Tansen to Kushma
Accommodation was basic but homely and it was cold, I had yet to acclimatize. Up at sunrise for some organic coffee and breakfast before gearing up and hitting the road again for what would be a long stint riding over rocks today. Our ride would complete the southern loop and take us to a town called Kushma to begin the ascent into the Himalayas.
It was then a blast through some rural villages and on to what was a new road under construction – which pretty much describes every road in Nepal. Tony had his first off after failing to correctly negotiate a descending right hand bend and getting up close and personal with a substantially sized rock. No major problems though and bikes on their sides would become quite common over the next few days.
Single lane tracks came next as we cut across the verdant undulating countryside and half the group got lost. The lead and tail bikes were in radio contact so we took half an hour to entertain the locals while we waited for them to catch up.
Riding on, we twisted round the side of the valley literally clinging to the mountainside with a sheer drop of hundreds of meters on one side and a rock wall on the other. Another spectacular viewpoint from the top gave as the vantage point of the entire valley. Every corner turned yielded more stunning scenery.
The valley climaxed at a huge dam which we rode round. There were no local eateries on this stretch of road so we stopped at a waterfall for a picnic lunch of a couple of eggs and some left over roti from this morning. A few repairs were made here too.
Motoring on the road conditions worsened to the extent that we were riding over pure rock at times where the workers had cut away at the hillside to carve the new road. Much of it was very tricky to navigate and none of us were professional off-roaders so there were a few inevitable spills.
On occasion the road was completely blocked by a huge Caterpillar clawing away at the surface so we had to wait until he’d clear a path for us, which again was tough to ride over.
We were nearing our destination but before we could relax there was one final challenge ahead – riding across Nepal’s longest suspension bridge. The Kushma-Gyadi Bridge spans 344 meters and is 117 meters high, looking down is not an option. We had time to psyche ourselves up for this stopping for a bite to eat and maybe a nerve calming beer.
Adding to the challenge were pedestrians and other motorcycles on the bridge, some ignoring the ‘one bike at a time’ rule which made things even more hairy. My turn arrived and the only way to conquer it was to give it gas and focus on the exit, no time to admire the scenery now.
From here it was a short but adrenaline fueled rip to the hotel in the town of Kushma. The entire area consisted of deep gorges spanned by similar steel suspension bridges, and our hotel for the night was right in the middle of it offering stunning panoramic 360 degree views of the town and surroundings. A few cold Gorkha’s on the roof was enjoyed by all as we reveled in our bridge conquests.