Friday, January 31, 2020

A Texan In Tibet - Riding Day 2 Plan

"I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That's where the fun is."
- Donald Trump

Syabrubensi to Kyirong

The plan for this day's leg is a short ride split into two segments.  An interactive map can be found here.  Again, zooming in will reveal some pretty interesting switchbacks and mountain passes.

I will leave Syabrubensi and ride north about 25km/15 miles to the border.  I've read that I should expect hours-long immigration and customs formalities on both sides of the Nepal and Tibet border.  Kerung, Nepal is the last border town where I will finish the first riding segment, complete the Nepali emigration formalities, and push my motorcycle across the Friendship Bridge.  It seems to me that a real friend would let me ride across the damn bridge, but I digress.  Once across, I will (hopefully) meet my official Tibetan guide.  Chinese law prohibits me from leaving "unescorted".  After the Friendship Bridge festivities, I will clear Chinese Customs following what I am told will be a very thorough inspection of every piece of property I bring.

The second leg of the day from Customs to Kyirong town should be less than 35km/22 miles after which I will locate my night's lodging and chill out in what the locals call the "happy village".  The free time will also give me time to coordinate with my guide, do a little sight seeing, plan my next day, and acclimatize to the 5,470 meter/17,950 feet elevation.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Texan in Tibet - Riding Day 1 Plan

"All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination."
-Earl Nightingale

Kathmandu to Syabrubensi

I think I have day one riding sorted out. Assuming no catastrophic delays, I expect about six to eight hours riding and photo stops from Kathmandu to Syapru Besi.  (Sometimes called) "Syabrubensi" sits at 2,380 meters/7,800 feet elevation.  No big deal there, but I'll be traversing some pretty rough mountain passes above 5,000 meters/16,400 feet to get there.  My O2 training mask regimen will apparently pay dividends on day one.

Getting out of Kathmandu in one piece might  be the most challenging part of the entire day.  Once I get out of civilization, I should be able to let my guard down and enjoy the ride.  The map on the left can be interactively viewed following this link.  Zooming in on some of the twisties along the path reveals some pretty interesting switchbacks. 

I would really prefer to ride the most northern route out of Kathmandu through Kakani, but May is a rainy month in Nepal and the remote mountain routes might not be passable.  I'm also not sure about fuel availability.  So in the interest of keeping to my plans (Mr. Saunders' quote notwithstanding) and adhering to my basic survival instincts, I'll probably ignore Robert Frost and take the road more least on day one.

Friday, January 24, 2020

A Texan in Tibet - Electronics & Power

Travelers from decades ago would probably laugh at travelers today and our dependence on our electronic devices.  The truth is, I can't go anywhere without my phone and like most people, I rarely use it to actually talk.  For better or worse, ours is a connected world and until the metal braincap is available (in the year 2025, according to Arthur C. Clarke), humans will continue to carry a handful of devices.  On this trip, I will carry my phone, my GPS watch, my two-way GPS communicator, my GoPro cameras, Bluetooth headphones, and a tablet or notebook with adequate storage to offload my videos and images as I travel.  All of these devices need to be charged.

International travel adds its own degree of complexity, partially because of the differing AC power outlet standards.  USB charging ports are becoming common in public spaces in the US; not so much overseas and especially in third world countries.  Even in the US, charging current from most public USB ports is so minimal that many devices barely charge at all.  I did a little research on electric outlets in Qatar, Nepal, and Tibet and have determined that I will need five different AC plug adapters in order to keep my electronics charged. My compact multi-port USB/AC adapter works on 50/60Hz 110-240V, so all I have to do is connect the right AC adapter, plug it into the local AC power, and I can simultaneously charge my own devices and still have ports to share with other travelers.  I've read electricity may not be available in my quarters at some of my sleep stops.  I will bring along a high capacity Anker battery bank that should hold me over for those nights.  That is, as long as I can keep it charged.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Texan in Tibet - Shrug's Travel Map & Two-Way Trip Messaging

If you want to track my position and progress on this trip, click the "Where is Shrug Now" link below (but not just yet).  My trusty Garmin inReach SE satellite communicator should update a map with my GPS position every few minutes and viewers can select options on the interactive map to season the view to their individual tastes.  Click an orange dot to see a pop-up window with details of my movement at that point in time.  The map will resemble the example below from my 2016 return from Australia.  You can click the link now, but other than a possible test or two, there will be no data to display until I take off from DFW Airport on May 2nd.

