AdventureNepal

Cycling Kathmandu to Pikey Peak

I first arrived in Nepal at the beginning of October 2015. Within that first week, I had already bought a second-hand full-suspension mountain bike. Shortly after, during the Dashain holiday, I joined a new friend on a mountain bike trip that ended up being some of the most intense and rewarding eight days of my life.

We rode from Kathmandu to Pikey Peak and back. According to Edmund Hillary, Pikey Peak — a 4,068 meter tall “hill” in Solukhumbu District — has the best views in the Everest region. After this trip, I am inclined to agree with him!

Day 1: Kathmandu to Manthali, 125 km

We spent the entirety of our first day riding on paved roads, starting with a long climb up to Dhulikhel and then a long descent down to the Sun Kosi River valley. After a long series of uphill and downhill stretches along the river, we arrived at Manthali late in the evening, after a long, full day of riding.

Day 2: Manthali to Shivalaya, 60 km

This day was mostly spent cycling along jeep tracks, with roughly 1,000 meters of climbing over the course of the day. The terrain was easy enough that we were still able to cover a fair amount of distance, and could ride basically the entire way.

When we arrived at Shivalaya, we found that all of the guesthouses were newly reconstructed, as most of the town had been flattened during the earthquake several months prior.

Day 3: Shivalaya to Bhamti Bandar, 25 km

Day 3 is when the terrain started to get really tough, and we had to lower our expectations for how much distance we could cover in a day.

The jeep tracks were so rough and rocky that it was difficult to stay on the bike on the long uphill segments. We spent hours riding and pushing our bikes uphill, and then when we finally reached the top, we would descend all the way back down into another river valley, making it feel like we had made zero upward progress.

Cycling Kathmandu to Pikey Peak

Playing with the local kids. Photo: Jocelyn Powelson

Day 4: Bhamti Bandar to Goli, 20 km

Day 4 was a shorter distance day with a lot of climbing, all on jeep tracks. We spent practically the entire day going uphill, with a 1,500 meter elevation gain.

On this day, we had our first real glimpses of the snow-covered Himalaya, giving us some motivation to continue our uphill journey.

We reached Goli in the early afternoon, just as it started to rain, and found a small local guesthouse. I enjoyed relaxing and spent the afternoon playing with the two young kids of the family.

Day 5: Goli to Pikey Peak Lodge, 13 km

This was one of the toughest days of the trip. We spent basically the whole day pushing and carrying our bikes, rather than riding.

Shortly after leaving Goli, we went off of the jeep track and onto single-track that led up towards Pikey Peak. The single-track was so steep and rocky that it was difficult to even push our bikes, so we resorted to carrying them on our shoulders instead.

We reached the lodge on the west side of Pikey Peak in the mid-afternoon, and I spent the rest of the day laughing as I watched the older Sherpa couple who managed the lodge trying to ride my mountain bike.

Cycling Kathmandu to Pikey Peak

Photo: Jocelyn Powelson

Day 6: Pikey Peak Summit and Okhaldhunga, 55 km

Day 6 was the high point (literally and figuratively!) of the whole trip. After a freezing cold night’s sleep, we woke up early in the morning to a hillside covered in frost. After about an hour of hiking with my bike on my shoulders, I finally found myself on top of Pikey Peak (4,068 m), just as the entire Himalayan range was being brilliantly lit up by the morning sun. The views were the best I had ever seen in my life, and I sat staring at the mountains for close to two hours, before riding back down to the lodge for some breakfast.

We then continued on fun, fast single-track down a ridge running southwest from Pikey Peak. Eventually, the single-track turned into jeep track, and that turned into paved road as we descended all the way down to Okhaldhunga.

Day 7: Okhaldhunga to Kurkhot, 102 km

I was a little sad to be leaving the mountains and to be back on the paved roads with trucks and buses whizzing past. Since we spent most of the day on paved roads with just short climbs and descents, it was easier to cover more distance again. It was nice to be following the Sun Kosi River for most of the day.

Cycling Kathmandu to Pikey Peak

At the summit of Pikey Peak. Photo: Jocelyn Powelson

Day 8: Kurkhot to Kathmandu, 90 km

We started this day following the river again, with just short climbs and descents. However, in the afternoon we faced a long, slow climb of just over 1,000 meters elevation gain, coming up from the Sun Kosi River valley and over the hills that surround Kathmandu.

By the time I arrived back in Kathmandu in the late afternoon, I was ready for a big dinner, a warm shower, and a comfortable bed.

Overall, this trip was one of the best experiences of my life. Riding to Pikey Peak was an amazing combination of cultural exploration and outdoors adventure, and has left me with memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.

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Jocelyn Powelson

Jocelyn Powelson

Jocelyn first came to Nepal in October 2015 after graduating from Dartmouth College with bachelor's degrees in Chemistry and Environmental Studies. She spent 9 months working in the country with Helen Keller International and Save the Children before returning home to the US for some time. She's been back in Nepal since February 2017 and is currently based in Kathmandu, working for the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). In her free time, Jocelyn enjoys outdoors activities including mountain biking, trekking, running, and climbing.

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