"You don't climb mountains without a team, you don't climb mountains without being fit, you don't climb mountains without being prepared and you don't climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain by accident - it has to be intentional." - Mark Udall.
27th of September 2016 saw a gruelling one day Cross Country Endurance event with 6,000 feet of relentless climbing in under four hours. It's YAKtually all uphill from here in Sikkim, India. One Word: Sufferfest. The mighty Tsomgo Lake, located at an altitude of 12,400 feet and sitting close to the Indo-Tibet Border. This lies on the old silk route to China. Nightlife in Gangtok. It's of a different kind.Just showcasing the sheer vastness of the Himalayas. There is a rider climbing relentlessly in this photo. Pre Race Rituals at Hub Outdoor. Bragging rights come free with these. The 32 participants included riders from all across India and Bhutan. You feel the air get thinner as you climb higher. Mr. Nim Gyaltshen from Bhutan has seen 61 cold winters and still finished in 5th place beating some of the local young guns. Not giving up is key.I'm all good. Not even breaking a sweat. A promising young gun from Sikkim, Bishal Thapa. It's the last ascent from 10,000 feet to 12,400 feet that is the most gruelling. Thanks to gravity and lack of oxygen. No it's not all tarmac. Due to the excessive amount of landslides in the region, the roads become trails in the blink of an eye. Getting High.You need to have tiny soldiers shovelling coal into your calves for this. The closer to the finish line you get, the more endless it seems. Police and Army escort was essential on this route. The weather up here can change from bright and sunny to pouring rain and hail in minutes. A mere 100 metres to the finish. Finishing definitely comes with a sense of accomplishment. Many people get altitude sickness driving up here.The grind is over. 18 of the 32 participants managed to finish within the stipulated time, the rest finished late and 2 riders gave up on the way. Authenticating bragging rights.The Podium. Not a bad place to have one though. Results:
1st) Tashi Dorji Tangbi (Bhutan) 2:44:26
2nd) Ashim Sharma (Gangtok, Sikkim) 2:47:40
3rd) Banshanlang Khylaitt (Shillong) 2:51:48
4th) Tenzing Chombay Sherpa (Darjeeling) 2:53:53
5th) Nim Gyaltshen (Bhutan) 3:04:06The riders were so spent, almost all decided to skip the Joyride back down.
Hub Outdoor, the organizers of this event have been the pioneers of Mountain Biking in this part of India. They intend to bring more challenging Cross Country and Enduro events to the region in the days to come. They already have the country's first Bike Park and are coming up with a Mountain Bike Academy to train young athletes. All Photos © Shivam Roy / Hub Outdoor / Pinkbike