Tough ride in Spiti awaits mountain bikers
Feb 21 2013
First edition of MTB Spiti 2013 event in lesser Himalaya in Himachal Pradesh will take a pack of 50 riders over 550 km in 10 days
So gruelling is the challenge that some motorcycle rallying enthusiasts participate in it as part of their training and preparation, both mental and physical, ahead of India’s most prestigious off-road motorsport event — the Raid de Himalaya, which is also the world’s highest rally event.
This year, for the first time, a similar — and, happily, nearly as difficult — mountain biking event is being held in the middle of summer. Hosted by the same organisers, Himalayan Adventure Sports & Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), in alliance with Himachal Tourism, the event is being called the self-explanatory MTB Spiti 2013. The pack of riders will ride along a route that will explore the high-altitude valleys and slopes of the Spiti region in Himachal Pradesh.
That the level of difficulty will be almost as high as in the case of the MTB Himalaya is fulfilling for hardcore adventure sport enthusiasts who look to upgrade their skill and endurance by successfully completing a challenge of a sufficiently high standard.
Being mid-summer (the event will run over July 13-24), the temperatures after sundown and during the early-morning starts will be more comfortable than they are during MTB Himalaya, though still a bit chilly because of the altitude of Spiti. The route will cover a total of 550 km and the event will run for 10 days. The pack of riders will cross two Himalayan passes with the highest point of the entire trip being 4,551 metres.
Throughout, the landscape will be a mix of stark, barren slopes similar to the cold desert scenery of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, but interspersed with green patches owing to the availability of water from the Spiti river. The villages showcase Buddhist culture, and 1,000-year-old monasteries, including the famous Kyi monastery, are also to be seen, unchanged for centuries. The riders will camp on the bank of one of Himachal Pradesh’s most famous and beautiful lakes, which is revered among trekkers – the crescent-shaped Chandra Tal.
It is vital to register early because the event can accommodate only 50 riders. Riders aged 18 and above (as of July 16, 2013) can participate. There are four categories — Open Men Solo, Open Women Solo, Open Masters Solo (age 40 and above) and Team of Two.
For each category to be competitive, a minimum of five contestants or teams will be needed. The total prize money on offer amounts to Rs 2 lakh.
Entry fees range from Rs 49,900 for Solo riders to Rs 99,800 for teams. The cost for a supporter or a tripper is Rs 49,900.
There are also a number of discounts, including for students and for groups of riders — with the percentage of discount going up as the size of the group increases.