After a season of Enduro and very little XC racing I was definitely nervous heading to Nepal. Being that it was my first stage race put me even more out of my comfort zone but I felt ready to take on the challenge. It was hard to know what to expect coming here but I was blown away with every aspect of the trip. The race was run flawlessly and everything went incredibly smoothly. During my first few days of the race, I took things fairly conservatively as to not blow up and to not get sick. My strategy ended up working amazingly for me as I was able to get stronger as the race went on and I moved up the field throughout the week. The highlights for me were crossing over Thorong La pass (5416m) healthy and then being able to rip an almost 3000m descent. I wasn’t sure how the trail quality would be but it was amazing.
The two Enduro timed sections flowed super well and I had a blast riding them. The Libra pass descent was just insane, alpine single track with some super high-speed moments and killer natural bermed corners. My top speed on that descent was 65km/h which is definitely the fastest I have ever gone on single track! I ended up winning the Enduro within the race and finished third overall. It was awesome to see Kona bikes sweep the podium as well with Cory winning and a Nepali local named Roan finishing in second.
Visiting Nepal was so inspiring, to say the least. Cory has done an amazing job at helping to develop the cycling scene and all the riders are so much better off having him here. He single-handedly has funded their cycling center for the last three years and is continuing to be an amazing ambassador for the sport. What he’s done is truly inspiring and makes me want to do the same. A lot of the riders here don’t have much, so I gave them my helmet and shoes after the race. My only regret is that I didn’t bring more equipment for them, but there is always next year. The spirit of mountain biking is alive and growing like crazy here.
It really is enlightening to see how much joy they have without necessarily having that much stuff. All in all this trip has been amazing and I think this will become a yearly tradition for me! I hope to bring more friends from North America next year so they can experience it for themselves!