March 25, 2014
International Adventure: MTB Himalaya.
Done all the other stage races? All Trans-X-ed out? How about six days in the Himalaya instead?
Words by Mike McClean, pictures by Vineet Sharma and Robin Darius Conz.
“It’s like speed dating”, explained my riding companion Kirtiraj Parmar as we rode slowly down the Shimla Mall.
Rolling past the decaying but charming British Raj-era buildings, we watched other riders pass, then slow down for a few friendly words with each other before moving on to the next bike, everyone keen to impress.
With Kirtiraj off to find his future love, I continued down towards my next date, which was with the tarmac. An impish, over-enthusiastic local rider careered into me, sending us both to the ground, ripping new shirts and spilling the first blood of what was to be a gruelling race.
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About the race.
MTB Himalaya is held in the foothills of the Himalaya. It starts and finishes in historical Shimla, a popular hill station at 2,100m and the former winter capital of British India. The route changes each year as more trails are discovered and ridden in. This year there were three point-to-point stages and three loops from the ski station at Narkandar. The race is split into multiple timed stages linked together by un-timed ‘freeride’ sections on the road. Entry fees are kept low to encourage local riders, at around £300 for the full six days. Great food, hotels, beer, camping, luggage transfers, tents and even sleeping bags are included in the ticket price.
- Distance: 493km
- Climbing: 11,800m
- Descending: 11,400m
- Riders: 76
- Finishers: 50
- Female Riders: 6
- Male Riders: 70
- Countries represented: 10