Himachal mountain biking rally from April 14

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Shimla, April 3 (IANS) The coolest and the costliest hobby of mountain biking is coming up in a bigger way as a sport in India, organisers of the fifth edition of the annual gruelling event said here on Sunday.

In just a decade, the image of mountain biking transformed from an extreme sport to enjoying the countryside, far from the maddening crowd, Mohit Sood, president of the local Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), which organises the event, told IANS.

He said event Hero MTB Himalaya Shimla Edition, the most popular two-day MTB race of India, is not only attracting the youth but also corporate honchos and company executives, who are seeing it as an adventure weekend holiday for healthy living.

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This time two cross-country marathon type MTB races covering different off-road, unpaved broken tarmac, single trails and forest tracks winding through the hills surrounding Shimla will be scheduled by Hero MTB Shimla from April 14 to 16.

Sood said the fifth edition of this annual race that would see over 70 national and international riders would be covering 120 km.

Sood said the aim of the event is to take the riders, who are settled in big cities, to places where they normally never be able to access in their hectic lifestyle.

The Shimla-based HASTPA every year also organises the Hero MTB Himalaya, considered one of toughest in the world.

Rider Devender Thakur, second runner-up in MTB national championship and winner of the last two editions of MTB Shimla, Shiven, under-19 national champion, and Johan Bentick from Holland, who has scored well in MTB races in India, are competing in this event.

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It will also see youngsters like Akshit Gaur, Sanchit Sood, Adhiraj, Rohan, Gaurish Shyam, with an age of 14 to 17 year, to prove their mettle.

Another event organiser Ashish Sood said the rally route, through the lesser explored interiors, would climb the Chini Bungalow (2,650 m), the toughest and highest point of the rally.

The rally would pass through Shimla, Sadhupul, Chail, Kufri, Junaidghat, Koti, Chini Bungalow and would finally culminate in the state capital on April 16.

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