The morning started with a quick cold breakfast and the 20km we didn't quite manage yesterday. We soon passed the Red Spokes crew camped by the road in a far superior spot to ours, perhaps local knowledge isn't over-rated after all. We soon rolled into Lhatse where we found a travellers hostel which served a good breakfast. So good in fact that we ordered two each to try and make up for last nights culinary 'effort'. The owner seemed overly-boisterous for the morning so either the coffee was strong (no a problem we found) or the bottle for breakfast isn't frowned upon in Tibet. There was no way we were leaving without prayer scarfs tied round our necks, but suitably adorned the trail was hit.
From Lhatse there was a long slow uphill to grind up, the highlight of which was catching a lift with a truck which had slowed down for a large pot hole. After accelerating to 40km/h the driver, should the have bother to look in his mirror, would have seen a wide eyed biker hanging on with a slowly extending arm. Pot holes were the main focus of the driver and soon we established a pattern of the truck braking at the last minute, me pulling on the back to slingshot past the obstruction to be best placed to catch the back end as it accelerated past. Not easy but worthwhile. By a mixture of arm numbing lifts and pedaling we made the top of the pass. After looking around I checked the dictionary to remind myself whether the definition of bleak was 'the top of that pass just outside of Lhatse'. It seems not but if the Oxford English ever come here things might change. Other than bleak, bloody cold springs to mind with the gale force wind cutting through even the multiple layers we were sporting. On the up side we did have our first glimpse of snowy white peaks in the distance. Huddled behind the mound of prayer flags we had a spot of lunch and soon got going.
Despite being downhill the head wind made it hard work to make progress, gone were the dreams of free wheeling the rest of the 50km into camp. I was feeling the pace from the day before and had my head down most of the way. Still with some time and some pedaling we finally rolled into the town which was going to be camp for the night, and met up with the leader of the Not the Red spokes crew who pointed us in the direction of the Everest permit office. We decided to stay in the same hotel as their group which was very flash by our standards, and expensive by anyones standard, although it did have a slightly Fawlty Towers feel; toilet didn't flush, lights hanging off walls by wires etc etc.
While checking in we met another couple from Whitehaven who were
doing the same route. I don't think either of them would disagree
when I say that to this guy it is a spade, no arguments. After
talking for at least ten seconds he declared
'My ass is down to the bone'
Suffice to say that there was a great deal of empathy going round the group at that point. After a meal in the hotel we chatted to the Not the Red Spokes crew for a while in the bar before turning to the important topic of poker. In fact we were playing after they had thrown us out the bar and the night porter had said goodnight.