Crossing Tibet by Bike: A 2000 mile / 3333 km journey

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Kopan Monastery, November 10 1996, Nepal

Just a couple weeks ago we spent an entire day climbing to the top of the Lhalungla Pass. From this 17,200 foot viewpoint we stood on the edge of the highest downhill in the world, a decent of 16,000 vertical feet over the course of two days. From the top this pass a seemingly impenetrable wall of rock and ice separated us from the comforts of Nepal. After a break for food and a few photos, we pointed our bikes downhill for the long hard ride. Five days before, I had discovered a crack in my rear rim, every hour or two I checked it to see if it grew larger, already it had consumed one third of my rim. I knew that I should take it easy on the downhill, between the speed and the weight I carried, surely it would be easy to have the entire rim fracture, which would immediately end the trip. After a quick decent down the top part of the pass, the road became much flatter, while the wind picked up to the point where we had to struggle in our lowest granny gear just to keep moving on the downhill. By the next morning the road steepened once again as we followed one of few rivers that cuts through the Himalaya. Down, down, down out of ice and snow, into the pine forest, on to flowers along a road cut into a vertical rock face, the river roared far below us, in a constant stream of white water dropping two, five and ten feet at a time. We descended through the forest and on to the jungle. Now for the next month I will be living in Kopan Monastery, a quiet place atop a hillside outside the chaos of Kathmandu. From the roof of the monastery, a few of the massive ice mountains that mark the border with Tibet are visible. They don't seem so far, just behind the forest covered ridge of the Kathmandu valley.

Sitting at the foot of the Himalaya,

Ray




© Copyright 1997 Ray Kreisel