The Last Lap
Final day of the race saw everyone wake up to a very relaxed morning. The ride was hardly 30 kms. The bigger task of the day for the organizers was the podium ceremony, Prize Distribution ceremony and the after party (that’s always crucial). Arranging the logistics for these three events one after the other is a very daunting task, especially with very top of the order government officials on the guest list. You must understand how difficult it is for them to take out time from their busy schedules! No pun intended.
The morning did not bring about the sub zero temperatures like Gada Gushaini . But it brought something worse with it. It brought about that sinking feeling of parting, that hollow feeling which makes you retrospective and introspective about life in general ,where you ask yourself the question- what now? “I’m Glad it is over, but I don’t want it to end” said one of the riders. Over 8 days, in the remotest of places on the planet, you are humanly bound to form that bond with one another. It’s a bond you can’t explain to your family and friends when you go back. It’s the sheer joy of experiencing a lot of pain together. No one in Bombay will understand how you stood shriveled up in multiple layers of clothes, waiting desperately for a ray of sun to fall upon you, but the boys from Kolhapur will connect immediately and so will the cameramen from Delhi. That’s the bond I am talking about. It’s the bond of experiencing challenges together. It transcends everything else like city, class, name, gender, power, money. It’s beautiful.
The ride started from Craignanoo and the competitive section was roughly 20 km. Remember I told you how hills have a habit of surprising you? Yea so in congruence with that our route markers came across a land-slide on an otherwise very pleasant October morning in Shimla. The trail for the ride was closed.
Well like for other gazillion challenges that came their way the organizers decided to take things into their own hands, the beneficiary this time was- Public Works Department, and in two hours, cleared the road for the riders. Vehicles(4 wheelers) still could not use the trail and were directed to Shimla through a different road and all safety/media operations were carried out on bikes. Knowing HASTPA would you be surprised if they had kept the best for the last? I would not be. The last section according to a majority of the riders was the best. “It was scary at times, I think the landslides helped the adrenalin flow”, said one rider. The riders loved every bit of it. Mr Aayman Tamang topped this section and finally bagged a yellow jersey for himself. Overall standings of course did not change with Mr Gopal Narayan clinching the 8th MTB Himalaya title. A school dropout at 16 Mr Aayman Tamang won the 1st runners up place- He is just 19 and has his prime waiting for him. The Ironman from the Great Britain Mr Richard McDowell showed why he is still feared in races down south. He bagged the 3rd place and says he will back with more next year.
The prize distribution ceremony saw many elite officials in the government, come and speak about the benefits of Mountain Biking and Eco tourism and applauded the role riders and HASTPA have played over the years to promote the sport of mountain biking. “ The idea is to get Shimla on the Mountain biking map of the world “ said Mr Mohit Sood- President HASTPA.
Well the much awaited dinner party followed. We assembled at Hotel Landmark in Shimla- riders, volunteers, organizers and family. Gerry is thankful to Kingfisher premium for killing his stomach infection. I don’t remember much of the night, but I am told it was a good good night . See ya in 2013!!!!!