Asian Enduro Series looms around the corner. We follow seasoned riders Nishant Shah and Suman Tamang to the trails as they train for the international race.

The warm spring sun illuminates the Himalayas and the lesser hazy hills are dwarfed by them. Eagles circle overhead, their cries muffled by the whistling morning breeze and fluttering prayer flags. There’s not a soul in sight. The heavily wooded hills of Nagarkot are eerily silent.

But on this lazy Tuesday morning, mountain bikers Nishant Shah, 19, and Suman Tamang, 18, have almost reached the top when shops around here are barely open, preparing to serve the first round of their classic Nepali breakfast of sel roti, chickpeas and boiled eggs. Hours of grueling climbs demand, in fact, several sets of breakfast each. After all, their ride for the day has only just begun, which means calories will become their best friend.

Shah and Tamang have been biking for almost a decade, and are in Nagarkot on a mission to check out trails for the Asian Enduro Series race going to be held along the eastern flank of the legendary Nagarkot hills. The Asian-level event, scheduled for 7th April to 9th April and organized by mountain biking company Gnarly, is one of the most anticipated races of the year. Enduro is a fairly new but increasingly popular genre of mountain biking where riders are tested for their mettle to go downhill and the stamina to go up. In essence, a blend of downhill and cross-country biking where skills and stamina are equally important. This is the first ever edition of AES taking place in Nepal, and is expected to mark a new beginning in Nepal’s reputation as an enduro destination.

As far as events are concerned, Nepal was only slowly picking up dust. But with the Asian Enduro Series, the first of its kind in the country, the biking scene has taken a huge and important leap. “Though Nepal is considered a mountain biking Mecca by international mountain bikers, it seems like the sport within the country needs to be nurtured,” opines Shah. “It is only in recent years that the number of races as well as their quality has seen a drastic improvement. My favorite so far is Tansen Ultra 2015, though I had a crash,” he says with a smile. “I’m glad I’m able to take some time off from studies and work to explore the trails for Asian Enduro!”

Suman,  having achieved a handful of podium finishes, including in a race in India recently adds, “It will be very interesting to see local riders compete with some renowned international professionals. There is currently no yardstick to measure how good Nepal riders fare in comparison to foreign riders, so at a time when any sort of formal training program for the athletes or even sponsorship to improve their skills is alack, the race will definitely be a moment of truth for home boys.” Just for a sneak peek, female Belgian national champ is among the ones registered for the race, and in a an event that will see dozens of riders in Elite and Open categories, it will be quite a show!

There are seven race stages in AES, all with their own challenges and charms - ups and downs, jumps as high as an elephant’s eye and rolls that can barely be trodden, technical in some parts, flowy and smooth in the others. There will be a mix of single tracks, jeep tracks and paved roads as well. Nagarkot’s serene and massive hills along with natural pathways make for awesome riding trails. The woods are protected and stunning sights of both the mountains and the valley are quite awe inspiring. Gnarly has left no stone unturned to showcase not just Enduro in its purest form but also Nepal’s enviable countryside and exotic culture.

“This is no child’s play, but not impossible either,” the duo maintain at the end of the trail, exhausted and out of juice. The boys have found refuge in a small convenience shop and bask in the glory of the sun and a good day’s ride. Their stomachs growl again and as they devour notorious amounts of lunch, they know they will have to ride up a

gain and finish another stage, and then another. They know it’ll take countless more sessions of tireless training if they want to nail the Asian Enduro Series.

Details:

Event Name 

Asian Enduro Series - Nepal

Organizer

Gnarly

Venue

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Race Dates

April 7th  to 9th, 2016

Stages

7 in total

Website

www.enduro.asia

Facebook Page

www.facebook.com/events/695008337265753