Shachi Somani’s adventures at the Hero MTB Himalaya Race

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Recently, Shachi Somani, an architect who works at Grey Group India’s Retail & Activation team, took part in the Hero MTB Himalaya Race. It is a cross country endurance race and is the world’s third toughest race.

There were 80 contenders but only seven were women with Shachi being the only woman from India.

Congratulations Shachi!

Read her endurance story below.

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2With a total elevation gain of more than 15,000 metres and a full ride of approximately 650 km, the MTB Himalaya is definitely one of the toughest mountain bicycle races in the world.

The cross-country endurance race, in its 11th edition was held from September 27 to October 4, is a seven-stage event which sees cyclists run through off-road tracks, broken tarmac, gravel, rocks, mud, sand, silt, water streams and moving traffic among many other obstacles.

Ride through the interiors, hike through deep forests, soak in the sun and experience nature all around. Pedal your way through gut wrenching uphills, spiralling downhills, village back roads, beautiful meadows, thick vegetation, jeep tracks and savor real mountain biking.

Riders have to overcome the challenge the mighty Himalayas pose before them before they can go home and say that they have conquered the world’s highest mountain range.

The race starts from Shimla with night halts in camps at Gada-Kuffer, Khegsu, Kullu Sarahan, Bahu, Gada Kushaini, Luhri before returning to the state capital for the finish line. The bikers also travel through the Jalori Pass, the highest point of the race at 3,250 metres above sea level.

Inconceivable journey through the grandiose of the Himalayas

I am very glad to be a part of this race especially when the female participation numbers are so low –  total female riders were seven and I was the only one from India.

It’s a tough race to finish. Unfortunately, I had a fall which led to a technical problem in my bike so I was unable to qualify as a finisher. . . Nevertheless, I have learnt a lot from other professional riders from across the world such as Catherine Williamson (winner of Cape Epic), Ilda Pereira and Luis Pinto (World Champion). It was truly inspirational.

I’ve also experienced adventures that I never did before; staying in tents, changing campsites, riding in the woods with snakes, reptiles and spiders, falling in the valley, and sleeping under the galaxy. Wow! It was indeed an amazing experience.

Hectic schedule – wake up at 5:30, breakfast at 6:30, assemble at 7:30 and flag-off at 8:00. Ride at high altitude in the scorching harsh heat with temperatures up to 36 degree Celsius and end the ride at 18:00 before it gets dark and risky on the trails. Return to campsite, clean and fix the bike, have dinner and attempt to sleep for a few hours in the extreme cold temperature of -5 degrees Celsius. Shiver and wake up to a new day. The climate itself is a big challenge for a Mumbaikar who is used to perpetual temperature range of 18 degree Celsius to 35 degree Celsius with a lot of humidity.

Getting bitten by a spider, and having a thorn stuck in my finger for more than a week were some of the highlights of the trip besides the dramatic fall in the valley.

The eagles hovering near the snow capped mountains and the view from the top after the long climb were all worth the effort.

Made a lot of good rider friends since the MTB community is a small one. In fact, the foreign riders I met in the race invited me to other big races after seeing my determination and dedication.

I would love to train harder, upgrade to a better bike and evolve as a rider. I look forward to representing India in other races too.



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