As with my Australian Outback trip, the Garmin will allow me to send and receive SMS messages throughout this journey.  I will create a distribution list to which I can send group updates from the trail and when necessary, in lieu of blog updates.  If you want to be on the list, send an email to and include the phone number or email address to which you want my updates sent.  Other than a confirmation message and maybe a test note just before I depart, you probably won't hear from me until I leave in May. Recipients' email addresses and phone numbers will not be shared within the group, nor distributed to anyone and the list will be deleted after the trip.  My inbound messaging address will be updated on this blog once I reactivate my Garmin device in late April.  Also remember that my ability to respond may be delayed and that I will be 13 hours ahead of Central time while in Tibet.

I will be shooting pictures and videos as well as taking copious notes each day, but I don't anticipate having many opportunities to update the blog once I depart Kathmandu.  When it comes to Internet access, that region of the world makes where I live seem like Downtown Dallas by comparison.  Once I cross the border, I am likely to really go dark because the Chinese block most internet access; especially in Tibet.  I'm hoping satellite messaging won't be blocked.

A Texan in Tibet - Media Media Media

I tried to convince myself that I didn't need to take a GoPro on this trip.  I need to ride as lean and unburdened with equipment as possible.  But one camera isn't much to carry, is it?  Honestly, anyone who has a GoPro knows you can never just grab a camera and go.  First, I have to decide which camera to grab.  I bought a Hero 3+ model cheap on eBay when the Hero 4 came out and people were dumping the "old" stuff.  Then, I bought a Hero 4 cheap from the same eBay seller a year later when the Hero 5 came out.  I'm not sure which one of us was he sucker.  The only brand new current model (at the time) GoPro I ever acquired was the GoPro Hero5 Session, which is a tiny cube-shaped form factor.  I actually won that one.  Now they're up to the Hero 8, but I've decided my old cameras will suffice.  I've updated them to the latest firmware and really can't justify the expense of buying new when I rarely use them.

Once you enter GoPro world, it's a given that you will load up on the plethora of accessories that are out there.  For example, one camera battery is never enough and a bulk pack of three aftermarket batteries is the same price as one genuine GoPro battery.  Now that I have four batteries, I need an extra multi-battery charger.  But what if I need a charge and there's no AC power available?  No problem.  The handy cigarette lighter and USB port adapters are there.

While the cameras themselves are pretty tough, they still need to be housed in a waterproof case.  Since 90% of my adventures are on motorcycles in the worst of environments with rocks flying about and branches slapping my helmet, having a spare protective housing is a must.  My other 10% is diving, so yeah, I need a dive housing.  Of course I want clear, vibrant underwater colors at depth.  No problem.  Amazon Prime delivered a snap-on polarized filter pack in two days!  I don't want to lose my precious camera on a dive, so the floating handle with telescoping selfie stick is also a must.

These Are Just the Parts I'm Taking!
So now my cameras are fully-powered and safely protected in their waterproof housings.  Still, I can't exactly hold onto and operate them while I navigate through third and fourth world terrain.  GoPro and hundreds of low-cost knock off vendors have an answer for that with a seemingly unlimited selection of clever mounts.  There are rigid mounts, articulating mounts, extending mounts, tripod mounts, tabletop mounts, automobile dash mounts, bicycle/motorcycle handlebar mounts, helmet mounts, wrist/glove mounts, coal miner-style head mounts, and even chest, arm, and shoulder body mounts.  And yeah, I have at least one of each of them.  I've even fabricated a special mount to collect some reverse view footage.  I never used it though.  All of my street and dirt bike helmets have at few of the standardized GoPro attachment plates affixed to them.  The above-mentioned mounts attach to these plates, allowing me to capture any angle - just in case something interesting happens.

