Here, he shares some of his local knowledge as he gives us a peek into this magical mountain world.
I have loved mountain bikes ever since I was a young kid. When I got my first bike, I used to follow the older riders and try and keep up with them. I learned I could be fast and I became Junior National Champion in Nepal when I was 15. I just kept riding and training. I met people, I got sponsors and supporters and was able to upgrade my bike and equipment. I went to Langkawi in 2013 to race and qualified for the 2014 World Marathon Mountain Bike Championships.
How did you make the transition to becoming a tour guide?
By learning from other senior guides, just riding my bike and following them as much as I could. I learnt to speak to tourists because I used to spend a lot of time in Thamel as a young kid. I got a job as a mechanic in a few bike shops and then I finally went to Himalayan Single Track and that’s when I began guiding.
I wake in the morning and check the bikes, it’s always the first thing I do, make sure the bikes are there (especially mine!) and check for overnight punctures and things like that. I go to the kitchen for tea and make sure that breakfast is going to be on time.
I sometimes have to go and wake up the clients and also talk to the porter for the day’s plan and to get the clients’ bags from the room.
During breakfast we talk about the trail ahead for the day and I answer questions.
The next bit is the best – we ride, sometimes up, sometimes down, it’s always fun. Also we have to manage the local porter and confirm the teahouse bookings for the evening. We always stop for lunch on the trail.
At the end of the day we reach the hotel. I have to check the rooms, and make sure the porter and bags are here. I get the clients coffee – we make freshly ground coffee on our trips. Then we have to order dinner.
I wash the bikes and fix any problems that may have happened in the day.
During dinner we chat about the PFT (Plan for Tomorrow) and then I have to check in with the office to let them know how the day went.
For me, it depends. I have a certain way I like to ride, but with mountain biking it is not like normal guiding because all clients have different skill or fitness levels. Some like single track, some don’t like uphill, some just want road. All the time I have to change my style to suit them. But as a guide my main theme is to make the client happy and keep them safe.
What is the best part of your job?
I love the time when I get that special group that is fast and loves single track. That’s when leading the group is not a job, but just like riding with my friends. Those are special moments in guiding.
What’s the most bizarre or surprising experience you’ve had on a guided tour?
Last year it was a bit snowy and we had a rest day. My clients wanted to take a ride on the local ponies. I have never done this before and they offered to pay for me. So we took some ponies for one hour. At the end I asked the pony man how much and he tried to charge me 8000nrs… I was so embarrassed because it was such a high price, I was expecting to pay about 100nrs. I had to bully the guy in Nepalese because I did not want to ask my clients for that much money!
“Can we see Mount Everest?” one guy asked me. We were in Pokhara – it’s about 1000km away from Everest.
Sometimes the clients want TV in their rooms… We are in the middle of the Himalayas. There is no TV here.
Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t that keen on?
I like everything, but sometimes when there is no trip, I have to work in the workshop which I don’t like so much. The boss shouts at me sometimes, but it’s okay.
As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain to our readers what the benefits of hiring a guide are?
One of the main benefits is definitely being able to find the best trails. Local knowledge and insights are something you cannot find on your own. In the Himalayas, hiring a guide is also for safety.
My favorite things about Annapurna are the people and the scenery that we can see along the trail. I love to see the mountains and know how the people live up there. I like to take my clients on a hike above Manang to see the real mountain people.
I have a trail I know that I take my clients on – one not many other people know about.
I also secretly enjoy crossing Throng La, because for me it is so easy and for my clients, even if they are fit, it is so hard! I like to give them tea when they get to the top!
In your view, what makes a good tour guide?
Being a good leader and a good listener. Also, knowing the trail and knowing the limits of the clients to make the trip safe. I think a good guide should be able to give their clients a real adventure and bring them to the teahouse safely at the end of the day. I also think a good guide should know about culture.
And finally, have you got any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?
When booking a trip always be honest with the guide about your riding style, fitness and skill level. Then they can suggest the best trails so that you have an awesome mountain biking holiday. Too many people oversell themselves and end up having a hard time and that’s not nice for the guide also.