Skip Navigation

Riders of Rohtang - XPD India Gets Underway

Rob Howard / Photo : Rob Howard / 23.03.2019

The start of XPD India

Expedition India was never going to deliver an ordinary start, or an easy one, but it was spectacular when teams finally got underway this morning.

It was a fine morning with a chill breeze in the air and the mountains catching the morning light under clear skies, but it was a frustrating one for the teams who were up ready to depart at 07.00. News came through from Stephan Muller that the road up Rohtang Pass was too icy to risk and a new start location would have to be found, so there would be a delay.

Teams had more breakfast, slept or hung around in the hotel reception, keeping warm and waiting. It was case of Ready, Steady ... Wait.  Some were a little nervous about what was happening (especially those who were at the cancelled race in China), but now acclimatised to India and the fact things happen in their own time they understood the situation.

The start was reset to 08.30, and everyone jumped in buses, cars and trucks to head for the pass, but it took until after 08.30 reach to a gateway at the foot of the pass, driving through multiple landslides and passing banks of snow by the road higher than the car roofs.  There were teams of mules on the road as well, and it was lined with shops selling coats and onsies for the Indian tourists who go up to the pass.

With the bike boxes unloaded on a bend in the road, piles of snow all around, and lots of vehicles to park and to let pass it was a chaotic sight. The teams gradually managed to find spaces to pull their boxes aside and assemble their bikes, some up side tracks, others in amongst the roadside snow piles. After a frantic 30 to 40 minutes the bike boxes were all finally loaded into the truck again and the race was ready to go!

The start arch was set up between two walls of snow above a tight turn in the road and with a wave of the Indian flag the race was off!

The start of the ride took teams back into Manali, with checkpoint 4 at the hotel they’d just left! It was a ride unlike any they’d  made before because they had to make a way back down through the landslips, riding through debris and avoiding boulders. They were avoiding everything else too, mules, pedestrians and the manic traffic which was all but gridlocked in town, a stationary mass of honking metal.  Vehicles were so tightly packed that it was all but impossible to squeeze through with a bike, but after reaching CP4 back at the Anant  Maya Hotel the route left town and the gridlock behind.

Part of the team instruction is to ‘follow the rules of the road in India’ ... but I’m sure none of the racers have yet figured out what they are!

I saw Nth Adventure and the two Navy teams near the Hotel and they were very strung out, probably 500m or more. They were not aware of the 100m rule but it would not have made much difference as they looked  unable to ride together, never having practicsed a skill which is very AR specific and often taken for granted.

They were all able to regroup at the Hotel and left Manali to head out of town and complete the ride, which will be the first many tests of how they develop as a team in the race ahead.

[If you enjoyed this story and would like SleepMonsters to continue offering Adventure Race reporting then we need your help. Please support our Patreon campaign or make a donation via PayPal.]

About The Author

Rob Howard
Rob is Editor of SleepMonsters.com. He's traveled the world reporting on and photographing adventure races and day-to-day he keeps his finger on the pulse of AR to ensure SleepMonsters is the heartbeat of the sport.

More About This Event

Expedition India – An Incredible Adventure

Expedition India – An Incredible Adventure
The 2019 Adventure Racing World Series started on a high when Expedition India took place last week in the Himalayan foothills. The race Read More


A Celebration of the Incredible Expedition India

A Celebration of the Incredible Expedition India
Expedition India closed with the race party and prize giving last night after 5 days of extraordinary adventure racing. The party had a Read More


Indian Teams Make Their Mark

Indian Teams Make Their Mark
There have been teams finishing throughout the day here at Expedition India and in the late evening we’ve had a rush of Indian teams Read More


Flying The Flag For Nepal

Flying The Flag For Nepal
The team from the Nepali Army finished Expedition India in 8th place today and they’ve captured the hearts of those on the race and Read More


Thunderbolt and Rootstock

Thunderbolt and Rootstock
Both Thunderbolt AR and Rootstock Racing finished this morning, the Australians taking 6th place and the Americans 7th, both remarkable Read More


France and Spain Take the Podium Places

France and Spain Take the Podium Places
After the early morning finish of the winners there was a considerable wait for the second and third placed teams to cross the line at Koti Read More


Naturex Win Expedition India

Naturex Win Expedition India
Having lead for much of the race, and with a big lead over any chasing teams, Team Naturex of France crossed the finish line at Koti Read More


The Sutlej Situation

The Sutlej Situation
Transition 5 at Expedition India was set up as a tented camp for the many teams expected to arrive and be caught by the dark zone on the Read More


Taking the Himalayan High Road

Taking the Himalayan High Road
Into day two of the race the field was rapidly spread out as teams completed the first trekking stage, then an additional trek to replace a Read More


Down The Kullu Valley On Day One

Down The Kullu Valley On Day One
Day one of Expedition India served up a full variety of challenges and experiences as teams raced down the Kullu Valley. The start in Read More


Flying the Flag For India and Adventure

Flying the Flag For India and Adventure
“Whatever it is, it’s an Adventure!” That was Silver Eensaar’s summary after his team Bend Racing had been through Read More


The Journey to the Beginning

The Journey to the Beginning
The maxim that getting to the start line is the hardest part of the race has never been more true than here at Expedition India.  Read More


A Himalayan Journey and An Indian Adventure

A Himalayan Journey and An Indian Adventure
There can few more iconic and alluring locations for an expedition adventure race than the Himalaya, and in a few days time 26 lucky teams Read More


Reporting On

SleepMonsters Patreon

SleepMonsters Patreon

Race Highlights

Facebook

like us on facebook

Our Patrons

Rootstock Racing

TanzNavigation

SleepMonsters Patreon

Thank you

to all our

amazing

patrons


Rootstock Racing

Tanz Navigation

-- -- --

Brian Gatens

-- -- --

Adventure Enablers

Chipp Dodd

David Ellis

Erik Sanders

Fiona McBryde

Graham Bird

Jakub Malik

Strong Machine AR

-- -- --

Barbara Campbell

Klaus Mygind

Marco Ponteri