Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yak Attack Stage 8 -

... last racing stage!!


This stage would end in a town with a hot spring   - the thought of getting cleaned off with out using baby wipes was making many smile!! It was a short stage, and after such a high yesterday it sort of felt that this was just a ride to the finish.

It was a beautiful morning and once again we had bag drops before the start, I had a hard time deciding what to wear as we knew it would get warmer, as we went down, but it was cool still.
I kept on probably a little bit more than required, but it was all good.

Fast start I remember, Erik rode like a mad man still - looking the shape of his life (or as far as I've seen him in his life) and riding like it! After the first major (and only big one of the day) climb we had caught up to Yuki, and after the next few docents were I would keep a little bit of a space to make sure it was safe the next was to get on the wheel, but 20 m was impossible to close - Erik was just motoring, through the town he flew - I broke a couple of my own rules - don't push it passed 80% going down, it's about finishing consistent and safely in a stage race - only a few seconds can be gained on the down with the 20% extra, but when it goes wrong, it could be really bad! But I really wanted to hang on! Then through town, when finally getting on the train - my other rule always pick your lines, hence you need to see your lines, so don't follow too close!!! I blindly and too closely followed and line was ok, but didn't see it clearly and hit an edge and puff, and the day had just started... flat!! oh well! the race mind shut off very quick, and I felt totally ok with it - the day before was really the highlight and I was ok with that - my thoughts now was more around fixing it properly and be able to finish the race. Shortly after Jeff rode by - he stopped and helped me get some air back in with his high efficient and apparently antique pump!! but still worked better then my expensive brand new!!
We rode the rest of the stage together - a nice stage - mostly roads - if you can call them roads. It was rough descending and we would ride by many "bike casualties" of the day. Mostly flats, but one guy with a bigger problem. Had a very close call with a bus!! in the lack of thinking I went right, that would have work at home, but then he went right too (well his left)... had just enough room to skid by! ops!
Stopped to pump up a couple of times, Jeff got some pictures and in general a good day! We rode hard down, but safely. Made it to the finish line and successful completion of 2014 Yak Attach!! So did Erik and Gerry, 100% completion for the Calgarians! I'd say that is success!!
Erik who started out sick as a dog, never stopped pedaling, and the last few days have ridden stronger than I've seen him ever ride, Gerry who also got sick in the first few days, steady every day - even when he had to walk away from his super duper famous sunglasses, and Jeff who got it bad at the worst timing, no hot water (or water at all when it was frozen), in altitude and cold and when the days were as steep as they get, still made it over the mountains and to the finish.
A very different "race" - not all about the physical fitness alone, but so many other things. But though we are spoiled with first world luxury we seem to have survived pretty well. Took a few minutes to reflex at the finish line.

Then it was time for hot springs!! and from there on in, my minor icky tummy took a turn to let me know what was really going on  (and Jeff on his second round).... downhill it went. Today I'm wondering if choosing the hot spring down stream from the really hot spring (were I noticed people doing their laundry as well...) was a great idea.....and I think even if it's completely unrelated; it'll be a while before another hot spring visit :)
I sort of made it through the town party they held for us - in pain all night - and listen to Jeff go through his round two. The next day was group ride day so I felt very fortunate to go my pace - chose a solo to avoid chatter and dust, just had to make it to the bus - thought about the bus ride; wasn't almost worried enough to join Cory's group and ride to the hotel - and in the end they actually made it there before us though with me that probably would not have been the case.....
Had a peak out the window at one point, and that's pretty much my memory from the bus ride, it looked steep - maybe a good thing to just be out of it.... Actually don't recall too much of the first day in Pokahora, I missed the awards and woke up nice and early the next day feeling a bit normal but sad to have missed out on the night before.

At the time we arrived in Pokahora I was happy it was the end of the trip! Today - work sucks, maybe Rumble the Jungle next?? Someone please remind me!!

It's all good adventure and gives you better perspective!

Happy Riding!

Beautiful morning to start the last day of racing!

Gerry at the finish!!! Nice work!

The now infamous hot springs!

