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The Tunnel
1KM to Everest
Nepal Border

Words from Jeff - September

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Sept 20th (Monday) Kathmandu! (Nepal) 99KM
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 21:25:43

I have always dreamed of coming to Kathmandu as so many of the books I read mention this little haven for tourism. I can say none of them describe it well as it seems dreary and dirty in those books. However, Kathmandu is alive and kicking, it is very friendly and you can get anything here, anything!!!
The countryside leading into Kathmandu is heavily populated, not remote by any means although I hear the far east and far west are barren (people wise) and hard to get to. On the way in you can buy anything, chocolate, momos, burger and fries! Most of the checkpoints don't stop you and since we were riding we breezed through often just shouting 'From Canada'. Most of the ride was downhill until you reach a little town intersecting the river. I was able to fishtail the trailer somewhere along here as I was riding on the wrong side of the road and almost caused an accident. Tony quickly explained the problem - of left side, werd! I got my first flat there and we decided to grab lunch - momo's were excellent - and then fix the tire. From there it is a 26km climb up 1500 meters but the road is paved so even though it is not easy, it is heaven compared to the Tibetan road. There are also towns everywhere and if we did have money - we were broke - we could have bought water etc. I had two more flats and had to work on the tape on the rim to prevent any more. Tony rode ahead so I suffered alone, but really I was so happy to be here I just 'shut up and rode'. The landscape is similar to mainland Hawaii if you have been but basically lush green tropics - the odd banana tree - and warm but not too hot. The people are the same and the kids rarely chase your bike. If they do one glance at their parents and their parents stop them immediately - it's a different world. It is not far to draw comparison's to China and Tibet though as they are still in their infancy as far as dealing with tourists but boy it is night and day. When we reached Kathmandu it was starting to get dark and yes the traffic is chaos here. Tony was a bit of a madman driving through the traffic but I managed to keep pace and after searching for an hour we found the hotel he was looking for. However it had closed 3 month's prior so we went around the corner and booked at the Pacifist hotel for $250 rupee a night. So $125 each which translates to $2.50 CDN - yes I'm in heaven!

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Sept 19th (Sunday) Bahrabise (Nepal!) 79KM
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 21:11:19

I made it to Nepal.....phew! The day started with a 5km ride into Nyalam where I was able to track down Tony by describing his beard to the locals. He was eating breakfast with the French expedition to Cho'Oyo. I joined him and proceeded to pig out eating everything that was placed before me. We talked with team for a good hour or so and later took pictures with them - they are going to forward some pictures to Tony after. After leaving Nyalam you climb up 200 meters of road and then it starts!!!!!! All downhill to the border, 1500 meters over 33 kilometers!!!!!!
Up until this point the landscape had been pretty barren and I hadn't seen greenary since Niao Dao -shit I hadn't seen forest since Hao Shan!!!! Anyway within in minutes your are in a lush green landscape descending in a river valley. It just gets denser and denser as you progress and soon waterfalls are everwhere draping the mountainside and wild flowers -red's and yellows rodo's - are everywhere. There are several sections where a waterfall overshoot the road, sometimes there would be cemet canopies to deflect it, other times you just got wet - which was very cool!!! The visual more than the ride itself makes this one of the best rides you ever witness but it was fun and when you reach the border town of Bram there are almost no Chinese. The first misconception of Nepalese came to bear fruit. I had always seen pictures of Sherpa's and thought Nepalese to be more or less asian looking. However there are 35 ethnic groups here and most look like Indian's and Pakistani's. The biggest change however was the smiles, everyone was smiling and I was still in theory in China...
The town consists of about 5 switchbacks on the mountain side then you reach the first check point. You do your declarations and then ride on. About 1km later you reach a bridge, on one side the last Chinese checkpoint and on the other the Nepalese gate! We rode to the gate where hundreds of people were crowding to get through and they ushered us through. We then stopped at the visa office and filled out some forms and gave a picture. I was down to $20 US - emergency cash - so Tony put in 100 yuan to cover the cost of my Visa. From there we headed off, minutes later we hit pavement!!!! Did I say I love Nepal yet? There are little towns everywhere and were unable to change money but at the entrance to Bahrabise a policeman helped negotiate some exchange. There were a few military check points but they just asked where we were from. I'm happy!

