This site offers some ideas and advice for bike travel in Nepal. I assume you know how to travel in remote and/or underdeveloped areas and – importantly – how to travel light. Or that you’re willing to learn how to do so at least. In addition, I have also done some light mountaineering here and, hence, I have included some information on that as well.
As for my own personal background, I have traveled, lived and worked in Asia for about 20 years now – in various situations and jobs. Nepal, India (especially Ladakh and Kashmir – regions which I’ve biked through a couple of times), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar/Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and southern China are the countries/regions I know best, but I have biked and traveled in Afghanistan as well. But so I met my soul mate in Kabul and I followed her to Nepal. And so here I am – in Nepal, one of the most beautiful (but also one of the most challenging) countries in the world.
As for the level and difficulty of the proposed itineraries, you should note that I am a fairly competitive rider: I train with young Nepali riders and help them to improve their skills – especially English language skills (they’re usually faster than me when it comes to biking). I also try to promote cycling in Nepal in general (e.g. through sponsoring Nepali riders to join races abroad, so they can get more exposure). Please do mail me if you would need more information in this regard.
On what bike?
I encourage you to bring your own bike, because that’s the one you will be most comfortable with. Alternatively, there are bikes for rent in Kathmandu, with rental rates depending on the model and quality of the bike. I’d go for a Trek from Kathmandu Bike Station or a Giant from Himalayan Single Track. You could also rent an all-mountain bike from Epic – but these are heavier and, hence, a bit of a disadvantage when climbing. Frame size might be an issue, as bike shops here usually import small frame sizes only.
How tough is it really?
I should warn you: it’s not because you’ve done a lot of road-biking in, for instance, the French Alps that you’ll be able to zip across all of the ridges here. In fact, I used to over-estimate the number of miles I’d be able to cover when I first arrived here. Indeed, Nepal’s terrain is really difficult. Much more difficult than, let’s say, the terrain in Ladakh or Kashmir, because, while the mountains there are equally young and rugged (and, hence, road gradients are quite incredible there as well), the quality of the tracks and roads there is much better. It is basically the poor surface quality of the roads here which will slow you down considerably: if you can bike an average of 50 to 75 km per day here, then that’s not bad at all.
Travel light. Wash (or at least rinse) your bike short and shirt every evening, so only one or two sets are necessary. Take one set of warmer clothing for the evening (trousers and long-sleeved shirt, plus a light-weight jacket). Bring all of the bike tools you may need, as well as two spare tubes. And then, of course, personal toiletry and a sleeping bag liner (finding accommodation is not a problem in Nepal – and you will always get a couple of warm blankets).
Preferably, all of your belongings should fit in a 25 liter backpack – and that’s what you should carry. Nothing more, nothing less. If you hate carrying a little backpack, you may try to fit a trunk bag to your bike. However, please note that Nepal’s roads can be quite tough and a luggage rack – even if it’s a trunk bag attached to your seat post only – does tend to make your bike a bit more unstable.
What’s the cost?
Biking guides do not come cheap (and fully supported tours are even more expensive). However, I think that, in most cases, you do not really need one. Besides the costs of (local) food and accommodation, also factor in the costs of park entrance fees and your TIMS card if you’re going to bike along traditional trekking routes and – if applicable – the permit fee for restricted areas.
For more information…
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