View by hotel in Tatopani 

another scarf - the town party

Jeff at the town party - it was a close call party - wiring issues got fixed after blowing up a few times

Happy Gerry!

Jeff really showing his skills - next adventure will be taking up dancing!

Corry having a little rest before the ride to Pokahora - back to his normal self after starting off with some bad stuff too.

Getting bikes loaded - at this point I wasn't concerned about the bike - if I never saw it again it would be just fine :)

We made it to Pokahora - and what a change! Luxery I'd say, a Jeffy to do the checking, hot
showers, heated rooms, super comfy bed - perfect place if you were gona be sick!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Yak Attack Stage 7 ...

... the one we all have been waiting for, and it did not disappoint!


So post last stage I stopped writing after stages hence this will now be all based on blurred and distorted by" home and 10 degrees weather" kind of memory but I will make an attempt.

After a few hours rest the alarm was set for 245 - bags to go for 3AM and start of race at 4AM. I forget how long, but there was a minor delay due to no breakfast.
I had decided on hiking booths, and regular hiking pants the night before. After a lot of back and forth I took it as a cold hike in Bragg, and I'm happy I didn't put more on! I got warm very quick and while walking, handling the bike with my un practices carry system, I was clumsy trying to unzip and let air in without having to stop and let folks by. Hiking booths were light and great! I focused on my feet most of the hike, one step in front of the other, tried to find shoe prints that matched my steps, once in a while I'd get out of sequence or step length and it felt like a huge effort to get back into it again. The bike on my back was ok but not great, I ended up rolling it when I saw the opportunity, which wasn't very often. The darkness was probably to my benefit as the trail were very narrow at sections, looking back all I saw was little headlamps, pretty cool, like a line of working ants... As it got lighter and I got a real sense of the magnitude, steepness and an idea of what was around us, I thought it was a good thing it was dark at sections - if you fall of the trail in places, you'd go a long ways down...
The sun came over the mountains pretty close to the top, it felt so nice to have it "warm" you up a bit.
Just under 2 and a half hour and the top!!
It was pretty cool (both cold and cool, actually awesome!). I was going to have a quick peek in the teahouse but it was close, took a picture and then lent my bike while I got my gear sorted to some porters who wanted a bike to pose with. Would be great to get my hand on some of those; they were pretty funny, doing wheelie poses! By the time I was ready to "ride" down, my hands were frozen! It must have been close to -20.
Then it was full on down hill!! well, full on hiking for most part!! and sliding. Caught up to two guys, Peter and Yuki, moving very carefully down the steep icy trails. I used the sliding technique and it worked great! that until I picked a very long steep stretch and got way too much speed and had to throw bike to get both hands and feet free to try to stop. Saw my bike and bottle bounce like a basket ball down the mountain! Ouch, hopefully it would still be ok. luckily both bike and I was ok, and I even found my bottle (still full of drink). Checked bike quickly and the only thing twisted was the break/shifter, pretty good after what just happened. Skipped the sliding technique from then on!
Eventually the trails became pretty doable on the bike. Had a few mishaps by feed slipping off my spd pedals, not really meant to go together with my hiking boots but all in all I still think it was a wise choice. Each step would have felt much harder with my winter riding booths and really there wasn't that much time on the bike going down today.

The finish was a hill up from the hotel and Erik who had a super day and the Nepalese were hanging out. It was sunny and warm! Jeff  joined in shortly after and made it over the pass on basically empty belly and sick. He had frozen blue thumbs that did not look great, but all in all he was happy he made it over and he really loved his goggles! A couple of Nepalese had very frozen parts as well, with only regular bike shoes and a plastic bag over socks to use, they were warming up frozen feet, one guy wasn't as lucky with the tip of his finger. We are pretty spoiled with access to all the best gear so the elements of the weather we could at least deal with to our advantage.

Down at the hotel we hang out while waiting for bags - Erik who by now had a personal porter of course got his bag personally delivered hours before anyone else! Gerry and I on the other hand stuck by our principle and refused to tip for the dead last delivery of bags on the previous days, so they continued to be late. Little improvement on mine, but poor Gerry, the delivery wasn't just the last, but it was all wet and ripped. The porter he had noticed on the way up with some fancy Canadian Olympic glassed just like his, well they were his! He would never see them again. His booths had been borrowed, but nicely returned, soaked wet! And his bag looked like it had served as a great crazy carpet! All made for great stories though, and hey what would a trip to Nepal be without all these great stories - this one on Gerry's expence.

