys and stray animals, this is a delightful place for a mid week over night excursion. A forty minute ride after work can take you there, leave your bikes in the Garage at the village and walk seven minutes up to the renovated farmhouse. Four rooms, nice facilities and a completely relaxing environment make this a nice place to escape the stress of work. The food here is excellent, fresh, hearty and tasty, best washed down with a bottle of handpicked wine. Abundant trails make a nice option for a morning ride before heading back to the office.


Shivapuri Village Resort

Situated on the flip side of the Valley Rim, over Shivapuri National Park, this rustic resort is surround by dense jungle and enveloped in peaceful silence, sit back on the slate patio and lap up the Himalayan Views. The rooms are cozy all with fire places and the food and service is great. You can ride here from Kakani and then continue on down to Sundarijal the next day, or drive up along the newly made Nuwakot Road and hike or bike down the next day. A great weekend getaway.


Namobuddha Organic Farmhouse

Just outside the Kathmandu Valley beyond Dhulikhel you can find Namobuddha Resort. This beautiful place sitting on a rural hillside is back dropped by the Himalaya and the Namobuddha Monastery. Get in touch with your Buddhist side!  A beautiful place 4 hours riding from Kathmandu takes you over Lakuri Bhangyang and down to Pauntie. You can then return via jeep or ride back through Banepa, Nala and Bhaktapur.


Himalayan Single Track offers guided weekend and overnight mountain bike rides to all of these places. We love to showcase the great trails and the great accommodation right in our back yard. The more people that visit these places and keep them running the better we can promote mountain biking in the Valley and help preserve, develop and expand the trails for the future of all cyclists in Nepal.


If you are a local or an expat, get in touch with these great resorts for local and Xpats rates and enjoy a lovely time away with your friends or a romantic getaway with somebody special.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Muktinath - More than just Mountain Biking.


For many years now the Jomsom Muktinath route has been a popular biking trail and indeed it is an awesome ride. By all means rip up the trail, but don't forget to take some time out the explore the culture,environment  and architecture of the region. Follow our journey from Jomsom and Beyond.

Most people normally whizz through Jharkot on route to Muktinath, but take a moment here, meander inside the slate paved lane ways and wend your way to the 500 year old Sakya Monastry, duck your head and pass through the Tibetan Medical centre, find the young monk with the key and go inside the ancient monastry. The walls are hung with canvas and hand painted with the scenes of the seven hells and the all empowering heaven. A twelve foot tall golden statute of buddha dominates the room and small hand carved wooden benches are draped with Tibetan carpets where the Monks sit and chant. Butter candles beyond count light up the ancient chamber and make it glow with a surreal light. Climb up onto the roof top for panoramic views of Muktinath, Throng La and Jhong. Spend some time here and you will soon forget about the twenty first century.

Look left and right anywhere you ride in this region and you will see small hairy cows grazing the sparse alpine grass. Rather cutley they are called Loulous....super cute and docile, these tiny beasts produce rich, vitam fulll milk which the local people use to make butter, cheese and gee. Look to the roof tops of the houses and see the piles of fire wood, in this region wealth is gaged by the amount of wood you have stacked up. The limited rain full in the area makes a flat roof top the ideal place for drying wood.

Our modern bikes are a stark contrast to the simple surroundings of the people that live here,there worth   alone more than most families could conceive. Think about this as Nomads on ponies trot past you on their way to Muktinath where they participate in the local traditional style archery competition, a sport taken very seriously among village elders and youths alike.

The forgotten road on the opposite side of the valley to Muktinath cavres its way down the mountainside  and over frozen gullies, passing through the timeless village of Jhong on the way. The desire to ride fast tussles with the desire to stop and look and breath and feel this amazing place, the lush green vale with rolling fields of barley, the wizened shepards tending flocks of Changra (Mountain Goats) the sweet spring scent of apple blossom and the forboding snow capped peaks of Nilgiri and Dhaulgiri dominating the ever blue sky line.... " I dont have any words for this" is what Jevi our training guide said when we ask him how he felt on this his first time in the Himalaya.

Catch your breath after the 900 meter decent at Kagbeni, a visit to a Red House is a must to experience the true hospitality of the region where modern meets ancient. This contrast is no where more apparent than sitting on the balcony at Applebee's, sipping a cappuccino and staring down the valley to Upper Mustang.

