Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, 29 September 2020:
How does a mountain biking community promote health awareness in times of COVID-19? By doing what it does best: mountain biking.
One of the most thrilling mountain biking races in India, Hero MTB Himalaya, is an annual event organized by HASTPA on World Tourism Day (September 27). A celebration race was held this year to commemorate 16 years of MTB Himalaya since its inception in 2005. The event was conducted in the set perimeters amidst the Covid-19 crisis, keeping social distancing and zero staff-to-riders contact throughout the event.
The one-day event focused on promoting the sport amongst youngsters and adults thereby encouraging a sustainable and healthy way to live. The competition part of the event provided a platform to the youth of Shimla to get a taste of performing in a mountain bike race for both boys and girls alike.
The route was a challenging mix of loose gravel paths to Jeep tracks, forest trails and tarmac roads within the thick lush green pine and cedar forests, and apple orchards covered within the proximity of Mashobra and Bekhalti. The maximum distance covered by the riders of the open category was 52 Kms with an elevation gain of 850 mts, while the rest covered a distance of 32 Kms.
A total of 36 riders participated in the event falling under four major categories. The race results were as follows:
• Masters: This category is for adults above the age of 35 years. Manish Garover stood 1st completing the race in one hour fifty eight minutes followed by Sundorche Sherpa and Mohinder Thakur.
• Girls: The category focused on girls irrespective of age. Out of the six girls that participated in the race, Divija Sood took 1st place with a total time of two hours and thirty three minutes followed by her sister Kyna Sood on 2nd and Ashmita Singh Thakur at 3rd position.
• Under 14 Boys: The category was for young boys under the age of 14 years. The category consisted of the youngest participants in the race. The winners for this category was Kunal Kumar finishing the race in one hour fifty five minutes taking the 1st position followed by Veer Sarwagya on second and Anurag at third position.
• Under 19 Boys: The category focused on young boys under the age of 19 years. Sandeep Thapa took 1st place completing the race in three hours six minutes followed by Rajveer Singh eight minutes later and Ojjas at third position finishing in Three hours thirty three minutes.
• Open: This category was for anyone of the age 18 years and above, and constituted some of the best riders. The category involved professional riders such as Ashish Sherpa, who is the member of the Hero Action Team and is currently one of India’s topmost MTB riders taking 1st position with a total time of two hours and fifty three minutes followed shortly by Gandharv finishing in three hours one minute and Manav Sehgal taking third position with a total time of three hours twenty seven minutes.
It was very pleasing to see parents motivating and encouraging their children to be a part of the event, prompting them to live a healthy life. Like the Father and son duo Sundorche and Ashish Sherpa participating in the event together. Events such as these have surely promoted and created awareness among the people here at large with more and more MTB riders being seen in the city these days.