The duo beat 104 riders from all over the world. They say similar trails in their country, better techniques and bikes helped them come up trumps
After defeating 104 participants from 17 countries, two Nepalese cyclists conquered India's toughest cycling rally on Sunday, October 9. But winning the title was not a cake walk for them. Pedalling for hours on the snow for the last six months helped Ajay Chettri Pandit and Nirjala Tamrakar Wright to take the lead and claim the trophy of Hercules MTB Himachal cycling rally. Although both the riders have won this competition before, every time the dirt trail in Himachal comes up with new challenges for them.
Tough enough? Ajay Pandit Chhetri
"I started practicing for this event in the month of April. I tried to pedal on the most difficult terrains. I travelled to the US, United Kingdom and South Korea to practice for the event. MTB Himachal has always been challenging," said 23-year-old Ajay Chettri Pandit at Firefox cycle bike station in Rajouri Garden. According to Pandit, the climate and terrain in Nepal is quite similar to India, which helped them secure the win.
Nirjala T Wright. Pics/Mid Day
"There are many Indian cyclists who have a chance to win but they need to concentrate on their technique as well as bikes. In such a competition, one needs good technical support. Thankfully, I had a great team which assisted me at all times," explained Pandit.
Nirjala T Wright, a professional cyclist from Nepal who has been pedalling professionally for 11 years, has represented her country in the Olympics. Married to a British national, she has now moved to England, with better prospects for her sporting career. "This is certainly a very tough and adventurous rally, with the track being one of the most thrilling in the world," says the professional rider, who is a regular at events in the UK, Europe and the USA. She has won the event for the third time and hopes to come back each time the rally is organised.
Nepal's intrepid woman biker Nirjala Tamrakar Wright says she's aiming for a hat-trick of wins and now she is trying hard to get a wild card entry into the London Olympics. She has bagged the winner's title in one of India's toughest rallies in 2009 and 2010 and hopes to do it for the third time this year.
"This time I was concentrating more while traversing the toughest off-road tracks as they can harm me as well as my machine," said Nirjala, member of Firefox team, who was riding a carbon fiber bike. "Cleaning and repairing the bike after completing every leg, then taking a long rest and preparing the mind for the next day's grind are important for completing the event successfully.
The track was very technical, single and muddy as it rained heavily while the race was on. It was mentally challenging. You can't see much as you have to clean your eyes time and again to remove mud," said Nirjala. Up next is the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge - the Tropical Rainforest Challenge 2011 - to be held in Malaysia on October 18.