Cycling through the Himalayas : The Tribune India

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Cycling through the Himalayas

Cycling through the Himalayas

In Spiti, on the way to Kaza from Losar.

Sarika Sharma

Frank Smith from Canada is 68 and this is his first time in the Himalayas. He has been over the Rockies and finds them “outstanding”, but the scale of the Himalayas, he has realised, is another level. “It is beyond what we see in North America,” says Smith. Currently on a 55-day cycling tour from Leh to Kathmandu in Nepal, one of the longest for the region, he is all buoyed up about the surprises coming up on the way.

18 men and women, average age 60, are on a 55-day cycling tour from Kargil to Kathmandu

This is the second edition of Tour d’Afrique (TDA) Global Cycling’s 2023 Trans Himalaya. Eighteen international riders are currently on their way to Shimla, a landslide in Rampur having delayed their trip. The expedition began at Mulbeck near Kargil, progressed towards Leh, Manali, Spiti and will move towards Shimla, cutting across Uttarakhand and Nepal. Through these two months, the riders will pedal over passes as high as 5,000m, spin past remote forts and monasteries and marvel at the snow-capped mountains in Pokhara before a final push to Kathmandu.

Former runner Craig Tingle, a 64-year-old from South Africa, has been to India before but finds himself in the Himalayas for the first time. Intrigued by “pass after pass”, he is glad that the roads with their steepness designed for the trucks to climb are not too bad. “No matter how high, they are rideable.”

Frank Smith loves the immersive experience cycling offers. “All of us want to meet people, see the land, and want to do it at a slower pace than getting on a bus or a train or flying from place to place. The binding agent is also that you all suffer together. When you are going up a pass, the oxygen levels are ridiculous.”

Tour director Depinder aka Depi Chaudhry, a cyclist himself, says that unlike tours that try to keep the flock together, their cyclists get a free hand. “We give them tour notes and a cyclist can get from one destination to the other at his/her own pace.”

The Himalayas witnessed a devastating monsoon this year. Before the expedition began, the riders and the organisers had their fears. TDA had a hard time bringing the bikes to Ladakh. En route to Manali, the team crossed the river on foot as a bridge had broken. “There are hardships, you come across surprises, but that’s the fun! We want to show people that this is possible,” says Depi.

#Canada #United States of America USA

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