Shimla, April 13 (IANS) In a first, over 100 intrepid cyclists — both Indians and foreigners — set out from here on Friday for a special heritage ride of the state capital, the event organisers said.
The ride is part of the seventh edition of the Hero MTB Himalaya — Shimla edition race that will be flagged off from here on Saturday.
The two-day expedition, which is largely spread over off-road tracks, takes riders through some of the most pristine sections of the Shivalik mountains, also known as the foothills of the Himalayas.
“The rally’s competitive stage will start from Shimla’s Ridge on Saturday and will take the riders through some age-old paths that date back to the British era,” Mohit Sood, president of the Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), the club organising the event, told IANS.
A total of 103 riders from seven countries — India, Nepal, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Czech Republic — are participating.
The riders will pedal their way through uphill off-road tracks, meadows, thick vegetation and jeep tracks as they travel around 120 km in two days with an elevation gain of 3,500 metres. The highest elevation is of 2,350 metres across a new route.
They will be camping in Mashobra, giving them time to relish the beautiful Himalayan weather in spring.
“It’s a great way to show people what our bikes are made of and the lengths to which one could stretch its performance,” Hero Motors Chairman Pankaj M. Munjal said in a statement.
The prize distribution ceremony will be on April 15 in Shimla where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur will be present.
The heritage ride took the participants through some of the British-era buildings, including the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, of Shimla, once the summer capital of British India.
The ride was a seven-km loop around the city. Race organisers encouraged locals to join as well as witness the ride.
“The heritage ride, added for the first time, assumes importance as cycling will become an important part of Shimla’s transportation system with the city being given the status of a smart city,” Sood said.
HASPTA every year Hero MTB Himalaya, billed as the third toughest mountain biking event in the world after the Trans-Alps Challenge (Europe) and the Trans-Rockies (Canada).
Sood said the ride saw physically challenged students from Udaan, an NGO that works in the field of education, cheering for the riders.
State Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, who flagged off the heritage ride, told IANS that it was good initiative by the local club for promotion of tourism.
“We will encourage and explore such activities in Churdhar, Chanshal, Sarahan and Janjhelli too,” he added.