Cycle India – 1 week to go!
“what an exciting challenge that sounds amazing”
“I am exhausted just thinking about it!”
These are just some of the soundbites my friends exclaimed when I told them about the Cycle India challenge – mountain biking in the Indian Himalayas for 2 weeks.
Today it is exactly 7 days to go until my flight leaves Edinburgh en route for the hot and vibrant city of Delhi – one of the greenest cities in the world and with a transport system run on environmentally friendly compressed natural gas. From Delhi we catch a train up to Shimla, where the British used to re-treat to in summer when Delhi became too hot and humid. From Shimla the rest of the way is by bike – yes that’s right, all 651kms to Manali – crossing first the Kunzum La (4,555m) and then the Rohtang La (3,979m).
The Indian Himalayas has a history and sense of romance in much the same way as the Nepali Himalayas – early climbers laying siege to the mountains before more lightweight alpine ascents took off – the land of smiling faces and curries. The chance to cycle amongst them was too good an opportunity to miss.
The romance and history of the Himalayas sadly does not actually get you fit though but it certainly helps to inspire! My friends happily remind me that it is time on the bike that counts, and then saunter off to the cake shop grinning. So in terms of my own training – well at the moment I am cycling about 20 miles a day – (or at least try to, i am currently sitting on a train down to London, having a cuppa and a croissant!) trying to find different ways from Edinburgh Park to Leith without going on busy dual carriageway roads – not always easy particularly as I am not a local. The chances of getting lost are high.
However on the days when the sun shines, there is nothing I would rather be doing – getting fit for India and avoiding all the queuing traffic. At weekends it is regular jaunts across to Loch Ard, near Aberfoyle where there is a wealth of trails and hills to enjoy. This weekend it is my final chance to get out – so off to do a round near Killin before starting the final packing preparations. Not far from where Mark Beaumont has recently been out training, so if it is good enough for a world record breaker then I am happy to give it a go as well!