Nepal’s diverse terrain is a mountain biker’s dream adventure come true. Mountain biking offers an environmentally sound way of exploring this magnificent country, its landscape and living heritage. Because this is a Spartan, laborious mode of travel, it is also considered the way to travel by the ‘purists’.
There are plenty of dirt roads and trails in Nepal to meet every mountain biker’s wildest fantasy. Mountain biking is also recommended if you wish to explore the urban centers such as Pokhara and Kathmandu, plus the outskirts. Imagine, if you will, a ride through lush green rice fields, through hamlets, up and down the hillside, along the river bank, around temples, past the street roaming cattle, along the highway, you name it. Through snow, monsoon downpour, wonderful light effects, or fierce head winds, depending on place and season. The adventurous souls may plan extended trips to such exotic locales as Tibet, Namche Bazaar, and western Nepal. You could even do the entire length of Nepal across the plains. What you can or cannot do on mountain bike is limited only by your imagination.
It was in the mid 1980s that Biking activity really took off in Kathmandu in the mid 1980s. Enthusiasts flew with their bikes from East Asia to Tibet to do a 2-week journey from there over the passes (17,000-ft) to Nepal. This landmark event put Nepal squarely in mountain biker’s map. Thus Kathmandu today is considered a Mecca for mountain bicyclists, drawing hundreds of enthusiasts from all corners of the world every year.
Some of the regular routes that cover the valley are those which weave in and out of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.
Day 1: Kathmandu (24 km/ 3-4 hours): Start from the nerve center of old Kathmandu, the Durbar Square, and wind your way up to holy Swayambhu, also known as the monkey temple. Then ride up and over ring road, to say, kakani, and re-enter Kathmandu from the Northwest corner through terraced farmland and hamlets abandoned by time.
Day 2: Bhaktapur (30 km/ 4-5 hours): Begin at Thimi, the restored capital of Bhaktapur, and head up the tortuous road to Changu Narayan Temple and return via farming villages. Then head down to Pashupati along the bank of the Bagmati River, and finish up at a Buddhist shrine, the Bodh-nath stupa.
Day 3: Patan (51 km/8-9 hours): Start in Patan, winding your way through the maze of alleys with ornately-carved windows, taking in historical sites such as the Golden Temple, Krishna Temple, and Patan Durbar Square. Then head southeast past Ring Road to Panauti along a difficult off-road trail. Then return to Kathmandu via a paved road or the same trail. Alternatively, you could head off to Dakshinkali or Godavari.
Other outlying places popular with the enthusiasts are Nagarjuna, Nage Gompa, Tokha, Ichangu Narayan, Gomcha, Bungmati, Kakani, Dhulikhel and Nagarkot.
Further mountain bike trips are those extending from:
Dhulikhel to Kodari (82 km), near the Tibetan border
Naubise to Royal Chitwan Park along the Rajpath through such scenic places as the Palung Valley, Daman, and the not-so-scenic industrial town of Hetauda in the plains
Hetauda to Muglang by way of Narayanghat
Lakeside Pokhara up and along the ridge to Sarangkot Point, and continuing on to Naudanda from where you could take in the breathtaking close-up view of the Himalayas and the Pokhara Valley
Naudanda to Pokhara through Lumle, Beni and Birethanti, or Naudaanda to Pokhara (32 km) either via Sarangkot trail described in 2. or the highway track, which starts with a tortuous 6 km descent into Modi Khola valley.
There are many more options if you are willing to take the time to find out and blaze your own trail.
The 15-18 gear mountain bikes are recommended if you wish to negotiate tough terrain. If you’re going to be doing the exploring within the city limits itself, observing the hustle and bustle, going shopping, etc, one-speed Indian bicycles will do nicely. Mountain bikes are available for rent by the day or longer in many of the bicycle rental outlets in and around Kathmandu or Pokhara. If you wish to be better informed about the culture, rhythm of village life, cool spots to visit, perhaps guided trips should be undertaken.