Posted On 04 May 2024
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This entry is part 20 of 30 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#29


Nepal’s roads are legendary. I know, I’ve ridden them! (photo Andy McGregor)


In the wake of the appalling earthquake in Nepal, I would like to appeal to you to please not wipe the country from your future holiday plans.

I’ve only been there a couple of times but on both occasions I came away with happy memories of delightful and helpful people. Nepal has supplied manpower to the British Gurkha regiments for many decades, and you could often find a retired soldier who would be happy to share tea and a story with you. There is some good riding, too, although many of the roads were pretty disastrous even before the earthquake.

Free Spirit is one tour operator which specialises in Nepal, and we had this story prepared before the earthquake.

The company offered Everest Base Camp and other Nepal tours, as well as visits to Lhasa in Tibet. Here is an impression of one of those tours from Paddy Tyson,, to keep you interested in the country.

Climbing within the Himalaya is like nothing else. In Europe’s Alps you can marvel at the majesty of the surrounding peaks, enjoy the broad vistas and feel insignificant within the scale of the place. The Himalaya are simply too big even for that. The views are limited by the size and proximity of the mountains themselves and riding the side of a valley on roads which are simply engineering masterpieces may be stunning, but having finally reached what you imagine must be a summit, you simply find you are on the floor of yet another valley.

Will it be so simple to visit Everest again one day? (photo Paddy Tyson)

Darkness had fallen as we rose above the tree line and our arrival in the town of Nyalam was eerie, as we threaded our way around potholes of indeterminate depth and between the free-range dogs and unlit vehicles. Even with limited visibility, I knew the settlement had a wild feel, perched as it is on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, devoid of any vegetation which could help tame the incessant wind.

I didn’t sleep, but it wasn’t the rock hard bed or the bitter cold. My head hurt, my chest felt tight and every time I nodded off I awoke with a start as I imagined I was being strangled. By breakfast I was nauseous and thirsty.

Nyalam is at 3,800m where oxygen is already in short supply and I was suffering the early onset of altitude sickness, but it wasn’t debilitating and we had to press on.

Daylight exposed the rugged beauty that surrounded us. Naked roadsides and mountains rising variously all around shared barely a blade of grass.

The palette was one of browns and greys beneath an unbroken blue sky and it felt as though there wasn’t a drop of moisture for miles. We were still climbing onto the Tibetan Plateau.

It’s a harsh dry place that sees barely 250mm of precipitation in a year, but the morning cold meant that I still had to wear all my waterproof clothing.

Still we climbed to Tong La (La is the regional word for Pass) at 5,153m and the incredible, awesome beauty of the place just made me want to cry.

A manly response I know. I downed another Diamox tablet and gulped as much water as I could, but in essence, it seemed I was the chosen one of our party and the thin air was taking its toll. Altitude sickness can result in many things, the most damaging being a burst brain or lungs, neither of which I felt would have improved my riding any.

I needed to descend, or a little longer to acclimatise.

Prayer flags: praying for the Enfield or the rider. (photo Andy McGregor)


Dubbelju has added to its Triumph fleet.

Wolfgang Taft from Dubbelju Motorcycle Tours and Rentals in San Francisco has “something fun and special!”

“Try out our new custom Scrambler or Bonneville,” he writes. “Their unique café styling is definitely different than most of our other rental bikes. Whether you are cruising around San Francisco or getting sporty on the back roads,these bikes are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

“We also have a Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer: This all new adventure bike challenges the category leader BMW R1200GS. The exhilarating performance from the legendary triple motor needs to be experienced to be appreciated.

Now you can find out for yourself who will be your Adventure category leader.

But the thing about Tibet is that you can’t really descend. The plateau is an area bigger than NSW, ACT and Victoria combined, with an average height of 4,500m and surrounded by towering mountain ranges, hundreds of peaks seven or eight thousand metres high and more. There isn’t really any respite from the altitude, as you rarely fall to even 4,000m. It’s no wonder it’s called the roof of the world.

As I suffered, breathless, my arms and legs wracked with pins and needles, becoming simultaneously numb and painful, the little Enfield beneath me seemed absolutely unaffected. It plodded along, its EFI system metering the fuel as best it could to compensate for the lack of oxygen, feeding the simple single-cylinder engine which continued to perform mile after mile. The next day I matched its reliability again, my body rapidly acclimatising and the altitude sickness gone.

I was back in the saddle and riding out of the old town of Tingri, passed the coupled Yak working what appeared to be completely barren soil, and waving to the curious, friendly, Tibetans outside their distinctive fl at-roofed houses. Colourful heavy door curtains, acting as insulation and dust barrier, create a vibrant contrast against the whitewashed walls and generate a scene I imagined lost within the pages of National Geographic magazines I’d spent hours poring over as a child. I couldn’t help but tap the tank of my little Enfield that had so faithfully carried me through Nepal and now up here, to this mighty plateau, where I faced my first view of the highest mountain on earth. I couldn’t have been more fortunate with the weather as Everest stood proud against a crisp blue sky dwarfing its neighbours. The peak, an astounding 8,848m, was creating its own vapour trail. The sight, if not the altitude, was breath-taking.