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Sept 18th (Saturday) Camped near Nyalam (Tibet) 93KM
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 20:55:36

I think the wind is an evil living and breathing animal! This little journey was supposed to involve two mountain passes followed by an enormous downhill to the border. This is how it went:
The first pass involved a 12km climb on dirt road of course to an elevation of 4950. It was a pretty hard climb and mentally I was interating 2 passes and then I'm home free to Nepal. We descend for about 5km which was fun but I'd rather maitain the altitude and slug it out in the flats rather than two passes. Upon starting the climb up the next ridge which appeared easy from the last descent, the wind picked up. Did I say the wind picked up???? LIES??? The wind came out of nowhere and tore at us from head wind to crosswind which made it difficult to balance never mind forward progress! The second pass was at an elevation of 5050 meters and our average speed was about 4km/hr. This is not an exageration and the worst part is the road wasn't that steep compared to the previous pass. I was stopping every minute or two, actually sometimes I would ride for 30 seconds, quite, and then yell at the wind!!! I was well adjusted to alittude now so this did not play a factor either, I guess the area is very open and at 5000 meters the wind is a little more ferocious.
From the top of the pass you get a great view of Shishampanga (8100 meters) and Cho ' Oyo (8200 meters). We were low on film and my camera had been caput since before Everest as Chinese batteries suck - kind of like most manufactured items from China. We spent quite a while up there as Tony was trying to get his laptop working to clear some momory on his camera but no such luck. Now for the interesting parts. His travel guide had been exellent up to this point and it was still accurate describing the descent but did not put enough emphasis on the brutality of the wind. You start with a gracious 12km downhill which is steep and windy and quite a fun ride. At this point however it begins to flatten out and even though the road is descending it is slow going as the wind just tears at you. Periodically you would get sections of sandy road which didn't make for much fun either - I average 7km/hr through this section. I stopped many times just to curse the wind!!!! Then we started getting short uphill sections and darkness began to set in. It just kept getting harder and harder while I was getting tireder and tireder. Physical and mental weariness were about even and after it became pitch black it became difficult to see with my bike light. Tony had gone ahead and I wouldn't see him until the next day. I had to walk up a couple of uphill sections and then in my mind I decided I would stop if another uphill section presented itself. Well it did so I made camp on the side of the road. Oddly enough some Tibetan man came out of nowhere to offer me shelter in his gave. I graciously decline as the tent was set already. It was so windy I had to light the stove in the tent which is normally a no-no but I got it going and ate a double helping of noodles. I actually slept pretty good and knew in the back of my mind that one more day of Tibet and I would be home free. My Chinese Visa expired tomorrow so this of course left me no choice - haha.

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Sept 17th (Friday) Super Shamooo- Sumo (Tibet) 76KM
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 10:06:43

When we awoke - slept right through - we found that our navigation skills had deposited us in the middle of a farmers fields where the road had ended. Tingri was another 12km to the north. We followed the farm road for a bit and then cut across to the main road - dirt path, whatever. There were three more deep river crossings that soak you up to the knees and a slight uphill. I had zero energy and didn't take it out of granny gear. I putted along until I reached the paved highway, yes paved!!!! We had no lunch or dinner the previous day unless you count compressed biscuits so when we arrived in town we had about a three corse meal of rice, dumplings (sort of) and chicken. It was around 1pm when we decided to head for Sumo which was partly flat but mostly uphill from Old Tingri. The road was okay by Tibetan standards - gravel - but we were able to reach Sumo by 8pm before darkness - I always hate back to back days finishing in darkness! Tomorrow is supposed to be a hard ride but it is the second to last ride in Tibet and the final ride is supposed to be all downhill. From Tony's guide book it is quoted 'not the best downhill ride in Tibet, the best Downhill ride in your life'. Tibet is gnawing on my brain and I want to leave so bad, but I must be patient and suffer one more hard ride. Tired.....

