Ti­bet

The world is your lob­ster! Well it is if you’ve got a mo­tor­cy­cle and a sense of ad­ven­ture…

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Escapes -

Rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle in a farflung en­vi­ron­ment stirs the soul and chal­lenges the norm. You learn to adapt, to take the lows when they come but to make the most of the highs.

These trips don’t al­ways come easy or cheap but with ex­pert com­pa­nies (many fea­tured in this MCN Es­capes is­sue), they come eas­ier and cheaper than you’d think. There comes a time when you sim­ply have to take the plunge and do some­thing that takes you away from the daily grind. See which of these epic trips tick­les your fancy!

ROAD TO KATHMANDU

Rid­ing in Ti­bet is a com­bi­na­tion of iso­la­tion, alti­tude and mys­tery that gives the area sig­nif­i­cant ap­peal for mo­tor­cy­clists. The route from Kathmandu to Lhasa along the Friend­ship High­way is one of the world’s great jour­neys, with thrilling and ex­cit­ing sec­tions with steep cliffs and wa­ter­falls.

The high­way, on the Ti­betan Plateau, starts from Lhasa – the cap­i­tal – and passes the turquoise Yam­drok Lake, be­fore con­nect­ing to Shi­gatse. The road forks af­ter this, with one branch head­ing west to the city of Ali. The other con­tin­ues south, past Tin­gri, New Tin­gri and on to the Rong­phu Monastery near Ever­est Base Camp. From here the road con­tin­ues on to the Nepali bor­der at Zhangmu, tra­verses the Sino-nepal Friend­ship Bridge and con­tin­ues to Kathmandu in Nepal.

Sights along the route in­clude var­i­ous cul­tural mon­u­ments, the up­per val­ley of the Yar­lung Zangbo River, vast grass­lands on the plateau, and moun­tain vis­tas in­clud­ing five of the world’s high­est peaks: Ever­est, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu and Shisha­pangma. The High­way is used by pil­grims from all cor­ners of the world to the spir­i­tual cen­tre in Lhasa.

You need to be aware of mon­soons which lead to flood­ing and se­ri­ous alti­tude where ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion is vi­tal. You’ll pass through dense trop­i­cal veg­e­ta­tion, cas­cad­ing wa­ter­falls and the bar­ren rocky land­scape of the ice giants.

The view from the sum­mit of the pass at Lalung La (16,574ft, 5052m) is breath­tak­ing – a chain of six and seven thou­sand-me­tre peaks (19,685ft, 22,965ft) – only topped by the 26,318ft (8022m) Shisha Pangma. From Lalung La you leave the mon­soon rains be­hind and head across the high­lands.

Think of all the best roads you’ve ever rid­den. Now imag­ine all those other in­cred­i­ble roads you’ve read about in mag­a­zines, or seen on TV? Now stitch all these rib­bons of tar­mac to­gether, lay them out in one place and you’ve got Tas­ma­nia.

One minute you’d swear you’re in the moun­tains of south­ern Spain, or north­ern Italy, the next Sar­dinia, Scot­land or Wales. Ride a few hours down the road and you’re mag­i­cally trans­ported to the TT Moun­tain Course, the Targa Flo­rio in Si­cily, and the tree-lined tar­mac sur­round­ing the Nür­bur­gring.

You can ride for tank af­ter tank of fuel with­out see­ing ei­ther a straight stretch of road, an­other car or a town. Tas­ma­nia might be over 10,000 miles away, but it’s a bik­ers’ par­adise. Half the size of Eng­land, but with a pop­u­la­tion of just half a mil­lion (com­pared to the UK’S 65 mil­lion), Tassie is a riot of traf­fic-free cor­ners, seem­ingly end­less moun­tain hair­pins, un­du­lat­ing sweep­ers and per­fectly-sur­faced, dizzy­ing switch­backs.

Tas­ma­nia is cov­ered in Na­tional Parks and Her­itage sites, so it’s the per­fect place to watch the world drift by on a tour­ing bike. And if you’re on an ad­ven­ture-styled ma­chine, you can lose your­self on off-road trails for eter­nity.

Un­like Aus­tralia, you’re un­likely to see an over-zeal­ous cop­per hid­ing be­hind a wheelie bin with a speed cam­era, or any po­lice pres­ence out on the open road – just do the sen­si­ble thing and be­have your­self around town and you’ll be left alone.

The Tassie roads are the main event for us, but there are sur­prises along the way. Whether the food comes from a fish and chip shop or an oys­ter bar, the grub here is truly in­cred­i­ble and is some of the best you’ll find any­where in the world.

Along the way you’ll see pen­guins in the sleepy town of Bicheno, as well as a bike mu­seum stuffed with over 60 im­mac­u­lately re­stored vin­tage and clas­sic ma­chines. And then there’s Joe’s Bar in Ho­bart, which seems to be an eerie Hard Rock-type shrine to crashed rac­ing cars and bikes, with span­ners hang­ing up be­hind the bar where the op­tics should be.

Four long days of Tassie rid­ing is more than enough to scratch my sports rid­ing itch and leaves my mind and body fraz­zled. There’s lit­tle doubt Tas­ma­nia is a haven for bik­ers, whether it’s for the roads, the scenery, the high-speed mad­ness or cul­ture. Just a shame it’s so damn far away.

It’s rides like this that dreams are made of

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