Saturday, October 13, 2018

2018 Hero MTB Himalaya

There is really too much to talk about for each stage, so I just picked the thing that really stood out to me from each stage.
Prologue stage – The first day was really the rego day, where there was a prayer ceremony and 1km loop through a closed off section of Shimla is a pedestrian heavy area.The loop was more of a showy lap around and a chance to recognise the contribution India Tourism and other supporters have made to make this event possible.
Stage 1
The crazy ride to the start is a good introduction to riding around India. Eventually the crazy traffic, both pedestrian, vehicular and animal became normal. Within 5km of the race component, I lost balance and fell off a cliff. I was balancing as I looked for the line through a landslide, but there was no line. I think my pedals were gunked up with mud from an earlier section so instead of unclipping off I went. I was lucky to come away with just scratches, my bike got a broken helmet and I didn’t realise that my gopro fell off. I couldn’t get my bike up the cliff by myself and had to rely on a couple of riders to climb down a tree to reach me and my bike. Peter Rorh then stopped to assist as I slid my handlebars across to give something to grab onto, I strapped on my brake leaver and could fit the shifter only on the end of the bar. Finishing this first day with only a back brake was a little crazy at times.
Stage 2 began with a gradual climb, all on good gravel road. My partner Akshit had no idea how to ride in a group and so I had to really encourage him to get right on a wheel. He also lacked the strength to muscle up any undulations in the road and required a helping hand to get him back to a wheel. We carefully stayed with the team in 3rd place and I spend around 3 hours with my hand on Akshit’s back!
Stage 3
This was the longest day for me, with lots of walking. When I finished at 4pm I had rice to eat which was cooked at 6am that day. It was the last time I ate anything without checking the heat of the serving tray. If it was not hot, I assumed it was cooked at breakfast and was sitting out all day. I did spend a significant part of the evening revisiting the rice I had consumed earlier.
Rest day – started with the riders heading into a local school for a show and dace. After was a chance to do some shopping for clothes, fireworks, chia and a haircut. I was really bummed about losing my sweet casual Adidas glasses this day.
Stage 4- I thought this stage had a neutral stage for the first few kms so I just cruised out of town. It ended up being a race from the start and Akshit and I got left behind by the team still sitting in 3rd ahead of us. We eventually worked our way through the field and moved into the 3rd team overall.
Stage 5 - The highlight of this stage was the 1000vm decent, riding down crazy stairs past private residence, then finishing the ride with a cold coffee ice-cream and hot showers as we camped at college.
Stage 6 -
I did the first climb out of the college with the top few riders before soft pedaling waiting for Akshit, we then rode together following an impressive ridge-line. My highlight was seeing Akshit push himself to hold my wheel when I was pushing 220-230 watts for the last 10km on the flat.
Stage 7 - This stage was really looking unlikely to go ahead with the number of landslides in the area. The course setters were able to come up with an option luckily. The amount of hiker bike sections was crazy. It just felt like it was easier to just walk the whole course rather than getting on and off the bike. If there wasn’t such a nice downhill I wouldn’t have really enjoyed this stage, although, this day did have the most impressive views.
Stage 8 -
the final stage was decided to be a race where the first person across the line wold be a local Indian rider. It was amazing how hard this guy was pushing to prove he deserved the stage win. He was super emotional coming over the line to know he had the respect of many top riders. I finished this stage ahead with the leaders then looped back to find Akshit who was not the far behind and demonstrated massive improvement over the 8 days racing. With a little training before the event and with learning how to bunny hop correctly, he will be one of the top Indian riders.


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