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The Endless Sky Trip -- Cycling the Himalaya cycling in western Tibet

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Peiku Tso Lake

Peiku Tso Lake, Tibet July 15 1998

We spent most of the morning climbing in a broad dry river valley,cycling past a couple large salt-water lakes. Often the nomads climbed out of their black yak wool tents to call out "Tashi Deleg", Tibetan for "hello" or "good luck". A gang of road maintenance workers that were taking a tea break, requested us to stop and rest a little, we rolled on, climbing, slowly climbing all morning. At the end of the valley switch backs lead us up and over a steep hillside. Near the top of the climb the sky broke open and rain started to gently fall from above. In Tibetan the word for thunder is "dragon's voice". As we crested the top of the pass the Tibetan dragons made themselves known. We all stopped for a moment, dug through our gear and pulled out our Gore-Tex parkas. Most of the rainstorms in Western Tibet seem to only last for about 15 minutes. So by the time you get all of your gear on and ride a few minutes the storm is just about over. After not to long puddles started to build in the road, it looked like this might be serious storm. The rain started to be mixed with hail. I pulled my rain pants on. We followed the muddy track into a narrow canyon. What had been dry stream beds only 30 minutes before were now a surrey of chocolate water and rocks pouring down the mountains. My gloves were soaked through in not too long. My fingers grew numb from the wet cold. We turned the corner and the mountain ridge above us reveled itself to be covered in snow and hail. We stopped again to get on more clothing, ski gloves, rain pants, pile jackets. The rain slowed a bit. We rolled father downhill. The rain covered my rain pants and drained directly into my shoes. Newly formed streams drained across the track; three-inch deep piles of hail covered loosely stacked piles of slate that had washed down the stream beds. We stopped to push the bikes through the loose mix of mud, hail, water and rock. Not far behind us four Toyota Land Cruisers appeared. We rode down a bit and pulled off to the side in order to allow them to pass. The foreign tourist riding in the first vehicle looked at us with a combination of shock and fright. His face held a blank stare of disbelief. The other three vehicles contained foreign tourist that at least smiled and half way waved. After they all passed, we looked at each other and laughed to ourselves.


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