I aim to condense the adventures of the Two-Wheeled Yetis into this one little blog post… Technically impossible, but simply hoping to commemorate and share :-).
The Yetis are a cycling group composed mostly of British School parents. We cycle every Tuesday that school is in session, rain or shine (the extra courageous ones at least!). We drop the kids by 8:15am, slowly collect the group, and head out by 8:30. Routes range from 20 – 35 kilometers. We ride out into the low KTM hills usually south and west of the valley and eventually stop at a rickety tea shop for a rejuvenating snack break. Several cokes, teas, donuts, and plates of potatoes, chana and choila later (the whole bill was often less than one latte back at the usual coffee shops around school!), we’d head back home reaching around noon. It left just enough time to get home, freshen up, have lunch and head back to school to pick up the kids. Our rides ranged from 2 – 12 people, but usually have 5-9 riders.
I started with the Yetis one month after arriving into Kathmandu. We purchased our first bikes, and I was ready to restart an exercise routine! Day 1, I did complete the ride, but COLAPSED on the sofa of our apartment and two hours later, could barely walk the ¼ kilometer to school to collect the children, forget about staying awake through the afternoon or getting dinner on the table! After a few days, I built up enough courage to give it another chance the following week. I’m SO glad I didn’t give up! I attribute it all to the morale, ethic and atmosphere of the group – supportive, encouraging, uplifting…
“It does not matter how slow you go, so long as you do not stop” – 2WY’s motto written on advertisement flyer welcoming more parents to join us. It was always true – riders were never taunted, teased or judged for their pace or place in the pack. There was always encouragement once we reached the top of any hill, skillfully made it down the hills, or clumsily fell off and scraped a knee. This was the sentiment from all members to all members. The focus was on athletics (getting a good workout while staying safe), sights (surreal views of the lower hills, mountains, forests, clouds, and beautiful Nepali buildings and people) and friendship (once off the busy roads, we had great conversations while riding!). Competition, aggression and boastfulness were just not within the fabric of this group.
There was always something special to see… Snowcapped mountains, lush green hills, a yellow monastery atop a hillside, a white temple atop a different hillock, temple’s pagoda profile highlighting the horizon, unique Nepali home architecture, babbling streams, rickety narrow metal bridges, verdant mustard rice and vegetable fields, harvested crops drying in the sun, numerous 4-legged creatures around every corner, field workers inevitably breaking to see the 2WYs swoosh by, blossoms in all shades of the rainbow, the list is endless… It was always a treat for the eyes and soul to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and escape into the peaceful hillsides even if only for a few hours.
More recently, the extreme summer heat led a few of us to ride from 4:30 – 6:30am. Early morning sights are simply spectacular… The golden orb low along the horizon, those first morning rays casting a glow on peeking snowcapped mountains, and monsoon rains creating unbelievable clarity distilling each and every tree on the green hills – like as if we were wearing binoculars while riding!
It was always a challenge – how to manage looking at both the sights ahead while also paying attention to the path. Isn’t that a common issue we face in day to day life, though? Going through life’s rat race at too hectic of a pace to enjoy the immeasurable beauty and wonder everyday immediately around us – cycling reminded us to take our time and enjoy the view!
People and wheels are the heartbeat of this group. Our guide and guru – Adrian – almost never missed a ride. There simply weren’t excuses valid enough to skip a cycle ride. He knows, by heart, the roads and trails in Patan better than most Nepalis. Thousands of kilometers of riding with 3 cycle groups each week for nearly 4 years – we never needed a GPS when Adrian was with us! The one and only one Tuesday Adrian missed our ride (his daughter was home sick), we got lost!
Andy was the rock, coach, and best caboose. He never let anyone get too far back from the pack and NEVER made you feel bad or guilty for slowing others down. A truly experienced cycler since childhood, he has much knowledge and wisdom that he often shared with us novices – when we should change gears, how to effectively get up the hills without walking and how to safely coast downhill on bumpy trails.
Clare was the cheerleader of the group – always happy, energetic, peppy and always at the head of the pack. She is a true athlete and excellent motivator! Kath was the quiet, smiling photographer of the group. Her keen eye knew when to pause and capture the moment. She and I had many lovely conversations as we were often together in the back of the pack! Pema was one of the newest but most dedicated members. New to cycling, yet a native of Kathmandu, she went places with 2WYs that she had never been before!
So many more enthusiastic and happy riders — Arthi, Shelley, Matt, Christina, Juliet, Theresa, Daniel, Isaac, and Tashi — each brought a new twist to the weekly ride. We also never forget those who departed Nepal and our cycling group this past year — Amanda, Jona, Roger and Rebecca.
Being a member of Two-Wheeled Yetis has been a significant HIGHLIGHT of my stay in Nepal. I know I am not alone in this sentiment – the unparalleled passion, enthusiasm and determination of each member made our group (or any successful group) what it was. Although many of our group members will continue living in Nepal, the departure of our guide and guru will make the group hard to recreate ever again. Here’s to sweet memories of Kathmandu’s Two-Wheeled Yetis and many more cycling adventures in Nepal and other spectacular corners of this special earth – cheers!