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Sept 16th (Thursday) Not quite 'Old Tingri' (Tibet) 72KM of Hell!!!!
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 09:57:27

Tony and I left a little late as usual as it was cold damn it! We met a Swiss gentleman who was driving through Tibet, apparently it is possible, you just need $7000 US. We followed the same road we took in for about 24 km and then took the turn off for 'Old Tingri'. To us Tony's word, 'we crossed a bridge and then crossed a river'. You then climb a bitter climb until 5200 meters. There are no switchbacks, just steep gravel and dirt road that crosses the river many times. More than a few times we took turns pushing up each others bikes as it was just too steep and the ground too loose or bumpy to ride up with that kind of weight. The climate also got colder and more desolate looking. Just grasslands or barran rock. The views east were pretty nice - snow capped mountains - but west we only saw the road climbing, climbing.... ahhhhh!!!!!!!
After reaching 5200 meters you descend for a bit and then climb to - well 5200 meters. Then you descend again into this river that follows the road and then climb to 5200 meters - mommy!!!! Twice on the way up I bailed in the river so the trailer took a dip as well as my knee caps. The downhill starts and you think great lets get out of hear and then you cross a river which is about 2 and half feet deep and full of large stones. I didn't crash this time but the river follows the road for about 50 meters and the bike just gets battered. From there the downhill increases but you really need to watch for large sections of rocks. At this point the sun was sinking below the mountainside so we had to hurry or camp. As we decended our bikes started shaking loose and I actaully lost the pin that holds in the trailer - lucky I had spare spokes to jam in there! The road got a little better as we descended but there was the odd climb and sand sections which are great for wiping out. Yes I went over the handle bars again, this time I land on my side and rolled for a bit. Near the bottom you cross the river more times, in fact between 10 and 15 times, so deep some not so deep but wet feet all day. Did I mention it was dark now and we were using lights in the cold unforgiving road. We were pretty close to Tingri as we saw the lights and there is a mini town before it were we asked for directions. At some oint however we seemed to be heading the wrong way and then the road disapeared. We couldn't seem to find our way back and I said to Tony, we can scramble around and get nowhere or setup the tent. He agreed to set up the tent. This took over first place for hardest ride to date!

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Sept 15th (Wednesday) 5200 Meters Basecamp Qomolangma
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 09:40:

The hike back to basecamp (camp 1) took nearly as long as it did to hike up it. We were tired hungry and longing for sleep as last night the yak bells and wind made for a restless night. I can only imagine what the wind must be like ripping at your tent above 8000 meters. Now the deal is if you hike to camp 2 you pay $50 US for a permit. If you hike to Camp 3 (advanced base camp) you pay $200 US in total and for the peak I think it is $3000 US (much cheaper than in Nepal). If you don't pay anything and get caught you $200 US. The local Tibetans are pretty good at being con artists in the sense that you must negotiate with them to avoid the fine. The police visit randomly and basically if you skip paying the Tibetan's they simply inform them that you have trespassed without a permit. The many ways they try and scam you is pretty disgraceful and says a lot about the people's mentality. We went along with it and paid 300 yuan for two people for two nights. The person claiming to be a permit officer (without any credentials) originally wanted 500 yuan. I also witnessed them trying to charge two Chinese tourists 100 yuan each just to walk about 30 minutes away for some better pictures. I told them to just go and ignore the Tibetan's. Anyway when we arrived the police did pull in and so we went to the tent were we had stayed and left the bikes and closed the door. Basically if the police had caught us and charged us there would be nothing our little permit officer would or could do. I am maybe being a little harsh but I don't care where your from, if you try and take advantage of people simply because they are foreigners with 'money' - not me of course- then I have no respect for you and wish you the worst. Most Tibetans I had met personally are very friendly and honest. They love foreingers from the west and wish to speak English or other languages for that matter. They generally despise the Chinese which I can understand but it's the government that is the real problem. However, they are also a very rough and touchy touch kind of people that have no qualms about messing with your stuff. They have no real intention of damaging or stealing but they figure it's okay to thumb through your belongings. There are also a great number of beggars, I'm sure most of this is caused by the social structure but people who aren't even beggars ask for money - fuck off!!!! They also make their children beg which is the lowest form of beggary. There is a lot I don't understand and aim to learn more but this is a people stripped of their pride that cling to the monk's for hope. Oh the monk's beg in Lhasa as well, now that is dispicable. All in all their culture - the good traits, loyalty, spirituality and honesty are probably doomed as the railway is going to be finished in a couple of years and China is on record as probably the worst among human rights abusers - not just Tibetans, but Chinese! What culture remains in the cities I visited so far is very fake and probably very distant from what I would find in the forbidden areas of Tibet. I hope the Dalai Lama has some politcal backing as he wants to return, and boy do they need a leader!

