Posts filed under ‘fitness’

The Great Climb. Tagalang La- 5330m, the world’s second ( some say) highest road.

Ode to a big hill – “Ahh Taglang La, you painful, frightening beast of a pass, Even now i can feel the pain you put through my legs and my head, but we beat you and it will always be one of the best things I ever do”.

On the climb up Taglang La

On the climb up Taglang La

Today was to turn out to be  not only one of the biggest challenges of the trip but of our lives. You could almost taste the trepidation as we broke camp and wandered over to the local 0.0005 star restaurant for the obligatory omlette and chipatti. Away by 7.30, we started at a slow pace but none of us could stop thinking about the enormity of the day ahead. Although the climb looked deceptively mundane on the map, when you think about it,  we had a 29 km climb, ascending through serious altitude nearly 1.2 km from 4200m up to 5330m. Even just thinking about those numbers still makes me shudder, but sitting here now supping a clod beer reminiscing, I can’t begin to tell you how proud i am to be able to say that we all did this beast of a climb unassisted, fully loaded and better than any of us thought possible.

The easy bit-

The first 5 km was relatively easy over a 200m climb,  but things started to get tough when we came across a sign saying ” You are only 24 km from the Tagalan La”. What a truly cruel sign. To not also tell us that it was to be another 8 hours of steep, steep, switchbacks with the last 15km on truly appalling gravel roads and landslides, was almost criminal. Add to that scorching heat, Tata trucks and army convoys. You know what- it really did turn out to be one of the greatest challenges and most satisfying days of my life.

The first 10 switchbacks-

As the switchbacks started, we all dropped into our own pace and it soon became apparent that the way to beat this monster was to go at your own pace, empty your mind of what was coming up and just start spinning the peddles for hour after hour. At times we managed to spread out over about a kilometre and that sometimes translates into two or three switchbacks, but by waiting for each other, drinking loads of water, occasionally looking back and using common sense we began to tick off the kms.

These were the easy ones

These were the easy ones

The hard bit-

No matter how hard we thought the first bit was, nothing could prepare us for what was coming next. Actually we were prepared a little bit by a  constant tide of cyclists coming the other way telling us just how crap the road was and how long we still had to go. Their departing cries of “good luck” and “your doing great” followed by a shake of the head and the “thank god i am not going that way” look really started to wear thin about 12 minutes  after lunch. Things really got hard when the road turned from passable blacktop, to bone jarring, teeth rattling, boulder sized gravel. Throw in more and more traffic, roadworks and roads turning to rivers from glaiciers melting and the afternoon became  quite interesting. Oh yeh and a landslide that held us up for about 45 mins we could ill afford to lose.

45 min Landslide - not today!!!!

45 min Landslide - not today!!!!

This might not seem like a problem but as the day wore on we were down to about 3 km an hour and getting back down to a reasonable altitude after climbing that far can be a life and death consideration. The shadows were sarting to get long and i couldnt  shake a growing sense of urgency as the pass seemed to be getting further away rather than closer. As we got into the last 3 kilometres it started to become real that we would make it over the top, but like xmas, you know it would come but it seemed to take for ever. It was astonishing to discover that after all that climbing the last 500 metres would be the toughest. Axle deep in black sand we had to dismount and push, but at last at 4.40 we finally reached the top to be greeted by a howling wind,  20 Royal Enfields and the realisation that we really couldnt stay long and needed to start the 20 km descent before it got dark.

We made it - Taglang La 5330m, What a feeling!

We made it - Taglang La 5330m, What a feeling!

The descent and the arrival of an Angel

As we started our descent the fatigue kicked in and in many ways the ride down was shaping up to be as challenging as the ride up. Ten minutes in though we had an almost crash worthy surprise when around the corner came Tashi from WWF on a motorbike. I can’t even tell you how happy we were and our joy turned to elation when he said he had food and hot tea in his bag. A boiled egg has never tasted so good.  I cant remember being as revitalised by anything so much as that brief 20 min break by the side of the road, with Tashi’s little stash of gold.

From then on it was all down hill ( in a good way) but with Tashi as a guide and the promise of a warm welcome and hot food ahead of us  with the WWF team, an unscheduled extra 15km’s in the dark seemed  a small price to pay. Little did we know just how great our time would be at Tso Kar.

More photos from the taming of the Taglang la beast

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September 5, 2009 at 10:22 pm 4 comments

Cycle for Change back in Kathmandu

Just a quick update to let you know that we are back in Kathmandu after a fantastic trip through northern India and southern Nepal.

