By Steve Thomas
Racers looking for a worthwhile challenge with stunning scenery for 2009 might consider signing up for the Tour of the Himalayas mountain bike race or tour in Northern Pakistan on September 25-27, 2009. The event was first held two years ago, when it was named the Tour of the Karakurrums. Next year's event will follow a similar format to previous editions.
The race was launched initially to raise awareness and funds for the earthquake victims of the Kaghan Valley in Northern Pakistan, many of whom are still homeless and impoverished, and severely lacking in resources and aid since the earthquake was somewhat overshadowed by other natural disasters that year. So far, the event is well on its way to achieving its goals, and the Kaghan Mountain Trust, who organise the event, have just opened the Kaghan Memorial School, which now provides essential basic education for many younger children in the valley - something which has not been available since the earthquake struck. The achievement comes thanks in part to the race.
Stages have yet to be finalised, but are all likely to be held at over 2,000 meters of altitude, and in the northern Naran end of the valley. In the past, the route has mixed marathon circuits with point-to-point courses, and a circuit race. The mighty Barbusar Pass, well over 5,000 meters high, has highlighted past editions when conditions permit.
Selected, international, mixed teams of three will be invited for the main race. A full mountain bike tour will also be run in conjunction with the event for those wishing to take it easier.
For more information, visit www.kmt.org.pk or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.