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Sept 14th (Tuesday) 6200 meters Qomolangma
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 08:26:30

Well we woke a little late today as it was a little cold and the sun doesn't reach camp 2 until about 10AM as you are in a deep valley. When we made some breakfast and some of the other trekkers had already camp so we were behind all day for the trip to camp 3 or advanced base camp (6500 meters). When we finally left we were joined by some yaks and porters who I assume were working for the Hungarian expedition (this may be the wrong nationality - sorry if it is). After a good hour I couldn't keep up with their pace as I didn't have Yak lungs, but we plodded along with Tony in the lead. I was carrying a small pack for water but really the altitude is killer when your moving. Basically you are walking up the center of the a massive glacier with two other glaciers converging on each side of you. This middle section is all rock but the surround glaciers are giant seracs, some towering 40 meters by my estimation. It is a massive ice field all the way up the east side and looks so insurmountable. The view was crystal clear as was the day before and we could really see the climbing routes form here. After about 4 hours of climbing we crossed onto the main east glacier where the two glaciers coverge. I was spent and told Tony to go ahead which after a while he did. Then I sat and contemplated why I was here and that being a clear day I had nothing to loose and I shouldn't feel pity. I started hiking again, but this time I was pissed off. I was practically hyperventilating to keep adequete oxygen flowing in the old lungs. I set a rapid pace and even tried jogging for about ten seconds - don't try this. I saw Tony farther up and he had caught up to the Hungarian's who had left hours before us. They just looked back and stared as I was actually marching with my arms flayling. It must hav been a funny sight but there is no wasting valuable air on something like laughing - it could kill you - haha. When I finally caught up to Tony he was sitting and ready to turn around for the day as it was near 4:30. The camp was maybe another kilometer but all uphill and 300 meters - ya that  sounds like nothing but beilieve me, something so easy can be so punishing! I scanned ahead and saw that not much farther up the main glacier opened up the view of Everest again so I convinced him to hike to a rock that was about five minutes away. Once we got closer to that he realized what I had seen adn we hiked for another ten until we had a clear view of Qomolangma (Everest in Chinese) - Sagamartha in Nepalese. I collected some rock at this point as it was 6200 meters and the highest point I had been ever. We both filmed short videos and took some parting shots. It was actually very warm out as it was cloudless. I will never forget the view as we were so close. I also won't forget the fact that we could easily climb higher but had to return the next day due to permit etc. I was very satisfied with the accomplishment but want to go higher. Not necessarily on Everest either, I am thinking of Cho'Oyo, but that will be another story. the walk down was hard as we were tired, but all downhill so the breathlessness was less and less. Near camp 2 I went a little too far and missed the path back up to the camp. I had to cross the river somehwhere else and scramble across a rocky hillside. It wasn't too bad but I was tired and just wanted to lay down. Tony had already reached the camp and was curled up with a bitter headache. I gave him some altitude medicine and aspirin and a half hour later he was better - he may have had a touch of sun stroke. At this point I am ready fo Nepal and a long rest as I have lost a tonne of weight physically (10 lbs) and am very mentally tired. I am happy though and it was nice to share this experience with Tony.

