The 2009 Khanchendzonga Mountain Bike Challenge, held March 20 – 29, is a nine-day race through the foothills of the Himalayas, covering 430km and 14,000m of climbing, all in the shadow of the third highest mountain in the world, Mount Khanchendzonga, with a stake of $25,000US in prize money for the participants.
“With the countries of Nepal to the west, Tibet bordering the north and Bhutan on the east, Sikkim’s isolation has created a unique existence separate from the rest of India,” said Harlan Price, US race liaison. “The Sikkim tourism department is excited to give participants the opportunity to travel from Buddhist monasteries to Hindu temples, and alpine meadows to glacial tundra. As part of the event there will be opportunities for helicopter rides to the race start, an Indian Airforce Air Show and a day of site-seeing after the race is over.”
Racers will discover Sikkim through the daily mix of single track, village back roads and jeep tracks that meander through uncharted foothills of the highest mountains in the world.
“Contestants will always be within site of the race’s namesake mountain as they race each day from one small village to the next,” Price added. “Like other major stage races in Europe and the US racers will have two man tents and an international field. Unlike other major stage races the Khanchendzonga event is comprised of shorter days between 37 and 71km, and there is a category for solo racers.”
The goal of organizers India’s state of Sikkim and the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. is to highlight the cultural riches of the region by having shorter days so that participants will be able to enjoy their surroundings in one of India’s most culturally and ecologically diverse states. The US$500 entry fee will include three nights in hotels, nine nights in tents during the race, all breakfasts and dinners plus shuttles from the nearest airport to the race start.