The almost perfect black-top cut straight as a die across valley floors and then wound gently over minor passes as we headed toward the giant. There are no words to describe the final, gravel, switchback climb to Base camp.

The man, and the boy inside, trembles imagining Hillary, Norgay and being in the footsteps of true adventure. Ride it.

Feel it. Find your own words.

But Tibet is more than just mountains.

It’s home to an ancient culture, a land of intriguing food and of mighty temples, and the (ironically named) Friendship Highway links many of them. As it stretches from Kathmandu, across Tibet to Llasa and ultimately on to Beijing, the highway passes the most famous and holiest of all Tibetan Buddhist temples;

The Potosi Palace. Would-be home of the Dalai Lama (were he not in exile as a consequence of the Chinese invasion), the thousand-room palace is arguably as famous as Everest and almost as difficult to photograph. We rode the bikes right outside and I dismounted and whipped out my camera. As the military guards laughed, I played chase with the police.

‘No Foto! No Foto!’

Keep an eye on for developments in Nepal.

Why not get dressed up a little to go out ploughing? (photo Andy McGregor)


You don’t need to go to Cuba to sample a Cuban café…

“And finally we are on top of the waiting list for our first Scrambler Classic. The bike should be here any day and we cannot wait to break it in for you. With a 31.1-inch seat height, a narrow seat/tank juncture and the overall slim nature of the Scrambler we hope we will reach a lot of different customers.”

Good on you, Wolfgang. That Scrambler looks cool! As always Dubbelju’s service includes free trip planning.

MotoQuest is right at home there, with its headquarters in Anchorage, so you’d expect them to know what they’re doing up there. It sounds to me as if they do. Writing about their Best of Alaska Adventure, they note that “this tour offers the rider the opportunity to experience the diverse areas of Alaska, both coastal and interior. You will ride… the epic Thompson Pass in and out of the quaint fishing town of Valdez… this 1600 mile ride is 100% paved.”

Now that’s a ride I wouldn’t mind doing myself! More information from !


Feel like crossing the world’s greatest mountain range by the highest road on the planet at 5600 metres? Experiencing Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh cultures as well as the high, dry desert of ‘Little Tibet’?

All while riding the classic Royal Enfield Bullet 500cc single, and staying in cheerful, clean, mid range hotels?

Well, you’d better get in touch with Ferris Wheels Motorcycle Safaris at and get the drum about the July and August tours! They start and finish in New Delhi and run from July 18 to August 7, and August 8 to August 28 – 20 days, with 4 non-riding days.

South American road building can be quite adventurous.


The biggest tour of South America is on again, for only the second time.

Compass Expeditions’ biggest ride – the 128-day total circumnavigation of the entire South American continent; known as the South America 360 Expedition.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this” says Jerry Cook, co-founder of Compass Expeditions, “last held in 2013 we are running it again after numerous requests from past and future clients” continues Jerry.

Starting and finishing in Santiago, Chile the South America 360 travels south to the southernmost city in the world of Ushuaia before the long trek north up into and beyond the Amazon Basin.

Turning west we reach the legendary Colombia before then travelling the spine of the Andes all the way south to Santiago. This is a stand-alone tour when it comes to truly exploring the entire continent; the diversity of cultures, landscapes and antiquities is unparalleled in the touring world.

Compass Expeditions is one of only a handful of motorcycle tour operators from around the world, and Australia’s only, that offer these major expeditions. Aside from the epic South America 360 expedition Compass Expeditions also operates the legendary London to Magadan: Road of Bones expedition; over 105 days in length and the subject of the Beyond Siberia 2 x 1 hour documentary that was recently launched at Cannes.

The newest expedition (which has sold out) is the 80 day Cairo to Cape town Expedition this coming September, “all these expeditions are operated solely by us using our own support vehicles and staff” says Jerry.

For more information on the South America 360 expedition click the following link To contact Compass Expeditions email phone (outside Australia) +61 3 9747 2379 (within Australia) 1300 887 327


Having some serious fun on the gravel.

GET ROUTED TO NZ AGAIN Dave Milligan, who introduced the Get Routed bike transport service to New Zealand, has sold the NZ shipping business to Clive McFadden. He’s still doing all the other destinations around the world.

“I intend to offer the same personal and highly professional service that Dave did,” Clive says. “I bought the business driven by both enjoyment of motorcycling and an affinity with New Zealand that came about during a 12 month holiday there in 1974.”

Now that’s a man after our own heart; we remember what we were doing on a bike in 1974, too. Or do we? Er… You can reach Clive for bookings or just information on +61 431 840 127 or at .

“It’s not all sheep here in Unzud, you know, eh…”

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