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Sept 13th (Monday) Camp 2 (5800 meters)
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 08:00:50

Tony and I hiked to the main base camp? well camp 2 to be exact. Base camp which is at the end of the highway is not where any of the climbers stay so I guess this is really base camp. This camp is only accessable on foot or by Yak of course as it is narrow and steep in some sections. This made for a very difficult hike, more so due to the altitude but even at sea level, this one is a gooder. At times you would be walking along normally and other times you would take a few steps and be bent over gasping for breath like a fish out of water. All day and night was clear as can be without any cloud in sight. This made for excellent views on the first 2 hours before heading into the east glacier (3 -4 km0. during this time you are walking on mostly a gravel path with some larger rocks. It was really a surreal experience and after turning east to head toward camp 2 you are walking on a glacier. Around this point Tony took the heavier of the two packs as he was leading and I was tagging along so to speak - boy he is strong. The terrain then becomes a mix of gravel large loose stones about 5kg each and the odd bit of sand. In lots of sections the glacier has melted away and you can see a river and the odd tiny lake about 10 meters across which is the only real reminder that you are on a moving glacier. After many tedious hours of hiking you will spot some seracs sticking out of the gravel on the east side of the glacier - funny enough these are called the shark fins. When you see that you are close but I'm sure this may be gone by next year. The hike took us around 5 hours and we caught up to people on the way so I think we went a little faster than normal but who knows. Camp 2 is a tiny little area of maybe 20 meters squared and there is only a view of the neighboring mountain and gravel. After setting up camp we ate and pretty much went to bed as we were very tired. There is no view of Everest from here but another 40 minutes there is a spetacular one for those who want to inquire. As mentioned the night was crystal clear as I had to take a pee sometime in the morning - man it sucks leaving the sleeping bag as the tmp dipped below - 5.

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Sept 12th (Sunday) Everest Base Camp!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 42KM
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 03:40:32

The road continued the same as it left off, little ripples from hell! I was very slow going but the road finally began to climb. There were no real switchbacks so some of it was very difficult and we were continually stopping. The SUV's also kept passing at mach 3 leaving you in a bitter dust cloud - I hate them! Along the way we met a Frenchman riding one of those lay down bikes made by Bent. His name is Tony, and he had been travelling through Asia for the last two years! He decided to join us but quickly left us behind as his bike seemed to manage the ripples a little better (full suspension) and his legs were the size of tree trunks. The ride was long and arduous and the surrounding area was rock and dirt with no vegetation. The highway markers actually start from Everest base camp so if you are on this road you know how far to go which is a nice mental break. Around 10 km away I saw a clouded peak but wasn't sure. A few minutes of riding later Everest opened heself to me and I had to stop. I couldn't believe it, there it was, so massive, so beautiful and majestic if a mountain could be described that way. I sat in utter disbelief. For whatever reason I didn't feel like crying although I kept myself in check. I sort of lagged behind at that point as you have a little extra energy when you realize your goal and I wanted to be alone for a bit. All during the last couple of days, especially from Gyatsolo pass to the camp I needed to imagine my loved ones faces and enjoyment as if I had already made the goal. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Tony gave me an especially big complement as he had previously used a trailer. He simply said 'I had a trailer, I know, I know how difficult it is...'. It meant a lot as I knew I carried way too much weight campared to my fellow riders and lagging behind sometimes sucks. I did it!!!!

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Sept 11th (Saturday) Camped in a van down by the river (Tibet) 75KM
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 03:28:34

