I have packed, re packed and then re-checked just for luck. What do you take when venturing in to the largest mountain range in the world? Tomorrow I embark on a 20 day ride from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu, Nepal, all of it at altitude. It is only on our last day on May 3 that I will below 1,500, still technically altitude.
Looking over the profile one last time today we cross five 5,000 metre passes, yet there are many 4,000 metre climbs. The toughest is ahead of us in two days time – Khamba La. At 23 kilometres it climbs from 3608 metres to 4296 metres and is the steepest we will encounter. To say I am nervous is an understatement.
Today we went for a test ride and my choice of a Specialized Crux cyclo-cross bike seems fit for purpose. With over 75 per cent of the Friendship Highway paved now as the Chinese make a direct highway to Beijing I am sure that my option for a lighter bike minus suspension will make it easier for me over the passes. I was breathless at the slightest effort of pulling away from the lights and my heart rate rocketed. It is going to be a test of patience and pacing to conserve energy for the future days.
We are camping by rivers for the next three nights and as I lye here in my comfy hotel bed I am thinking about how I got myself in to such a challenge and can I get to the other end. I have already experienced altitude sickness and spent 18 hours in bed over a 24 hour period trying to ride out the nausea, headaches and drossiness.
Tomorrow is D-day. We roll out at nine am, one last shot in front of the Potala Palace and then up to camp at the base of Khamba La. That should give me some time to work out how to tackle my first Himalayan climb.