Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge 2016: Challenge Conquered

Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge 2016 Experience #kora16

After seeing huge success in its first year, the Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge presented by Social Tours, a mass fund-raising charity bike ride, returned for its 6th on Saturday, July 16.

Open to all ages, this event gives recreational cyclists an opportunity to challenge themselves in treacherous route around the Kathmandu Valley and at the same time, cycle for a good cause. Beginning and finishing in Mangal Bazar, Lalitpur, participants could ride one of three distances – 50k, 75k or 100k routes.

As I said before in my previous article, challenging my physical limits is what I love to do. And Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge was a perfect opportunity to get back on my bike, hear the ‘click’ of pushing each shoe into my pedal clips. The whir of my super-pressurized tires skimming over the muddy pathways. The wind on my skin, and the powerful push I get when shifting gears to lift my speed to more than 11.8 kilometers per hour. These are all wonderful things. And to top it all off, it for a noble cause; supporting Help a Child Get Education (School in Sikharbesi, Nuwakot).

Early Saturday morning, Sunil Karmacharya, Mahesh Maharjan and myself went to the gathering point in Mangal Bazar, Lalitpur, Nepal. The weather was cloudy, showing hints of a downpour. The night before the ride, it had rained cats and dogs. The forecast was iffy so I was not very confident about the weather being on our side. Well, I was mentally and physically prepared for any curve ball that would be thrown at me so that did not faze my excitement for the experience.

Lots of people showed up. That made the environment more lively and warm; seeing so many people gather for something good and adventurous. The challenge began right on schedule. At first, we went by the main road, it was all fun and laughs but then as we started entering the designated route, it was truly intimidating. The path was muddy and narrow. It got muddier and narrower as we further went into the route. I was truly scared I wouldn’t be able to do 75k, and that even if I could, what if it took me more than ten hours? That would be embarrassingly slow. Then there was fear of rain, making the track even more perilous.

Before I knew it, we were off. The group I started with quickly dispersed. As anticipated, the paths were disastrous mud-fests. The downhill parts were awesomely fast and fun but, still tricky because of slipperiness. But nothing compared to the climbing. Man, was climbing hard. There were more climbs than descends. And the flats weren’t easy, either; my legs were burning for most of the ride. But I only focused on keeping my head up and enjoying the journey. One kilometer at a time; enjoying the other riders, the scenery and the beauty around me.

At one point, around Balaju, Mahesh got separated. He took right course to Nagarjun while Sunil and I took the wrong one so we ended up reaching Dhapasi. We had to retrace our steps back to Tokha and then rejoin the other riders. It was something unexpected and adding more to our already strenuous ride but still, what’s good if there are no trials along the way? It will surely add thrill to our adventure story. Along the way, I also lent a helping hand to the camera crew, who had got their motorbike stuck in the mud and a fellow rider whose tires somehow got punctured.

At around 4 PM, I reached the finish line. Yes, I made it, and it was an amazing feeling to cross the finish line even more so since the route was in fact 75K. I was not able to complete it within 5 hours (took me nearly 7 hours) as I had hoped to but it is not really about me. Every attendee was presented with a medal to acknowledge their participation and hard work.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The management team did an exceptional job to keep any obstacles at distance. In an event of a large scale, shortcomings are bound to arise. I’d like to suggest the team public a map before hand to facilitate riders like myself, possibly on Strava. I’d like to see which route I’ll be taking in advance. They made an app for android smartphones but I am an Apple user. Maybe there was a map (I did see the 50k route) but I did not find it. It would’ve been better if I could have. Also the way points and sign boards were present, but they could be improved. Their placement along the track was a bit confusing. Better placement would have helped avert the instances of lost-way (I found quite a few). In addition, I felt that the courses were demanding, especially the 50k track with said it was suitable for novices to expert riders. However, I personally don’t feel that a novice rider could have been scale the track. This is a social event and should be more welcoming even to the recreational riders. I recommend a change in course with, let’s say, 25k for novices in addition to the existing ones next time. Doing so will definitely motivate more people to participate as it would not seem so daunting.

In a nutshell, I believe the event was a success. More than 2000 attendees rode in Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge 2016. I was able to raise more money than I had expected. I hope they become successful in their pledge.  I am very happy to have been a part of such a noble cause. A huge thank you my supporters – Yam B Chhetri, Bezil Shrestha, Nilambar Sharma, Anil Basnet, Suwash Kunwar, Racase Lawaju, Bhuwan Roka, Biplab Subedi and Prasanna Basnet, my family and my team for giving me the mental encouragement and generous donations for the cause. Also, I would like to congratulate Kathmandu Kora team for organizing such a wonderful event and wish them every success in the world for their future endeavors. Should circumstances allow, I will definitely be a part of this humane cause for many years to come.

My 1st Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge – CONQUERED!

 

You can check out the glimpses from Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge 2016 below: