Event: Grey Ghost MTB Challenge 2021 – Himachal Pradesh, India

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The 2021 Grey Ghost MTB Challenge flagged off yesterday in the high altitude mountains of Keylong in Himachal Pradesh, India. A cross country race hosted by the Lahaul Spiti Cycling Association saw over 130 riders descending upon the picturesque venue. Open to all levels of riders, the Grey Ghost MTB Challenge included India’s national cross country MTB champions fighting it out for the big win.

Route A, for Men Elite, Men Masters, Men U-19
Route B, for Women Elite, Women Junior, Boys U-14 & Joyride category.

The route was challenging and interesting and was a mix of terrain with jeep roads, tarmac climbs, technical singletrack section which was targeted at riders of all capabilities. And since we were racing in Lahaul, the views were just so amazing that kept riders motivated to keep riding.

Having the race spread out in various categories gave us an opportunity to help engage with riders from all age groups from U-10 to Masters (40+)
The best part perhaps was the local engagement by the villagers on the route who came out in large numbers to volunteer and to cheer on the participants.

I was myself involved in organizing the race and trying to make this event professional and big by sharing my experiences learnt from all the different events I’ve taken part in. – Shiven / India’s National Cross Country MTB Champion 2021

Explosive start of the ‘Men Elite’ category. \\ Photo: © Mohit Raj Kapoor \\  @mohitrajkapoor

After sweat, blood and lung crunching riding, the top spots across categories were taken by:

Women Elite
1. Sarah Appelt @chalochaloindia
2. Palak Thakur @downhill_rider_palak
3. Vageesha Sharma @_vageesha_sharma_

It was nice racing after such a long break and was amazing to have many fellow riders from all over India joining in. Such a high competition level for the men elite category and an astonishingly high number of female participants. I live in the higher Himalayan region and always enjoy spending some good days of riding in Lahaul. The organization of the race was superb. Now I hope for more longer multi stage races to happen soon! – Sarah Appelt

Men Elite
1. Shiven @shiven_aerohawk
2. Devender Thakur @davy_mtb
3. David Kumar @davidkumarmtb

The race experience was great as it was a stacked field with a lot of national level riders and suited both XCM and XCO riders. The high altitude though was a big challenge for everyone as average race elevation was 3000m. I attacked on the first main jeep-road climb(3-4kms) and then got a gap and managed it all the way to finish line. – Shiven

U-14 Boys
1. Kunal Kumar
2. Angad Singh
3. Pravik Kukreja

U-19 Boys
1. Madhav Dutta @madhavdutta01
2. Joy Kapoor @__joykapoor__
3. Sandeep Thapa @sandeep_mtb_19

The race was very well organized. It was an XCM format and I wasn’t fully prepared for that format as I’m preparing for XCO. I had to struggle a lot with severe chest pain in the first few kms due to high altitude. Having proper hydration and nutrition before and during the race helped me a lot in sustaining various attacks. The track also had some technical sections which made the race more thrilling! – Madhav Dutta

Men Masters
1. Sunil Barongpa @endurorider
2. Deepak Sammi @deepaksammi
3. Kapil Singh

Route A Overall Top 10 :-
1. Shiven @shiven_aerohawk
2. Devender Thakur @davy_mtb
3. David Kumar @davidkumarmtb
4. Sonam Norboo @sonamtsan
5. Vijay Parkash @vj_2411
6. Rohit Thakur @rohitthakur_
7. Atul Chauhan @atul_papta
8. Madhav Dutta @madhavdutta01
9. Joy Kapoor @__joykapoor__
10. Rishi Shashni @rishi_shashni

A big shout out to the event organizers, the volunteers, sponsors, the attending riders and their support crew for the participation.

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