After a transition stage group ride yesterday of 50km with a healthy serving of both up and down we found ourselves in Gorka.. the old capital of Nepal.
Stage 2, Gorka to Besi Sahar, 60km... the days stage was sold as a half and half, jeep track and sealed tarmac rode.. on paper it didn't sound too tough although with that much tarmac involved it was never going to be a singlspeed friendly day and best i could hope for was to minimise losses.
The day started with a descent of around 6-7km, not too rough but pretty rutted as rain has carved the surface into multiple channels to choose from... the jeep track flowed from reddish clay, to grass then into villages and back onto the familiar dusty brown surface of the last 2 days...
The first proper carry of the race came after a footbridge crossing which led onto a set of stairs.. with the Swedish guys, Andreas and Martin, just behind me on the trail as well as in the race overall i tried to run the first flight of stairs which quickly turned into a brisk walk and then to a slow walk...
Cresting the stairs the trail then wound undulating down the valley finally ending in a steepish climb to up and over down into the next valley... the going was a fast as my gearing allowed but still painfully slow... geared too high for some of the ups and too low for the flat.. the curse of the singlespeed rider.
My only salvation was going to be the easy tarmac section... 30km was going to be slow but manageable.. and at first it was pretty easy going if a little slow.. the road was either gently uphill or downhill and progress was acceptable.
As the tarmac continued the frequency of the ups and downs tightened and the downs were steeper and so were the corresponding ups.. with no ability to capitalise on the downhill spinning out the gear i had to bear the full brunt of every climb and it started to take toll.
The morning had started with a poor breakfast selection, well what did i expect ordering chocolate pancakes in Nepal, and the soon the lack of food was apparent. I had managed the first 2 days on nothing but fluid and felt fine but today i gradually ground to a halt and an SIS Caffeine gel was taken to try and salvage the situation.
The road signs indicating the mileage to Besi Sahar were only every 5km and weren't coming fast enough... i rationalised the distance to training routes and rides at home which is always the sign of suffering.. even the sight of the big mountains couldn't lift my tempo.
Gradually i reached the base of the last climb before Besi and ground slowly up to the finish.. maintaining my place in the overall.. gaining time on the riders who were behind but losing to those in front.
So far the riding has been pretty tough, the Nepali foothills are very steep in places and relentless in there delivery of height gain... the scenery has been immense.. the people so friendly... the Hike a Bike starts tomorrow on the way Tal.. 30km riding followed by 10km steep hike:( ouch.