Endurance sports enthusiasts have one more reason to celebrate this September. The 14th edition of the annual Hero-MTB Himalaya cycling challenge is set to begin on September 27, 2018 from Shimla. The race will conclude in Dharamshala on the 6th of October. This 9-day extravaganza will showcase some of the best professional cyclists from around the world riding alongside aspiring young talent from across India.
For the first time in India, two of the top 10 finishers in the recently held, globally renowned UCI MTB World Marathon Championships, Andi Seewald and Ole Hem, will participate together. While Germany’s Seewald, was the 2016 winner in both the men’s solo and overall events at the King of Himalaya event, Hem won the Norwegian Championship XCM in June 2018. Also returning is Australia’s Jason English a legendary 7 time world champion in 24 hour mountain bike racing. Other notable competitors include Insync bike brand ambassadors Harry Molloy, English X3 champion and second place finisher at the European Cup held in Italy and Patrick Robinson, the UK’s 2018 Street Velodrome National Champion. Both of them will be riding Insync’s famed ‘Riddick’ MTBs. Insync is Hero Cycle’s signature brand in the UK and Europe, selling via www.insyncbikes.com.
“We are proud to be hosting the 14th edition of this popular tourney. This event will promote and encourage bicycling as a sporting challenge while showcasing modern technical enhancements that have increased handling and riding experiences. At the same time it will provide employment and boost tourism for local economies. This confluence of cycling enthusiasts, professionals, businessmen and onlookers helps bring attention to the excitement which a cycling lifestyle generates. As a business entity, we are striving to reach 7.5% of global production numbers from the current 5% and to this end, the continued debate on mobility and sport is a definite contributor”, says Pankaj M Munjal, Chairman, HMC, a hero motors company.
The route covers hilly terrain, dirt trails and back roads against the panoramic backdrop of the Outer Himalayas riddled with pines, deodars and oaks. Shimla itself is situated at an elevation of 7,100 feet above sea-level. The uneven, winding journey is likely to test both physical and mental reserves of participants in the open race as they negotiate technical descents, banked roads and steep inclines. The race will eventually descend on the meditative resort of Dharamshala, surrounded by cedar forests and well-known for its Buddhist culture. There are 80 slots open to the public.
Mountain races are considered to be extremely challenging because of the combination of endurance, strength, balance, skill and self-control required to complete the course. Unlike a shorter race, this longer version calls for continued stamina over an elongated period. Mental determination, a sense of adventure, focus, an element of risk, passion, respect for the environment and the ability to laugh at oneself after a fall are other traits often associated with the sport.
For local communities, visiting travelers will offer a great opportunity for retailers, hotels, restaurants and other tourist service providers in Himachal Pradesh. The state saw contributions from tourism to the state GDP at 6.6%. People here are no strangers to wayfarers from other places, having hosted 19.13 million tourists in 2017 alone.
India sold more than 4.1 million premium bicycles in the fiscal year 2017-18, a category which reflects the popularity of cycling for sport and fitness in India.