The world saw its first organised bicycle race at Arc de Saint-Cloud, Paris on May 31, 1868. Englishman, James Moore won the race on a wooden bicycle with iron tyres!
Bicycling and cycle racing have come a long way since. Famous international racing events like Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana have led to a surge in the sport’s popularity around the globe. Even as cycling catches up in India as a fitness sport, stage racing events here are still few and far between.
The Manali-Khardungla Cycling Championship aims to not only popularise cycling as a competitive sport but also create a world-class racing event that would put India firmly on the world’s cycling circuit. The route has been chosen for its unparalleled beauty, high adventure quotient and popularity with travellers across the world.
The inaugural Manali-Khardung La Cycling Championship which starts from July 5 will go on till July 13. The 520-km will cover the soothing and picturesque Manali to Khardung La route which has snow-capped mountains overlooking rocky terrain, deep valleys, high altitude lakes and cold deserts.
Talking to Metrolife, Gaurav Schimar, founder of Northern Escapes, the organising body of the event, said, “We wanted to do this on a larger platform and nothing better than this route because of its stunning beauty. And this is the peak that every racer aspires to conquer.” Currently, 30 cycling enthusiasts have registered themselves
for the championship and amongst them only two are women.
The championship has three stages. The first format is a seven-stage race from Manali to Khardung La which will determine the winner on the basis of time, speed and distance. The second format is of two days from Manali to Jispa. The participants can then complete the journey with support vehicles or take a leisurely cycling trip further.
The third format is for participants who want to enjoy the ride and not be a part of the race.
Sharing his views on the cycling culture in the country, Schimar, said, “The culture of cycling needs to catch up in the north as compared to the west. Here (north) we do not have enough groups. But, in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai, there are a lot of cycling groups. And we have also got the maximum registration from these cities only.”
There are a few guidelines in terms of equipments, clothing and safety that one will have to follow during the journey. There will also be support vehicles, medical teams and even guides for emergency purposes.
For more information login to their website http://www.manalikhardungla.in/