Riding in Nepal on a trail at four thousand meters (13,000 ft) elevation and looking over at a mountain that is eight thousand meters (26,000 ft) tall is a surreal experience. The fact that the trail below your bike has never seen tires on it makes it even more surreal.
Anthill Films traveled to Nepal in the fall of 2011 to shoot a segment for Strength in Numbers – premiering April 2012. We went to Nepal with Rene Wildhaber and Andrew Shandro to tell the story of Nepal’s young and growing mountain bike culture.
Most people have heard of Nepal. It is well known as the home to many of the tallest mountains in the world and its bustling capital city Kathmandu. Many have heard tales brought home from trekkers suggesting supposedly abundant forests of wild marijuana found growing all over the Nepalese hillsides. Unless you have been to this isolated nation, it is hard to separate fact from fiction. A trip to Nepal is an adventure of constant discovery from the vast spread in climate from region to region, to the rules of the road when driving.
As Mads Mathiasen a Danish expatriate who has lived in Nepal for 17 years and operates Kathmandu-based Unique Trails says: “Very few people realize how big a contrast there is in Nepal. From seventy meters above sea level, the lowest place in Nepal to 8850 meters the top of the world in Everest. You have every climate zone imaginable from sub-tropical to fully arctic. They think the Himalayas and they think cold.”
There is a lot of trail to be explored in Nepal. It is a country with few roads and where walking is the primary form of transportation for the majority of the population. Trails connect the people. From the urban jungle of Kathmandu on up to the remote villages surrounding the peaks of the Himalaya. Kathmandu. Hetauda. Pokhara. Jomsom. Kagbeni. The Upper Mustang. These are places to experience. They will be forever locked in your mind, easily revisited in an instant with the slight stimulus of a photo or story from a fellow traveler.
Like the trails we experienced in Nepal, Strength In Numbers is about the threads that tie different communities of mountain bikers together. The bike is a tool of connections. Tire to ground. Foot to pedal. Hand to handlebar. Effort put out, in turn rewarded with full body happiness. Go to Nepal, meet the people and find singletrack that has never seen a mountain bike. It is the place to do it.