Shimla: Top rider Ricardo Rodrigues Martins of Portugal will vie with foreign and Indian counterparts in one of the world’s toughest mountain biking rallies to be held in Himachal Pradesh this month.Martins, three-time national champion who is ranked 16th in the world, will participate in the “Hercules MTB Himachal 2013”, marking his first appearance in an Asian biking event. This was confirmed to by Mohit Sood, president of the Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), the club organising the event.
He said over 60 intrepid bikers from eight countries would take part in the seven-day event, ninth in the series, which would be flagged off from the state capital Sep 27.
Teams from the adventure wings of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force are also participating.
Another Portuguese rider, Luis Canto Moniz, who is the Ferrari India general manager, will also take part.
During the rally, participants, both men and women, will pass through forest trails and unmetalled and metalled rural roads, winding through Shimla districts.
The length of the route has been increased to 500 km from last year’s 438 km.
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.
The highest point of the rally will be the 3,300-metre Hatu peak, overlooking the tourist destination of Narkanda, some 65 km from Shimla. On an average, a cyclist will pedal about 70 km daily.
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.