High altitude mountain biking is a whole different wheel game. One of the highest altitude, accredited XCM races in the world – North Quest Challenge was back with its 3rd edition earlier this September in Leh, India. Some of the biggest names of Indian cross country racing were cranking it at the NQC at 3500mts for 2 days, fighting wind, climbs and the altitude!
Organised by Wisdom Eventosport under the aegis of the Cycling Federation of India, North Quest Challenge included categories for all levels of riders. Elite men, amateur men/women and U17 category for school kids.
DAY 1 – Spituk Valley
DAY 2 – Disko Valley
After two days of racing across dry trails and prayer flags, Canada’s Cory Wallace took the win in Elite Men, followed by Jason English in 2nd and Manali’s Devender Thakur in 3rd, India’s reigning XCO National Champion Kiran Kumar Raju landed a 4th spot followed by 5th place finisher, Sukhdeep Singh.
The amateurs category was as exciting as the elites. Over 40 riders from Leh lined up for the race weekend. Local ripper, 18 year old Sonam Norboo took a clean victory in the men’s category. Chonchak Dorjay (2nd) and Jigmet Namgyal (3rd) showed some good speed in the tech climbs. Followed by Leh’s Chamba in 4th place and Sumeet Mahant in 5th. In the amateur women’s category, endurance runners, Stanzin Chondol (1st), Stanzin Docker (2nd) and Sonam Chuskit (3rd) paced up a good race.
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The Trailblazers, an under 17 category for school kids, is a unique talent hunt organized under the aegis of Cycling federation of India and serves as a scouting platform for the next elite crop of athletes in the country. The top 3 finishers get a chance to train at national camps organized by CFI in Delhi during the year. Nearly 340 kids showed up on race day with all kinds of bikes and helmets that they could get their hands on!
- Mohammad Reeza
- Sonam Stanzin
- Stanzin Rigsang
- Sonam Angmo
- Dawa Dolma
- Stanzin Lhamo
The races were flagged off by youth icon and member of parliament, Hon. Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, who not only served as the chief guest of the event but also decided to take a spin on a cycle on the route of the event. The event also had the honour of hosting as guest of Honour, Rashi Dolma, Joint Director, J&K school education who’s been an integral part of encouraging local participation from school kids.
Speaking on the success of the event, Stany Wangchuck, Promoter of Wisdom eventosports said “We grow bigger each year and every year it’s heartening to see the warm welcome the city, the authorities and the participants give to Northquest Challenge. We are now aiming at obtaining the UCI accreditation and going international next year onwards. All this would not have been possible without our title sponsors Air India, powered by sponsor Scott and very importantly Cycling Federation of India. I also would like to thank all other partners who have been an integral part of the event and our co-promoters of the event, Meraki Sport and Entertainment Pvt ltd.”
North Quest Challenge 2019 is sponsored by Air India, powered by Scott Sports India, supported by Cycling Federation of India, Meraki Sport & Entertainment, Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine, Fast & Up, Monster Energy India, Grand Dragon (Leh), Abdus (Leh).
Photos: © Praveen Jayakaran