You would be very disappointed that this is no bike park,there is no bike lift to lessen the burden of carrying up your bike,if the guide says you would be carrying your bike, literally you would be carrying it on your shoulder up the Annapurna mountain. One thing for sure there is no other epic ride so far for me than riding your bike on the Annapurna circuit.

Our preparation for the Nepal ride was about 5 months, gathered 11 Malaysians that barely knows each other but has one determination for sure that is to be the 1st group of Malaysian mountain bikers to ride the Annapurna circuit. In that 5 months we gathered as much resources and info about riding a mountain bike in Nepal. We approached one well known mountain biking company that is Epic Rides Nepal. They’ve customised a package for us that would fit in 8 days that is 3 days of travel,4 days of riding on the Annapurna circuit & 1 extra riding day in Kathmandu if we would like to.


The route we took started in Jomsom and ended in Kagbeni was only about 10km just for the purpose of acclimatisation.One thing for us Malaysian,we only ride at low altitude and we have no experience at all on high altitude. On this 1st ride my heart rate was pumping 180+bps. There wasn’t really much of pedalling uphill but i could feel that my heart was pumping as hard as it can & my oxygen intake just couldn’t expand any further. I felt light headed & was about to faint, it was psychologically disturbing. Then i realised i had an acute mountain sickness(AMS),i panicked. AMS was really no joke. Luckly we got an awesome trail guide, Bardaan & Denish from Epic Rides Nepal to help us out. They assisted us as if we’ve known each other for so many years,they carried up our bikes on difficult terrain. They attended our bikes whenever there’s a problem, they had skills we’ve never seen before,seriously! Technical problem was also no joke. We had it everyday, from tube puncture,torn tires,snapped chain,fork loosing air pressure,jammed crank,you name it. We took spare parts seriously, we had tons of them from spare rear derailleur, hangar, tire to even spokes.

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On the 2nd day we took a quite daunting 45 minutes steep hilly off road truck ride from Kagbeni to Muktinath that is at about 3500m above sea level. From Muktinath, we had to push or pedal depending on our capability to go up to the highest point of our ride that is at 3800m (12,600ft). At some part we had to shoulder carry our bikes as it was too steep to push up. From then on the Epic ride starts with an awesome downhill through single track and ended with an open downhill freeride! Some of us clocked at 43km/h going through bumps,bushes and torns. One thing for sure,the wind in Lupra Valley was unbearable,it pushes us off camber even on flat land. The view in Lupra Valley was like an endless canvas painting of huge white coloured mountains. It was always the cure when we were pedalling uphill on tough ascends. The weather changes from cold wind to drizzling rain & snowed fro a few minutes. We ended our 24km journey back in Jomsom through drizzling cold rain.


The 3rd day ride from Jomsom to Kalapani was more of a “Nepalese Flat” as the local calls it. For us the low altitude beings from Malaysia, there was a lot of ascending & descending.As we need to descend about 200m to Kalapani, there was some cool Jeep track downhill and a few long bridge crossing.By now we have pretty much acclimatised. Reaching Kalapani was a relief as most of the day’s ride was “a little bit of up” & “a little bit of down”. We rode through small towns,chilling rivers & there’s always the Annapurna mountain in view. The hotel we stayed in Kalapani was very beautiful as it was situated near an enchanted looking forest on one side & the Annapurna mountain on the other.
The days went by so fast that we didn’t realised we were already on our 4th day of ride which was the last riding day on the Annapurna circuit.


The route from Kalapani to Beni will be 100% jeep track which means wide open off road enough to fit 2 cars.The best part,we needed to descend about 1600m in just 45km which is about 80% of awesome downhill on loose gravel, no kidding… the 1st 17km of nonstop descend from Kalapani to Tatopani will turn your hands into jelly! But we were careful as 4×4 & buses uses the jeep track as their commuting road from one town to another,consider it as their highway except it was not paved with tarmac,there was also near misses with the local buses.The surface of the jeep track was loose gravel & rocks ranging from the size of a fist to as big as your 26” tire. This was when we learnt to just let go of the brakes,hold on tight,get some air & have a blast! We had so much fun on that day that we were very sure we wouldn’t have such awesome descend anywhere else on a mountain bike trail! We actually saw the landscape changes from pure huge white mountains slowly into green forest and rivers flowing just by the side of the jeep track. As we reach Beni the mountains slowly fade away far from us saying goodbye until next time.


Upon reaching our last checkpoint in Beni,we dismantled our bikes to be transported back to Kathmandu, our land transport back to Pokhara was ready to go but then we looked back to the setback mountains for the last time & we said to ourselves “That was one hell of a descend!”

P/S : One of our member Fairuz Jamil is the 1st ever in the world to ride the Annapurna Circuit on a single speed rigid 29″ OnOne mountain bike.

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Words & Pictures: Epic Ride Nepal

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