Hercules Mountain Biking tests the grit of cyclists

The rains might have played truant with North India, but keeping its date with adventure sports lovers is ‘Hercules Mountain Biking, Himachal.’ The annual cycling adventure race that takes place in the lap of the Himalayas from Shimla to Manali kept its promise this year too. The rally was flagged off on World Tourism Day by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Prem Kumar Dhumal. Speaking on the occasion, he said, “We feel proud that on this day we are organising the rally and if all of us can use a cycle in our daily life we will be contributing in making the country pollution free and also will keep ourselves fit.”

Over 10 days, the cyclists have to cover a distance of 652 kms, touching places like Sarahan, Jalori Pass and Kullu during the race. Sixty participants from all corners of the country are taking part in the event which also brings in cyclists from Nepal, Belgium, Australia and the United States. The participants’ ages range from 18 to 64. Amazingly, there is no local representation this time, as Himachalis preferred to spend festive time at home. The rally, which concludes this Tuesday, is said to be the most arduous of rallies, with steep climbs that demand a lot of stamina and strength. Similarly, the trip downhill is fraught with danger as the bikers have to nudge ahead of each other yet maintain stability.

Rajesh Mani, General Manager, TI Cycles, who are the sponsors of the rally said, “We have moved on to cycling from cycles and we want more and more people to take up cycling and that is why we are here. We are proud to be associated with the event since its inception.” The event is organised by HASTPA (Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association). Nirmala Tamarkar, one of the two women cyclists from Nepal, participated in the rally last year apart from taking part in many national and international events. “There may be hurdles in your way but you should not get bogged down .The only thing you have to do is to take a healthy diet and get good sleep,” she said. Another participant, Suzanne, has come all the way from the U.S. She said, “If not winning, I am confident of completing the whole 652 kms.”

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