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Prologue: Yak Attack 2014. Here we go again!

Prologue: Yak Attack 2014. Here we go again!

Yak Attack 2014


Once more unto the breach…

The Showdown in the Annapurna’s!

Yak Attack; the worlds highest mountain bike race. 8 brutal stages, 400kms. 12000mts of climbing. Heat, Cold, Altitude, Punishing Climbs, Hike-a-bike, Dust, Sand, Rock, Mud, River Crossings, Snow, Ice, Extreme Winds, Yaks!, and the mighty Thorong La pass – 5416mts.
Rightly considered as one of the toughest mountain bike stage races on Earth.
Devised in 2007, by the the devilish (but very nice man) Phil Evans of Extreme World Challenges, to showcase the talents of Nepal’s phenomenal mountain biking community, and to test the mettle of the worlds hardiest riders. On both of those counts he succeeded! It is an awesome experience that tests not just your ability to ride a mountain bike but to challenge your ability to survive everything that The Nepalese Himalaya can throw at you. This isn’t your common or garden stage race. Deprived of western comforts international riders find themselves in a remote, but spectacular, region; with minimal luxury, basic foods & facilities, harsh – saddle sore inducing – trails, the likelihood of “stomach issues”, and debilitating levels of oxygen deprivation in the higher stages. It is a true test for the adventurous rider.
Year on year The Yak Attack grows in stature amongst the global Mountain Biking & Adventure Racing communities, not least due to the profile of riders like Sonya Looney (USA) and the Channel 5 series (to be aired this year) featuring Richard Parks (UK), and 2014 sees the event sold out for the first time in it’s eight year history. In fact it sold out so quickly that Phil decided to allocate five additional places to international entrants. The top end of this years international field is hugely impressive.

This years event also features some significant changes just to make it that little bit tougher. Thanks Phil! 😀
Moving from its previous ten racing stages to eight stages. With the amalgamation of the old stages 2 and 3 into an epic 86km single stage (Day/Stage 2 – Trisuli Bazaar to Ghorka ) notwithstanding the horrendously high temperatures and humidity (in excess of 36c/100f in 2013), and the old stages 5 and 6 becoming one 60km stage with a brutal 3200mts of climbing (Day/Stage 4 – Besi Sahar to Chame).

To make one of the worlds toughest race’s that little bit harder truly sets it aside from almost any other.
The likes of La Ruta de los Conquistadors, The Cape Epic, and The Mongolia Bike Challenge are incredibly tough races but they simply cannot be compared to Yak Attack because they are starkly different, adding in ultra long stages or rafting challenges to make them harder. The Yak Attack is already hard by way of it’s natural terrain, ever changing surfaces, high altitude, and it’s unforgiving weather patterns.
Yak Attack has it’s own unique challenge – The Thorong La, a high pass standing at 5416m – that’s 600m higher than the summit of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc! And, aside from all of the other challenges that The Himalaya throws at you, that is what sets it apart. There is no other race with which it can be compared. It is as much an adventure race as it is a mountain bike race.

Race Director Phil Evans (UK)



On the other hand though the riders are to be allowed a momentous 20kgs of portered luggage in the mountain stages for the first time. Previously this was restricted to 10kgs and on a personal level I preferred it. It made life difficult and saw a lot of head scratching when the time came to reduce your kit in Besi Sahar. You carried only that which you really needed and there was no room for surplus. 20kgs will allow riders to carry a lot of extra kit and spares, effectively making it a little bit easier by removing one of the hardest challenges. But I believe that this decision has come about, for the right reasons, in part, due to people taking too many chances with their kit choice for Thorong La. In recent years too many people underestimated the crossing of the 5416m pass and paid a heavy price with frostbite and snow-blindness. There is now no excuse for anyone to cross the pass in unsuitable footwear or clothing etc. Decent hiking boots and a minimum of Category Three Sunglasses should really be part of the compulsory kit list.

So, what about the competition?
It is shaping up to be the most interesting race yet.

The Nepali’s will be pushing the boundaries as usual.

Nepal National Champion, and three times Yak Attack Champion, Ajay Pandit Chhetri spent the Summer of 2013 racing and training in the UK and amassed some impressive results. He will be chasing his fourth crown, especially after missing out on it last year to his good friend Narayan Gopal.

Ajay Pandit Chhetri



Narayan Gopal will be chasing his second consecutive victory in the race and won’t be giving it up easily. As a member of the newly formed Singletrack Team he has been training with exceptional vigour. His Strava stats are impressive! He will be in the hunt for another winners trophy.

Narayan Gopal



Aayman Tamang is another young Nepali rider with a growing pedigree, his 2013 podium finish will be something he will be looking to repeat. A real prospect for the future of Nepali mountain biking and one of the nicest guys around. He has been training consistently alongside Narayan in Team Singletrack.

Everybody loves Aayman!



As has Roan Tamang, another young and developing rider, with a real aptitude for racing in The Himalaya; his Top 5 finish as a rookie in 2013 was no fluke. Expect to see his name up with the front runners.
Aayman and Roan are almost certainly future winners of this Blue Riband event.

Roan Tamang, with Laxmi Magar behind.



The International contingent.

Could this be the year that see’s a challenge to the Nepali whitewash?

Top of the tree have to be Canadian rider Cory Wallace (Kona) and Austrian former Tour de France rider Gerrit GlomserTwo guys with hugely impressive palmares’.
Wallace brings along some serious international credibility with a huge list of high achievements in some equally serious events. Victory in The 2013 Mongolia Bike Challenge and 2nd in Australia’s Crocodile Trophy are just two of his his recent accolades.

