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John Huddart shoots the 11-stage, high-altitude mountain bike race in Nepal.

THE 30-SOME ATHLETES were all eccentrics in their own right. They came from breweries in the UK, adventure races in Canada, dairy farms in Wales, and cycling schools in East Germany. This ragtag group of internationals were up against the best of the home squad, a national champion, a kid off the streets, and a 16-year-old coca-cola-sipping ladies’ man.

Once the race was over, I got to find out why Aussie Paul Bolla was in Nepal, and why a guy who “doesn’t particularly like bikes” risked his well-being and the contents of his bank account to ride one — for the second time. Turns out, he’s in love with the country, its people, and his extended family — the orphans of Social Development Center and Mitrata Nepal, and a little spunky lady named Nanda.

Because it takes considerably longer to walk one of the world’s toughest races than to ride it on a bicycle, my work here also presents a wandering gaze on Nepal and the Nepalis — a country and people who’ll roast your expectations and serve up milk tea and dal bhat as remedy for anything. But it’s delicious and you’ll love it, and them, and everything else as well.

[Editor's note: This article is one of Matador's 2012 Projects. Matador Projects provide individual or select teams of writers, photographers, athletes, artists, musicians, and filmmakers with financial assistance and an exceptional publishing platform for realizing original, documentary-based work.]

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About The Author

John Huddart

On his first venture with the Matador Network, Mr. Huddart soiled his long johns and got frostbite, while chasing cyclists across the Himilayas. The kind of guy who gets a kick out of such pursuits, John is eager for whatever comes next. Back home he makes it to the toilet (almost) every time and finds enjoyment amongst those things that make him sigh, smile and sweat. Namely the landscape of his native British Colombia, green vegetable smoothies and tossing frisbee.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Incredible photos!  Sorry to hear about the frostbite and altitude sickness… can’t wait to see the footage.

    • Nicole Sorochan

      Wow! Sounds like an epic journey I missed out on… I have to wonder… would I have made it to the end?  :)  Glad it was you and not me in the end John :) 

  • Jeremie Rodger

    Hey, great shots! Sounds like a crazy race. Could you see Japan from up there? 

  • jenna

    wow. that sounds intense. even besides the whole shitting in your pants and frostbite thing.

    insane photos too!

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