I can feel my cough and congestion—which returned after getting dehydrated at altitude on Thorong La—trying to clear up and I think it might with a rest day. Instead, we’re going to ride 30k and then take a 3hr bus ride to Pokhara for our final celebration.
My legs are feeling stronger by the day but the rest of me is ready for a proper day off with a shave, shower, and perhaps some clean cloths. Adding to the fun, it’s been raining, so we may have one more day of mud ahead…
nepalsutra’s cool video of the 2013 Yak Attack
Even a simple group ride can’t go without incident in the Yak Attack. Today we had multiple flats and one broke Roval carbon (very expensive) rim. Thankfully it didn’t happen to Andy during the race, he may have not finished, though he would have if any locals were around as the Nepalis salvaged it somehow.
These guys never cease to amaze. We were all afraid the rim would blow up but Santosh patched it so it held air, then hand straightened the rim so it rolled (which looked super-friggin’ dicey to me). One of the Nepalis close to Andy’s size switched bikes and rode his, without incident, about 20k on very rocky roads. This reminded me, once again, that we westerners are wimps when it comes to mountain biking.
After the ride we had a rather long transfer to Pokhara, where we were greeting by a festive local ceremony (see video). Our hotel was first class, offering luxuries like decadent showers and huge comfy beds. I showered, did laundry, organized all of my gear, went out for a shave (which comes with a fairly odd message that was kind of cool), and got ready for our closing ceremony.
I’m not really that into ceremonies. I thought this one would be easier to sit through, since I was both tired and had earned it, but it wasn’t. I was bored. I guess I’m not into the spoils of war as much as the war itself. We got plaques, medals, t-shirts. As soon as it was appropriate I made my way to the bar.
I would like to add a little about Phil Evans, the race director. The Yak Attack was his brainchild and, oh, what a vision he had! Phil is an adventurer at heart and has done the entire Annapurna circuit on a bike in two and a half or three days, which is insane. But he’s also a mad genius for turning such a crazy adventure into a race. He created this not so much as a place of westerners to do a bit of posturing in a unique location, but instead to show off the local talent to the outside world. His dream is the see Nepali riders in the Olympics and I think, because of him, it will happen one day soon. He’s a great man with an altruistic vision and we’ll all do our best help him make it a reality.
On the race itself, it’s billed as “one of the 5 hardest races in the world,” it’s hard to define the Yak Attack as such. We generally define hard, in race terms, as a level of exertion that’s necessary to complete the task, something almost impossible to do here. And while it is hard—probably the hardest bike race, or any race, I’ve done—to define it as only hard seems to miss the mark because that’s not really the point. A potpourri of exertion, culture, camaraderie, obstacles and good old fashioned suffering and it’s that breadth of experience that makes the Yak Attack unique.
Then it was time to hit the town in Pokhara, but that’s another story…