I just want to start by saying my heart goes out to those lost on this horrific day. Many lives were lost but since then many more lives have been wasted in an effort to secure oil reserves in Iraq. Please open you eyes and look at the big picture - many have long forgotten Afghanastan but the country is in almost as much chaos. Bush must go!!!!!!
Okay sorry if I get a little too political, on with the days events. Since my Chinese friends did not have permits - which you can actually purchase in Tingri or pay at the entrance of the Everest park, so don't even bother with Shigatze - we woke up a 6AM and started biking. After about 6km we crossed through the checkpoint which has a bar across it but it is high enough to just duck under. I noticed a cap behind the front desk but it was motionless and I didn't hesitate to stop for a better look. The road here is also paved all of the way to the turn off for Everest which was maybe another 4 km. The road from there is gravel and you bike for about 2 km until you reach a tiny town and checkpoint for the park. This was blocked by a metal wire which we also eluded but this time an officer was yelling at us 'Permit, Please!!!!'. I had a permit so I really wasn't that worried and since I didn't feel like stopping I point to my jacket and said 'Permit'. Within 100 meters the switchbacks start, and they don't stop till 5210 meters (yes every 10 meters is mentioned). It had rained the previous night, well actually it was raining when we started this morning, and was very muddy, especially in the corners. The ride was extremely hard and along with that you get the SUV's blasting by you honking for you to move out of the way. I almost got in fight with one as my nerves were already raw from difficult biking. Anyway near the top of the pass I just kept it in Bull Low as my dad would say and put my head down. On the way I managed to blow a rear tire and the trailer tire which were welcome rest breaks. The ride was a little easier than Gyatsolo as I had adjusted a bit to the altitude and the views were incredible as usuall. The mountain side is mostly rock with patches of snow and when you reach the top of the pass it turns into a kind of shale stone. You can view Everest and Cho' Oyo from here but on this day the tops were shrouded with cloud. I still had a tear in my eye though. On the back side you descend almost the entire distance you climbed which is all switchbacks and very fast with the old trailer hoping behind. There are about three or four little towns to my surprise so you are never far from food or shelter either. Eventually the road flattens and becomes gravel hell. It is very slow progress as there are little ripples about 5 inches wide running perpendicular to the road. It is very trying similar to Qinghai as you can see a few kilometers up the road but don't appear to get closer. It was getting dark and since we didn't want to stay in town we pitched our tents. Very hard riding!!!!

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Sept 10th (Friday) New Tingri (Tibet) 58KM
Posted: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 03:05:43

Today's ride was downhill 90% of the way, but forget about the ride, waking up on top of Gyatsolo pass I peaked out of my tent for an incredible view of the mountains. The sun was shinning over a 7000 meter mountainside with snow capped peaks in south. My two Chinese bretheren couldn't agree more and we took a bunch of photos. I have no problem with the altitude as long as I stay wrapped inside my cozy -20 C sleeping bag. All other movements cause grief. Actually it's not too bad but no sudden movements like running or jumping - for that matter don't bend over too quickly when picking up items off the ground such as your bike.
On the way down Chen's bike had a bit of a break down on the rear cage but we managed to fix it. My rear tire also went low but I pumped it up and was able to ride into town. Actually the town is about 5 km from the highway so after getting a hotel and cleaning up we hitched a ride in to have dinner and buy food supplies for Everest. The town is very tiny and dirty and the Tibetan's really didn't seem to like my Chinese friends based on some of the stares they got. On the way back to the hotel we had to hitch a ride in the back of a dump truck - which was quite cold but fun.

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Sept 9th (Thursday) Gyatsolo Pass (Tibet) 5220 Meters! 34KM!

Today was the hardest day ever! My meal last night didn't go down so well and this morning I felt ill and was close to puking for most of it. I rode maybe 12 kilometers making stops every 500 meters or so until I decided to stop for a longer rest. I was really feeling crappy but didn't want to turn around. I took some of my altitude potion, some aspirin and sat there and sulked. Maybe ten minutes later I saw another cyclist slugging it up the route! He stopped and a minute later his companion came around the bend and stopped. Chen was from a town near Shanghai and Ho was from Sichuan province. Chen spoke pretty good English and we sat and chatted a while. By then I was starting to feel a little better and we rode off together. Generally I like to suffer alone but on this day I needed all the support I could get. Seeing them suffer with a lighter load made me stop sulking as I realized it was altitude and not stamina. Ho amazingly would light up on our breaks and even though he wasn't a cyclist by nature he just very strong. The road never deviated from a steady climb but didn't have any real switchbacks until the last 2 kilometers. We were averaging 4km/hr - this is no exaggeration. My two comrades would often push their bikes on the steeper sections but that wasn't an option for me as my bike and trailer were too heavy. Instead I kept in granny the whole way and hyperventilated my way up. We reached the top of the pass around 8PM, yes 10 hours biking, 34 kilometers! We decided it too dangerous to ride down and thought it would be a novel idea to camp out at 5220 meters. Setting up the tents was a chilling affair and it's hard to be patient when your shivering but it's the only way to get things set up properly. I had some peanuts but these guys had chocolate and compressed biscuit - they were prepared! They fed me until I was full and then we crashed for the night. It was actually a nice relaxing night in my warm sleeping bag, no headaches so far and this was my highest point to date.