All my epic footage has to be stored someplace, so it's a Good thing SD memory prices have fallen through the floor.  I can stuff a fair amount of video on a 16GB card.  But my audience (pretty much just me and a few friends) deserves to live vicariously through my adventures in cinematic 1080p ultra-wide format at 60 frames-per-second, so at a minimum, 64GB memory cards are a must.  I would say 4k uber-wide, but my newest GoPro camera is six years old.

My first riding video was shot with a standard definition video camera mounted on my handlebar behind a huge windscreen.  This was from a motorcycle trip where I took my mother from Texas to Whidbey Island, WA for her 72nd birthday.  The low-quality footage included sun glare and shaky imagery, but the background music in the edited upload was appropriate. It was a time-lapsed trip across Death Valley from California to Nevada...In August.  I've done smarter things, but even riding two-up through 130°F temperatures, we made it across and didn't die from heat exhaustion. I must admit there were moments when it felt like I was sitting in front of a confection oven, but I knew if I stopped, I might not start again.

On my Alaska trip, I used a slightly improved bullet-shaped camera from Drift Innovation that shot 720p high definition video.  This camera was unique because the lens could be rotated 180° allowing for numerous mounting options for the small form factor camera.  I captured this deer strike image from video shot traversing Bighorn Pass in Wyoming.  It had a wristband remote control allowing me to keep both hands on the bars and my eyes on the road.  The video from that camera provided excellent riding scenery and I also used it for the commentary footage in what would become my Alaskapade 2011 video.

For the reasons described in my first entry in this series, I never produced a trip video from my Australian Outback crossing from Airlie Beach to Fremantle on a Suzuki DR400 dirt bike.  I found this footage of me goofing around after my accident in the Simpson Desert.  I haven't even looked at the other footage I shot on that trip.  Perhaps this trip will be different.  I hope to capture some amazing footage, but at this point, I have no plans to produce anything like the Alaskapade video.  I suppose time will tell.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Texan in Tibet - Altitude Conditioning

I'll be spending the majority of my three weeks in Asia above 5,000 feet.  In fact, the altitude by my second riding day will be above 17,000 feet and will go up an down as I traverse various mountain ranges.  I've snow skied at 12,000 feet and didn't realize any diminished capabilities, but the whole result of skiing is that the skier drops back into thinner air quickly.  Besides, that was more than ten years ago.  But I digress.  According to the chart above, I'll be hanging out in the "Extreme Altitude" zone which sounds ominous, but at least it's not the "Death Zone".  I have that going for me.

They key to my success on the Alaskapade and my Outback ride was preparation in terms of proper equipment and especially with physical conditioning.  I lost a few pounds before Alaska and a lot of pounds during the trip, but for Australia, I was jacked; having dropped sixty pounds.  Of course, I had sixty pounds to lose because I had let myself drift into a horrible physical condition.  My weight ballooned to 240 pounds.  Realizing I would fail miserably if I attempted the Outback crossing at that weight, I plunged into a disciplined eating and workout regimen that catapulted me into shape.  Five years later, I'm not as fat as I was then, but it's not an overstatement to say I gained some of it back.  So here I go again.  I have all the exercise gear I need in my home and I have the healthiest food I could hope for at my fingertips.  I'm on my way and I am convinced that I'll be least from a weight perspective.

While Alaska and Australia presented physical stamina challenges, these trips did not include the altitude riding I'll face in Tibet.  Always one to be prepared, I started looking into various means of altitude conditioning and found that there is an entire industry built around it.  The foundation of preparedness is being physically fit and I'm on my way there. But, no amount of exercise and eating right will prepare my body for the physiological effects associated with increased altitude.  There are numerous options available in the marketplace that cost a fortune.  One such machine that chemically alters the atmospheric composition to reduce oxygen content to specified altitudes runs about $5,000.  Not gonna happen.  Another alternative would be to have pints of my own blood drawn at my home altitude and then transfused back into me when I'm at altitude in Tibet like pro athletes do.  I have plenty of blood.  I just need thousands of dollars and a professional medical staff.  Once again, not gonna happen.  It's no secret that I'm too big of a wuss to even get a tattoo, much less voluntarily endure 18-gauge needles repeatedly to exchange my own blood.  I found a less expensive alternative.

