Planning to cycle part of the Continental Divide

I was inspired by Lael Wilcox to pencil in a date on my personal calendar:

Friday, June 12th at 8AM – Banff, Alberta

That’s the start of the 2020 Great Divide Mountain Bike Race.

It’s free. No registration. No commitment in advance. I could show up … or not.

The Tour Divide roughly follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is the most recognized and important off-pavement cycling route in the United States, if not the world.

The route crisscrosses the Continental Divide from north to south starting in Banff, Alberta, Canada and finishing at the US/Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

I don’t have time or talent to do the whole thing. But I’m hoping to ride the start down into Montana. Then divert over to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (via the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes) where I stopped off on last summer’s bikepacking adventure.

MIGHT do some hiking in Montana. Then head for the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Here’s the Lael Wilcox documentary from last year’s Tour Divide that got me started planning.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

related – Lael Wilcox Is the Best. Why Does Anyone Else Bother?

(via Adventure Blog)

my best cycling adventure … so far

Annapurna Circuit, Nepal.

I did the Muktinath to Tatopani ride in 2013. Enjoyed it so much that I repeated exactly the same trip in 2019.

It went better in 2019.

Read my 2019 trip report.

Here’s my trip report from 2013.

Kathmandu via Doha to London $368

If you have lots of time — and spend some of that time shopping for bargains — you can get good deals on flights.

Especially if you are flying to or from London.

Included in my $368 fare with Qatar Airways was a free hotel night in a 4-star Doha hotel.

When I booked that hotel it looked like I was supposed to pay $22 / night. But when checking out they said I owed nothing. Hotel shuttle both ways was free too. Most nations get a free visa on arrival in Qatar.

This is the first time I’ve managed to deliberately book a free hotel stopover. It’s more difficult than the advertising would lead you to believe. 

___

For future trips I often start looking at options using Google flights.

Once I decide on departure and arrival cities, I check prices on Google Matrix Airfare search.

Click ‘calendar of lowest fares‘ to see the range over a 30 day period.

If possible, I actually book the flight on the airline’s website. If they have a slow or confusing interface — or if the fare is higher than I found on Google — I start checking aggregators instead.

Some airlines are not on Google Matrix nor most aggregators: Southwest Airlines, Virgin America, EasyJet, Ryan, etc.

 

 

the NEW National Museum of Qatar

I was in Doha, Qatar in 2018. The fantastic structure was nearly completed, but wasn’t open yet.

The galleries themselves include giant immersive screens. It’s impressive.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The National Museum of Qatar opened to the public on 28 March 2019. …

The 430,000 square foot (40,000 m²) museum is made up of interlocking discs that create cavities to protect visitors from the desert heat. …

Time Magazine named it one of the World’s Greatest Places to Visit in 2019, citing the integration of “immersive video screens and dioramas” into Jean Nouvel’s architectural design.

official website

The museum is great. The space is open at night too. And that’s free.

♫ … going to Kathmandu?

Kathmandu is awful. One of the most polluted cities of the world. Traffic is a nightmare. Drinking water highly risky. The airport is horrid.

UPDATE – the core streets of the tourist area Thamel have been made mostly pedestrian only. That’s a BIG improvement.

On recent trips I’ve flown into Kathmandu — then departed as quickly as possible to Bhaktapur or Pokara.

For one thing, many visitors get sick in Kathmandu within the first couple of days.

In 2019 I ended up staying in Kathmandu two days at the end of my trip as the departure was out of the city.

As always, I visited my favourite attraction — the Monkey Temple.

Swoyambhunath is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley … It is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living (there) …

The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. …

The stupa consists of a dome at the base, above which is a cubical structure painted with eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions with the word “unity” in the main Nepali dialect between them …

P1240179

P1240215

P1240229

The second night I went, as usual, to the Great Stupa. Had dinner on one of the rooftop restaurants.

The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. …

Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Boudhanath. …

Here are a few other random photos from my last days in Nepal.

Sizzler at Rum Doodle (new location)

unique and excellent donair Nepali-style

I’ll be back. There’s no better way to hike the Himalayas than from Nepal.

Looking to river valley between two 8000m peaks

Thamel, Kathmandu is improved

Kathmandu mostly makes me irritated.

It’s one of the most polluted cities in the world. Transportation options are awful. The airport lousy. Visitors are pestered by touts non-stop.

Many get sick there — the KathmanFLU.

BUT — I have to admit — the tourist area in Thamel is much, much better than in the past.

In October 2017 they started blocking off most traffic from some of the shopping streets.

Emergency vehicles such as ambulances and water tankers are allowed.

Some motorcycles disobey the ban. But it mostly works.

A traffic policeman showing a taxi driver a ‘no-go’ sign for vehicles in Thamel, Kathmandu, on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Photo: THT

In 2019 I saw the morning cleaners doing quite a good job.

Oyo hotel chain – world’s third-largest

This is 25-year-old College dropout Ritesh Agarwal. He’s worth $365 million.

In 2013 Ritesh founded Oyo Rooms (stylised as OYO), also known as Oyo Homes & Hotels, is an Indian hotel chain

OYO initially consisted mainly of budget hotels. Over a span of six years, the startup expanded globally with thousands of hotels, vacation homes and millions of rooms in hundreds of cities in India, Malaysia, UAE, Nepal, China, Brazil, UK, Philippines, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, …

In August 2019, Oyo made its first major investment in the United States by purchasing the Hooters Casino Hotel, near the Las Vegas Strip.

The company is currently valued at $10 billion dollars …

I stayed in one inexpensive Nepal OYO hotel for 3 nights. Couldn’t see any difference between it and the non-OYO competitors. OYO hotels have very nice signage, however. And there could be some loyalty program networking.