A long race through the Himalayas in Nepal is now in the books. Well that is not exactly correct. Yak Attack may have started as a race in my uninitiated mind, but the fact of the matter is that the Yak Attack turned right into an intrepid journey across the roof of the world. I will attempt to share some of my experiences here.
Day One. The first day was an education in climbing… fast. The race started as if a shotgun of small Nepali mtbers had been fired, all of them sprinting off at a breakneck pace. A short initial climb in the shade (not so bad), was followed by an epic view of snowcapped mountains before a rapid decent to the valley floor. Flat, rough roads were followed by climbing again in the humid sun to finish the stage. I entered the final climb in the top five and I attempted to keep this ruse going till the top, it didn’t work… I burned into a thousand ashes in the last 3 kilometers and went from 5 to, well… not so good. This was just the first day that involved walking and the start of my weight loss program through regurgitation.
A mild case of heat stroke reminded me that this race was something new, something different…
Day Two. The second day was a combination of 2013 Yak Attack day 2 and 3. Nepal has only two types of riding: up and down, so any added distance is sure to be arduous. Again, the day was fast and furious with attacks from the gun. The heat was unrelenting and any stage that has three feed zones is no laughing matter. This day I told myself to be conservative, drink more, and focus on being efficient. Unfortunately I had a little friend with me. This invisible monster knows no nationality, does not care about your age, or what gender you are. Three kilometers before the last feed zone I was greeted by her. Yes, her. My nasty little sickness had a party at hour 4:30. The last three kilometers before feed 3 took me an additional 1:30 to go uphill. She was so heavy I had to walk; and let’s just say my stomach was not cooperating. Six hours into this affair I was so dehydrated and utterly destroyed I could not go on. I was afforded help to finish stage Two. Others would befall similar circumstances on this quest. This however, was only the beginning of my affair with suffering and sickness.
Day three. It appears that the only way to get to the finish of this race is to pedal there. There are no cars that can take you over the pass on day seven. Besides, anyone who has every ridden in Nepal in the mountains knows how amazing the freeway system is with its defined lanes, road-side convent stores, and the silky smooth pavement. (I’m being facetious… if you have ever been to Nepal you know that these are some of the roughest roads in the world). Therefore, on the morning of day three I had a choice: I could turn back and head home, or ride the rest of the race, I decided to press on.
This day turned out to be amazingly easy, the easiest day by far, starting with a big decent in time trial starting order. Not to be outdone, however, a local parked a tractor right in the middle of the trail. PAY ATTENTION!!! Truth be told you can park anywhere when you live here and it is the rider’s job to ride around.
Side note: the absolute worst thing a rider can do is hit a chicken. Run into a child- Okay, Hit an old lady-Okay, Run over anything you do not own- Okay. Hit a chicken, hell will break loose.
Back to the ride, sounds so good so far right. That is what I thought. One feed zone (short day) and when I arrived I was in good spirits. I stopped, grabbed some water and went on about my day. 30 seconds later I was on a climb that was almost 45% trying to stay on my bike. This was the flat easy day! I somehow summoned the strength to conquer this hill and was rewarded with 20km of tarmac to end the day. This was the last time tarmac would be seen for the entire situation (Way more than a race at this point). I cruise into the finish (slight downhill) and have a coke with the riders as they file in. I would like to thank Phil on this last one; the biggest, steepest climb of the day was the three kilometers in the super granny gear to the hotel.