In addition to the great field of competitors, we also traveled with an entourage of media, medics, and porters that added to the adventure. We spent so much time together it became a bit like a large family or, at least, team who were all working together to make it across the Annapurna Circuit on bikes. Snow Monkey (more on him later), the porters and the Nepalsutra staff made us feel at home by filling us in on local customs, history, geography and such in between shooting photos, vids, and conducting interviews. The camera crew that was following Rich around had adventure CVs as long–or longer–than the racers, making them great company during down time. The medical team was so pleasant and fun I think we wished they could be our primary care doctors. And, finally, Phil, the man responsible for all of this madness by concocting this adventure in the first place, tied it all together like an maestro.
pics: shooting at the start and aayman on the first downhill, courtesy of nepalsutra
It was fascinating seeing it all come together. In some of the villages we probably doubled their population for the night. And coordinating shooting news, promotional material, and a film about Rich in limited space had potential to make things hectic but, like it seems about everything in Nepal, somehow it just worked. I don’t think anybody wasn’t having a great time, even though we spent so much of it in pain. As Neil put it later on, “I’d much rather be bonking in Nepal than going to work!”
60k on the docent – ugh! Aussie Steve (aka George Clooney) says riding 30k here is like riding 80k at home, and it sounds as though his local riding is fairly brutal. If that’s the case it’s probably like riding 100 miles of pristine Park City singletrack. Worried, to say the least.
Slept better, though woke up too much due to “India-ish-ness” of our host town, Gorkha: mosquitos, horns, dogs going crazy, music blaring, etc. Good news: I hardly coughed at night. Bad news: I’m coughing in the morning. Wonder how the day will sort out.
video action is highlighted by Zbig hitting 68kph on his mtn bike.
False alarm. Today was the easiest stage, by far. It was long, hot, and the latter half had way too much traffic, but all in all it was a recovery day as far as the Yak Attack goes (though I hear up front the leaders were all burying each other).
Mainly this was due to road condition. Of the 60k 10 were nasty, about 20 smooth dirt, and the latter half paved. Andre said “hope you enjoyed it because that’s all you get” and boy did I. Normally it would be a pretty boring stretch but it was exactly what I needed in my state. Spinning the legs and riding without needing 100% concentration felt almost magical.
I feel bad for Brian, who’s been getting hit with one issue after another at very inopportune times. Brian’s a downhiller, and I’m faster up hill, so I’ve had the pleasure of watching him fly by me at what looks like a suicidal pace time and time again. Today’s stage started with a long 7k downhill and then had a lot of tarmac. Since he’s a strong roadie, too, it was a good day for him to shine. Instead, he had his worst day of the race.
To make it safer we started in 30 second intervals. Brian began a minute behind me and passed me in about 3. He was flying. Unfortunately, before he could ride out of sight he had a mechanical. He said he was fine so I rode on but it turned out to be a recurring issue all day. Then the illness that’s been bugging a bunch of us hit him hard. He staggered in long after we’d finished and looks questionable for tomorrow. Finger’s crossed.
I’m getting into the swing of the daily ritual. Pack up, eat breakfast, lounge around until it’s time to race. Then race, eat, and get into a shower with my clothes on to clean my kit and self simultaneously. Hang clothes to dry and take a short nap. Wash and tune my bike, take a short hike to see the village we’re staying in, by which time we’re ready for dinner. It seems like we have a ton of down time but it’s amazing how it taken up with necessary tasks.
This is a big day in the race. Porters will now be our mode of gear transport, meaning all of our packs must be parried down to 10k. Our lives are about to become minimalist, yet the weirdest part is filling my bag with almost nothing we’ve used so far.
i made nepalsutra’s quote of the day worrying about what i’m going to pack
We’re still in the hot lowlands, with lush tropical vegetation, polluted air, and towns that feel like India. 38k and 2,000 meters above us sits Taal, tomorrow’s destination and gateway to the real mountains—a whole other world. In fact, as I write this, the wind picked up, clouds rolled in, and it just dropped about 20 degrees. The race is about to change.
the last tropical vegetation for a while