- New Zealand
- The Queen Charlotte TrackMountain biking the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds
- History on the Heaphy
- Suppressing the Competitive UrgeMountain biking in Malborough
- Northern ExposureMountian biking the Coromandel
- Hurunui Hot SpringsWinter mountain biking to Hurunui Hut in the Lake Sumner Forest Park.
- Craigieburn Conservation ParkMountain Biking Craigieburn
- The Brevet ClubGuy and Laurence recount the suffering and intrigue of the inaugural Kiwi Brevet... a 1100km mountain bike race around the top half of the South Island over six days. Informal with self-enforced rules, no entry fee, unsupported, and... well, hard.
- Wharfedale TrackThis is arguably the best and longest stretch of single track in Canterbury
- Double FencelineThis classic trip snakes along the summit ridge of Banks Peninsula.
- One Night StandsOvernight mountain biking trips in the South Island
- Fool's GoldMountain biking in Central Otago
- All that Glistens... the Croesus and Moonlight Gold TrailsMountain biking on the South Island's West Coast
- Otago GoldMountain biking - Bannockburn, Central Otago
- Loop de LoopGreat mountain biking can be found in most corners of this flat earth and New Zealand boasts its fair share of classics.
- Magnetic WestMulti-day mountain biking, Kaikoura to the Tasman sea
- Romping Round the Marlborough SoundsMountain biking Marlborough
- Rambling Around the Marlborough SoundsMountain biking Marlborough, Arapawa and D'Urville Islands
- Off the Beaten Track An off road traverse of the South Island on mountain bikes
- At Peace with PureoraMountain biking around the Pureora Forest in the Central North Island
- Taranaki for NeophytesMountain biking in Taranaki
- South Pacific
- West meets EastAfter riding all morning through the tail of a typhoon, we didn't want to slosh into a Japanese restaurant in that state. I tried drying out by standing under the vent outside the kitchen. I got no drier, but now I smelled of noodles...
- Tien Shan TraverseWhat do you do in the middle of the mountains when two large, thuggish Chinese men get out of a car and stride purposefully towards you? You smile and say thank you for the stale bread and peaches they are offering you!
- One Gear, One Continent, One Hero.Hero Cycles is the world's largest manufacturer of bikes, spitting out a whopping six million a year. You're unlikely to find one at your local bike shop but as any seasoned traveller can attest, they are the 'people's car' of India.
- Laid-back LaosMountain bike touring in Laos
- The Road to MandalayCycle touring in Myanmar
- Vietnam on Thirty Dollars a DayCycle touring in Vietnam
- A Short Ride in the Hindu Kush Cycle touring in Pakistan
- On a Wheel and a Prayer FlagCycle touring in Tibet
- Shanti Shanti - Across the Himalaya by BikeCycling across the Himalayas
- Biking the Hidden HimalayaCycle touring in North West India
- Pedalling Patagonia"Wow! Amazing! You're cycling to the bottom of South America. Is it all downhill?" Alan and I looked at each other in amusement and suggested that we expected a few uphill sections.
- Cycling Cuba with Fidel and Ché
- Dirt Roading in Colombia'The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay', promises Colombia's latest tourist advertising slogan, printed over glossy photos of idyllic Caribbean coastlines, perfectly preserved colonial towns, rolling, lush coffee plantations and a Latin couple dancing hot cumbia.
- Famous Potato Recipes from Idaho
- My Private Idaho
- Donde Estan Los Pollos
- Alaska - the Last Frontier The Alaskan Iditasport Human Powered Ultramarathon
- In Search of Maple Syrup and a Decent National Anthem Mountain biking in Canada
- All You Can EatMountain Biking in Northern California
- Caffeine and Singletrack in the USA Mountain biking in South West Colorado
- Pizza, Gelato and Mountain BikesMountain biking in Italy's Aosta Valley
- Albania for BeginnersCycle touring in Albania
- Fat Tyre Touring in ItalyMountain bike touring through Italy.
- Corsica- touring the scented isleCycling around the Mediterranean
- Bici Dolomiti Mountain biking in the Dolomites
- A Slice of Swiss CheeseMountain biking in Switzerland
- London Calling The London Cycle Show
- Stairway to Heaven - biking Spain's Camino de SantiagoCycle touring in Spain
- A Scottish Coast to CoastCycle touring in Scotland
- Crouching Tiger - Cycling Ireland's South West Coast Cycling Ireland's South West Coast
- The Italian Job Mountain biking around Lake Garda
- Double DutchA cycle tour of the Netherlands.
- A Rather Big Swedish RaceMountain bike racing in Sweden
- French ConnectionCircumnavigating Mont Blanc on the "Sentier Pedestre" hiking trail.