A company called VikingStrength sells a mask that limits oxygen intake while conditioning and simulates altitudes from 2,000 to 18,000 feet.  It doesn't alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere like the $5,000 device, but it will make me work harder to take in the air around me.  I picked up one of the masks and will train with it on my elliptical and rower, and on my hikes.  I typically row three miles and climb three miles five to six times a week.  I put in a few miles in my pastures and the woods near my property a few days a week.  With the VikingStrength mask, I can selectively dial-in a gradual increase in the resistance in airflow through the mask as I continue to train over the next few months.  The mask appears to be well-constructed and VikingStrength's responsiveness and customer service has been excellent. The mask could be all hype, but I don't think so.  Reviews are good and the concept is sound.  It's worth a shot even if its only effect is making me look as ripped and badass as the model in the ad <grin>.  Now I can look like an even bigger dork climbing on my elliptical while wearing my motorcycle riding boots and a "Bane" mask.

I'm hoping the mask and my training regimen will facilitate me meeting my physiological expectations, but as an added insurance policy, I'll be seeing a doctor and getting a prescription for Diamox. Climbers take it to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. Headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath are common when reaching altitudes above 10,000 feet.  I'll also be taking a portable pulse oximeter with me to keep tabs on the oxygen saturation level in my blood.  This simple, $10 device, powered by two AA batteries could be a real life saver.  If nothing else, it could validate my excuses for throwing up my toenails if my training is insufficient and/or the Diamox doesn't work.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

A Texan in Tibet - We Interrupt This Blog...

A hero of mine passed away this week.  Neil Peart was more than the drummer for one of my all-time favorite bands.  He was an avid motorcycle rider, a voracious reader, and an amazing lyricist and prolific author of books. Peart's lyrical abilities and laws-of-physics defying playing skills propelled Rush's career to astonishing heights and his drumming style influenced a generation of percussionists around the world.

I like to say that I play drums, but I've always been hesitant to label myself a drummer.  Neil Peart was a drummer and by comparison, I am just a guy who occasionally plays on his drums.  Neil was also a profound writer with a gift for articulating his experiences on the road with Rush and on the road alone on his BMW motorcycle.  Neil never rode a tour bus or flew on the band's private jet to gigs.  A rider's rider, he would pilot his motorcycle for hours each day, arrive at the band's venue, attend the sound check, and then go to work, playing a three-hour set before discretely ducking out the backstage door and riding off again.  When Rush toured overseas, Neil would ship his bike over and ride from gig to gig in whatever country the tour happened to be in.  It was common to see him performing his own maintenance changing his motorcycle oil or tires in the concert venue parking lot.

A Rush fan since high school, I was moved by their deep subject matter as much as I was by the music itself.  Early in his career, Peart was heavily influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand and he dedicated the band's seminal LP "2112" to The Fountainhead.  I am but one of many who discovered Ayn Rand through Rush.  As much as I loved the music, I was more influenced by Peart's books and his descriptive writing style.  If you read his accounts of traveling the world on two wheels and then read mine, the influence is clear.  I by no means claim to be remotely close to Neil's literary orbit, but I have been told that I mimic his descriptive eloquence.  I'll take that as a compliment.

Neil commonly referred to his drumming with Rush as "work".  In his books, he would follow up an amazingly descriptive passage or chapter about a particular day's ride with a comment about "going to work tonight".  Peart made it clear that Rush was his job, but his family, his writing, and his riding were his passions.  Neil played his final show with Rush in 2015 and then retired into obscurity.  Rush never played the "final tour" card like so many bands do today.  They simply said goodnight at their last show in Los Angeles and have not performed since.  With the three members of Rush still living, one could always hold out hope that there could have been another one-off performance, if not a tour.  But Neil's passing seals the end of a musical and literary era.

