Got Enduro? The trails of Asian Enduro Series 2017

Features Issue 184 Mar, 2017
Text by Anuj D. Adhikari / Photo: Anuj Adhikary

April is looking fiery for Nagarkot; 80 enduro riders, half of whom are flying into Nepal just for the race, will blaze through seven spectacular trails in Nagarkot for the Asian Enduro Series 2017 organized by Gnarly. The four-day race is scheduled for April 6 to 9, with the first two days being the practice session, and the last two, the final run. In its second year, AES is among the more anticipated mountain biking races held in Nepal. Gnarly hopes to bring the best enduro racing experience in the mid-hills of Nepal.

For starters, enduro is a new and evolving mountain biking sport that owes its roots to downhill and cross-country, essentially a mix of the two. Downhill parts can be long and technical, though not as extreme, and timed for final results. Uphills are untimed, but need to be completed within a certain amount of time. Skill and stamina on the trails are key to mastering the sport, although you can expect to go over the handlebar a few times.

Seven trails have been identified by expert enduro riders, led by Buntay Pandey, who religiously frequent Nagarkot’s trails every weekend. Each trail is marked as a special stage and connects to subsequent stages. The timed trails (downhills) are called Special Stages (SS), while the connecting trails (mostly uphill) are called Liaison Stages (LS). Special stages are timed and calculated for final result, while liaison stage timings are not.

Race Day 1 (April 8)
There will be four stages on this day.

Stage 1
 Drive from Hotel Country Villa to picnic spot, past Army gate, and pedal to Nagarkot Tower for SS1.
SS1: The trail is approximately 2 km long and starts out as a wide jeep track, with narrower and technical single tracks that begin after 700 m from the start. There are plenty of switchbacks, as well, which run through the forest behind Nagarkot Tower and ends when you reach a jeep track.

Stage 2
Pedal from the finish point of SS1, and pedal along the jeep track to reach paved road at a bus stop. Take right uphill from here for a short while, passing houses and farmlands, until you reach a small entrance into the woods on single tracks. 
SS2: What this 1.3 km trail lacks in distance, it makes up with the challenge it presents through the woods. It is 100% single tracks, and has quite a few switchbacks to maneuver through the pine forest. Be ready to deal with technical bits on the last section.

Stage 3
LS3: It is approximately 1 km in distance from the dam to starting point. Roll on the jeep track, and once you reach the paved road, head leftwards (uphill) until you reach a small clearing, from where starts SS3.
SS3: The Special Stage 3 is about 1.8 km in distance and quite a fun ride through the woods. Riders need to remember (and it’ll be properly marked), that there’s a split in between. As we go through the technical sections through the forest for about 300 m, we take the right side of the path for SS3. The rest of the trail will make you storm down! A few pedal section in between will check your fitness, but it is fun all the way to the finish line. A few switchbacks by the end of the track.

Stage 4
It’s a really tiny bit of 150 m only. A short single track and a downhill section by the end, cross a small water stream, and you’re ready to start SS4.
SS4: We start with a pedal power in the beginning of the stage. The 2.3 km trail will gradually meet with a jeep track and finally back to single track, passing by small village settlements. Make sure you are ready to tackle some challenges thrown in, which include tight switchbacks, single tracks, and rough sections on the way. It gets progressively more challenging as you go farther down. This one’s going to be equal parts tough and fun!

From the finish point of SS4, pedal upwards for a short distance and hop on a shuttle vehicle for a ride back to hotel.

Race Day 2 (April 9)
There will be three stages on this day.

Stage 5
Shuttle vehicle will take riders from Hotel Country Villa to the picnic spot, whence an uphill pedal to Nagarkot Tower down to SS5 starting point is just a stone’s throw away on the right.
SS5: Just about 2 km in distance, this trail will follow the same track as SS3 for a short bit, after which SS5 deviates left. There will be markers to follow. This is a full single track so do expect technical section, tree roots, jumps, switchbacks, and so forth on the path, until you reach the finish at a small dam.

Stage 6
This liaison stage is about 1.2 km, and a lot similar to the ones we rode in earlier stages. Starts out as a jeep track and mingles onto the paved road which takes us uphill. This one’s longer than the rest and demands some fitness. We will ride until we reach the marked starting point of Special Stage 6.
SS6: This single track trail is 3.2 km long and is in pure enduro flavor, as described by most riders who’ve ridden here. Famously, it’s known as the Ranger Trail, and will check your stamina, strength, and biking technique. Single tracks filled with corners, short climbs, jumps, speed sections—you name it! There is a tiny uphill section here, which you can choose to either carry it or ride it. From here, it’s a smash to the finish line.

Stage 7
On paved route on Nagarkot’s main road, pedal up for about 15 minutes to the start of SS7. Don’t forget to stick to the left lane when riding, and watch out for speeding motorbikes. Once you reach Nagarkot Bazaar, take a left turn, and 100 m in, you reach the start point of SS7, also called the Eco Trail.
SS7: Along single tracks that follow through the lush green forest trodden mostly by hikers, ride on single track, stairs, technical sections, and jumps. There are a few stony stairways on the section, one of which is pretty steep. Quite thrilling, but do practice caution. The trail will join back to the jeep track, from where you can maneuver over some obstacles before sprinting to finish.

Shuttle service will be available at the end of the trail to pick you up and drive you back to the hotel.

Event Name: Asian Enduro Series - Nepal 2017
Organizer: Gnarly
Venue: Nagarkot, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Race Dates: April 6th  to 9th, 2017
Registered Participants: 80
Countries Represented: 17
Stages: 7 in total

April 6:
Official Practice Day 1 and Opening Ceremony in Nagarkot
April 7: Official Practice Day 2 and Race Briefing
April 8: Main Event Day 1 
April 9: Main Event Day 2 and Closing Ceremony

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