- A Month in Provence Cycle touring in the South of France
- A French PilgrimageTouring with the Tour de France
- End to End, the Long WayCycle touring in Great Britain
- Steve's SabbaticalCycle touring in France
Biking the Hidden Himalaya
Anna Cook, UnderGround Issue 2, March 1995
Updated 29 June 2011In the far North Western corner of India is the remote region of Spiti which offers unrivalled opportunities for the keen cyclist. This predominantly Tibetan area boasts 1000 year old monasteries inhabited by monks whose every face can tell a hundred stories. It's like drifting back in life a couple of centuries. The riding is on sealed and dirt roads with a mixture of gradual ascents, steep switchbacks, mellow freewheeling, fast blasts, and mind-blowing views
Getting ThereJump on a plane and soar into Delhi. Mrs Colaco's Guest House (3 Janpath Lane) is an excellent low budget place to stay. An 18hr (overnight) bus ride from hell takes you north to Manali. Avoid "the people factor" and buy your ticket from Hari Travels, Shop A, Hotel - The Connaught Palace. The fare is 350R, plus an extra 5R to put your bike on the roof where it's safely tarped down for the whole journey.
Around ManaliManali lies at the head of the lush Kulu Valley in the mainly Hindu State of Himachal Pradesh. To get your biking legs going after all that bus and plane travel, take a day trip up to Solang village and on up the Solang Nallah (river). Or for an over nighter cruise down the left bank of the Beas River to Bhuntar. Hang a left into the Parbati Valley and continue up to the hot springs at Manikaran. Taking the bus trip to the top is an exhilarating experience too - the drivers get into rally driving on the narrow road which hangs over a deep gorge way below. The downhill ride speaks for itself - but listen out for the loud honk of an approaching bus around the corner.
Through SpitiStarting from Manali, the trip through Spiti can be done in either direction. To tackle the high passes first and enjoy a gradual downhill cruise through Spiti is probably best. Allow two days to get to the top of the Rohtang Pass (3980m), the Gateway to the Himalaya. You can stay in the rest house at Marrhi (3320m) on the way up. A series of switchbacks takes you down to Gramphu at the base of the Pass. Take a right into the Chandra Valley (left leads to Ladakh and Leh) and continue towards the Kunzum Pass. It's a couple of days gradual climbing to get up the Kunzum (4551m). Chatru and Batal on the way both have tea stalls for the standard rice, chapatti and dahl meals - rely on your tent for somewhere to stay. The top of the pass is marked by a temple, a chorten of stones and a colourful array of Tibetan flags. This is the entrance into Spiti. Time to disengage brain and select top gear for some of that big ring thing.
Lying in the rain shadow of the Himalayan chain, Spiti has an arid landscape creating a moon-like appearance. The feeling while cycling through there is one of total isolation, occasionally broken by the sight of a small village or a monastery - locally known as a gompa and usually perched high on a hill with a brilliant view.
Kaza (3660m) is the district head quarters of Spiti, and being so close to the Chinese border you'll need a permit to go any further. Allow at least a day in Kaza for the paper work and being shuffled from one office to another. You'll have to fight to get a 15 day permit rather than the standard 5. Carry at least 3 pp sized photos with you. Depending which rules suit on the day you could be told that a permit is only available in Recong Peo.
Ki Monastery, Dankar Gompa and the 1000 year old Tabo Monastery are all worthwhile visiting. It is possible to stay at Ki and Dankar. The monks will cook you a basic meal - usually barley of some description.
Allow at least a week to cruise through Spiti to Recong Peo (2290m). It's a gradual descent following the Sutlej River and there is some impressive engineering with the road often hanging above the gorge below. Recong Peo is a larger town, and the place to obtain your permit if doing this trip in reverse. Close by is the town of Kalpa. You can feast on great sunsets and impressive views of Kina Kailash (6000m) from the balcony of the one and only guest house there.
Continuing down the Sutlej River Gorge, the towns become increasingly busy and the people more typically Hindu. You eventually arrive in Simla - an important hill station and "summer capital of India" in the days of the British Raj. You could end your trip here and catch the train back to Delhi. To continue back to Manali, it's two days up Jalori Pass (3223m) and down through forests of Indian chestnuts to Aut, and then up the Kulu Valley to Manali via the quieter left bank.
Biking is the best way to discover the pulse of India.
The Nitty Gritty> Take tools for basic repairs - there are no bike shops en route and Indians do most mechanical repairs with a hammer.
> Maps of the area can be bought in Manali, but beware they are by no means to scale.
> You'll need a kerosene powered stove. Kerosene isn't widely available so stock up in Manali.
> For purifying your drinking water take either a water filter or iodine drops.
> Spiti is cut off with snow on the passes for most of the year. Rhotang opens around mid June and Kunzum towards the end of June until the end of September.
> Anna Cook has returned to the Indian Himalaya for the past 10 years - exploring the area by bike and on skis. She has 7 years experience organising and guiding ski touring trips around Manali.
> Anna organises a 22 day mountain bike trip to Spiti each year in June/July. A back-up vehicle carries all your gear and you benefit from Anna's intimate knowledge of the region. All up cost is NZ$5450 including airfares.
To find out more contact:
PO Box 247
Wanaka, New Zealand
ph/fax +64 3 443 9185