Mountain bike riding over suspension bridge, Nepal. Yak Attack

Yak Attack 2018


Day 1:    19 October 2018,  Hotel Manaslu 

Depart Melbourne Airport.  Arrive Kathmandu and, after clearing Customs, you will be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel.  You’ll have a few hours to settle in and maybe even wander the local area.

Day 2:    20th October 2018,  Hotel Manaslu (B)

After breakfast, a full briefing then the chance to check over your gear and bike, sort out last minute purchases, explore Kathmandu or optional guided sightseeing.

Busy shopping street, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal

The back street maze of Thamel, where you can get everything and anything. 

Day 3:    21st October 2018,  Local Lodge (B,D)

Drive approximately 5 hours by private vehicle to Behisahar, organise your gear, eat, and enjoy your first night in a local lodge.

Mountain bikes on bus roof, Nepal

The first of many journeys along the Tribhuvan Highway.

Day 4:    22nd October 2018,   Training ride - Besi Sahar (800m) to Tal (1,700m).   Local Lodge (B,L,D)  


A big up and down day, avoiding vehicles on the basic jeep tracks, and dodging around trekkers, pony trains and goat herds on the trails. Your ride will take you through terraced farmlands and rhododendron forests, past waterfalls and over suspension bridges.  


Finally, after a series of gruelling switchbacks and steep, rocky inclines, you arrive at Tal.  Nestled at the base of a large waterfall, on the sandy beaches of the Marshyangdi river, Tal is the first Buddhist settlement along the trail. 

Mountan Bike rider in forest, Annapurna Nepal

The forest protecting you from the elements is a good introduction to the tough riding in Nepal

Day 5:    23rd October 2018,  Training ride - Tal (1,700m) to Chame (2,670m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

Riding through a deep gorge, there are steep climbs out of Tal which will feel harder as the air thins, but we help your lungs and legs adapt by riding a shorter stage than the Yak Attack.  Wooden and suspension bridges, first glimpses of the Annapurnas, muddy tracks, and more gruelling climbs, as you ride past the chortens of the Tibetan style village of Thanchowk, from where it is an easy pedal into Chame. 

Mountain Bike rider rock wall, Annapurna region, Nepal

The enormity of the Himalayas quickly takes over.

Day 6:    24th October 2018,  Training ride - Chame (2,670m) to Manang (3,540m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

Continue climbing past mani walls and Paungda Danda rock face, an impressive curved slab of rock rising 1500m from the river below, to gain the first amazing views of Annapurna II, Pisang Peak, Himalchulli and Ngadi Chuli.   Climb past Dhukur Pokhari lake, over more suspension bridges and through blue pine forest, possibly encountering your first light dustings of snow on the trail.   Through picturesque Braga, housing the largest Gompa (temple) in the region, and into Manang, an old medieval town with a comfortable modern quarter, where you can fill up on yak steak and cake, and relax under a hot solar shower.

Bakery in Tilicho, one of the villages on the trail in Mountain bike race, Nepal

For most of the trail you are never far from a tea-house for a quick carb re-load.

Day 7:    25th October 2018,  Acclimatisation day Manang (3,540m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)


Today is the chance to speed up your acclimatisation by climbing high, either on foot or bike, and sleeping low back in Manang. There are many stunning side trips to peaks, lakes and glacial moraines with views to the summits of Annapurna and Gangapurna, less than 8kms away.   The Himalayan Rescue Association operates an aid post here, with foreign doctors available for advice and consultation, as well as free daily lectures on altitude sickness at 3pm.  Make sure you are back in time for the lecture, as they proudly claim that no one who has attended has died from altitude sickness.

Manang, with mountains behind.  Nepal

After 3 days of hard riding, Manang offers all the comforts of home.

Day 8:    26th October 2018,  Training ride - Manang (3,540m) to Thorong Phedi (4,450m)   Local Lodge (B,L,D) 

Today is a very tough day, maybe the toughest!  The air thins as the trail steadily gains elevation, climbing out of the Marsyangdi Valley into the Jarsang Khola Valley.  Riding past fields of yaks, well above the tree line and possibly in snow, you now have great views of Annapurna II and IV to distract you from the difficult task of getting oxygen into the lungs.  Continue over suspension bridges and past mani walls, nearly always climbing, until you reach Thorong Phedi, where the basic accommodation keeps out the elements as you try to get some sleep in the high altitude.

Mountain bike riding over suspension bridge, Annapurna circuit, Nepal, Yak attack

With the tree-line now left well behind, the trail is short but steep and unforgiving.

Day 9:    27th October 2018,  Training ride - Thorong Phedi (4,450m), to Kagbeni (2,800m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

Before dawn, shoulder your bike and start the 5km climb in and out of moraine canyons, past the many false summits, to reach the top of Thronog La pass at 5,416m.  The first 1,616m of descent is extremely difficult, regardless of the conditions.  Ride down endless switchbacks through either thick and melting snow, or slippery loose gravel scree, until Muktinath (3,800m).   From here the next 960m of descent is on jeep trails, with the shock of again manoeuvring around vehicles, people and livestock.

