Lama was born to a farming family in Kakani and as a child, did not know how to cycle. But having worked for 17 years in a cycle repair shop in Kathmandu he got interested in mountain biking. He took part in several races, and now works as an expert guide on Nepal’s plentiful singletracks in Manang, Mustang, Jumla, and Dolpo. The tourism collapse due to the pandemic got Lama thinking about the GHT adventure.
The Trail passes through some of the remotest and most under-served districts in Nepal, and Lama believes that promoting the route for mountain bikers will increase their income and improve livelihoods. Lama’s venture, titled GHT on Wheels, partnered with Vision Dolpo to raise funds for Early Childhood Development Centres. He organised all the logistics, including food and supplies, himself. He relied on GoFundMe crowdsourcing, support from friends, and equipment company sponsors.
Even as he encourages more mountain biking tourism in Nepal, however, he warns international travellers to find well-recommended guides. Unlike trekking, mountain biking requires more logistical planning, safety considerations, gear, and understanding of appropriate singletrack trails.
“For the GHT, you have to have a combination of time, money, and passion. If you have the time, but don’t have the money, you can’t. You need all three,” Lama explains.