Tour of Himalayas International Mountain Bike Race from Sept. 16

PESHAWAR: The Tour of Himalayas (TOH) International Mountain Bike race in three different stages at three prominent sites of the Kaghan valley – The Babusar Challenge to Jalkhad, The Lake Criterium (Saif-ul-Maluk) and Pai Ascent situated a altitude 13,800 feet will be commencing from September 16, 2011.The three-day mountain Bike Stage Race that also features, as side event, a mountain bike tour for Amateurs with eight international teams and two Pakistani teams consisting of a total of 50 professionals and semi-professional riders are taking part.Covering three spectacular and challenging course on dirt, track and  paved roads, rising up to altitude higher than 4,200 meters – that about 13,800 feet. Each competing team will consist of three men and two women.The event is also open for individual cyclists wishing to participate in the race and would register race. The landscape is stunning, the local population hospitable and friendly to the extreme, and the courses amongst the best in the world.The Tour of the Himalays-2011 is the third edition of this event, which  was previously successful stage in September 2006 and September 2007 in the same area under the aegis of the Race, is being organized by the Kaghan Memorial Trust (KMT), in collaboration with the Khyber Pakhtunkwha Cycling Association and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ministry of Sports and Tourism.

The funds generated from this race will go to KMT’s charitable Kaghan Memorial School, which provides quality education to the disadvantaged children in the Kaghan Valley.The Babusar Pass was situated on the old silk, road before construction of the Karakurram Highway in the sixties. The start point of the race at Jalkhad sites at an elevation of aprox 9,300 feet (2,900m) at the mouth of the Babusar Pass, about one hour’s drive from the popular tourist resort town of Naran.

From Jalkhad, the race will follow a relatively gentle inline for the first few kilometers, before hitting a hard 4,300 feet (1,300m) ascent to the top of the Babusar Pass over the last 25km.Riders fit enough to enjoy the scenery will appreciate the stunning views presented by the vast Lulusar Lake reroute to the top. Once the survivors drag themselves over the crest of the pass they will be rewarded with panoramic vista of the might western walls of Naga Parbat hanging 7,000m above the Gilgit river, the greatest vertical rise of any gorge on planet earth.The Babusar pass top itself is at 13,800 feet (4,200m) Following the punishing ascent, the riders will loop back down towards Jalkhad on a flying descent through miles of lush green meadows and over rough trails tailor-made for a mountain bike race of the highest caliber.

On the second day, The Criterium (Lake Saif-ul-Maluk) – 40km, situated above the tree line at an altitude of 10, 500 feet (3, 200m), and surrounded by a ring of majestic snow capped mountains. Lake Saif-ul-Maluk is a breathtaking gem of a sight.Transported up to the lake in jeeps, the riders will do six circuits of roughly 6.5 km each around the lake. Whereas the course is relatively flat with no steep climbs, the circuits, rolling over rock fields, glaciers, mud flats and stony bridges, have been described by riders from the last race as the ultimate technical challenge for any mountain biker. This will be a test of skills and all but the very best will feel a need to walk certain part of the course that proves too challenging.

On the 3-day, The Pai Asent (16km), which would be third and final stage, though the shortest in distance is probably the most punishing based on the past experience, as race climbs, 5000 feet. In altitude over a distance of only 14 km, starting at the Kaghan Memorial School in Kawai at high altitude 5,500m (1,700m), the first part of the stage comprises of a grueling climb on metalled road for 8km up to the beautiful tourist resort on the plateau of Shogran. Following Shogran is a further steep ascent of another 6km up to the rolling meadows of Pai, situated an altitude of 10, 500 feet, (3, 200m), but now on an un metalled jeep track. Follow the punishment, the cyclists will make two relatively easy circuits of around 1km each of the Pai meadows to finish the race. This stage will be a test of endurance and strength. Only the players will be awarded trophies with no cash prizes. – APP