Headline July 12, 2019/ '' 'WORLD'S TOUGHEST CYCLE RACE' '' : PAKISTAN HOSTS



KHUNJERAB : Finishing nearly 5,000 metres above sea level after hundreds of kilometres winding past blackened glaciers and snow-capped peaks :

A new Pakistani race presents a world class challenge for cyclists - climbing towards the ''Roof of the World''.

The Tour de Khunjerab - its name a homage to its more famous French counterpart, which began last Saturday - is still many years away from being Big Loop, but with a solid claim to being the highest cycling race in the world, it has a lot to offer a certain type of athlete.

In the last week of June, some 58 cyclists, including two teams from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka as well as solo participants from Spain and Switzerland, took part in its second edition.

Less than half completed it within the allotted time

The four stages - three ranging from 68 to 94 kilometres plus a shorter time trial ........are much shorter than many other cycling events. But there is one fundamental difference : the Pakistani Tour starts at 1,500 metres above sea level, and never stops climbing.

The final day of this year's event sums up the challenge.

Starting at 2,800 metres - higher than the Iseran Pass, the summit of the Tour de France - it ends at  4,700 metres, just over 100 metres short of  Mont Blanc, Europe's highest mountain.

The Khunjerab Tour must become ''an attraction''...... for the most daring and adventurous cyclists in the world,'' said Usman Ahmed, the top official for the northern Gilgit region, home to some of the  planet's tallest peaks and where the race was held.

The cyclists tyres swallow up the asphalt of the Karaloram Highway, one of the highest paved roads in the world.

Named after the Karakoram mountain range - just one of the ranges in Gilgit - the road passes through an extraordinary landscape.

Soaring, jagged peaks contrast with vertiginous ravines, glaciers driving a chill wind, and tumbling  aquamarine rivers. Landslides are common.[Guardrails are a flimsy suggestion of protection from steep falls of hundreds of feet].

''There is no place in the world that offers all these things,'' said Ahmed.
''No doubt it is the toughest cycle race in the world. We are aiming to make it our trademark,'' said Haroon General, President of the Pakistan Cycling Federation.

''The most difficult part of the race is the final stage where cyclists face shortages of oxygen and there is a risk of heart issues........ At such an altitude a person falls down [faints] after running two metres,  but our cyclists traveled for almost 59 kilometres,'' he said.

Five ambulances were on standby in case of emergencies in the final stage, he said, adding : ''A majority of the cyclists made it, but the support staff needed ambulances.''

''BREATHLESS" : The winner of the event, Najeeb Ullah - a Pakistani from a hilltop village in the southwestern province from Balochistan, who won three of the four stages - told AFP that  ''breathing'' was a problem for him in the final climb. 

''I had to face a lot of  difficulties while reaching the finishing line,'' located at the Khunjerab Pass, the border between Pakistan and China, he said.

Especially since altitude was not the only obstacle : On the final day, fierce winds drove snowflakes into cyclists faces, forcing some already struggling to catch their breath to dismount.

''Our entire training is reduced to nothing when we reach the final stage,'' lamented Abdullah Aslam, a participant who could not finish the race. ''I could barely pedal and was feeling breathless,'' he admitted.

''On each mountain, each town, there were welcome signs,'' said Ramon Antelo, a Spanish diplomat based in Pakistan, who called the race his ''best cycling experience'' and now hopes to pull together a team to compete next year.

The Honor and Serving of the latest Global Operational Research on Adventures, Challenges and Tourism, continues. The World Students Society thanks authors, AFP.

With respectful dedication to the Adventurers, Tourists, Cyclists, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on Facebook, prepare and register for  Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com  and Twitter - !E-WOW! - the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Cyclists & Cyborgs '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!