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Transit Elite Sweater
This time we are teaming up with the kind folks over at Apolis Activism to produce the Transit Elite Sweater. But to do so we had to travel halfway around the world. And the best men for the task? Well, that would have to be Rapha Continental Rider, traveller extraordinaire, and all around nice guy Cole Maness. Dave Christianson, producer of amazing Rapha films, Jeff Clark taker of these wonderful photographs and Shea Parton, one of the brothers behind it all.
Follow their full adventures at the Apolis Activism Website.
What follows is a riding account from Day Four of their trip.
Words: Dave Christenson
Photos: Jeff Clark
It’s 4:00 am Kathmandu time and I can’t sleep. Are the aches in my back from the previous day of exploring the city while carrying 50lbs of camera equipment? Or is it the excitement and anticipation of our first “real” ride here? Two hours from now we will meet our guide who will take us through the labyrinth of city streets to escape the city to open roads.
I give the wake up call to Jeff Clark, our still photographer, and Cole…unfortunately some food from the night before hasn’t set quite right with Cole and he passes on the ride in favor of resting up.
We head out from our home base and meet Mandil who will be our guide for the day he tells us that “no one rides road bikes in Nepal because of the poor condition of the local tarmac.”
We head out in relatively light traffic by Kathmandu standards and I am surprised at how easy it is to get out of the city. The temperature is somewhere around 35 degrees and the humidity has cast a mist across the valley Yet, the further we get away from the city the more Jeff and I get the impression of a third world country. “I feel like we’re riding in a war zone in Beirut,” says Jeff.
Mandil points out a 50 ft golden statue of Buddha up the mountainside.
The pace is brisk but nothing too rough. We climb at a steady pace constantly surrounded by the early morning bustling of the small Nepali villages we pass through.
Finally, at the top we stop at a small cart where a woman pours us traditional Nepali tea. I can feel the altitude at this point and I see that Jeff is too, we both live at sea level. Our guide Mandil is unfazed and calmly pulls a cigarette from his pocket and lights it. We laugh and Mandil tells us he will quit soon.
Another round of Nepali tea and we decide to try to ride to the Buddha statue we had seen earlier. Mandil has never ridden there so it is new territory for him as well. As soon as we turn away from the main road it turns to dirt. having ridden on several Continental rides i had already received my baptism to the art of riding dirt on 700×23c…this is different…moist jagged rocks pitch me side to side as the road falls into the valley…I struggle to keep pace with Mandil who is on a mountain bike and Jeff has smartly chosen cross tires for this trip.
We finally reach the gates to the Buddha which are locked, ponder climbing up the steep mountainside in road shoes and then decide to continue on. When we reach the tarmac and I am free to let gravity do its work. And with that it is a quick descent back into the city. On the way down I can see across the city and I am in disbelief that I am riding a bicycle in such a place.
We dive through the morning commuter traffic, which flows and suddenly bottlenecks. I notice that there are no stop lights, no stop signs or yield signs to be found in Kathmandu it is very much a controlled chaos.
We finally reach our destination The Red Dingo, and our host Johnathan Mendies. There we gorge on carbohydrates, drink tea and chat about the ride we have just finished. A chance to talk through the amazing day we have just done.
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