It was reported that after retirement, Peart didn't even have a drum kit in his home.  I get that. He was retired and drums were a tool for his work.  I can guarantee that when I retire, there won't be a single IBM item in my home. I could never be the drummer Neil Peart was, but I can follow the example he set for achieving a work/life balance.  I am fortunate to not just pay my bills and exist, but that I have the opportunity to love my family and friends, tend to my property and horses, and to ride a motorcycle to places many would never attempt.  My Nepal/Tibet adventure is only 119 days away.  I stated in a previous entry "I got one more in me".  There may be others after this one, but Neil Peart's passing is a poignant reminder that life is precious and short and the meaningfulness of this opportunity is is not lost on me.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A Texan in Tibet - Travel Documents & Government Red Tape

No pun intended on the title...

I'm no stranger to trips abroad and with over two million commercial air miles, I consider myself a well-seasoned traveler.  All those miles allowed me to book my flights for this trip in Business Class, which is invaluable on a 36-hour three-leg itinerary.  Successful travel starts with planning and though I'm known as a shoot-from-the-hip guy in most situations, I leave nothing to chance when it comes to travel; especially international travel.  These days, all international travel requires passports and visas.  I remember being able to pass to and from Canada and Mexico with just my Texas driver's license, but those days are long least legally.  Fortunately, visas are easier to acquire these days, with most countries offering on-line instant approval.  Some even offer instant visas upon arrival at their airports.

Nepal is one such country.  I can secure my visa on the spot upon arrival in the Nepalese Customs area at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.  $50USD will get me a 30-day tourist visa with expedited outbound processing when I re-enter Nepal from Tibet and again when I depart Nepal for Qatar on my return trip home.  I could also acquire a six-month visa before I depart for the same price, but for some reason having the 30-day visa issued at the airport expedites my entry back into Nepal from Tibet.  I can't imagine why that is, but that's the recommended option and the one that I'm taking.

Once in Nepal, I'll have to hand my passport over to the local fixer so he can secure a visa from the Chinese Embassy for passage into Tibet.  I'm told this can take a day or two and honestly, I'm not entirely comfortable handing over my passport in a foreign country.  I've had discussions with a few people who have visited Tibet as recently as last December and every indication is that if you want a Chinese visa without delay and with no surprises, this is how it's done.  The alternative is to ride to the border and petition the Embassy outpost there for a visa.  I've read accounts of tourists being stranded there awaiting red tape resolution that could take days due to the remote location and staff who have little to no authority to make decisions.  I'm told also to expect the Chinese to visually check every piece of luggage; unpacking each item for inspection.  For this reason, no maps or other printed information about Tibet can be brought into the country as it is considered foreign propaganda.  Photos and videos in the border area are prohibited and motorcycles must be pushed across the border line.  Do they push cars across too? Maybe that's because unlike Nepal, traffic flows on the right side of the road in Tibet.

Tibet voluntarily isolated itself during the wars and was not part of the League of Nations. This might explain why the rest of the world was quiet when the Chinese quietly occupied the Tibetan territory and labeled it as the Xizang Province of China.  Occupying Tibet gave China access to rich natural resources and allowed it to militarize the strategically important border with India.  As such, Tibet is essentially a militarized zone wherein strict rules seem to be arbitrarily enforced.  No foreigner can travel alone on Tibetan roads.  A government approved escort is required to be within eyesight of a tourist or group of tourists and there are checkpoints scattered throughout the country to enforce this rule.  The escort must carry a list of his clients and those clients must carry the name of their escort.  For this reason, I will likely find myself riding among a group of strangers that could increase and decrease in size each day.  I'm good with that.  Strangers don't remain strangers in my orbit for very long.  They may walk away thinking I'm a strange Texan, but we will  be familiar.  I'll be doing my part to promote international relations.