Carrying mountain bike at night, Nepal, Yak Attack race

Still dark, little oxygen and a never ending climb towards the top of Throng La pass

Riding mountain bike in snow, Annapurna Range, Nepal

And when there is snow, the scenery is stunning and the climb is slow.

Day 10:  28th October 2018,  Training ride - Kagbeni (2,800m) to Tatopani (1,190m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

Start early to descend out of the Kali Gandaki gorge before late morning, when the strong southerly headwind commences to howl, whipping up dust and sand.  If the legs are feeling strong, and you want to leave the jeep track behind for a while, there are new side trails to explore, with temporary bridges and shortcuts across river-side gravel bars, if the water is low.  At the end of the day, enjoy the amazing sensation of all the extra oxygen entering your muscles and lungs, and relax in one of Tatopani's two stone, hot-spring pools, where the water is around 37C.

Upper Mustang to Kagbeni trail

Descending from Upper Mustang, Kagbeni is an oasis of apple and apricot orchards, and fields of barley.

Mountain bike rider through forest, Annapurna regsion, Nepal

The huge all-day descent, clears the arid landscape and immerses you back into the forest.

Day 11:   29th October 2018,  Training ride - Tatopani (1,190m) to Beni (830m) then drive to Pokhara.   Waterfront Hotel (B)

This is a busy section with a lot more buses, trucks, motorbikes and pedestrians, making their way along the jeep track, to and from Beni.  From here Pokhara is just a 3-4 hour drive away and you now have 6 days to repair, refuel and play.

Mountain bike rider passing trucks on dirt road, Nepal, Yak Attack race

The lungs and legs are so much stronger at low altitude as you continue to descend on the last day of training.

Day 12:   30th October 2018  Waterfront Hotel (B)

Pokhara is not only a laid-back version of Kathmandu but also the adventure-sports capital of Nepal. Chill by the lake or pool, eat every hour in a different restaurant, explore the shops and bars, stand-up paddle or be rowed around the lake.  Alternatively, seek out an adrenaline-hit by paragliding, bungee jumping, ultra light flying or travelling120kmh on a 1.8km zip line.    

Reflections of mountains on lake, Pokhara, Nepal

Famous for it's mountain reflections, Pokhara is also the adventure and resort capital of Nepal.

Restaurant by Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal

Enjoy life by the lake and build up strength and tactics for the race.

Day 13:   31st October 2018  Waterfront Hotel (B)

Continue with the laid-back theme, maybe spin the legs on some flatlands, take a walk up to Peace Pagoda, enjoy a massage or take a meditation or yoga class.  Visit the International Mountain Museum, Tibetan Monastery or Carpet factory.

Day 14:   1st November 2018  Hotel Manaslu (B)

A 6-8 hour drive by private vehicle, back to the wonderful craziness and sensory overload of Kathmandu.  

Day 15:   2nd November 2018  Hotel Manaslu (B)

Visit the medieval squares of Thamel, Bhaktapur or Patan, and lose your way in the maze of back alleys and lanes.  Explore the ancient temples, take a guided sightseeing tour or just eat, shop and rest.  

Patan city, Kathmandu, Nepal

Patan is the oldest Buddhist city in the Kathmandu valley.

Day 16:   3rd November 2018  Hotel Manaslu (B)

Yak Attack registration day!  Meet your fellow competitors and start the final mental preparation for the race of your lifetime.

Day 17:   4th November 2018  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

You are now in the hands of the Yak Attack crew.  Transfer by coach of all riders, luggage and bikes to Besi Sahar (approx 6 hours).

Starting line of Yak Attack mounain bike race, Nepal.

The start line for 'Yak Attack' and time to start climbing all over again.

Day 18:   5th November 2018   Yak Attack, Besi Sahar (800m) to Tal (1,700m) 32kms.  Local Lodge (B L,D) 

Race Day! The Yak Attack 2018 race will mainly follow the same route as the training ride but in less days, making it fast and furious!

There are plenty of ups and just a few downs today. You’ll be climbing up to 1700m above sea level. The climbs can be steep on loose rock and there will be a number of water crossings. From around 20km to the finish the course becomes very tough, with long technical climbs.

Mountain bike rider carrying bike on steep trail, Nepal, Yak Attack race

But, some climbs are just unridable.  

Day 19:   6th November 2018   Yak Attack, Tal (1,700m) to Manang (3,540m) 64kms.  Local Lodge (B L,D) 

After a very tough climb out of Taal and then another in about 20km’s time, the trail starts to level a little. There’s a  likelihood you will encounter your first sections of snow during this stage and long stretches of deep mud could be a possibility. The temperature starts to drop, the air gets thinner and the mountain scenery more spectacular as we draw ever closer to Manang.

