So you want to ride your mountain bike down Mt. Everest? Well, you can’t, but there are loads of beautiful trails in the surrounding Nepalese valleys to enjoy. The Grand Himalayan Enduro is one of several events that takes in the amazing mountain views in Nepal. This year’s race will again be an EWS qualifier, providing folks in South Asia a chance to prove their gravity prowess.
Nepal is bordered by Tibet to the north and India on every other edge, while Bhutan and Bangladesh are both a short drive away. The country holds eight of Earth’s ten tallest mountain tops, leaving no question that it’s a good place to ride trails. We recently spoke with Shyam Limbu who runs the Grand Himalayan Enduro in the forests of Nargarkot, and he’s also the director of the broader Asian Enduro Series.
When he’s not coordinating mountain bike races across Asia, Limbu works with kids through biking school groups in that capital city of Kathmandu. He teaches after school skills clinics, puts on a variety of XC and gravity competitions for young riders, and has taken groups of kids on longer adventures in the mountains to introduce them to the best parts of their newfound sport. Not all of the kids have their own bikes, and Limbu has created a sharing system between them in addition to borrowing bikes from local rental shops.
In keeping with his emphasis on learning and sharing the sport with everyone, Limbu promises that the EWS qualifier event is accessible to everyone who wants to participate. He said that while the professional athletes will have a good challenge riding the tracks at speed, the singletrack is also enjoyable for most folks who are newer to the sport. One way the event caters to new riders is by chopping the descent lengths to around 300 meters instead of rolling the full 500+ meters at once. Shorter stages will take less of a toll on riders who are working to build their handlebar muscles,
Trails in Nagarkot, and much of Nepal, consist of old footpaths that lead deep into the mountains. Limbu says that the tracks require very little annual maintenance, and he’s easily able to go clear them out once a year ahead of the event. The tracks are regularly used by local residents for commuting and by the thousands of tourists who come to Nepal annually to hike and see the massive peaks, keeping the paths open and well trod.
Limbu said that two of the many places riders need to check out when visiting Nepal are Lower Mustang, in the Annapurna region, and Phaplu Trails, in the Everest region. In addition to breathtaking views and storied singletrack, he said not to miss a chance to eat momo, which is a small dumpling that Nepalese folks eat as a snack.
While we can’t travel at the moment, it can feel good to plan ahead for the post-pandemic epics to come. To that end, we will continue to share stories from all the amazing places mountain biking has taken root.