Shimla: The third toughest of the world’s mountain biking rallies will get more challenging this edition, with the cyclists made to ascend 2,000 meters daily in Himachal Pradesh, organisers said yesterday.
The organisers of the “Hercules MTB Himachal 2013” say this new added requirement will test the mettle and skill of participants, in accordance with Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) standards.
“The rally route has been planned in such a way that the participants have to ascend 1,800-2,000 meters on an average every day,” Mohit Sood, president of the Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), the club organising the event, told.
In earlier rallies, this was confined to 1,200-1,400 meters. Sood said the event, the ninth in the series, will cover 500 km over seven days and start Sep 28 from Shimla.
On an average, a cyclist will pedal 70-80 km every day.
The highest point of the rally will be the 3,300 meter Hatu peak, overlooking the tourist destination of Narkanda, some 65 km from Shimla.
“The Hatu peak is 300 meters higher than the earlier highest point of the Jalori Pass at 3,223 meters (in Kullu district),” Sood said.
This time, the length of the route has been increased to 500 km from last year’s 438 km. The route is also tough and challenging.
Sood said the rally will pass through Shimla, Mashobra, Kufri, Matiana, Narkanda, Hatu, Baghi, Khadrala, Tikkar and then again back to Narkanda and finally culminate in the state capital.
“This time the entire route is new and passes through Shimla district only,” he said.
Some part of the rally from Narkanda to Khadrala, renowned for its dense forests, falls along the Hindustan-Tibet road, first laid by the British in the 19th century.
The other new thing in the rally this time is that instead of two to three small competitive stretches of 15 to 20 km every day, the event will have one long competitive section of 60-70 km.
The event will provide the participants an opportunity to discover the unmatched scenic splendour of the hills as it will touch around 100 small, scattered villages.
“You can’t afford to make a mistake in the slopes that are single and rocky,” said Cycling Federation of India member Rakesh Mohindra.
Organisers are expecting participation of over 80 intrepid bikers from eight countries. Teams from the Adventure Wings of the Indian Air Force and the Army will also take part.
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 organisers said.