Tracy was faced with a tough choice this month: ride more enduros to round out the season or take up a chance to ride the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s a hard life!
October is definitely turning into a month of great events to choose from with enduros taking place all across Europe still with great weather.
I had a tough choice to make this year as I wanted to be racing out in Europe but I had also been given the opportunity of a lifetime to go on an adventure MTB holiday with www.mountainbikekerala.com to India with friends and photographer Dan Milner to ride into the foothills of the Himalayas to the base of the Pindari Glacier.
The Cycle Show & the Three Peaks
Before I left I had a busy few days on the Trek stand at the bike show at the NEC. It was great to catch up with many people in the industry and also encouraging to see so many people at the show, really showing that cycling is definitely on the up.
I also took a trip up north to watch one of the hardest and longest standing cycling races, the 50th edition of the Three Peaks cyclocross race. The weather gods were definitely not happy and helped make the 50th race one of the toughest yet.
Gale force winds on the tops of the three peaks soon created tales of people getting blown over, and bikes blown out of hands as riders clambered over stone walls. Stream crossings that became chest deep just added to the already challenging race. Even on such a grim day there was something about the sheer challenge of completing a race like this that left me wanting to have a go one day.
With a few more meetings and visits to the physio squeezed into the week I was finally off on my own challenge and trip of a lifetime.
Only a few hours from the quiet civilisation of Birmingham airport was the utter disorganised chaos of New Delhi, India. From the moment I stepped out of the airport the adventure began.
I got straight into a pretty battered little taxi van with my bike bag thrown on the roof and no rope to hold it on and off we went into the centre of Delhi.
No road rules apply in Delhi. Even sticking to driving in the same direction on the same side of the road is rare and the horn seemed mandatory if you wanted to get anywhere.
After a night in Delhi, time for some sight seeing and the first curry of the trip, it was onto the train for a six hour trip north to Kathgodam. It was only about 150km away but train travel in India is pretty steady.
That’s a good job really as the train line is a pretty busy place for people and animals alike. There was no shortage of cows, dogs, monkeys and people all over the train tracks. That made for a great trip and definitely helped the six hours fly by.
We spent the next 12 days riding our bikes through some of the most amazing untouched parts of India, riding every sort of trail you could imagine. The riding varied from kilometres of cobbled trails up and over mountain passes, to flowing forest singletrack, to concrete northshore paths through houses in tiny villages and some of the finest epic Alpine trails.
It was an amazing journey into the mountains and up to 3600m to the base of the Pindari Glacier with the towering 6800m peak of Nanda Kot above us.
Mike from Mountain Bike Kerela and local riders Pankaj and Vinny were amazing hosts. Mike not only shared his years of trail research with us but also gave us an amazing education into the area and Indian history and life.
Mike has been a pioneer in India for mountain biking as all the trails he has spent years finding and linking together to make this trip.
The riding was tough, with some big days in the saddle, relentless steep climbs sitting on the nose of your saddle, some long carries and some 5.30am starts. It was all well worth it as we were treated to some beautiful scenery that very few people have seen.
This summer’s monsoon took its toll on the area. The massive rainfall caused many landslides, destroying jeep tracks and cutting off the mountain village of Katai from the surrounding area. The only remaining access was a 20km cobbled trail over a 3000m mountain pass where donkeys are used to carry any supplies to the village.
This was the trail we used to access the mountains. We used the donkeys to carry our bags and every day they would beat us to our destination. It was so impressive just how much ground they cover with so much weight on their backs.
Reaching the Pindari Glacier was the highlight of the trip for me. The scenery was just breath-taking and every panting, shuffled footstep at 3600m was worth it as the reward was a two hour singletrack descent back down the valley that felt as if it had been made for mountain bikes.
Photographer Dan Milner was on the trip to capture the pictures, so look out for some amazing photos. I think they will be a little better than my few here. There will also be feature or two over the coming months in the mountain bike press.
It really was an adventure of a lifetime and one that just reinforced how much I love riding my bike on blind, technical trails. Twelve days of riding tough trails has left me ready for some more enduro racing. It’s a shame the season has nearly come to an end.