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Sept 8th (Wednesday) Lhaze (Tibet) 98KM
Posted: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 05:42:06

Okay today was a bit of an odd one as far as terrain etc. The does a bit of up and down and then becomes a steady climb. After 26km there is paved road with little breaks where there were rockslides etc. but overall not bad for Tibet. That lasts for about 10 to 15km and then switches back to gravel and dirt. Around the 50km mark you have a massive nasty climb for about 8km that peaks out at 4500 meters (I read later). The road leading up to the climb seems harder than the actual switch backs. You then have an awesome descent to Lhaze, but be careful as the gravel is loose and I managed to fly over the handle bars landing on my feet and ass. I'm so good at wiping out and well nobody saw so I laughed it off. For the facts on distance, it is 160km between Shigatze and Lhaze, not 142km like the sign says in Shigatze. Boy I miss my gal....

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Sept 7th (Tuesday) Unknown (Tibet) 64KM
Posted: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 05:34:40

Last night, about an hour after arriving in Shigatze, there was a major storm with hurricane force winds and torrential rain. I was lucky again as the road seriously had about 4 inches of rain but it cleared up overnight as the storm only lasted a hour and a bit. The first thing you notice in Shigatze is an overpowering police presence. Eevry street and major intersection has at least 3 or 4 officers walking around. When applying for the permit you actually go to the F.I.T office near the carpet factory just off of Monestary road and there I asked about the policamania. She said basically it is due to the Panchan Lama residing in the Panchan Lama Monestary and I assume this is to keep him from leaving such a pleasant place- the Chinese government is so arrogant. The monestary itself looks pretty cool but upon getting my permit I left ASAP - paranoid eh? The funny thing about the permit though is when the lady asked right up front if I was biking......shit..... I gave her the silent treatment as I am a bad liar and then casually asked ' Why is it more?'. She knew.....
Still I paid for a regular permit, 150 yuan while the bike permit is 300 yuan. On the permit itself they did not circle a mode of transport - thank you!!!! I think she gave me a break as she mentioned she had relatives in Calgary and I am simpathetic to the Tibetan cause. Upon leaving Shigatze I cloaked myself in the local children riding in my direction. I kept them at bay and told them to follow me - yes very paranoid!!!! During the ride I had very little energy and am not sure whether it was altitude, yesterday's ride or both. Yesterday, today and tomorrow I figure to be the hardest rides mentally solely due to the fact I am so close to my goal and yet long for home. Almost there!!!!

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Sept 6th (Monday) Shigatze (Tibet) 136KM
Posted: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 05:18:23

