Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category


Today was the first day of my annual leave. Up to now it’s just been weekend and work-life balance days. Work- life balance feels so removed from where I am, sitting in a roadside store in the remote Himalayan village of Dubling, camping in the owner’s yard. I’m back on the road again.

Today had lots of different elements. Morning rain. An interesting discussion while watching the rain. Technical difficulties. Bad road surface but spectacular views. An unexpected camping experience in Dubling.

My hotel guest mate goes around to schools and puts on an educational performance. An interesting life. He had lots of tips for the road forward.

I’ll cut to the chase, and show some photos from this beautiful road.

The hotel that I was expecting in Dubling wasn’t there. I’d deliberately avoided the village of Pooh to stay in Dubling near the start of tomorrow’s big climb.

The kind shop owner let me pitch my tent in his yard. No longer credit card touring – just lots of human to human contacts.

I asked if there was somewhere to get dinner, and I was told that would be sorted out. A sequence of misunderstandings saw me go to bed when they shut up shop, and eat some biscuits in my tent. Then, when I was almost asleep I was invited to dinner. My hindi is, indeed, not brilliant. The evening was the perfect example of having to go with the flow, and see where out leads you.


I sat on the balcony, breathing in the view of the massive mountains on the opposite side of the valley. In front was the temple village of Kalpa. Slowly, slowly, the shadows of the mountains behind crept up the mountains in front until it faded to darkness.

The weather changed with a thunderstorm at 2am last night. It was cloudy and beautiful weather for climbing up the valley today.

The narrow road was cut out of a vertical cliff in parts. In others it dropped down to run just above the river.

There were lots of hydro electricity plants and lots of military garrisons. Regularly I was passed by one military truck after the next. You can tell this is near the disputed border with China.

The highlight was the climb from the valley to the capital of the district – Reckong Peo, and then up to the temple village of Kalpa. It was a bit of a slog though. Kalpa is over 1000m above the river.

I’m all kitted out for a forey tomorrow across the inner line – the area near the Chinese border.


‘And you switch it on for hot water.’
The hotel manager dangled the electric wire in the bucket of water, plugged the end into the power socket, and flicked the switch. There was a flash from the bucket in the dim, concrete floored room as the manager smiled, the fan creaking rhythmically in the background.

My spare battery sat happily on top of the fan control unit, the plug made taught in the socket with a rubber band. My clothes were sprawled out on the bed. I had decided not to climb the 700m up the side of the valley to the temple. I was hot and tired and I could feel the cramp coming on in my leg. Instead of the climb, I decided on an early night and an early start to bring myself to cooler climes.

I’m glad I did. I had a nice experience watching the shoemaker fixing up the crack in my sandals, and checked out the hot springs. I also had brief success eeking out a few WhatsApp messages at the cyber café.

After a breakfast at the happy chef’s restaurant from last night, I had a wonderful decent into the valley – nearly 2000m along a good quality road, not so steep to necessitate braking, with beautiful views.

I even met some other cyclists – Jessica and Thomas from NZ who have just finished the Karokorum Highway.

The valley was beautiful, and the road followed it, slowly rising higher and higher above the brown rushing water.

The road continues upward tomorrow – bringing me closer to the Spiti Valley. Yay!


Two years ago I arrived in Australia – having cycled from the Netherlands without catching a plane. After a turbulent readjustment time, I have now built up a new life in Australia. I have a new job, a new partner, and a new home.

With the stability and a regular job comes annual leave. This time I only have a month (rather than 2 years), so I am flying directly to the nice bits. I’ll be cycling in northern India from Shimla to Leh via the Spiti Valley.

Stay tuned to this channel for some blog entries and a video of this trip! 🙂


And so they stood, in their beautiful pink wedding dresses, their hair done up nicely, dainty on the road in front of their stationary VW bus wedding chariot. The bus revved up. Again. But the wheels refused to turn. After filming the ordeal I was pulled in to push the bus up the short ramp from the ferry to the road. The slope must have been all of 3%.

The wedding party

The wedding party

Today’s trip was from Gosford to Windsor along the Hawkesbury River. Google showed me a little road called Popran Road that performed a massive shortcut to the river. There were some locked gates, but, maybe doable. Plan B was the long way around through Mangrove Mountain.

Avoiding the motorway and the motorway bridge, I wiggled down to the valley floor and back up again on the old road. It was quiet and lovely, if a bit more strenuous.

