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Om mani padme hum
Buddhist mantra means "compassion to all living creatures"

We have asembled in Lhasa, Tibet, fabled forbidden city, and one of the world's most exotic. There are 12 of us, 10 Brits and 2 Yanks, each of sound body and poor judgement. We have flown halfway around the world, nearly 24 hours, to mountain bike the 600 miles between Lhasa and Kathmandu, in Nepal. We figure 25 days in the saddle (a guess since this has never been done). For all but the final two days we will be above 14,000 feet, and seven times we climb above 17,000, including a side trip to Everest Base Camp, north side. Our leader is Shem, "Mr. Lungs," mountain bike champion of Nepal, the most mountainous country in the world. Every mountain is a "mole hill" for this legendary cyclist. Not so for his bold but mortal charges.

Lhasa seems an auspicious place to start, with its balmy 12,000 foot altitude. Three days in the holy city will afford us ample time to acclimatize, to the altitude and to each other, and visit the storied sites which draw visitors from around the world. Chief among these are the fabulous Potala Palace, former winter residence of the Dalai Lama, and Jokhang Temple, Tibet's most holy shrine. A pilgrimage to Jokhang bestows upon the devotee many karma points in the game of life.


The photograph shows the various stages of "inchworming" in the pilgrim's prostrations, from beginning to end. What it can't portray is the solemnity of mood, the reverence, the nonstop chanting of om mani padme hum, and the smell of incense. Sensory overload! (next photo)


© Danny Kimberlin 2015