I'm told that despite having my Tibetan visa in hand, I should still expect a two to four-hour customs delay crossing the border and that this time includes getting my motorcycle safety and compliance-inspected by the local police department.  Smells like a shakedown to me, but I'll play the game.  I'll also have to apply for a temporary Tibetan motorcycle driver's license at the border and to do that, I have to have an international driver's license.  Fortunately, I already have that from my work at IBM.  Seems like a lot of red tape (no pun intended), but If my career travel experience has taught me nothing else, it's to be patient and to find a way to embrace the suck.  I've waited almost two years to take this trip.  A few hours delay into an exotic country that was totally off limits to foreigners as recently as 35 years ago will be a walk in the park.

So bring it on; the travel delays, inconsiderate rookie passengers, hours of flying, customs red tape.  An amazing trek on a motorcycle and a photo of Mount Everest in the background will be worth it all.

Monday, January 6, 2020

A Texan in Tibet - The Bike

This is the bike I'll be riding.  This adventure model was released a few years ago to pretty good reviews.  It's manufactured by Royal Enfield and is called (aptly enough) the Himalayan.  Royal Enfield is an Indian motorcycle manufacturing brand with the distinction of being the oldest global motorcycle brand in continuous production.  Enfields are manufactured in factories in Chennai, India and shipped around the world.  Honestly, when I think about reliability, my first thought is not India.  However, 95% of the bikes traversing the Nepalese and Tibetan terrain are Royal Enfields in one form or another.  If these bikes can hold up under those conditions, then who am I to question them?  I've been told you can find Enfield parts in everywhere in Nepal,  I hope I don't have to prove that.  

I don't know how mine will be equipped in terms of bags and racks, but I'll manage.  I'm not overly impressed with the look of that seat, but I spend 90% of my time standing when riding off-road anyway.  The 411cc motor should have all the power I need and at 421 pounds, it's heavier than my dirt bikes, but lighter than my Harley.  The stock fuel tank is only four gallons, which could prove interesting, but the motor is fuel injected which will eliminate the need to alter the carburetor as I make my way into the upper elevations.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

LINK TO FIRST POST: A Texan in Tibet - My Motorcycle Journey to Mount Everest Base Camp 1

It's about damn time I wrote something.  What am I up to now?

Many know In 2011, I rode my Harley to the Arctic Circle in Alaska.  I rode alone for 22 days, camping up and down.  I was an unhappy man when I left, but I returned with a refreshed outlook, a renewed enthusiasm, and a heightened confidence in my riding prowess and camping skills.  I released a video a few months later that illustrates the good, the bad, and the ugly from that trip.  In the end, it was probably the greatest adventure I had experienced up to that point in my life.  You can read about it on my Alaskapade blog or watch the video.  That’s the happy story.

In 2016, I rode a Suzuki DR400 dirt bike across the Australian Outback from the Pacific Ocean at Airlie Beach in the northeast to the Indian Ocean at Fremantle in the southwest.  I camped under the stars in the outback for 17 nights.  Having learned on the Alaskapade that life is better with company, I took this trip with the company of eight strangers from Australia and New Zealand, and a support truck/guide.  Unlike Alaska, I did not experience any life-affirming epiphanies.  I did learn just how determined I was to finish what I started despite sustaining an injury on the third day that should have sent me packing for home.

I did not return from Oz triumphant like I did from Alaska.  Instead, I hobbled home with a foot broken in three places and my left arm dangling uselessly from my shoulder.  If I had a tail, it would have been tucked tightly between my legs.  After four rotator cuff reattachments and a cadaver graft, I started my recovery with my arm completely immobilized for three months and riding around a knee scooter.  I was miserable.  I was broken.  And, I was addicted to the prescription pain killers I had taken with me to Oz just in case.  I quit the pain killers cold turkey and recovered over the summer.  While I could be proud that I made it across some of earth’s toughest terrain despite my injuries, I was saddened by the fact that those same injuries prevented me from attending the annual Shark Week event with some of my closest (albeit geographically distant) Harley riding friends.  Despite taking copious notes on each days' events, snapping hundreds of photos, and shooting hours of video, I never produced a post-trip video and I deleted the Wizard of Aus blog I had been writing for months. I feel like I let people down because expectations for another Alaskapade level production were high.  The cold hard truth was after two years of planning and a year of physical conditioning, when all was said and done, I had spent fifteen of my eighteen days in abject pain and misery.  All I wanted was for each day to be over and in the end, I had little to celebrate with a video account from the trip.

