“These guys must be some of the best amateur athletes in the word,” said Neil about the Nepali riders. It makes sense that they win at altitude, since they’re one of the few cultures in the world with options to train as high as they can, but they smoke everyone in the lowlands, too, including people who race in the pro ranks worldwide. Everyone agrees that we’d love to see them mixing it up on the world circuit.
“You just can’t believe how hard they train,” said Tyler, who splits his time between Nepal and Colorado. “They seem to do 100k rides on those nasty trails nearly everyday. I try and train with them but a lot of the time it’s just too much.”
“We ran some Strava numbers on our groups rides,” said Rob, who also splits time between Nepal and Colorado. “At one point on a climb, at the same speed, Yuki’s heart rate was at 160 and Narayan’s was at 126. And Yuki’s probably one of the best 300 mountain bike riders in the world. It’s crazy. No one has any idea how fast these guys might go if they really got pushed.”
Getting your butt kicked is expected, so nobody’s too bothered about it. However, at the end of each day, while we’re doing our best to summon enough energy for a hike around the local village, they spend each afternoon helping us with our mechanical issues, cleaning our bikes, serving and/or preparing dinner, and anything else that needs to be done. It’s amazingly humbling. Then we do our best to raise money and promote them so they can travel and their visa applications get turned down. Makes me embarrassed to be a citizen of the “progressive” world..
Today was epic and we didn’t even race! The stage was cancelled due to a strike, permit issues, or blasting on the road–still not sure. We waited around all morning for some sort of confirmation before decided to group ride to Taal and cancel the stage. Sounds simple enough, right?
First off, the course was no picnic. Over 2,000 meters of climbing in 39k is never a rest day but it was worse than just that. There was a lot of terrible track, rain, and about 10k of hike-a-bike.
But the “rest”, as it were, came at the right time because about half the field woke up with some type of ailment. A few would have had to quit the race. Both Brian and Laxmi were too sick to ride. Andy and Des were vomiting but rode anyway. I wasn’t well but not too bad, relatively, and there seemed to be about 10 of us in my state. Yuki was the worst. He’s been sick all race (and is still in 3rd!) and today he couldn’t finish. He looks awful and I really hope he can get a good night’s sleep and recover.
Other events include Zoltan getting knocked off his bike by a horse and Narayan (who’s in first) getting chain suck so bad that he had to carry his bike for 2k and would have lost his lead if we were racing. All in all it was a good day for a protest..or blasting… or whatever.
It was also super fun. We got to spin easily up the hills and take photos, which is great because we’re entering the mountains, and ride with people who race at different speeds. The air cleared up, too. Tyler, Neal, and I took the old hike-a-bike route that’s going to disappear behind a dam sometime soon. It was my favorite part of the race, so far.
Tonight, because Yuki is so sick, Sonya is in our room because we have extra beds. She must really not want to get sick because, as I was pointing to a hole in the wall, I spotted this (see video) spider. Rumor has it that it’s not poisonous but, as Andy said, that won’t affect the heart attack you’ll have if you wake up with it on your chest.
Tomorrow is only 22k. Last year, however, it was slower than most other stages. Could be a brutal day. On the plus side we’re out of the smog and I’m feeling much, much better.
top slide show above covers today’s actions pretty well and the next is a vid on the locals, courtesy nepalsutra.