Oh what a long day!!! After packing up camp - funny thing I had laid stones around in hope of deflecting any debris from small landslides (ya that would save me) - I rode another 25km to my intended destination of the day before. By the way, yes as mentioned the road sucked but imagine riding through a river canyon with 4000 to 6000 meter mountains - awesome! On the way out I nearly had to kick some Tibetan ass as some guy thought he could help me up one of the hills be pushing the trailor. I wiped out and leaped off my bike to grab him. Either I am to nice or just sensed this guy was too dumb because I didn't murder him. He kept on gestering to help me with the bike even though my fist was cocked. Anyway I couldn't bring myself to hit him and just pushed him away. I know he probably meant well but leave well enough alone - let sleeping dogs lie, especially running dogs (bad joke).
I rode on but in a foul mood ofcourse and did not respond to anyone as you always get the 'Halo', usually in mocking tone and when you do respond they say it again - morons. One thing you must be aware is Tibetan and Chinese poeple love to touch stuff that isn't theirs. Especially if you are a foreigner with a bike. I have biked with Chinese people who's stuff was never toughed but always my stuff would be. This is after 3 month's of riding if you think I am judging hastily. Just be prepared and remember May yo!!!!
Now when I reached this former destination I had to keep heading west and for some reason the entrance to this bridge was blocked with a massive pile of dirt. I hummed and hawed and then had someone help me heave the bike over. At first the road was very dicey and I thought, another stupid idea. However it turned out for the better as maybe 15km later you reach a town with a bridge to head North. You head west along the same road which is pavement about 1km out of town and the rest of the way to Shigatze. As for the bridge going North, I have no idea where it goes but it may be the alternate route from Lhasa. It was a very long day as first mentioned and the saddle sores were especially painful. I arrived around 9:30 in complete darkness but the city appears to be the size of Lhasa. Tomorrow I inquire about permits to Everest.

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Sept 5th (Sunday) Camped near Nyimu (Tibet) 84KM
Posted: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 09:22:16

Shortly after leaving Quxu you come to a crossroads where you can take the old highway, which I heard was rough, or the new one under construction. I opted for the new one (318 - friendship highway) as it was the most direct route to Shigatze and would cut about 100KM from the trip. Well the road was under 'Heavy Construction' and just about unbikable in my opinion - I need to learn the hard way as usual. They are still blasting many of the sections and though you suffer mental damage, you suffer more from remorse from the beating your bike will take becuase you decided to take a shortcut. This is no exxageration, the rock is sharp and deep so often the petals are clanging the rock or the crank. I seriously feared my trailor would detach and die by the roadside but it held out. It was very hard riding so be prepared. Anyway due to delays from blasting and generaly slow biking I did not make it anywhere near Shigatze and had to camp out next to the highway. It was a pretty clear night and fairly warm, so I didn't setup the tent, I just pulled out the bivy. I can't remember a night where it felt like I could touch the stars - it was amazing!

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Sept 4th (Saturday) Quxu (Tibet) 68KM
Posted: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 09:13:34

I finally got out of Lhasa and boy was I anxious to do so! It really is a great place to visit but if I if I stay anywhere too long I seem to get the travel bug. Today's ride was basically flat with a little downhill - paved road. There was a little rain and gusty winds but for the most part sunny and warm. The highway follows a large river so the scenary is quite spetacular with the mountains. I am about to start reading the Odyssey, the fantatstic voyage writen by Homer simpson - Mark this one is for you but can bass players read? - which is kind of fitting for my next leg of the tour. Food has also become much more interesting and I don't know whether to speak Chinese or English as some TIbetans refuse to learn Chinese - I don't blame them.

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Sept 1st (Wednesday) Lhasa (Tibet)
Posted: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 08:58:24

Finally I have been able to extend my Chinese Visa!!! A lot has happened since I last wrote, but basically I was able to take in a few more sites, meet some more people and solidify my passage to the mother goddess Qomolungma. Furthermore I quickly realized I would not be able to reach Everest in the previous time I had allocated - Chinese Visa expired September 7th. Upon finding that there was a checkpoint just before the turn off for the Everest park region, which is supposedly unavoidable and that the fine per day was 500 yuan I decided I better cover my ass. My current roomate, a young NOrweigan fellow, informed me of some of the obstacles and his lonely planet guide was very helpful as it mentioned being able to extend the visa in Tibet for short periods of time which I previously thought was impossible. I harrassed my tour guide for two days and he finally got it for me just before the weekend and the extension is good until September 19th - phew!!!! The only pther thing of note is there is now more unrest in Nepal as 12 workers were killed in Iraq and now some locals in Kathmandu took out their frustrations on some local mosques. This is pretty uneducated and disgraceful in my opinion and am sure this is not the general concensus in the Nepalese. Anyway off to my goal!!!!

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e-mail: jeff@jeffglen.ca