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Cycle rally in Sandakphu to promote adventure tourism

Participants of the mountain bike rally at Chowrasta in Darjeeling
Bengal's highest point, Sandakphu, at an altitude of 11,929 feet, is set to be conquered by a group of cyclists.
Ten youths from Darjeeling and Bangalore today set out on a 111km mountain cycle rally to a region where even vehicles without a four-wheel drive refuse to travel. Sandakphu is 53km from here.
The region is inhospitable at this time of the year because of the cold unpredictable weather and the slippery cobbled roads. However, this has not deterred 13-year-old Nawang Tenzing Sherpa, the youngest in the group, from participating in the event.
"I have never been to Sandakphu before but this time I am cycling to the place and the thought itself is providing me much excitement," said the Class VII student of St Joseph's School (North Point).
The rally has 10 participants, including a youth from Bangalore, who has never cycled in a hilly area. "I have just heard of the names of these places (Sandakphu-Phalut). I have never cycled in the hills and this is going to be a new experience for me," said Dinesh Kumar, a resident of Bangalore.
The rally, which was flagged off from Chowrasta by Prakash Gurung, GTA Sabha elected member from Rimbick and Dawa Lepcha, executive GTA Sabha member in-charge of the tourism department, is being organised by Alpine Wheels, a Darjeeling based organisation of mountain bikers. The cyclists will stay overnight at Tumling today.
Tumling, is situated at an altitude of 9,600 feet and is 34km from Darjeeling.
"This is a six day event. After Tumling, we will halt at Sandakphu, Phalut, Gorkhey and Samendan before ending at Rimbick," said Tenzing Chomba Sherpa of Alipine Wheels. Even though the use of cycles in day to day life is non-existent in the hills given the steep gradient of the region, biking trails is slowly catching up in the hills as an adventure sport.
A few organisations have started mountain bike trails across the hills of late.
"We are trying to promote mountain bikes as an adventure sport in the hills and also make a component of eco-tourism. After all, this is an eco-friendly sport and also helps people keep fit," said Tenzing Chomba.
Migma Sherpa, another participant said: "The hills are a good place for mountain biking."
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had cancelled her October 14 trip to Sandakphu-Phalut. Nabanna sources had said that several senior bureaucrats had requested Mamata not to go on the trip, a part of which was planned as a trek, citing security, difficulty of terrain, the near lack of telecommunication network and the chilly weather as reasons.

Source: The Telegraph

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