Set off to the valley’s southern front in this mountain biking adventure that takes you on fun single tracks that demand equal parts of adrenaline and attention. Rajkulo is an elaborate irrigation canal built many decades ago and the ride follows it on single tracks that stretch seemingly endlessly. This four hour mildly challenging ride is a mix of single tracks (90 per cent), jeep tracks (five per cent) and paved roads (five per cent).
We start the ride from Nakhipot and begin pedalling along the canal to reach the old parts of town including Bungamati, Khokana and Chapagaun. Ancient monuments and settlements along with the traditional way of life follow you through the ride here. People are primarily engaged in their fields and you can definitely take timeout to lend a helping hand and get some mud on yourself! In fact, much of the paddy fields you encounter here are fed by Rajkulo.
A ride along Rajkulo is marked by spectacular sights of Hattiban’s pristine forests across the river which stand in sharp contrast with an infinite skyline of the city seen from a distance. There are several river crossings too, which take us over wobbly suspension bridges. From brick kilns and towering smokestacks to smelly pig farms and chicken coops, you ride past interesting sights otherwise absent in Kathmandu’s concrete jungle.
Rajkulo can get narrow and slippery at times with the canal on one side and farms on the other. The ride, therefore, comes particularly handy in improving your skills and balance although it’s fairly flat and requires minimal fitness. If you find a few sections too dodgy to ride on, you always have the option of getting off. Should you take a tumble, you’ll find yourself either in the gushing waters of the canal to your left or the muddy fields to your right! Needless to say, don’t forget your helmet.
Places to eat are aplenty — local eateries and tea shops dot the entire route as we pass through towns and villages. A simple mountain bike will do just fine, make sure the front suspension and brakes work well. Your phone and valuables are better off sealed in a zip lock should you take a dip in Rajkulo. You never know!
To join Squadron rides, visit www.gnarlybiking.com/squadron
A version of this article appears in print on June 07, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.