Nepal 2019

Stretching our legs

Welcome back and thanks for following. Yesterday was spent mainly on road with some work around clutch control and re-visiting some previous exercises. We found a housing estate and did figure of eight circuits so they were exposed to left and right turns as well as some problems with regards to road camber. Left foot down anyone? When you’re not particularly tall, mounted on a high bike with some horrendous adverse cambers, you very soon dispel that old myth, Pete can assure you. These ladies are resourceful though…high kerbs are utilised and road positioning changed to adapt to camber etc. They are starting to risk – assess every situation now. Not always the best solution but it’s a big start. After that we head out into the countryside on (mainly) tarmac roads and the morning exercise is showing results; far more thought is going into hazards now, with much more accurate planning.

We then take a route to the top of Kahun Danda which affords an excellent view over Pokhara. It’s a popular spot with locals as well as tourists. One of the saddest sights is the amount of plastic litter. There are no bins or anywhere to place rubbish. Apparently it is in the government plans but has not yet been built. This situation is unfortunately repeated throughout the areas we see in Nepal and I don’t have a solution…I don’t think anyone does.

On the return route a couple of the ladies struggle with the manual gearbox and seem reluctant to change up, no doubt because it adds to the work in changing down when stopping. As a result we occasionally have a bit of a queue behind us (but not for long…this is Nepal after all) so we try to encourage the use of higher gears. At the end of the day there is a lot more confidence within the group.

Today we spent mainly off-road in the environment they will be working. As I have said before, these are tracks throughout the mountains. They are rough (very) in places and steep. We are not training for competition here, or even recreational off-roading. This is work for them, with serious consequences if they do not arrive at their pensioners to deliver care and assistance.

They are much better with clutch control now, but throwing in the additional hurdle of off-road may well cause extra difficulties. Indeed it does, but not as much as we feared. In actual fact they do bloody well! There are a couple of dropped bikes, some failed attempts on inclines but they look have learnt if this happens to stop, take a deep breath and assess the situation before re-trying.

One of the exercises we did around clutch control was to get them to walk alongside the bike. The penny drops now and they start walking it up (and down) some of the steeper sections and they are encouraged that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. They have to get there, not get there fast.

They actually told us at the end of the day they did not understand some of the exercises we had been getting them to do but now they could see why.

One of the ladies – Pooja – kept complaining that her handlebars were loose and moving around. I checked them and couldn’t see a problem, but when we stopped for lunch she insisted it was broken so I took it for a short spin and found no problem. It transpires that yesterday the bike had new steering head bearings fitted. Eventually we get her to realise the bike had been broken before; now it was fixed and that was how it was supposed to feel!

We have lunch at Ghandruk; the site of an old Royal Palace, now demolished. There is a Hindu Temple there now and the ladies invite us to look. There is a long, steep stretch of stairs to the top and our fitness level is ‘less than ideal’. Oh well, let’s get going then. On reaching the top and going through the entrance arch imagine our joy to see that was just the approach walk. The summit climb had been hidden from view. I hope these ladies are up to speed on CPR.

At the Temple itself there is a fantastic view and we are both given a ‘God Gift’ from the temple to tie on our bikes; a length of ribbon which will make us stronger. I’ll have five yards to take away please.

I suppose that’s Karma…we have been getting them to do things on bikes that has got them out of their comfort zone and made them tired…they’ve just done the same to us!

The descent causes more challenges than coming up, but in our experience that’s normal. There are quite a few drops on the way down, mainly due to brakes, so we re-cap on brake use downhill on poor surfaces and things improve. At the bottom the earlier hilarity has gone and they all seem a little down. Hopefully some consolidation tomorrow will improve things.

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