Passing through Jomsom for most of us is just a pit stop for lunch or to get on or off a plane. But to enter this region you must carry a ACAP permint, most people pay little attention to what these are for. The Annapurna Conservation Permit monies go toward conservation in this uniquely diverse eniviroment. Conservation here is a never ending struggle between tourism, local people, developers, and poachers. Take half an hour and go inside the information office,say hello to the friendly staff and learn about the flora and funa of the area. If you are lucky, ask them to show you footage of the most recent camera traps located high in the Tilicho, Gai La and Mustang Regions and witness the elsuive snow leopards, which rangers say are actually increasing in numbers.

A half an hour battle with the head wind takes us to Marpha,a village secluded and forgotten since the development of the Jomsom Road, but not a place to be missed, do yourself a favour and help the local community by staying here overnight on your way down. While away and afternoon by exploring the meandering lane ways, discover the local style of architecture of the rock and mud houses, climb up to the monastery or venture up to the hermits cave high on the cliff above, if this does not help your path to enlightenment, the local Marpha Apple or apricot brandy certainly will...a famed product of the renowned apple growing capitol of Nepal, this stuff will knock your socks off! If you cannot stay the night, atleast drop by Neeru guest house, bask in the sunny garden and devour Didi's delicous apple pie...good fuel for cyclists.

Back on the road cross the river on one of the few hand made wood and rope bridges left in the region and enter the Pine Forest to the Tibetan Camp. From here the adventure begins, avoiding the road and the modern development it has brought, we venture along foot path and rocky trail. At times we have to carry the bikes up short steep inclines, or get our feet we in the icy cold Kaligandaki River, but this is all part of the adventure and the single track that follow is well worth it! This trail too is not just about the riding, look carefully as we drop down lower and the trees change, the environment changes and so do the people that live here. We cross from the Sherpa and Tibetain Culture into the productive Takali, Gurung and Muggar Lands. The trail is beautiful and almost forgotten, the mist laden mountains loom above and pine forests filled with birds line our trail along the holy river......

After Kalopani we drop down a bone jarring 1900 meters on rubble roads, past roaring waterfalls and into the subtropical jungle to Tatopani, this may be the end of the journey, but the memory will linger long after...

This is how we roll at Himalayan Single Track...not just mountain biking, but amazing journeys into the heart and soul of a region...





Thursday, April 18, 2013

MBLA Mountain Bike Guide Training





This month Himalayan Single Track was so happy to be able to bring Mr Al Seaton to Nepal so that he could deliver his invaluable guide and leadership training to our guides. Al’s company is Wheelie Cool Mountain Biking and he is an MBLA Tutor providing courses approved by the British Cycling Association that set the industry standard for mountain bike guide and leadership training. We are hoping that this was the beginning of a long term relationship with Al for training mountain bike guides in Nepal, not just for Himalayan Single Track but for all companies and tour operators.




The course was held at Life Cycle Resort in Hetauda, and we have to thank them humbly for providing free accommodation and meals for Al Seaton for the ten days he stayed in Nepal and also for the wonderful hospitality and food they provided to all participants of the course. Life Cycle and the surrounding country side was the perfect location for cycling, learning and making new friends. The best kind of classroom and super rider on single tracks.


The content of the course was an invaluable learning curve for the entire HST Team and we hope that we can use our newfound skills to improve the quality and most importantly the safety of the service that we offer our clients.


We work for the safety and experience of our clients and risk assessment planning is now part of every tour we offer, not just for the safety of the clients but also for the increased enjoyment of them. Guides can improve their confidence and skill in dealing with the clients and this will give clients a better understanding it’s an all round win win situation for Nepal, for tourism and for the guides and companies. Further more we can also implement our own localized training programs and create an industry standard for Nepal.


Team working for the future of Mountain Bike Tourism in Nepal was the key topic that came out of this.

Trail Side Repairs

The Tow-Rope

The art of learning how to Teach

Learning the Theory in the Class Room

Map Reading and Navigation
Practical Learning on the Trail






PARTICPANTS IN THE COURSE

Leadership
1. Santosh Rai - Himalayan Single Track
2. Jenny Caunt - Himalayan Single Track
3. Dawa Sherpa - El Yak
4. Mangal Lama - El Yak
5. Niraka Yakthungba - Life Cycle/Chain Bikes
6. Upendra Rana - Life Cycle/Chain Bikes   

Guide
1. Jeevi Limbhu - Himalayan Single Track
2. Bikash Shresta - Himalayan Single Track
3. Nikesh Kadha - Himalayan Single Track
4. Shyam Limbhu
5. Sonam Gurung - Life Cycle
6. Dinesh Shresta - Epic Bikes