The mountains are calling

Pic – Fiona, Helen, Sinead, Vicky from left to right and Karen in front


Here’s a quick update from Karen Darke as she makes her way to the start of her latest expedition – The Friendship Trail – Take a look at the infographic for details.


13th September : Grand Depart for Tibet


Our Grand Depart has arrived! We’re making our way from various corners of the country to Heathrow today – 5 women seeking an adventure and some time out from the business of everyday life – then onwards to Delhi, Kathmandu and eventually Lhasa. I’m feeling a bit nervous about how I’ll adapt to the altitude, especially as I’m starting out pretty tired after a hard season of racing, and my first ironman last weekend. We’ll follow all the golden rules of acclimatizing, taking some days in Lhasa to adapt before climbing higher, and avoiding sleeping too high unless we go gradually. At least I’ve spent some time at altitude already this year albeit in an altitude tent at sea level – its much more exciting to be going to the ‘real’ thing.

There will be a final visit to the post office this morning to send home the un-necessary excess that I already left Scotland with, then pop my vote in the post (not going into that!), get the auto-reply on email (it’s going to be a combination of good and strange being out of email & mobile comms for a month!) and away we go. It always seems hard to check out of regular life for a chunk of time, but the mountains are calling and I know by the end it will feel much harder to check back in to ‘normal’ life again…


Handbike trail Infographic



Sept 14th, Kathmandu

With travelling and other pre-trip commitments, I’ve had almost two whole weeks without cycling now (apart from the ironman in the middle!). I’m starting to feel like an alien! But we’re well on the way to Tibet at last, & arrival at Kathmandu airport was colourful thanks to the marigold necklaces from Tshering, our ‘fixer’ in Nepal. He’s organising our Tibetan visas ready for Wednesday when we fly onwards to Lhasa.


It’s a while since I’ve been on an adventure like this…as we walked through the streets in search of Daal last night, navigating through the moo (mud and poo) in my wheelchair, passing dead rats and rubbish piles, I reminded myself to clean my hands properly before dipping into curry & chapatis. The sounds & smells of Nepal remind me of adventures passed, and that for the last few years I’ve been living in a British Cycling / competitive sport bubble of training plans, spotless laboratories, 4 star hotels…ironically I’ll be more at home on the mountain roads to come than in the busy, dirty, helter-skelter cities of Nepal and Tibet. But apparently we can’t mention the word Tibet again or we might end up in a locked cell…its the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China…I can afford to write it on this laptop as it’s not coming to Tibet!

Today there’s just the minor task of reducing the weight of our luggage to 23kg pp for the flight to Lhasa (including bike). Given my checked baggage at Heathrow was 40kg it’s time to get super ruthless (happy for the lightweight packable Berghaus warm gear)…Fiona is a policewoman so she’ll be the packing police 🙂