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Start of a new adventure: from the Himalayas to Anatolia

Just five months ago, Santos Riders Martin and Katja finished a 21-month cycling trip across the Americas. Now, they are starting a new adventure: from the high mountains of the Himalayas to the ancient lands of Anatolia. They have just arrived in the Nepalese city of Kathmandu. Check out how they have prepared for this new trip, including changing to a lighter set-up.

 Martin and Katja
Bicycle Santos Travelmaster 3+

The smell of incense envelops us but does not drown out the scent of spices, car odors and the sweat of the swarm of people strolling around us. It's the smell of adventure. We are in Kathmandu, Nepal's buzzing and hectic capital.

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We stand outside Tribhuvan airport and pack the boxes with our bikes onto the roof of a large white taxi. The driver ties up the bikes with a thin black string, and we cross our fingers that they stay on the roof during the trip to the hotel. "Slowly, slowly," says Martin, as we reach for our seat belts in vain. A reflex from life in Denmark.

The journey from Denmark to Nepal has been smooth, and we are sitting in our hotel room in Kathmandu just five months after returning home from our 21-month cycling journey through South, Central and North America. The last five months have been hectic, to say the least. We have balanced the mental ballast of coming home from a 21-month journey with work, internships and lectures. At the same time, we have tried to see our family and friends as much as possible. It's been great to be home in Copenhagen, and it's great to be reminded that even though the adventure continues, we also love our life in Denmark.

Back in Kathmandu, scooters with friendly but impatient Nepalese nudge us as we walk around the small streets of the Thamel district. They remind us that here you drive on the left side of the road. There is no pavement, which is an advantage when we sometimes go out on the bikes. We know that cars and scooters are used to a bit of everything on the narrow roads.

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Along the streets, wires hang heavily from pole to pole. We spot a monkey balancing on the wires, probably looking for a meal in the city. It likely comes from the Monkey Temple of Swayambhunath, a few kilometers away. At the temple, it lives with hundreds of congeners, all of whom are considered sacred.

The city's many temples are either hidden in small alleys, or stand freely in front, functioning as small oases of calm in the otherwise chaotic metropolis. At the temples you often also find a Stupa, a sacred structure that originally originated in India in the 5th century BC. They were used at funerals and subsequently developed into sacred sites dedicated to the Buddha.

The warm, moist air causes the dust from the street to stick to our skin. After a long day in the city, our shirts smell of the many impressions we have come across during the day. They smell like Kathmandu, of adventure.

The new bike set-up

Our bikes are in the hotel room. They are looking forward to experiencing the Himalayan mountains. We are preparing to leave again, both mentally and practically. There are some practical things that need to be sorted out. For example, we haven't had time to test pack at home and are relieved that everything can find its place in the new bag setup. This time we have prioritized being lighter, and that means we have got new bags and that we have left things at home. Some of the things were no-brainers, such as our Helinox chairs, which we almost only used during the three weeks we cycled in Chile. Others are more experimental, e.g. we have brought a two-person tent and therefore have to do without the space and convenience our three-person tent gave us. We have saved weight where possible without compromising too much on comfort.

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The bikes are also lighter. Our Travelmasters have, among other things, a lighter gearbox, which means that on this trip we have 12 gears instead of 18 gears. The tires have become quite a bit larger, ready for adventures on gravel far out in the mountains. Martin uses the time in Kathmandu to give the bikes some love with an oil change for the gearbox, new bike computers and bike mirrors.

The plan – from Nepal to Turkey

We are going to cycle from Nepal to Turkey. On this trip, we turn up the things we both loved most about our cycling trip from Argentina to Canada. Higher mountains, more diverse cultures, more different languages, religions and encounters with indigenous people. Martin has previously cycled from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Kathmandu in Nepal, and we will cycle through some of the countries that are close to his heart. We end up in Turkey, which we both love, and where Katja has lived for two years. This journey is in many ways different from the last one. For example, we haven't planned the whole route from home due to closed borders and visa regulations, and have to decide on the bureaucracy as we get there.

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We will cycle from Nepal through India, Pakistan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and then Uzbekistan. From Uzbekistan there are two options. Either over the Caspian Sea and through the Caucasus or down south through Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. Both options are a dream for us, but due to closed land borders at Azerbaijan and winter lurking, it is most likely that we will turn south from Uzbekistan and cycle down through Turkmenistan, Iran and that way. We estimate that it will take us a year to cycle from Nepal to Turkey.

Come along on our trip

Follow our trip on our Santos page, on Instagram @katjaogmartine or on our blog

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