I had two ways I could ride from Hetauda. Nicer roads lay to the east then across the range via Kamalamai which was suggested as one of the better motorcycle rides in the region. However reading tourist sites about the country I noticed two of the best viewpoints for the Himalayas were said to be Daman and Nagarkot. Despite the eastern route looking really good this is Everest viewpoints we are talking about so…
Nepal Motorcycle Ride was first published to Motorcycle Paradise April 2018
Nepal has a lot of air pollution, close to what I experienced in China, most likely the views would be obscured. But there is a 2500m mountain to climb before Daman so still a slim chance it might be more clear up there. No gas stations as I left Hetauda so rode on thinking there will be another town but actually there wasn’t. I got down to one bar on the fuel gauge and stopped at next tiny village to enquire. As I had hoped they sell fuel in plastic bottles much like you see in Philippines. I put 2.25 litres in and with the 4 litre reserve and maybe 1 litre still in there I had a good 7 litres and felt confident I would not run out in the mountains.Out in the sticks today. I like it. Nice enough ride at first, series of switchback corners, road snaking up the mountain which I normally dislike but on the light 250 Duke they are fine. The road then had increasing amount of gravel and some rough sections before returning to tarmac near the summit. Shame the views back down the valley were obscured by smoke.Arriving at Damon I knew the smoke was going to be too much but I paid the 50 rupees to climb the Himalaya view tower regardless. I had to try. Nothing much in Daman but I managed to get something to eat at a road side shack and it set me up for what lay ahead. The road down the other side was in terrible condition. It was a lot of work and I wished I had a dual purpose bike. The surface every corner was rough broken up tar or gravel exposed stones. Progress was slow but the scenery was not bad and this road did not have many vehicles. Was glad to start seeing road stones for Kathmandu and get some more tar under my wheels.
I thought why not stay at the next viewpoint tonight and increase my now poor odds of seeing Himalayas at sunrise next morning.
To get there meant skirting around Kathmandu. This proved to be very challenging as the traffic was gridlock on rough gravel roads filled with craters 1/2 a metre deep. It would be fair to say if the road was any worse regular cars simply could not traverse it. As before people are unable to follow thus pull out into oncoming lane who also do the same thus everyone staring at each other leaning on their horn now stuck by own stupid actions. Then a bus or truck over heats and breaks down. The traffic was backed up 10km in a huge plume of dust. Bikes could make suicide lunges at oncoming trucks then squeeze hard up against a stationary vehicle to not get run over. Some of the most intense riding I have ever attempted.
Finally I made it past the city to the next challenge the road to my mountain hotel was a one lane track climbing steeply up 2000m. So much for 168km being an easy day. I finally got there on dusk. A thunderstorm arrived and took the power out in the evening but I was hopeful the rain would clear the air the next morning and soon fell asleep exhausted.Nice breakfast on the deck but alas the Himalayas are still hidden in the smog. Sigh, I tried my best.I retraced my route down the mountain via the goat track which thanks to the rain was dust free. I abandoned my ride today as the roads were just hopeless and made my way back to Thamal. This proved to be another challenge. The muddy road surface was very slippery in places. I had the Duke crossed up a couple of times and very nearly crashed. People who knock ABS are morons. 3 hours to ride last 34km, phew I was glad when I arrived back at the shop.
The bike was not bad, actually really good when I think about how much gravel and rocks it traversed on road tyres. The ergonomics are little cramped but you could easy change that with few aftermarket bits. It is not really made by KTM but rather by Bajaj in India who are the worlds third largest motorcycle manufacture so they already know a thing or two about building bikes. The 250 Duke has light flywheel and high lift cam so you cannot lope along at lower rpms. But it revs very smooth so keeping it one gear lower is no problem and never feels harsh when being revved. The dash is only weak point for me, too small to see some of the figures. A trail bike would be better here but this is quite capable machine.
I ended up with a touch of flu next day so never got around to seeing the temples which to be honest I had little interest in so no loss. Resting up in the hotel watching the Indian Premier League with a hot ginger tea I took some time to reflect on the ride.
I enjoyed the Nepalese people so much. I’ve edited out many other interactions to try keep things ‘ride’ focused but that was the best part of this trip and what will make me go back one day. You miss that if part of a group and if you wait until retirement to go places then odds are you will feel compelled to join a group so will never experience all those wonderful moments in life. That realisation made me think perhaps I am not completely crazy on my current tangent.
To visit in future I would skip Kathmandu, if possible have a car from airport direct to Pokhara, I would rent a CRF250L or similar and I would do the Mustang ride. Then maybe a small loop from Pokhara. But only if I could establish when the air is clearer.PART TWO