The guys have now had a full, intensive, course of instruction. They were experienced motorcyclists in their own right, but in reality that was just machine handling skills. Road safety and having a few options of different techniques available were both new areas. Are they safer than they were when we started? Oh yes, without a shadow of a doubt.
We split into two groups for us to observe them riding, Pete and I starting at the rear and working our way to the front and then dropping back, and re-starting the procedure. This works well, and when we overtake the individuals, they no longer think it’s an invitation to race!
The roads are varied; some mud, some gravel, some metalled (in places, at least). But they are all poor. Overall they are much more aware of what’s around them due to improved observation skills. They check for safety before moving and look ahead at overtakes rather than just winging it. A great improvement. They realise now that they may be overtaken more but they will then very soon re-overtake that vehicle and more. It’s a fable we all know but in Nepal it’s a Turtle and a Hare.
They are actually riding at a slower,more regulated, pace now. Some have picked up ‘The System’ quite quickly, others are a little weak still, but just about getting there. It’s a treat watching them being overtaken by a manic scooter-riding local on the tarmac who then slows down for the dirt road and our guys just stand up, look up and accelerate straight past. The message has really got through. Some even leave the tarmac and ride on the dirt to the side. There is often more grip here than on the dusty tarmac so they’re really thinking about their riding now.
Tea is had at a roadside café. Very hot and sweet, lovely. The only problem is my height. At over 6 foot it is considerably in excess of the average Nepali. I have been repeatedly reminding myself of this every time I step out of the shower as the door frame is lower than I expect. Some of the public toilets are surrounded by stalls. I can just stand there and watch the world go by…feels quite awkward actually.
This tea stop is no exception, there is a corrugated metal roof over the seating area. There’s no point having a roof too high, why have one 20 feet up? It just needs to be high enough, which it is for the expected customers. Luckily it has a gutter on it so I walk into that rather than the edge of the sheeting. Unluckily, that gutter is metal so it still flippin’ hurt. Makes quite a noise, too. So I quietly sat and nursed my head.
“Time to go” said Pete
“Clang”! said the gutter…
We then continued to ride to lunch which was at a beautiful location; the Peace Zone Restaurant at Balewa.
This is at a junction of two rivers; the Modi and the Kali Gandaki. It is a particularly Holy location so there are many bridges, all the same as the one from yesterday. Some were the same 20 feet above the river bed, the one we crossed was, at a guess, 500 feet or more, with the same see-through bottom. And bikes, of course.
Heights don’t bother me at all and the views from there were stunning, I have attached some pictures.
The restaurant itself is quite a lavish affair with a variety of zoo themed tables and chairs to sit at, only instead of corrugated metal they are made of Bamboo. They go “Thud”! and still hurt.
We then rode back down the hill to a place called Sarangkot, famous for paragliders and an excellent spot to see the sunrise from. We had another tea stop there which, due to the lack of shelters to sit under, was pain free for me!
We completed our ride home and all twelve students had certainly improved enough to pass the course. Tomorrow we will be looking at them delivering training to each other with a view to them cascading these new techniques to the remaining riders.