Shimla: The third edition of MTB- HIMACHAL, the trans-Himalayan cycling competition is all set to roll on October 4. The nine-day event covering almost half of the western Himalayas will be flagged of from Hotel Peterhoff in Shimla and will conclude at the Mountaineering and Trekking Institute in Manali on October 13.
The event is organised by Himachal Adventure Sports & Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA) along with the department of tourism, Himachal Pradesh government.
Perhaps the only of its kind event in the world, MTB-HIMACHAL is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of adventure and human endurance. What the Dakar car rally is for machines, MTB-HIMACHAL is for humans. It’s a toast to adventure lovers from around the world as they come together for a grand cycling and hiking spectacle in the midst of the majestic Himalayas.
Pedalling through 750 kilometres of unchartered territory, working against gravity to gain an elevation of over 14,000 metres, cruising down through slopes, and making your way through mud tracks – what else can be the ultimate test of strength and determination, “The best images one can conjure up of a biking event is that of Tour De France where we can see hundreds of bikers vying with each other to be the leader leaving behind people-lined streets of towns stung by the event’s popularity with the event promising to test the endurance of the bikers. On the other hand, MTB HIMACHAL is for real adventure bikers who take their relationship with their bikes and nature seriously,” explained Mohit Sood, president of HASTPA.
The route this year is almost similar to the one in 2006, but more challenges have been added in the form of stages as well as time trials. For those not yet ready to live on the edge; there’s a new comfort category this year. “This is one event where winning is not that important. There is this sheer sense of triumph and contentment, moments of wilderness, solitude…something no competitive event would offer,” reasoned Akhil Puri of HASTPA.
There are long downhill and gruelling uphill, as there are straight stretches, there are tougher sections of hike and bike, and there are fast paced gravel roads. Trail conditions include forest double track, unpaved switchbacks with steep drops on the side, stream crossings, extended sections of smooth and broken tarmac, single-track, and a few technical rocky runs with drop-offs. Expect climbs of up to 1,500 mts in elevation, long and fast descents, village back roads with zealous kids and some short sections on main roads.
The average riding altitude is 2,000 mts with the high point at Jalori pass 3,223 mts and touching low at Pandoh with 750 mts. There would be seven camp sites, with each night halt camp having a separate enclosure for Ayurvedic massages, a relief for those tired muscles after the gruelling pedalling tests of the day.
The competition would be run on timed stage format, which implies there would be one or two timed stages each day. MTB HIMACHAL has full back up of a fleet of ambulances and a team of doctors, moving with the entourage along the course of the event.
This year, MTB HIMACHAL will have two major categories. One would be the competitive category aptly titled “EXTREME” and the other would be the non-competitive category titled “COMFORT”. Riders entering the EXTREME category will be the ones to race and claim the prizes, and the ones in the COMFORT category will be there to ride. The EXTREME category has been further sub-categorised into two – INTERNATIONAL and NATIONAL.
The minimum age limit to participate in MTB HIMACHAL is 18 years as on 4th October, 2007.