As Close To Nature As You Can Get
For the uninitiated, Yak Ru is among one of the toughest mountain biking stage races in the world. It covers a distance of 240km and reaches an altitude of 5,416 meters in just 5 cycling days. It is held around Annapurna mountain range in Nepal.
I had the opportunity to have a short chat with Sunil Sharma, of Nepal Biking, at the BH Bike boutique when he was in town to promote the mountain bike event. A Nepalese by descent, Sunil has actually been living in Singapore for over a decade. But that has not stifled his passion for extreme mountain biking overseas, especially in his homeland of Nepal.
The Yak Ru, according to Sunil, is unique in the sense that it offers to Asian offroad enthusiasts a truly hardcore experience (you don’t find any snow-capped mountains in Asia that’s higher than those found in Nepal!) with just a short flight away. It’s also not expensive – comparatively to what you have to pay for travel and accommodation in Europe or North Asia.
But it is the remarkable ideals and principles behind the Yak Ru that struck a chord with me the most.
“The tourism development brought several opportunities in terms of improved sanitation, schools and better living condition through improved trade opportunities. But the very physical development of road access, and the potential damage to the mountain eco systems with the building of dams, is also threatening to reduce the tourism opportunities in this beautiful region. Trekkers cut short their holidays in this region by more than half as the road access has cut down several days of trekking,” according to Sunil. “So we decided to reintroduce them these forgotten trails. We decided to run our Mountain biking races via these forgotten trails to highlight and reintroduce these trails to trekking communities. We hope our race will garner enough awareness regarding these trails and the lost trekking charm will be reestablished in this region again.”
Additionally, a small group of volunteer doctors would follow the team, stopping by villages to administer medical check-ups and medicine where necessary.
The race is also devoted to one of the most unspoilt village enroute the Annapurna trail, Yak-Ru. Hence the Yak Ru’s name.
So what can mountain bikers expect from Yak Ru? Besides a truly challenging trail, riders will also be treated to truly humbling visual treats from Mother Nature – a rare opportunity for most of locals who are used to urbanized settings and concrete tower blocks. You will also get to experience the famous Nepalese hospitality. Beware though, as the trail takes place at an altitude a few thousand times higher than what we locals are used to, altitude sickness can be problem. In fact, Sunil highlighted that while the trail is tough and extreme, the few riders that has to pull out of the race over the past years was due to altitude sickness.
While the Yak Ru is spreaded out over 5 stages, Sunil and his team at Nepal Biking has planned out at 14-day itinerary. Ensuring riders will get enough rest and time to acclimatized to the high altitude, do some sightseeing, and enjoy some R&R after the race.
Personally for me, the Yak Ru is now at the top half of my bucket list.
For more information on the Yak Ru, check out Nepal Biking here.