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Racing Up In The Mountains : Yak Attack 2013

This highest cycle race in the world began from Kathmandu on March 2, 2013. The riders, dressed for the hot sun sure to hit later on the race, were feeling the morning chill, but they could just as well be shivering from the anticipation of what they would be facing over the next 12 days over 11 stages across 400km of varying terrains. The race took the 33 riders from Shivapuri to Besi Sahar, and then on the Annapurna Circuit, all the way to Pokhara, traversing the highest point of the race, the Thorung La Pass, on the 10th day of the race.

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Riders were of all skill levels and varying experiences. Some were devils on the downhill, while others overtook everyone else whenever an uphill section came around. Some were proud of their hike-a-bike (bike-carrying) skills whereas others were built for speed. Some, like the Aussies, were used to the heat of the early days from Shivapuri to Besi Sahar, whereas some of the Americans and Europeans were really looking forward to the colder sections. In short, nobody could really be prepared for everything they would be up against. Add to that the strikes that this year’s Yak Attack had to deal with, and everybody’s adjustment pains to a new country and new food, there was a whole lot of uncertainty to deal with. But that is what every participants of the Yak Attack had come for, to tackle all the challenges thrown their way with courage and grace.

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The race finally ended in Tatopani and by the end there were 5 riders down. Two had to pull out because of road accidents, and two because of snow blindness. One of the riders pulled out because of viral stomach problems. Just like is has been happening every year since the attack’s inception in 2003, this year too was no exception. Narayan Gopal Maharjan from Nepal won this year’s Yak Attack, at a record time of 21 hours 24 minutes 51 seconds. Second was Ajaya Pandit Chhetri, last year’s champion, with a timing of 22 hours 2 minutes 49 seconds, and third came the young smiling Aayman Tamang with a timing of 24 hours 53 minutes 14 seconds.

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Yak Attack was not just your any normal run of the mill race. It was a rare experience with a combination of skilled cyclists, amazing food, incredible people, hardcore trails and incredible views of the Himalayas. The seventh Yak Attack 2013 definitely did not disappoint, on any of the counts.

LAXMI MAGAR – THE FIRST AND ONLY NEPALESE FEMALE RIDER IN THE 2013 YAK ATTACK RACE

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When we heard that Laxmi Magar from Nuwakot District was the only Nepali female rider in the coveted Yak Attack 2013, we had to sit down with her and hear out her experiences in the race. Our respect truly goes out to this brave lady, who endured it all and successfully made it through every stages of the race. Here below is a brief narration of her experience at the Yak Attack 2013:

“I started cycle racing in 2008 with a few seniors who were into sports cycling. Right away from the start, I was immediately hooked to this aspect of cycling and now it’s become an addiction.

In this year’s Yak Attack, I started off on my Cube. But in the midst of the race, Buddhi Bahadur Tamang started having trouble with his wheel hub. So since he was doing so well in the race and race regulations allowed to do so, I decided to lend him my bike so that he could continue the race; fair enough as he stood 4th in the end. So to continue the race, I rode his Kona after fixing it. The Kona was comparatively lighter and during the Thorong La pass, it was actually easier for me to carry it across as I had been practicing on a heavier bike. Overall, I’m happy that I was able to at least complete the race, especially because at one point I was not feeling well. Thankfully I was able to rest in Manang and recuperate soon. At higher altitudes I was making up for lost the time, but once again there was a setback when one of the riders encountered a serious accident and the race was halted. All the riders’ timings were reset according to earlier ratios.

Nevertheless, I’m proud to have been able to represent Nepal as the first Nepali female rider in the history of the race. And I hope to see more local female riders participating next year.”

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