While waiting a quick visit to Yak Donalds!

All in all one of my favorite days, probably the favorite, this is why I made the trip and it lived up to expectations! Amazing day, playing in the snow, as high as I'll ever go, what more can there be to ask for!

Happy Riding!

As high as my bike will ever go! We made it up in just under 2 hrs 30 min of hiking - going down we hike and slid a bit too. Just got some sunshine as well, and then we had to dip back in the shade going down - but the temperatures rose so much I ran out of space to undress and carry so was overheating by the end of it.... all to great smiles... nobody would complain about getting too hot at this point!
Only got the bike and sign shot for the day but here is one borrow from Yak Attacks site
Another borrowed.... a little tea house on the way up.

Third one borrowed - believe this is Thomas and Wendy! Great work The trck it self was well packed, but step outside and it would take some xtra effort - which felt like a huge effort..! Not an easy hike.

Erik hiked like a mad man and went down equally - great day!
At the finish line sharing some stories with the wicked mountains in the background - Jeff made it over in one piece and loved his goggles!
Seriously, loved the goggles - his poor thumb was frozen blue!  

While waiting for porters we went down to eat at Yac Donalds!
Yuki going to enjoy a real Yac Burger! Apparently someone saw the yak being cut up and made to burger - that's fresh meat!

Cory equally happy about the food!



Sunday, March 09, 2014

Yak Attack Stage 6 ...

...MANANG TO THORONG PHEDI, DISTANCE: 16.1KM, 1238M ASCENT (Max Elevation 4450m).

Another going up day and short day 16 km that would take the best rider, Cory Wallace, just under 2 hours.
After a rest day I hoped I had fought the belly pain and the sinus issue, but right off the start witch was right wash steep climbing it didn't feel totally right. The sinuses doesn't seem to slow me down, it's just hard feeling like all you upper teeth should be pulled, but the belly cramp just kicks me right down. I tried to ride through it, then took it a bit easier for a bit (as easy as possible and still pedal up these hills). Cory came from behind looking like he was back feeling good. Eventually the tummy cramp settled, so kicked in a better pace (meaning maybe tiny bit faster) until I caught up to Erik. 
We road mostly single track (snow and dirt) today it was pretty fun, after the first part of climbing it's flowy Nepal flat until about 2-3 km from the finish. Had my first "oh crap, I almost died" experience as I hit my fancy seat bag trying to get off in a very narrow skree slope that had run over the trail. I was able to stop wheel on the edge looking death in the eye, or at least it's how it feels for someone who doesn't totally love heights. Watch Erik back on the bike riding all the narrow sections, thinking he was crazy. I was in no rush to die. The last 200 m to the finish will now take the record for the longest 200 m countdown - started to wonder if the Garmin does it right. When I finally saw the finish line, with some stairs up to it, I thought for fun I should sprint up them; nah at 4500m a sprint just wasn't in the making.

The camp for the night was super awesome. The dining hall played music from all times and categories, served good food and had a puppy as cute and cuddly as can be. We got a room with our own bathroom again. Since the day was short we got to spend some good time there, and since my bag (and Gerry's) once again was dead last (I didn't even spot my bag today, they must have been on tea break in one of the towns), we got to do a lot of just hanging out. The adjustment to altitude seems to go well; quick physical movements is eating up your oxygen way quicker than normal, well really quick moving is next to non-existent, but other than that I feel ok. The sinus (and the tooth aches that comes with it) seemed to be increasing with height though. But happy my tummy is hanging in there!

Erik had a great day, left me just before the finish and looking real strong for tomorrow.
Jeff had a very rough day including some (not in the moment but after the fact) good poop stories. Manang will forever remember him or his moon. Had a pretty good turnaround tonight and after dinner he even shared a smile. 
Gerry continuous to move steady and strong, and staying healthy.

