The Great Malnad Challenge is back. Thirty-five tenacious cyclists will begin their 850-km long journey of the Western Ghats on October 26 for a nine-day ride that is the longest off road cycling trail in Karnataka.

Governor H.R. Bhardwaj declared the Tirumala Construction Great Malnad Challenge 2013 open on Friday.

The cyclists, who will be selected to complete the challenge, will ride about 90 km per day to cover the distance that will include steep rides up the Kemmemgundi and Kudremukh peaks, said Joseph Franklin, co-founder ICYCLE, the group that organises the yearly challenge. A 19-year-old was the youngest to take part in the challenge last year while two women also completed the trail last year, said Mr. Franklin. The average age of the participants is around 25, he added.

A total of 15 support staff will travel/ride with the bicyclists to assist them with technical and paramedical requirements.

“The Malnad Challenge, which is one of the 90 such trails that ICYCLE conducts, is extremely scenic and we invite anyone who thinks s/he has the endurance to complete the challenge,” said Mr. Franklin.

The long-term goal of ICYCLE is to promote cycling as a weekend sport and a mode of transport for Bangaloreans, Mr. Franklin said.

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