Cycling through the foothills of the Himalyas
I'm delighted to report that, by God's grace and protection, the 350km bike ride challenge in Nepal was completed as planned. Cycling 350km in 6 days was very challenging, particularly due to the combination of climbs and being in the midst of Nepali traffic madness: sharing the roads with trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles, dogs, goats, cows, and pedestrians!
The total elevation from start to ﬁnish was 17,641ft or 5,322 meters. Those hills really humbled me, but also taught me perseverance and how awesome our team were in encouraging and inspiring each other to complete this challenge together!
The ﬁrst day we set out around Kathmandu Valley for a 47km ride to Changu Narayan temple and Bhaktapur for an acclimatisation ride and to test out our bikes. I had to put on my glasses and mask while riding around Kathmandu because of the dust and diesel fumes.
On day 2 we headed towards the village of Pharping, with 2 passes to climb and terrain that was mainly stony off-road. We had a warm welcome with delicious ginger tea and marigolds.
Day 3 was the 'hardest day', as we tackled the long, relentlessly steep, 22km climb to Daman on Simbhanjang Pass at 2435m. We passed by some beautiful villages and countryside, with children waving at us and shouting 'namaste', 'hi' and 'bye'. After a quick lunch, it was time for a mad dash downhill to Hetauda for 52km before the sun goes down.
We welcomed day 4 of cycling at lower altitudes and on a ﬂatter course for a fast 73km to Sauraha at Royal Chitwan National Park before lunch! Day 5 started with an early morning wake up call for an elephant safari ride in search of wild life in the morning mist. We saw a rhino, deer, wild boars, and various birds. Then we headed to a stunning mountain village of Bandipur (more uphill)! The Annapurna range appeared as we were leaving.
After cranking through the last ﬂat stretches to Pokhara for 70km, the ﬁnish line at Green Pastures Hospital was a welcome sight. The team welcomed each of us with a marigold garland, refreshments and banners at the gate. Then the Dang Project Team gave us a presentation about the Maternal and Child Health programme that EMMS is supporting.
The project is working to improve the health of pregnant women, mothers and infants in the Deukhuri area of Dang District, by reducing the maternal mortality and neonatal death rates.
They are training Mother Group leaders to reach out to pregnant women in the villages, to support community health volunteers and to do follow up visits and prenatal care.
Thank YOU very much for your generosity in supporting this project in Nepal and for being a part of God's hands and feet in reaching those who are less fortunate than us. Incredibly, the team of 24 cyclists has managed to raise over £52,000 with a target of £ 60,000.
I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to cycle in beautiful Nepal, raised funds for this programme, and met some new amazing friends from Scotland, Ireland, and England, and the most excellent Nepali support team and Claude, the tour manager.
Em Altez, 2014 Nepal Bike Rider