Paddling to promote health, environment and tourism

By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM

Cycle City Pokhara (CCP) is the hub of cycling lovers. There are over one hundred members of different age-groups. The members of this group are famous for amazing excursions on their mountain bikes. Every Saturday they go for hours long cycling around the Pokhara valley. But once in a month, some selected members set out for a difficult destination.

The members of CCP may have come from different backgrounds but they have one thing in common. All of them are fired with the passion of cycling. It is therefore the only eligibility to join the CCP is extreme degree of passion for the cycling.

“We have set standard criterion for the new comers who want to join our club. Age is not a big issue but important thing is passion and dedication. If one possesses these two qualities then he or she is qualified to join our group. On Saturdays it is compulsory for our members to come to the office. There we make groups and instruct them which team will trek where. A returning time is also set for the new cyclists” said Prakash Bajracharya, vice president of Cycle City Pokhara (CCP).

This scribe met with Tirtha Awasthy, a pharmacist at Manipal Teaching Hospital, Pokhara. He has recently completed Mahakali to Mechi tour on his mountain bike. It was really an audacious task indeed. “I am one of the dedicated cyclists at CCP. I have already travelled almost all popular destinations in and around the Pokhara Valley.

However, I always wanted to undertake a long distance traveling on my mountain bike, but my fear held me back. My fear melted away the day I met with Pushkar Shah, the legendary cyclist of Nepal. He encouraged me to paddle from Mahakali to Mechi on mountain bike.

Pushkar Shah’s words inspired me and eventually I undertook the task successfully. In fact it was not an easy mission to accomplish as I met several challenges on the way, but whenever I found myself in a difficult situation I remembered Pushkar Shah and I overcame the obstacles”.

It was a wonderful moment for this scribe to meet with the group of CCP cyclists, who had recently returned after accomplishing a very difficult mountain trek called Millennium trek. There were 13 members who had completed the Millennium Trek. “The Millennium Trek was not only difficult trek but also riskier one.

Therefore we had carefully selected only highly skilled cyclists of our club. We began paddling from Pokhara and reached Dulegaunda. We took little rest at Dulegaunda and began paddling and passed through Gachhepani, Dhorbarahi and Rajasthal. At Rajasthal we saw ruins of early kings of Nepal. From here one can see a panoramic view of Dulegaunda, Khairenitar and Bhimad” said Prakash Bajracharya, vice president of Cycle City of Pokhara.

Shyam Krishna Shrestha, 50, was the oldest member in the group. “I love cycling very much. Although I am senior by age in the group, I feel myself very young and energetic. I have been cycling for the last one decade and I feel my energy level intact. I have no doubt about my ability of cycling. I can cycle well as long as I stand on my two feet. I don’t pay much attention to my age. There are people who scaled Mt. Everest even at the age of 80. I am only 50” said Shrestha with a big smile on his face.

I could see a sense of pride and satisfaction in the face of Antuman Gubhaju. He is a 45-year old cyclist of the group. “Due to regular business tours abroad I was out of regular cycling for a quite long time. However, I did not want to miss the opportunity to go for the Millennium Trek. In the end, my years of cycling experience helped me to accomplish the task, otherwise I had to quit in the middle of the trek” said Gubhaju.

The most challenging part of entire trekking was a flight of steps leading to Millennium Cave, said all of the cyclists. There was no other way to reach the Millennium Cave but to follow steep downhill of 501 steps. However, the labour is worth taking because the Millennium Cave is awesome. Everything made here is the wonderful creation of nature.

Waterfalls, ponds, birds, flowers, river, forest, cascaded fields and lush green meadows always lure the visitors. “It is even quite difficult for the people to descend those steps without carrying weight, but we carried our mountain bikes on our shoulders. With bicycles it was not only a tough task but riskier too.

There was no margin for error. Losing a little balance means meeting a terrible accident. We regularly communicated with each other and asked to be alert all the time. Eventually, nothing unpleasant happened and we reached the Millennium Cave safely” said Tirtha Awashti, who recently completed Mahakali to Mechi tour on his mountain bike.

After the Millennium Cave the cyclists group paddled along the Sardi Khola and entered Kolma village development committee. They took little rest beside the Quagi Khola because the next destination was equally tougher one. It was a steep uphill of Kalkhu hill. Cycling on Kalkhu hill was the real test of stamina.

All the cyclists had to carry their bicycles on their backs and walking uphill. Elderly cyclists had a very bad time as it became very difficult for them to walk with their bicycles. “We had no choice. We were in a situation of ‘no retreat, no surrender’. I had almost completed half the way of the uphill and I felt my head spinning and my legs trembling.

Had I not disembarked the load and sat on the ground immediately I would have collapsed that was sure. I looked around and found even the young cyclists were not in comfortable condition. It was truly a test of courage and determination. I am glad because none of us gave in before the difficult terrains” said Govinda Parajuli, a 40-year old cyclist.

The Millennium Trek cycling team reached Kaule village. Some time ago a massive landslide had swept away the entire Kaule village leaving 19 people dead. After the accident most of the villagers abandoned the village and never returned, but a few of them had no choice but to live there.

“The Millennium Trek is not for the novice. This trek is only for the highly skilled cyclists. Along the trek I did notice that there were many dangerous places the cyclists had to pass through. Committing a slight mistake could be fatal. I have already trekked around Lomang Than and Thorangla pas on my mountain bike, but I was really scared while cycling for the Millennium Trek” said Raju Thapa, a senior cyclist of the team.

The cycling team paddled through Rangbhang vdc, Chandrakot, Pelkachaur, Banethok and reached Singarkot. They spent one night at Singarkot. Due to continuous cycling for several hours, all of the team members were extremely exhausted.

The Singarkot Aama Group had organized a cultural dance programme for the entertainment of the cyclists. “One of the elderly men told me the meaning of their village Singarkot. The women both old and young would pay more attention to their clothes and make ups. So the people began calling this village Singarkot” said Syamkrishna Shrestha with an enigmatic smile across his face.

The next morning they had breakfast and set out for the final destination. The cyclists moved off Singarkot village and passed through Budakot, Maaghkot, Gahate Manakamana, Walling, Rambachchha and finally they returned to Pokhara. In the end the triumphant members of Cycle City Pokhara (CCP) completed the Millennium Trek with resounding success.

Throughout cycling time and while passing through every village they delivered the message of Health, Environment and Tourism. “Our club is a nonprofit organization and every penny we earn is used for the purpose of social welfare.

Besides cycling we are also involved in several social works. Our club regularly visits nearby villages and do such works like tree plantation, water management, setting up library, sanitation awareness, first aid programme, distribution of text books and so on” informed Prakash Bajracharya, vice president of Cycle City Pokhara (CCP). 

LB Thapa, the blogger on his way to Pokhara from Beni. I cycled about 200km.

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I am a travel blogger.

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