By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
My first ever difficult cycling trip with the veteran Pokhareli cyclists was going to be a lifetime experience. In one fine morning we four cyclists decided to go for a challenging destination. After much contemplation we agreed to go for ‘Nepal Upper Madi Hydropower Project’. It lies at Taprang and about 40km away from Pokhara. One of the cyclists raised doubt about the trek. He suggested that the trail was extremely rough due to regular downpour. But his concern about the rough trek was immediately dismissed by other cyclists. “Mountain bikes are made to meet such obstacles and we should accept the challenge” declared Tirtha Awasthi, one of the cyclists from the group.
Tirtha Awasthi needs no introduction for his passion and incredible penchant for the cycling. He considers his cycle as one of the vital organs of his body. “I have three kidneys” he says solemnly. His arduous ‘Nepal Tour’ some two years ago has lifted him to the highest pedestal of recognition. This feat of success made him the only person to make a successful tour from Mahakali to Mechi in Nepal.
Jitendra Man Shakya is the president of Cycle City Pokhara (CCP). He is also involved in several other organizations. He has lifted CCP from oblivion to limelight. Mr.Shakya must be credited to popularize CCP by organizing several programmes. It was his efforts which brought many tourism related organizations to work together for promoting Pokhara tourism.
Mr. Shakya is much popular among the cyclists for maintaining his body extremely athletic. “No doubt I love cycling from the bottom of my heart, but I also go to gym regularly and do running three days in a week. Most of my time I devote to social work as I do not have a regular employment. In the meantime I love to keep my body physically fit. This is the reason why I do various kinds of physical exercise” said Mr.Shakya proudly.
Lok Thapa was yet another member in our cycling team. The man at his 50s is notorious for his incredible stamina. He can be better compared with a sturdy horse. No uphill riding is difficult for him. His strong legs and incredible stamina always keep him ahead in the group no matter how bad is the trek…nothing can slow his pace.
I was happy because I had an opportunity to go for a cycling tour with such veteran cyclists, but at the same time I was scared if I failed to keep pace with them. For a new cyclist one like me it was a daunting task to cycle with the veterans. Anyway I prepared myself for the task and put my feet firmly on the paddles.
Our cycling trip began from Mahendrapool Bridge at 7 o’clock in the morning. Only at Mahendrapool did we come to know that a group of cyclists led by Kamal Nepali, a senior staff at the British Camp, Pokhara, had already left for the same destination we wanted to go. Without wasting any more time we mounted our mountain bikes and set out for the trek. We named this tour as “New Constitution Memorial Trip” and the tour began from Mahendrapool Bridge.
The sun had just popped up and the sky was clear. We four cyclists set out for the trip and our destination was Upper Madi Hydropower Project which was about 40km away from downtown Pokhara. It was not going to be an easy trek for me. Tirtha Awasthi had already been the place some two years ago and his explanation about the trek was frightening. The trek was rough and there strewn sharp rocks all along the trek. Most dangerous part of the ride was rough, steep downhill where it was too difficult to control two rolling wheels. Half of the trek was extreme downhill and the remaining half of the way was steep uphill.
After about 20 minutes ride we reached the Bijaypur River. It was knee deep so that all of us decided to remove our shoes and carrying the mountain bikes on our shoulders. No sooner had we stepped into the river than one of the shoes of Tirtha Awasthi fell in the river. It whizzed past so quickly that he could not hold of the shoe.
He saw his one shoe floating away helplessly. About that time Jitendra Man Shakya showed extraordinary presence of mind. He saw a man coming towards us from a quite far distance. The man could not hear his voice so that Mr.Shakya resorted to sign language. He waved his hands at the man and repeatedly asked him to grab the shoe which was floating with the current of the river and the shoe could pass by the man anytime soon.
Thanks god! Before it was too late the man understood the sign language and the next moment he waded through the river and grabbed the shoe. Tirtha Awasthy’s happiness knew no bound. A big smile could be seen on his face as he was eager to meet the man who was coming with galloping steps. He must have felt like a winner with the shoe in his hand. He was Jay Bahadur Adhikari a local resident of a nearby village. He was a very kind man. He wanted to help us by carrying our mountain bikes on the other side of the river but we did not accept his offer.
Mr.Awasthi looked much satisfied with the shoe in his hand. He held it more like a winner’s trophy; but his happiness could not last for long as the sole of one of the shoes came off while riding his mountain bike on a steep uphill. However, he was not intimidated by the incident though. He managed a rope and tied his shoe firmly and continued the riding.
The downhill from Sindure vdc was extremely dangerous. The trek was full of sharp and uneven rocks which could derail our mountain bikes any moment. I grew melancholic thinking about a possible accident on those terrific slopes. But thanks god nothing like that happened and all of us were safe and sound by the time we reached Upper Madi Hydropower Project.
We all cyclists stood in front of the main gate of the Upper Madi Hydropower Project where some Chinese engineers were busy at their work. We threw smiles at the Chinese engineers and they duly reciprocated. We asked their permission for the photograph and they allowed readily. We felt very proud to get photographed in front of the huge hydropower Project of the country.
After about one hour we were called for the lunch. It was a simple lunch—dal, bhat and tarkari. The food was delicious and we were too hungry. I was determined to eat a mountain of bhat but my hunger died down after one and half plateful of bhat. After having eaten so much dal, bhat and tarkari, our belly swelled like a balloon. We lay on the lush green grass to digest the foods.
Returning journey was equally exciting and full of thrill but there was only problem of sweltering sunlight. The sun was overhead and we had to paddle steep uphill under blazing sunlight. We sweated profusely but we duly supplemented the loss of water by drinking plenty of natural spring water which was available throughout the trek. The water we drank from those natural springs had different taste than water we normally drink in Pokhara.
After nearly three hours regular cycling we reached the Bijaypur River where Mr.Awasthy had dropped his one shoe. This time he was not ready to take any chance. He decided not to remove his shoes from his feet so did we. When we reached our houses we had plenty of tidbits to tell our family members and friends.
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