Now as we have been told in no uncertain terms by some of you, we have been behind in our posting. In our defence we were away from anything remotely resembling a working computer with an internet connection for most of the time. Since back here we have been spending most of our time in interviews with the Nepali media with one appearance in the Kathmandu post last Thursday and plenty more to come. We also did a radio interview with a freelance journo for NPR in the States, so we have been non stop.

The big news and sad news it is, Amanda my dear little sister, was on the plane back to Sydney yesterday. Alas work calls but I must say we are very appreciative to her boss’ for giving her the time off to come for as long as she did.Thanks kiddo it was absolutely fantastic having you along for the ride and we look forward to the films when you can get them done. It’s weird not having you here.

Upcoming plans

1. Blog as much as possible.

2. Go trekking in the Imja region to look at Glacier lakes in the Everest area.

3. Get ready for the ride out of Nepal and into new adventures in Sikkim, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

4. Continue to lose weight – I have lost about 10kg so far and more to go. Can’t tell you how good riding over the worlds highest roads on a fully loaded bike is for wiehg loss. Stay away from fad diets, get yourself on a bike.

Anyway am off to write a newspaper article for one of the local papers, so keep checking back for updates over the next few weeks.

Stay tuned i promise we will be posting more often when things slow down a bit.

Read Kathmandu Post article here

September 5, 2009 at 7:39 pm Leave a comment

WWF farewell

This morning we have been honoured with a lovely send off from the WWF Nepal. Cycle for Change share similar goals with WWF and in particular the Climate for Life project team. Together we aim to spread the message that the  `Himalayas are more than mountains`.  The changes that are occuring in the Himalayas not only have an impact on all the communities that live in the region but greater area.

Thanks to the team of WWF in Kathmandu for their words of support and well wishes. We look forward to being able to help promote their great work. Now we are heading out of town for our first preparation ride over four days. We’ll let you know how we go with our first hills very soon.

WWF team

WWF team

Checking out our wheels

Checking out our wheels

July 31, 2009 at 2:34 pm 1 comment

Cycle for Change joins the COP15 Cycling Tour in Tokyo

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Eri, The Danish Ambasssador, Mayumi and Gavin

On Saturday the 23rd of May, Eri and I had a great day when we joined The COP15 Cycling tour here in Tokyo. Set up by the Danish Embassador the tour is a week long cycling event in 8 cities across Japan aimed at highlighting the COP15 – United Nations Climate Change Conference. The conference is of course taking place in Denmark this year to develop a new framework as a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.

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May 24, 2009 at 11:50 am Leave a comment

Cycle for Change now partner project with WWF Nepal ‘s Climate for Life

climate for lifeWe are very proud to announce that Cycle for Change has become a partner project with WWF Nepal’s fantastic project Climate for Life.  WWF Nepal is running the “Climate for Life” campaign all through this year to bring world attention to the plight of the Himalayas in the wake of Climate Change. The campaign will run up to the UNFCC Copenhagen Climate Conference – COP15 on December 2009. We will be working closely together to highlight not only the effect of Climate Change on the Himalayas but its implications for people and societies around the world. Stayed tune for further updates about our partnership over the next few weeks.panda

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May 17, 2009 at 7:43 pm Leave a comment

Images of where Cycle for Change will be visiting in Northern India

We are often asked about what the regions we are going to will be like, so I thought it might be nice to give you a bit of an idea of the terrain we will be going through. Al Downie , who I met through Bike Forums, travelled the ManaliLeh road in Northern India last year and has been kind enough to let me put some of his shots up here so people can get an idea of where we are off too. I hope you enjoy these great shots and a big thanks to Al for allowing us to use them. Check out  more of his great shots at his website.

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Check out more great shots here

May 6, 2009 at 5:20 am 3 comments

Equipment partners come on board with Cycle for Change

As the Cycle for Change departure date looms ever larger, we are really excited to have developed support relationships with two outstanding companies. Firstly the Japanese distributor for Brooks saddles, the bicycle saddles loved by almost every long distance rider, are supporting us with two saddles. brooks-saddle1One B17 to support my sadly ample backside and a Flyer S to gently support Eri’s more feminine posterior, through the rigours of our Himalayan adventure. Secondly we are very greatful for the support of Montbell Japan, Japan’s leading outdoor gear manufacturer, who are giving us a great discount on our camping gear. Support like this from such great companies helps getting this project off the ground just that much easier, and we hope to be announcing a few more  relationships in the not to distant future.

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April 20, 2009 at 11:11 am 2 comments

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