In October 2014 I decided to go bikepacking in Nepal. I had been to Nepal and the Annapurna region back on 1996 hiking and have since aways wanted to go back. I had read a number of accounts online of people mountain biking the Annapurna circuit and thought this sounded like a great trip.
I found the following maps at my local outdoor equipment store and used these as a guide to my planning. These along with some GPS files that I found online that are used by the Yak Attack Mountain Bike race.
The Yak Attack Mountain Bike race has a very aggressive schedule, but the information on the site is useful as a guide and the route provides a good route to exit Kathmandu and get to the start of the Annapurna Circuit without going on the main highway.
<insert google map here>
I booked an airport transfer and the first two nights of accommodation at the Tibet Peace Guesthouse. I would highlight recommend this place to stay in Kathmandu if you are looking for budget accommodation. I paid $12 USD per night for a clean room with hot water and space for my bike. They have a restaurant attached and a nice lawn area with tables and chairs to sit and relax. The guesthouse is also just outside of the Thamel district and much quieter, but still only a 5 minute walk away.
spent two nights in Kathmandu looking around and organising my two permits (include scans of the two permits). To trek the Annapurna Circuit you need the TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) card ($20 USD) and a permit to the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) fee ($20 USD). It’s a fairly straight forward process, but you need to pay in US dollars and have a passport photo for each. I walked to the Tourist Office in Kathmandu early on Sunday morning and filled in a few forms to collect both permits. The staff are friendly and at 8am on a Sunday morning there was no-one there (they even have free WiFi). It was about a 30 minute walk from Thamel and is clearly marked on most Kathmandu city maps.
My bike set-up for the trip was fairly minimalist. I have refined my packing over the years and really only take the bare essentials. My luggage consists of a Revelate Designs Sweetroll handle bar bag and seat bag along with a custom made Porcelain Rocket framebag made to measure to fit my Niner frame. My bike was originally built for the Tour Divide mountain bike race and will suit this trip well. The Niner frame is Reynolds 853 steel with White Brothers Carbon rigid forks. I am running tubeless Maxxis Ardent 2.4 inch tires and SRAM X0 components. For a trip like this I like to run platform pedals which saves having to wear cleated shoes around town or carry a second pair of shoes. For navigation I have some old school maps as well as a Garmin Edge 20 GPS loaded with a set of GPS files that I found online. I also have a Osprey Escapist backpack, which I normally wouldn't use (I don't like to wear backpacks for extended trips), but this trip will require some bike carry so being able to shift some load into a backpack will help with this. I am not carrying a tent as I will be relying on guesthouses along the way. I do, however, have an emergency bivvy bag, sleeping bag and inflatable mat in case I get caught out.