Stage 5: Besi Sahar – Taal
Today was the first major day with a hike-a-bike. We started in Besi Sahar with the long downhill. My feet were aching on the DH. The road was steep and rolling. I wasn’t riding as well as I had been and everyone was asking me if I was ok, or asking me what happened. I was tired and no power in my legs. My sinuses have also gotten worse. I did my best to keep the pressure on, but I was riding further back than I had been the first 4 days. It was disappointing because I was so consistent with my training at home. Maybe it’s this stupid sinus cold. I did the long hike in my Northwave shoes. They were really slippery on the rocks and I had to walk very carefully. XC race shoes aren’t designed for epic hiking! ;) Jeez, all I’m doing is complain today!
The hike was really beautiful. I wanted to stop and take it all in. There was a large river below us that had carved the canyon. There were massive rock cliffs, and huge snowy mountains in the backdrop.
We crossed a suspension bridge and there were tons of really rocky steps and they were steep. We had our first few fun encounters with all the donkey trains.
There were also porters carrying heavy items on their backs. One guy had a corrugated metal sheet, one had crates of chickens, and one had some huge pipes…and they were all hiking in flip flops!! There was even a tiny store off the trail. I was surprised – it was still a long way to hike, but it was shorter and easier than I expected. A little blister started on the back of my left heel that I’ll have to watch out for tomorrow since it has the longest distance of hiking. I was trying to push my bike and carry it by the top tube for most of the day. I figured out that carrying it on my back was a lot more efficient. I was excited to get to the finish and really enjoyed the stage. It feels good to be back in the mountains.
The teahouse is cute and colorful.
The course was hard on our bikes!
We froze after the finish because the bus that was transporting the porters and our bags to the hiking trail broke down and they had to walk even further. It took several hours longer than expected. Thankfully, I had knee warmers, arm warmers, a vest, and a buff in my pack. My socks and shoes were totally soaked. After we got our clothes, there were actually hot showers. We couldn’t believe it! Everyone was hanging out in the kitchen area today and it was fun to have a bunch of people in one place. Other days (when we were in hotels instead of teahouses), we are all a bit separated. It was windy and raining all night. The Nepali guys were at the teahouse across the way. I went to explore and found them all sitting around a charcoal fire with Kumar playing the drums and all the Nepali guys singing songs in Nepalese.
It was SO cool. We had a not so good potato dinner and I crashed out at 9 PM. All of our gear was still wet. I woke up about every hour. Our bags were due at 630 AM. It’s so funny in the mornings, I hear massive lugies being halked up by the locals. It’s like they are trying to sound funny!! Everyone is obsessed with candy bars on this trip for some reason too. I never eat them at home, but all of us are acting like we’ve never seen a Snickers before! They taste good and comforting.