If you want an activity that’s a little more rigorous than hiking, another fun filled yet challenging thing to do is to go on a cycling trip. An exhausting uphill ride in the outskirts of the valley gives way to amazing views and exhilarating downhill rides will leave you euphoric. There are a few routes you can take around the valley, depending on how much time you are willing to spend on the cycling journey. The Week talked to a few cycling enthusiasts to tell us about their favorite routes so that you can learn from them and embark on one yourself.
Before heading out
Make sure you get your cycle serviced before you head out on a route that may take you to remote areas. Make sure you have enough water to last you from one habited area to the next, where you can refill your bottle. Also take energy bars and fruits or dried fruits to snack on if you get hungry and carrying glucose powder is a good idea too, just in case you feel light headed. If you are cycling in a group, carrying these supplies won’t be hard work either. And always remember that you are doing it for fun, you can always head back when you feel like you can’t go any further and try another time. Push yourself but don’t forget to have fun and enjoy every minute of it.
A bend in the road
“Six kilometers away from Kathmandu, Chobar can be reached fairly easily from the city. From here, there are two routes you can take depending on how challenging you want the ride to be,” says Anuj Adhikary. One option is to ride on towards the Dakshinkali temple, which is a scenic, fairly challenging route with bouts of uphill biking. You can end your cycle ride at the Tahudaha Lake, have lunch there and return to the city.
Another option is to ride through the village, until you reach the road leading to Bansbari. Upon reaching here, you can ride for two to three hours give or take through the forest areas, depending on your speed, and reach Champa Devi. This ride is hard, and there is lots of uphill riding involved. As the Champa Devi hill is the third highest one in the city, it gives you unparalleled view of the valley as well as the mountains. On very clear days, you might even be able to spot Mount Everest from here, making the ride well worth it.
Rewards in form of mountains
Gather all your friends at the Balaju bypass before you all head out towards the road that leads to Kakani, which is your destination. It lies at an altitude of 2073 meters and is 23 kilometers away from the city. It is a challenging ride and you may want to take a break while passing through the Nagarjuna Forest Reserve. Slow down, catch your breath, and rest before cycling up to the peak. “Be careful not to go down towards the road leading to Trishuli bazaar and take the right instead. The junction here is clearly marked,” says Adhikary.
Kakani is another four kilometers of steep uphill ride from here. Although grueling, the quaint teahouses, and the local lunch to fortify you and replenish your energy with a splendid view of the mountains make it a trip worth under taking.
The beloved trail
“One of the famous trails that most of the cyclists follow is called the helipad route,” says Sangharsha Bhattarai, an avid cyclist. This route starts from the entrance of Shivapuri National Park at Muhan Pokhari. A lot of other routes from places like Sundarijal also merge into this route. This route is a fairly challenging one, but the beauty of the trail, the occasional colorful bird sighting and the lure of the view from the top as well as the exhilarating downhill ride will keep you pushing till you reach the top.
On the outskirts of the forest
“The Nagarjun circuit is one of the most beautiful trails I have ever been on,” says Bhattarai. This trail starts from Balaju, and goes towards the Kakani route. However, unlike the Kakani trail, you should take the first left from Mudkhu. This trail circles the Nagarjuna forest and it takes a lot of physical strength and willpower to push through this part of the trip. “Most of the time it is the thought of the downhill rides that pushes me to reach high enough in the first place,” explains Bhattarai.
A sight for sore eyes
Ujwal Pujari is another cycling enthusiast who would rather spend the day riding his cycle than meeting people. He frequently finds himself trying to escape the suffocating dust of the valley by cycling away to hills.
If you were to start your journey from the Patan Durbar Square, cycle all the way down to Gwarko through Sundhara. From here you cross the ring road and continue on to Lubhu. “Till here the journey seems like you are just passing from one settlement to another, but after passing Lubhu, you will soon be amongst the soothing presence of nature,” he says. As you cycle along, you ascend the Lakuri Bhanjyang hill just before you reach Shuvatara School. The hill is steep and you should be careful, but the view from the top of the hill, of all the three cities in the valley, is worth the tricky ride.
The ride back too is a piece of cake, cruising downhill through Babar Khola to Panauti, from where there is a straight road which leads back to Patan.
Cycle the perimeter
One of the most insanely challenging bike routes in the valley is to make a circuit of the valley periphery. It takes great physical strength and a few days to complete this challenge. If you are in peak form, you will take about four days to finish this constant battle of uphill and downhill rides. If you take it slow, you can take a week, or more if you want, to complete this journey. This way, you reach almost all the best viewpoints of the valley, including Nagarkot, Chisapani, and the
Shivapuri National Park.
If you are a foreign national, make sure you have all the permits you may need beforehand so that you don’t face any extra hassle during the ride. You will even reach religious places like Namobuddha and Changu Narayan. “It’s a trip that’s on the bucket list of every mountain biker in the valley,” says Pujari.