What makes the Trans-Himalayan highway so special? Again, it's the highest road in the world, averaging an altitude of 4,500 metres above sea level as it traverses the Tibetan plateau. Secondly, the route boasts the world's longest continuous descent, which of course means that you'll face the world's longest uphill if you are heading in the opposite direction. Best of all to mountain bikers is the sense of isolation and awe-inspiring scenery. They must also face an onslaught of zigzagging mountain passes and endure a constant battle against breathlessness.
Expect to cover 70 to 100 km per day. Be sure you have clothes for all conditions: remember that you are above the clouds and it can be very sunny and bright. It can also snow, rain, hail and become very, very cold at the drop of a hat. In fact, it's all character-building stuff and after one week you'll be more resilient to the harsh conditions.
Children carry baskets of yak dung home. The dung will be used as insulation on the walls of their house and, come winter, will be burnt as fuel. Yaks are everything out here: yak skin tents and canoes; yak milk, butter, curd and cheese; yak steak; yak wool sweaters; even yak urine as a medicinal remedy for exposed cuts.
After eight or nine days and 600 km of pedaling, you should find yourself around the town of Pelbar and the entrance to the Everest National Park. It's here that you will probably leave Highway 318 for a few days and head south to Everest Base Camp. By now you are carrying at least 50 per cent of the following ailments: knee ligament damage, saddle rash, backache, a very sore backside, cramps in your feet, a runny nose, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, headaches, nausea, dry eyes, a dusty cough, insomnia, lethargy, sunburn, frostbite, altitude sickness - not to mention any injuries you might have incurred from falling off your bike!
Fear not! For all these maladies combined cannot stop you now. Behold the Pang La, the mountain pass which rises before you! You grit your teeth, you meditate, you turn 'Eye of the Tiger' up to 10 on your Walkman; you do whatever you have to do to get into the groove, to get that Lance Armstrong vibe and hunker down for the next four or five hours to tackle this monster.