Cycling at 15,000 feet

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Prayer flags line bridges protecting pilgrims in remote canyons

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A Tibetan local, behind is his summer yurt and tent. His summer camp site was well above 15,000 feet.

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An unexpected snow storm. The snow actually acts as a insulator and kept me warm throughout the night. 

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At over 15,000 feet I often find myself short of breath, and have developed a practice of breathing in twice for every out breath.  Skipping or holding my breath for a passing, dusty vehicle is out of the question and leaves me dizzy. I also seem to have developed a deep, dry cough that wakes me at night.

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The culture is primarily Tibetan, with many locals unable to converse in Mandarin. This family invited me out of the rain for a lunch of Tsampa, tea and yak butter pan fried bread. I probably ate close to 2 sticks of Yak butter in 30 minutes.

tsampa

Tsampa is a ground flour that is added to milk tea with yak butter. Once finished drinking the tea the flour is mashed into a ball then eaten with more yak butter.

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Many of the villages have seen very little foreigners, and Esperanza loaded for a journey draws quite a crowd.

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These are the coldest nights I have every experienced, every night around 2 am I wake up in a shiver and patiently wait for sleep and the sun to rise.

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Elevation after a steep climb, 4677 m.

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Old man with two grandchildren

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The remote mountains are home to many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

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The sun is fierce and warm throughout the day, but once it falls temperatures quickly fall.

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A cold barren landscape, too high to for trees to grow, and little but small puddles of standing water.

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A small roadside cafe, wild dogs are rampant, and I have been attached several times wild pedaling through villages. 

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A yurt with a yak dung burning stove will keep you warm throughout the season.

4 thoughts on “Cycling at 15,000 feet

  1. Wow. I can’t believe where you are right now. Beautiful photographs! Keep eating that yak butter, sounds like you need extra padding. xo

  2. Wow! I feel cold just looking at your pictures. Wish I could invite you in for some hot tea and a hardy breakfast. Hope you feel better soon and find a warm place to rest. Thanks for your posts. Safe journey……almost there?

  3. Your journey amazes me, one man, one bicycle, on some of the most desolate isolated roads I’ve seen. I can only imagine. Hope you can shag the cough, safe travels.

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