The much-awaited 7th edition of MTB Shimla, one of India’s biggest mountain biking events, took place on April 14th with the flag-off from Heritage Property, Woodville Palace. Deputy Mayor of Shimla, Rakesh Sharma, Chief Communications Officer at Hero Cycles Rohit Sharma and Kunal Sood, medal winner for India at the Olympics for special children in Austria and a national cyclist flagged off the riders.
89 mountain bikers pit themselves against each other and against the gorgeous yet challenging terrain of the Shivalik range of the Himalayas. The adventure enthusiasts came from all corners of the globe spanning seven countries and 21 cities in India. This year, HASTPA (Himalayan Adventure Sports & Tourism Promotion Association) encouraged the riders to invite friends and family to show support. Cheers filled the air and the anticipation and excitement were palpable.
Himachal Pradesh as India’s Mountain Biking Capital
The event was spread over two days and 106 kilometers with the competitors riding to Mashobra and camping at a luxurious site on the first night. Race director and founder of Hero MTB Shimla, Mohit Sood, said that the organisers decided to up the ante by adding several technical sections as the riders have become more skilled over the years.
He also said: “It’s heartwarming to see a healthy and diverse participation for the 7th edition, people from 8 countries, 23 cities, ages from 14-51, all are taking part. Our vision for promoting a beautiful state, mountain biking, which is the world’s biggest adventure sport is slowly and steadily bearing results. We are committed to make Himachal Pradesh the Mountain Biking capital of India and one of the most preferred MTB destinations worldwide.”
Echoing Sood’s statement on helping Himachal Pradesh become the hub of mountain biking, Manisha Nanda, additional chief secretary of Himachal Tourism, said: We have supported this eco-friendly adventure initiative since the last 13 years. We understand that Himachal has immense potential for adventure tourism and sports. We will definitely explore more opportunities to expand this venture and pioneer mountain biking in India.”
Such encouragement is certainly terrific news for mountain biking aficionados. Hopefully, more biking events will be organised in the future and the pantheon of riders will grow to include more people from across the globe.
A Route to Test Even Seasoned Riders
The event began with the riders covering 55 kilometres of the old kingdom of Mashobra and Kyarkoti that was once the home of a Nepali king. The route was a blend of rocks, single trails and tarmacs, presenting riders with various challenges and pushing them to their limits. The elevation gain was over 1,900 meters after which it gradually dropped to a little over 1,800 meters.
Day two saw 69 riders out of 89 registered riders make their way across Dakbangla, Seepur, Mashobra, Kandi and Craigneno. They covered just over 50 kilometres and a competitive distance shy of 40 kilometres. The stage had a height elevation of 2,313 meters at Craigneno.
The Winners of MTB Shimla 2018
Open Men Solo
David Kumar of Shimla, the defending champion of MTB Shimla 2016 took an early lead in the Open Men Solo category on the first day and clinched first place in the same category with a time of five hours 27 minutes (cumulative). He was also crowned the overall winner, cementing his reputation as one of the finest Indian riders in mountain biking. In the Open Men Solo Category, he was closely followed by Rakesh Rana who came in second at five hours 54 minutes (cumulative). Rana also clinched third place overall.
Ashish Sherpa took pole position in the students’ category with a cumulative time of five hours 43 minutes. He finished second overall as well. Pranshul Sharma, meanwhile, finished second with a cumulative time of eight hours.
Open Women Solo
Sarah Appelt came in first in the Open Women Solo category with a cumulative time of seven hours and 20 minutes. The German biker is another familiar face in MTB Shimla, having taken the title of Queen of Shivaliks in the previous edition of the race. Heidi Volpe came in second with a time of eight hours and 35 minutes.
The Masters Solo saw Paul Bamman finishing first with a cumulative time of seven hours and 42 minutes. Sunil Barongpa came in a very close second at seven hours and 48 minutes.
Team for Two
The Team for Two category was clinched by Akshit Gaur and Akash Sherpa who clocked a cumulative time of six hours and 47 minutes. Dhiman and Hiranya finished second with a time of seven hours and 40 minutes.
MTB Shimla: Paving the Way for Mountain Biking in India
The Shimla edition of MTB Himalaya is a two-day event that takes place in the beautiful Shivaliks. The route is stunning and incredibly varied with jeep tracks, meadows and uphill and speedy downhill trails. This year, the route was markedly more challenging to give riders a real mountain biking experience.
Alongside MTB Shimla, a Heritage Ride organized by HASTPA was also held on April 13th to encourage Shimla locals to adopt a healthier and greener lifestyle. The ride was a seven-kilometer loop around the city. The event is significant in light of the fact that Shimla was recently accorded Smart City status and cycling will, hopefully, become an important part of the transport system.
Hero Action Team Sees New Additions
India’s first professional mountain biking team, Hero Action Team, which is supported by HASTPA and Hero Cycles, saw the addition of two new riders, David Kumar and Ashish Sherpa. The duo are well-known in the MTB Shimla circuit. Kumar was crowned King of Shivaliks in the 6th edition of the event and was the first person to take his bike to Kinner Kailash. 16-year-old Sherpa, meanwhile, came in second in the same event in the students’ category and also made a name for himself in MTB Nainital and the 14th MTB National Championship.
So concluded the thrilling 7th edition of MTB Shimla with Jai Ram Thakur, chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, distributing prizes worth Rs 6.5 lakhs, including the new Hero Sprint Pro bikes, to the winners. The ceremony was held at Woodville Palace, Shimla.