Showdown Dharan 2015: Mountain biking comes to the East!

Experience Issue 160 Apr, 2015
Text by Anuj D. Adhikari / Photo: Anuj Adhikary

Not many would associate Dharan as a likely mountain biking mecca. Not the heat, not the flats, not the slick black-topped roads. Nothing helps. But standing at Bhetedar hill station– with the south horizon of the city plains stretching to infinity and the ginormous snowcapped massifs to the north erect – you know why you’d be wrong.Well-trodden trails from the paragliding spot by Bhedetar fall steeply towards the bottom, albeit what rookies would consider a complete no-go and laymen, sheer madness.

But what Showdown Dharan 2015 saw was epic. The trail was shredded by professional downhillers at improbable speeds and impossible bouts of energy. The rough trails had their hearts pounding and the scorching heat had sweat beads seeping through their full-face helmets as the ridersdonned nerves of steel over jumps and drops.Cross country was no less intense with more than 50 well-groomed athletes setting their sights at the podium. The outskirts of the gorgeous Eastern town came alive as crowds cheered on the racers huffing and puffing their way to the finish line.

The 4-day mountain biking event, organized by Gnarly and Green Wheels, completed successfully with the presence of prominent figures from Dharan and Kathmandu.The event brought more than 70 professional athletes from as far as the UK, Bhutan and the US and various cities in Nepal to the mountain biking carnival. The winners of DH and XC Elite categories each took home forty, twenty and ten thousand rupees – the highest sum in any individual biking race in Nepal thus far. Showdown sought to promote mountain biking as a competitive sport, participation of more women cyclists and Dharan as an adventure destination. Indeed, Showdown was well received by the locals and the riders alike who enjoyed Dharan’s notorious bandel barbeque later in the evening.

As organizers, we were quite anxious about seeing the idea through. We wanted our riders to have a great time at the race, but more importantly be safe on the tracks. Support from sponsors, Dharane folks, municipality and volunteers as well as from the riders was pivotal and collectively without which Showdown would simply not be. As successful as Showdown was,  it was challenging to organize, and the event was quite a plateful to pull off. It takes more than twelve hours to get to Dharan by bus and almost a left kidney by flight. Organizing a race that far and of such proportions comes with side effects – a chunk out of your social life in the weeks leading to the event, not to mention a few hours knocked off your longevity. Mayhem and insanity sets in, often times prematurely and unannounced right at the event.

Nonetheless, the feeling of overcoming a million frustrations – logistical, legal and financial – with solid team work becomes quite overwhelming, just what we experienced as the event concluded successfully without any incidents or mishaps.Glad we were able to kick off 2015 with some mountain biking action!

While athletes and aficionados recover from Showdown barbeque party hangover, Gnarly is already fixated on something even bigger. Tansen Ultra coming right up!