"An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory." - Millard Fillmore
I stewed on the Oz trip for almost five years and eventually came across that quote and have since let it go.  Then, two years ago, I started thinking I might have one more such adventure left in me.  Let’s face it; I’m not getting any younger and staying in shape is tougher than ever.  I’m also on a very disciplined five-year plan to be financially able to retire at age 62.  Even if I were the picture of health, trips like these aren’t cheap and I need to maintain my financial priorities if I plan to realize my retirement goal.  Still, I can’t shake the sting of my Outback experience (Fillmore notwithstanding) and the fire in my belly to get out there again - just one more time - burns like a ghost pepper making its exit in the bathroom.  I got one more in me.  Now, where to go?

Few know that I’ve had a near life-long secret semi-desire to climb Mount Everest.  I knew I never would, but man would it be a cool accomplishment.  The only climbing I’ve ever experienced was Ayer’s Rock at Uluru in Australia and I was able to accomplish that with a destroyed shoulder and on a broken foot.  Everest is another dimension in climbing that requires years of training, conditioning, and costly specialized equipment.  All those facts notwithstanding, trips to Everest have become so commercialized these days that literally anyone who can afford it can show up on the mountain and have a go at it.  And apparently, there are plenty who can afford it.  Fatalities are at an all-time high as climbers wait in line for hours to ascend the final few feet to the summit, only to savor the experience for a few minutes, and then descend to make room for the hundreds of other climbers beneath them awaiting their precious minutes at the top of the world.  It’s not as if I have the finances, much less the physical capabilities, but I believe that even if I had both today, I would forego climbing Everest and find some other thrill that has less potential to be ruined - or even fatal - due to the incompetence of others.

Motorcycling is what I do best and what I enjoy most.  Since I am at one of my happiest places when I'm on a motorcycle, I decided to seek out another interesting motorcycle ride.  My desire to ride to Ushuaia is no secret.  After all, I rode to the top of the world so it makes sense that I would want to ride to the bottom. Given the turmoil in Mexico and Central America, that dream will likely go unfulfilled.  I take these trips to satiate a sense of adventure; not to take unnecessary risks.  There are some risks I just can’t mitigate and those are the ones I choose not to take. 

I’ve ridden Hester to 49 states.  I can’t ride her to Hawaii, but I could ship her there and be the only guy I’ve ever heard of who rode the same motorcycle to all fifty states.  Mmmm…maybe someday.  That’s not what I’d call adventurous; just logistical. Over the years, I’ve seen YouTube videos of guys riding adventure bikes over insane terrain in India, Nepal, and Tibet.  Where were they going?  How did they get there?  What did it take to put a trip like that together?  I was intrigued enough to investigate it.

Europe and Africa hold no interest to me, but Asia does.  I came across a video of a guy riding from Nepal into Tibet and up towards Mount Everest.  EVEREST!  There’s an adventure I can relate to!  I did some research and found a guy in Kathmandu who can set me up with a suitable bike, help with permits and visas, and sort out lodging.

Fast forward a year later and I’m now four months from my departure.  I’ll fly on May 2nd to Kathmandu via Atlanta, GA and Doha, Qatar.  The roughly 36 hours travel time should land me in Kathmandu at 2:00am on May 4th.  I’ll have May 4th and 5th to rest and get over the jet lag.  Kathmandu is ten hours, 45-minutes ahead of central time.  45 minutes?  Why couldn't they just round up?  I'll also have time to catch the Kathmandu sights and acclimate to the 4,500-foot elevation.  After entering Tibet, my journey will take me above 16,000 feet, so I’ll have to prepare for that before I depart.  More on that later.  Time is short and there are logistics to sort out.