Tomorrow is the day we have all been waiting for! As high as I will probably ever go, definitely as high as my bike will ever go with me. Super neat! Can't wait.

Happy Riding!
Start in Manang...

Our stop for the night - well at least half a night.... early start tomorrow - 430!
@ Cory - Gerrit and I at finish - bike with the seat bag, thanks to Scott, worked awesome again today!

Take a good look at the wheel - on the scree slope a rock luckily didn't hit Keevy, but his front wheel blew up, rim and all. Cory getting the story - he went from sick to winning today!

restaurant view not bad!

Some cleaned bike - others including me didn't worry as tomorrow is mostly hiking

yepp, right up there somewhere is the trail for tomorrow - up to almost 5500m

A little game - Rai in deep concentration - almost worked!

Poor Jeff had a very rough day but perked up in the evening. Being a good sport, as good as can be considering!

Erik keeping log....

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Yak Attack - Day 6 ...

...time to rest and see the "town".

Not sure waking up is the right term, but had the most awesome view this morning. A little kick of the curtain and wham - the most amazing sunrise! Got Jeff with me to the rooftop for a tea and to see the sun completely rise. When you rise early, you will have time to visit the bakery and take a stroll before breakfast, so we did. Jeff didn't feel so good so left back to "hotel". The bakery had all sorts of goodies and yesterday Jeff brought some goods that we had during sun rise, the coffee wasn't bad either. They also had internet - but I watch my screen load for about 20 min, while a Russian guy beside me pretty much had a fit waiting for his. I could only chuckle as what do you expect in the middle of the mountains? and where do you really have to be right now. With that I decided this was not important - and took a little walk of town before heading to hotel. When I got back to hotel I noticed some porters brushing their teeth in water! Water! the lines were not frozen! that meant I could get a head start on my bike before breakfast as well. In the sun it felt so nice. The bike is now good to start tomorrow.

Breakfast was simple but good. Then time to tour with Snow Monkey - a hike up the hill on the other side, then a tour of the town was the plan. I made it down to the bridge but that's about what my tummy could handle for activity. Left the group and not sure how it's possible in a tiny town, but I did get  little lost climbing back up, which gave me the chance to see a bit more of this mountain town Manang. It's so primitive, nothing really there but rock buildings, but then there is a guy sitting on his roof top watching satellite tv. The goats are walking down the street, on a mission to somewhere, old ladies are carrying "wood" or something of use I'm sure, in big baskets on their back. Cows seem more relaxed than the goats, with less of a mission in life.
After the detour it was back to hotel and really just hang out and try not to move too much. Jeff got really sick and had a not so nice visit to our personal bathroom - squatty shower thingy - can not be fun to have to deal with sickness here. Poor guy. But he got stuff out and said he felt better after. Hopefully this will be the case, though he didn't stay long for dinner before he had to run.
So far I'm good - the tummy ache doesn't require any fancy bathroom facilities and might just be related to a sinus cold, so I keep taking all the precautions I can - hands are completely sanitized at all times, and sticking to simple food smoking hot (mostly egg and rice) complimented with my shake mixed with hempseeds for some nutrition.

Tomorrow is fairly short but all up again!

Happy Riding!

Wendy, Laxmi and Gerry joined at the hang out - tea, breakfast, more tea and tea, lunch, and tea, then dinner! Wendy probably got the most of the day - big hike and then a movie! (?? years in Tibet...).
Borrowed picture: but same view from my window this morning!!

The view as the first bit of sun hit the top.

Group hike gathering

Main street!

Hotel Yak! ($1 per night!)

Path down to the valley

Snow Monkey being a great guide - this is the town he is from!

As the poster says - you can easily spend a day in this little town. Locals seems to be occupied with work all day.
Rumble and hotels all in one...

The cows seems content walking around

Hard to scale it but the mountains are massive - peaks around the views 7000 + meters

Erik and boys - bike cleaning and storage...

Clean again!

The gang (minus Gerry, we did find him eventually) - on the roof top setting up for a picture Alana has from years ago!

The prayer flags - proof of the afternoon winds.