One of the highest accredited cross country mountain bike races in the world – North Quest Challenge is just a crank spin away for folks in India. Coming up this September for its 3rd year, the NQC has introduced more categories for all levels of riders. We caught up with the organizers to know more about India’s highest cross country mountain biking challenge.
FRMTB: How did the North Quest Challenge come about?
NQC: Wisdom EventoSports is a venture between enthusiasts coming together to promote cycling. Promoted by Stany Wangchuk, a Hotelier and owner of the biggest Tourism Management Company in Ladakh and Harkirat Singh, a corporate lawyer by profession with one of the top law firms in the country, it is our perpetual endeavor to strengthen competitive MTB Cycling in India on a national and international sport tourism forum. We aspire to encourage children in Ladakh to take up this endurance sport and to popularize cycling by advocating its inclusion as an integral part of the school curriculum and providing educational incentives.
FRMTB: Ladakh shares some of the toughest riding conditions in the world. What can the riders expect on their race route?
NQC: The riders can expect a holistic experience: Diverse race categories catering to all kinds of participants – Elite, Amateur & Adventure Seekers. The Elite & Extreme category will battle it out in 2 stages comprising of off-road climbs, descends & rugged terrain in the 1st stage & the 2nd stage will consist of the route touching city limits, tarmac roads and off-road gravel sections.
Similarly, the Adventure Series & Trailblazers will comprise of an easier route including a few off-road sections and descends.
FRMTB: The 2017 and 2018 races saw a large number of India’s elite national XC racers pitting it for the win, would 2019 include international competitors too?
NQC: The North Quest Challenge because of its format and location attracts riders from across the world. We have received interest from a couple of international competitors and are in the process of expediting their participation. We hope to see them race it out in Ladakh alongside their Indian counter parts.
FRMTB: North Quest Challenge is a two-day battle and “Elites” listed by invitation only. How are the racers determined for “Elites” and how can one apply to be considered?
NQC: Elite MTB Cyclists who are registered with the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) will get a call from their respective state federations regarding participation in the event. To be eligible, athletes need to have a license from the Cycling Federation of India which acknowledges them as professional Elite Riders. We have applied strict conditions for the category as we wish to have the best riders take part in India’s highest accredited XCM MTB race.
FRMTB: What can the racers and team members expect over their stay in Ladakh during the North Quest Challenge 2019?
NQC: The Northquest Challenge is a 4-day extravaganza enabling participants to experience the sublime atmosphere of the region and its culture with incredibly useful, optional customized travel packages. A comprehensive event layout comprising of pre-race activities to enrich and prepare the participants has been included this year. Don’t forget to check out our heavily discounted stay packages. We guarantee you won’t find any lodging cheaper elsewhere!
Day 1, 19th September will include a leisurely sight-seeing activity and the opportunity to acclimatize to the weather conditions, besides a networking event, music and entertainment.
Day 2 will comprise of jersey and bib distribution, race briefing and rider interaction.
Day 3 will commence with the 1st stage of the Elite and Extreme Series and Adventure series followed by rest post its culmination.
Day 4 marks an end to the Event with the 2nd Stage of the Elite and the Extreme Series, Trailblazers with winner gratification and a dinner with champions.
FRMTB: North Quest Challenge is one of the world’s highest accredited cross-country mountain bike races, with the Cycling Federation of India backing the event. Would the racers need special fitness levels to be able to compete here?
NQC: Mountain biking is a test of a rider’s physical strength and mental resilience. Participants are advised to prepare with a custom fitness program in order to compete at their optimum level, as is the case with preparation for all competitive races. Having said that, acclimatizing to the altitude is definitely the most important part of the race, and we advise the riders to prepare accordingly.
FRMTB: For 2019, what’s on the line for the podium leaders?
NQC: For the 2019 edition the Elite, Extreme and Trailblazers will battle for a prize money fund of INR 3.5 Lakhs and a few other exciting prizes to be won.
You may also like to read the 2018 race highlights