Fat tires, a soft padded seat and 17 more gears than the average Nepali bike –the mountain bike is ideal, go anywhere, versatile machine for exploring Nepal.
These attributes make it possible to escape sealed roads, and to ride tracks and ancient walking trails to remote, rarely visited areas of the country. Importantly, they allow a liberating freedom of travel-you can stop whenever you like-and they free you from the crowded buses and claustrophobic taxies.
While the heart of the Kathmandu valley is too hectic and traffic-congested nowadays to truly offer a fun biking experience, the fringes of the valley are another story and they quite possibly offer some of the best and most consistent biking in Nepal, with a dense network of tracks, trails and back roads. A mountain bike really allows you to get off the beaten track and discover idyllic Newari villages that have preserved their traditional lifestyle.
Many trails are narrow, century-old walkways that are not shown on maps, so you need a good sense of direction when venturing out without a guide. To go unguided entails some risks, and you should learn a few important words of Nepal to assist in seeking directions. Bring a map and compass or at least a GIPS-enabled Smartphone with a map app.
Most of the bicycles for rent in Nepal are low-quality, Indian and Chinese mountain bikes, not suitable for the rigours of trail riding. High quality front –shock, 18 gears mountain bikes are better.
If you bring your own bicycle, it is essential to bring tools and spare parts, as these are largely unavailable outside of Kathmandu. Established mountain-bike tour operators have mechanics, workshops and a full range of bicycle tools at their office.
Nepali roads carry a vast array of vehicles-buses, motorbikes, cars, trucks, tractors, holy cows, wheelbarrows, dogs, wandering children and chickens, all moving at different speeds and in different directions. Traffic generally travels on the left-hand side, through it’s not uncommon to fine a vehicle approaching you head on. In practice, smaller vehicles give way to larger ones, and bicycles are definitely at the bottom of the heap.
A few intrepid mountain bikers have taken bicycle into trekking areas such as the Annapurna Circuit and, more recently the Manaslu Circuit, hoping to find great riding, but you have to be prepared to carry your bicycle for at least 30% of the time. In addition, there are always trekkers, porters and local people clogging up the trails, Sagarmatha National Park doesn’t allow the trails should ne high priority when cycling.
Tight –fitting lycra bicycle clothing night be functional, but it’s a shock to locals, who maintain a very modest approach to dressing. Such clothing is embarrassing and also offensive to Nepalis.
A simple way to overcome this is by wearing a pair of comfortable shorts and a T-shirts over your bicycle gear. This is especially applicable to female cyclist, as women in Nepal generally dress conservatively.
Trails are often filled locals going about their daily work. A small attached to your handlebars and used as a warning of your approach, reducing your speed, and a friendly call “Cycle is coming” go a long way in keeping everyone on the trails happy and safe. Children love the novelty of the bicycles, the fancy helmets, the colors and the strange clothing, and will come running from all directions to greet you. They also love to grab hold of the back of your bicycle and run with you. You need to maintain a watchful eye so one gets hurt.
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