Shimla: It is racing time in the mountains as participants in the country’s two most gruelling off-road events are all set to zoom through lofty mountains of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
The first in the series of the rallies is the eighth edition of the Hercules MTB (mountain biking) Himachal 2012 that starts Saturday. It will followed by the 14th edition of the Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya from Oct 7.
The Hercules MTB is billed as the third toughest mountain biking event in the world after the Trans-Alps Challenge (Europe) and Trans-Rockies (Canada). The nine-day mountain biking will be flagged off from the state capital.
Over 100 participants from eight countries will take part in the 500-km event and it is being organised by Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA).
During the nine-day rally, participants, both men and women, will pass through forest trails, village backtracks and unmetalled and metalled single-lane rural roads, winding through Shimla, Kullu and Mandi districts.
The Jalori Pass (at 3,223 metres) in Kullu district is the toughest point in the rally. On an average a cyclist will pedal about 70km daily.
Nepal bikers Nirjala Tamrakar Wright scored her third win on the roll in the women’s category in 2011. In the men’s category, another Nepal biker Ajay Pandit Chhetri won the expedition for the second time.
The Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya will be participated by 165 teams in three categories. The rally will pass through Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. It will be flagged off from Shimla, Oct 7.
Manjeev Bhalla, vice-president of the Himalayan Motorsport Association, the Shimla-based club that annually organises the rally, said it will travel through Manali, Kaza, Hikim, Keylong, Sarchu and Pang, before culminating at Leh, Oct 12.
In six days it will cross six high mountain passes in the cold desert, including Tanglang La at 17,582 feet.
The Raid-de-Himalaya is the only Asian motor sport event listed in the off-road rallies calendar of the Switzerland-based FIM (Federation Internationale Motorcyclisme).
Ace rallyist Suresh Rana captured the last edition of the motor rally for the seventh time in the four-wheeler X-treme category.
In the bike X-treme category, Helmut Frauwallner of Austria took the honours, becoming the first foreign rallyist to win Raid-de-Himalaya.