Shimla: Mountain biking as an adventure sport fast catching in India, will have a reduced international participation, apparently because of global recession, at the 7th edition of 9 day MTB Himachal cycling race is to be flagged off from here on 1st October.
Whereas the organizers had expecting 20 foreigners turning up for the event but have ended up with only 13 of them.
There are 13 international cyclists from France, USA, UK, Belgium, Nepal and South Africa who have registered for the event, said organizer Mohit Sood, president Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association.
In a media interaction organizer, he informed that there were at least 7 last minute cancellations of overseas participants. â€œThree of the cancellations were from USA, 2 from UK and one for Austria,â€ he said.
A drop in overseas participants for the 511 Km biking race was primarily due to slowdown being witnessed in the developed economies, he added.
Over 100 of the participants are from India, which include a strong contingent from the armed forces and another one from the cycling club of Delhi.
This years events would have the largest number of participants as over 120 participants had registered. We have had to close registration because of logistic issues, said Sood.
Having grown out from 20 participants at the inaugural 2005 event to 120 in 2011, organizers of MTB Himachal aspire for accreditation with United Cycling International for being counted as an international event in the sport from 2012.
Starting out from Shimla on October 1, the cyclists would traverse back country of Himachal on a circular trail to finish the event back in the city on 8th October.
The highest point the cyclists would reach is Hatu Peak (3150 meter altitude) near the ski resort of Narkanda on Day Two of the event.
Winner of last yearâ€™s race, Ajay Pandit Chettri, a Nepalese national would be participating this year too, said Sood. Besides MTB, 2010, Chettri is also the winner of Trans Wales Challenge, 2011.
To spread the message of conserving the Himalayan environment, we have tied up with Ashadeep, an NGO, for educating the local people along the cycling route about the threat climate change and global warming presented to livelihoods in the hills, say the organizers.