A beast of a pass to negociate persuaded us to get an early start while a lack of food resources persuaded us to have a light breakfast; you win some you loose some. Our idea of an early start was shared by most truck drivers in Tibet judging by the constant flow of traffic going past with, I swear, the sole intention of throwing dust in our faces. Dreaming of particle free oxygen rich air we made our way slowly up the loose gravel track. It shouldn't sound too much like a chore, we had fantastic views and sunshine; additionally seeing the not the Red spokes crew right at the bottom put a smile on my face at least. A smile that soon faded a touch when lunch was laid out, or should I say laid bare; a feast it was not. Given our calorific output the meager meals fit for a weight watchers fanatic just weren't frankly going to keep us alive.
We carried on grinding to the top of the pass to be greeted with a beautiful panorama stretching out across the main Himalayan ridge - fabulous. We were also greeted with a brisk wind so after some huddling behind the inevitable prayer flags we set off. In theory we were about to set off on a huge downhill and should be back to civilisation in time for afternoon tea. While I can't deny that there was one section of steep off road which shock loaded most joints I own I must also confess that my overriding memory is of forcing my bike into a ferocious head wind which felt like it was trying to push us back to Lhasa. Andy 'time trial' Cross suggested a little team slip streaming was in order and while he was undoubtedly right without a tow rope I just couldn't keep up with his pace. We each retreated into our own worlds of tough going and plodded on, acutely aware that throwing up the tent and crashing out was not an option unless someone wanted to sacrifice a body part to eat.
I'll skip a detailed description of the rest of the day, suffice to say it was heavy going, perhaps just rewards for hanging onto the back of trucks earlier in the trip. Heavy going enough that at one breather I broke out my emergency supply of chocolate coffee beans. This caused something of a stir, only a vampire with a pint of virgins blood could look so intense as Andy 'rake thin' Cross and Steve 'famine victim' Wyatt. I thought it prudent to have a couple each, leaving more than half for the road ahead, a decision which seemed to hit Steve 'get it in the tank' Wyatt particularly hard.
With the day being harder than we had planned we stopped early, in Nyalem. Frankly at this point is would have had to have been the worlds scariest sergent major to persuade us to carry on going to our intended destination. No time was wasted in locating a restaurant and we were soon tucking into a round of Yak burger. Just to underline our current culuary status we checked into a hotel and again wasted no time in heading back to the same restaurant. Our choice of food was limited by the acute lack of local currency so beer was foregone in favour of breakfast with every penny emptied from our bags. While the owner didn't speak any English we eventually persuaded him that we weren't there to complain about our earlier meal but did in fact want another round of Yak burgers. Over full we headed back to our hotel, which was a cheap place full of dorm rooms. Steve 'likes a bit of character' Wyatt seemed to fall in love with the place, especially the fact that a lot of expeditions seemed to use the same place judging by the stickers on the doors everywhere; it's nice to know that that BMC doesn't splash out on fancy places.