Mountain bike riders crossing steel cable bridge during Yak Attack race, Nepal

It's unpredictable when you'll first hit the mud and slush, followed by snow.

Day 20:   7th November 2018   Yak Attack, Rest Day in Manang (3,540m)   Local Lodge (B L,D) 

Back in Manang, to acclimatise, refuel and relax.  This is the time to draw on your local knowledge to hit the best walks, coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants. 

Hotel Yeti, Manang, Nepal, Yak Attack race

Local lodge accomodation keeps out the elements and provides a hearty feed.

Day 21:   8th November 2018   Yak Attack, Manang (3,540m) to Phedi (4,450m) 16kms   Local Lodge (B L,D) 

Into thin air!.  The shortest stage distance wise, but on average it takes riders longer than the 64kms of stage 2!  Altitude is the biggest obstacle today with the ride finishing at 4450m above sea level. Snow and severe cold are also distinct possibilities during this stage.

Mountain bike rider carrying bike in snow, Nepal, Yak Attack Race

The steep incline and lack of oxygen makes for an interesting day!

Day 22:   9th November 2018   Yak Attack, Phedi (4,450m)  to Kagbeni (2,800m) 25kms.  Local Lodge (B L,D) 

"The Pass", the stage everybody fears.  Starting in the dark, a 5km hike-a-bike through possible snow and freezing temperatures, takes you to the highest point of the race, "Thorong La" Pass at 5416m.  The ride down should be mainly snow free and one of the most amazing 20km descents of your life!

Cyclist raising mountain bike aboe his head at the top of Throng La pass, Nepal

The highest point, time for some serious downhill to Lower Mustang, one of the most remote places on earth.

Day 23:  10th November 2018   Yak Attack, Kagbeni (2,800m) to Tatopani (1,190m) 58kms.   Local Lodge (B L,D) 

To the finish line – As its the first Fast and Furious version for sometime, Yak Attack are throwing in a whole bunch of single-track, to spice things up a bit.  They're keeping these trails secret until the last moment, but be assured that you’re not going to want this final day to end!!

Mountain bike rider past waterfall, Nepal, Yak Attack race

After winding down the wind-swept Kali Gandaki gorge, you are back in the tree line and onto some single tracks.

Day 24:   11th November 2018   Yak Attack, Tatopani (1,190m) to Pokhara  30kms Waterfront Hotel (B L,D) 

With the racing done and dusted, enjoy a relaxing 30km group ride down to the end of the trail, where a luxury coach will be waiting to transfer you to Pokhara for the post race celebrations and prize giving.

Award ceremony for Yak Attack race, Nepal

Party, party, party!  Awards and recognition for an amazing achievement.

Day 25:   12th November 2018   Waterfront Hotel (B)  

What a big night last night at the awards party!!  Back in the familiar, laid back Pokhara, you can now really enjoy all that it has to offer.  And for those who played it safe the first time and kept away from the adventure activities, here is your chance to cut loose.

Zip Line Pokhara

With an incline of 56 degree, total length1.8 km and a vertical drop of 600 meters, it is the tallest, longest and steepest zipline in the world, and it's in Pokhara.

Day 26:   13th November 2018   Waterfront Hotel (B) 

And, for those who didn't get out of bed yesterday, today you have one more chance to savour all of Pokhara's delights.

Restaurant Pokhara

The shopping is great, the lake is relaxing, the adventure sports are exhilarating and the food is delicious.

Day 27:   14th November 2018   Hotel Manaslu (B) 

Drive along the all too familiar Tribuvan Highway and grab the last views of rural Nepal, as you head back to Kathmandu.

Mountains and village, Tribhuvan Highway, Nepal

Time to reflect as you travel along the road one last time, heading back to Kathmandu.

Day 28:   15th November 2018   Hotel Manaslu (B) 

Last minute shopping, catch up on sights or just sit in the ancient squares and soak up all the colour and atmosphere of daily life in Nepal.  Pack your bike ready to return home and hit the trails stronger than ever before!

Shops, street corner at night, Boudnath, Kathmandu, Nepal

Soak up the atmosphere in Kathmandu and enjoy the feeling of being one of the few, who can claim they completed the Highest Mountain Bike race in the World!

Day 29:   16th November 2018   Hotel Manaslu (B)

After breakfast and goodbyes, transfer is provided to the airport for your flight back to Melbourne.  

Day 30:   17th November 2018 (B)

Arrive back in Melbourne.  

If you measure the depth of a canyon by calculating the difference between the highest peaks of the gorge and the height of the river surface, the Kali Gandaki Gorge is the world’s deepest. The Gandaki river, which flows through the gorge, is older than the Himalayas and has, at its lowest point, an elevation of 1,300 metres, creating a difference of 6,800 metres from the highest peak. 

snow and mountin bike, Nepal