The old Pacific Highway

The old Pacific Highway

The shortcut was through Glenworth Valley – a big horse riding area in a beautiful valley. The owners were lovely and let me through, onto Popran Rd and through to the Hawkesbury River.

Glenworth Valley

Glenworth Valley

Popran Road was lovely, although I couldn’t stop for long because of the ferocious mosquitos. They seemed to like the mangroves which were on the river shore.

Popran Rd

Popran Rd

Mangroves

Mangroves

Then along a lovely quiet road following the Hawkesbury River to Wisemans Ferry. The road back to Windsor was familiar, livened up by the wedding party ordeal.


The more remote sounding, the more appealing. I saw Lost World on the internet, and knew I had to go there. At the end of a long, bumpy, dead-end path, Lost World is a rock on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a beautiful Blue Mountains valley. I heard a coooo-eeee from the other side of the valley. And then silence again. They were far away, and couldn’t see me. I was at Lost World.

Lost World

Lost World

Every week I go to explore the option I discovered the week before. Last week I met some people that told me of an app with offline bike routes, and in particular of the routes south of the main trainline through the Blue Mountains. Starting at Wentworth Falls, I cycled past a swimming hole to Woodford, and then the ‘classic’ Oaks Trail.

The waterhole was silent. The road was closed for cars, and there is no way to get there except by cycling. The water was warm and still, and there was a trickle over the waterfall at the far end of the pool. I went for a cool-off swim and a relax in the mountain pool.

Ingar Pool

Ingar Pool

After the swim, I realised why the cars can’t get there. The road I came down was blocked, and the other road is too steep for most cars. Brakes screeching, I slid down the dirt track, crossed the river, and pushed my bike up the other side to Woodford.

Bedford Creek

Bedford Creek

On the way to Bedford Creek

On the way to Bedford Creek

From Woodford, the ‘classic’ Oaks Trail is sandy, bumpy and up and down. But, the side road to Lost World is steeper, bumpier and just as much soft sand. There were mountain bikers hooting along the Oaks Trail. There wasn’t a soul on the path to Lost World.

Road to Lost World

Road to Lost World

Road to Lost World

Road to Lost World

Road to Lost World

Road to Lost World

Lost World

Lost World

Forest fire

Forest fire

Lost World

Lost World


‘It’s a walking path, but, yeah, you should be able to make it down!’
My plan of returning back down the dead-end road back to Lithgow was transformed into a beautiful loop through pristine Blue Mountains landscape.

Wolgan Valley

Wolgan Valley

The return was also on a dead-end road, through the Wolgan Valley. Dead-end roads are the best. There are hardly any cars. People are too busy going from A to B to worry with dead-end roads. Cycling on them is like being on a different planet.

Wolgan Valley

Wolgan Valley

Wolgan Valley

Wolgan Valley

And the kind of people driving on the road are cool. Some cycling fans recognised my bike – a Koga with Rohloff hub. They were so excited they stopped for a photo opportunity, and then offered me food and water. It was like being on the world bike trip all over again!

Friendly people

Friendly people

At the end of the dead-end road is an old pub that now runs as a kiosk on weekends. Entering there makes you feel time has stood still.

Newnes pub

Newnes pub

Going backwards in time through the day, to get to the Wolgan Valley, I had to descend from the Newnes plateau, where I passed through the Glowworm tunnel (I’ll come to that). The plateau comes abruptly to a halt at some vertical rock walls. There is a little walking path that makes its way down, but, it involved a little bit of carrying the bike.. 🙂

Down to the Wolgan Valley

Down to the Wolgan Valley

Approaching the Glowworm tunnel

Approaching the Glowworm tunnel

The actual trip was inspired by a turn-off I passed last week to the ‘Glow worm tunnel’. That sounded too good to miss. The glow worm tunnel is at the end of a 35km dirt road from Lithgow that passes over the Newnes plateau. In the middle of the tunnel, total darkness reigns. After a few minutes, when the eyes adjust, little green points of light appear. Everywhere. Like millions of stars in the night sky, the glow worms dot the blackness with life.

The Glowworm tunnel

The Glowworm tunnel

Entrance to another tunnel

Entrance to another tunnel

A palm paradise

A palm paradise

Approaching the Glowworm tunnel

Approaching the Glowworm tunnel

Approaching the Glowworm tunnel

Approaching the Glowworm tunnel

Approaching the Glowworm tunnel

Approaching the Glowworm tunnel