Tour de Himalayas in seven days
Pallavi Goel and Priyankar Bhargava
Snapshots from the third Uttarakhand mountain biking race
From April 8, 2017 to April 16, 2017, the third edition of The Ultimate Uttarakhand Himalayan MTB Challenge raced through 11 districts in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Over the course of seven biking days, the race covered a staggering distance of 884 km, becoming one of the longest mountain bike races in Asia.
A total of 54 bikers were shortlisted from an overwhelming participation of over 80 professional cyclists, from more than 15 countries, like Sweden, Colombia, Ukraine, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Nepal, Norway, Greece, etc.
The challenge was launched in 2015, and since its inception has grown manifold, increasing the difficulty of the race and also attracting widespread appreciation from participants and visitors alike.
Even the locals of the districts through which the bikers passed, were seen eagerly waiting for them – some perched on top of buildings, others gathered around – all waiting to cheer and encourage the dozens of faces speeding off. In fact, many bikers were seen riding at staggering speeds of over 80 km per hour, leaving behind even the heavy terrain vehicles. The cyclist from Colombia, Oscar Maurico Pachon, would most often finish first, leading by huge margins of over one to two hours.
The challenge took off in Nainital, the beautiful city of lakes, and concluded on April 16, 2017, in Dehradun, following a long track: Nainital – Almora – Champawa – Pithoragarh – Bageshwar – Karnaprayag – Chamoli – Rudraprayag – Tehri – Chinyalisaur – Uttarkashi – and finally, Dehradun.
On the final day of the race, the following participants were the winners: Oscar Mauricio from Colombia; Staffan Avindsson from Sweden; and Ramesh Ale from India.
This race is a premier mountain biking event, organised by the government of Uttarakhand with technical support from the Cycle Federation of India, which is the national governing body of cycle racing in India. The foremost objective of the race is to promote cycling as a professional sport in India, and then to leverage multiple other advantages that the event will offer Uttarakhand like a boost in tourism, which will subsequently generate employment, especially in the hospitality sector.