Cory Wallace



Glomser on the other hand is a former Olympian with impressive Tour de France  and Vuelta a Espana results along with many others. He also operates a successful altitude training business and has considerable experience at high altitude. 

On paper, at least, these two appear to be the biggest threat to the Nepali dominance of past events. Local knowledge, however, cannot be dismissed easily. 

Gerrit Glomser

Japan’s Yuki Ikeda (Team Topeak Ergon) is returning for another bite at the cherry and his experience of last years event will stand him in good stead for a podium position. One to watch.

Peter Butt, the only international ever to podium, makes a welcome return to the fold. Peter is a very like-able and popular guy and his consistency is remarkable. With his experience of the race the top guys might want to keep an eye over their shoulder!

There are a lot of guys on this years start list with impressive stage race experience and it is going to be the hottest contested event ever.
Erik Bakke, Tyler McMahon, Rob Burnett, , Keevy Raes, Thomas Vandendaele, Daniele Modolo, the list goes on. I ran out of brain space after googling all of the contestants, it looks like everybody is bringing something to the party! With a stacked field of Nepali (including a pair from the Nepalese Army) and International racers it’s certainly going to be a hugely competitive event.
Get ready world, Yak Attack is coming!

The Women’s Race.

As usual it’s a small field but it isn’t to be underestimated.
Wendy Lyall (USA) and Kate Aardal (Norway) should head the field. I can’t find any info on Tania Tryhorn (Australia) so she might well surprise us all. Nepal’s Laxmi Magar is the final entrant and with last years race experience under her belt she should be able to put up a good show (Chase The Rainbow & friends are once again supporting Laxmi’s entry via The Darren Holloway Young Athlete Fund). The experience of Lyall and Aardal might just prove to be too much though for this young, developing, rider.
The women will certainly be shaking it up with the guys if past races are anything to go by!

Nepal’s only competitive female mountain biker – Laxmi Magar.



Yak Attack deserves a high pedestal in the racing scene; in truth it probably deserves the Red Bull treatment! But it is a race that still retains a grassroots feel to it. If you can afford the entry fee and are suitably fit you can enter. There are no discounts for status. You might well share a room with Cory Wallace or Gerrit Glomser on one night and then endure my snoring on the following night. There are no appearance fee’s, no special privileges afforded, no TV camera’s blasting your face across the networks.
You do it because you want to, and because it is there!

Any International racer with designs on winning this event needs to be well prepared. Thorong La alone can make or break the results of this race. And the Nepali’s don’t often have a bad day on the pass.

Good luck everyone. See you in Nepal!

Yak Attack are still seeking sponsorship for this event and for local riders, anyone who is interested in considering any of the options should contact Phil Evans via  info@yak-attack.co.uk

You will be able to follow the race progress through these links

Websites:

Yak-Attack.co.uk

The YakAttack.com

Facebook: Yak Attack

Twitter: Yak Attack

Final Starting Line up.

Name/Nationality/Category.

Aayman Tamang.                  Nepal.                     Male  18-39.
Ajay Pandit Chhetri.              Nepal.                     Male  18-39.
Alexander Baumschlager.     Austria.                   Male  18-39
Carl Gable.                             USA.                      Male  18.39.
Cory Wallace.                        Canada.                   Male 18.39.
Daniele Modolo.                    Italy.                        Male 18-39
Eric Coomer.                          USA.                       Male 18-39.
Erik Bakke.                           USA.                       Male.18-39.
Gerrit Glomser.                    Austria.                    Male 18-39.
Gerry McCuaig.                   Canada.                    Male 50+
Glen Crump.                         New Zealand.           Male 18-39
Himal Tamata.                      Nepal Army.             Male 18-39.
Jeff Neilson.                         Canada.                    Male 40-49.
Johan Lilja.                           Sweden.                   Male 40-49.
John Salskov.                       USA.                        Male 18-39.
Kate Aardal.                         Norway.                   Female.
Keevy Raes.                         Belgium.                   Male 18-39.
Kevin Moginie.                     New Zealand.           Male 40-49.
Krzysztof Sochanski.             Poland.                    Male 40-49.
Laxmi Magar.                       Nepal.                      Female.
Mangal Krishna Lama.        Nepal.                      Male 18-39.
Marcus Peters.                     New Zealand.          Male 40-49.
Martin Door.                         UK.                         Male 40-49.
Narayan Gopal Maharjan.   Nepal.                      Male 18-39.
Neil Cottam.                          UK.                          Male 40-49.
Nevil King.                            South Africa.             Male 40-49.
Paul Cooper.                         UK.                          Male 40-49.
Peter Butt.                            Australia.                  Male 18-39.
Raj Kumar Shrestha.           Nepal.                     Male 18-39.
Rajeev Rai.                          Nepal.                     Male 18-39.
Ram Tamang.                      Nepal Army.            Male 18-39.
Roan Tamang.                     Nepal.                     Male 18-39.
Robert Burnett.                   USA.                      Male 18-39.
Tania Tryhorn.                    Australia.                 Female.
Thomas Taut.                     Germany.                 Male 18-39.
Thomas Vandendaele.       Belgium.                   Male 18-39.
Thomas Tetz.                     Germany.                 Male 40-49.
Tobias Forkel.                   Germany.                 Male 18-39.
Tyler McMahon.               USA.                      Male 18-39.
Wendy Lyall.                     USA.                      Female.
Yuki Ikeda.                        Japan.                      Male 18-39.



About The Author

Neil Cottam

Neil is the founder of Chase The Rainbow. He has spent a lifetime exploring the outdoors, from a childhood climbing trees and scrambling his bike around old pit heads to hiking in the Himalaya and backpacking around Europe and Asia.

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