The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.

- John Muir



Nov 29, 2015

Go through The Hell Race

Otherwise known as the paragliding capital of India, The Hell Race will be the first of its kind MTB race organised in Bir, Himachal Pradesh.


Yogesh Kumar

The 55-km competition is on December 6.

With the rising number of people getting on bicycle saddles everyday in India, cycling events and races are adding up in the annual race calendar in new locations to cater to this community. The Hell Race, to be held in Bir, a very picturesque Tibetan settlement town in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, India, is the the newest race in that league. Bir is a world famous paragliding destination and recently hosted the first ever Paragliding World Cup in India 

The race will see about 50 riders (including three international riders) push their limits on the challenging and unexplored terrain which will include steep up hills and bumpy down hills. It is a 3-day event from December 5-7 and the race will be on the second day. The riders can expect technical single-track with broken rocks, flowing water streams, hanging bridges, fallen trees and fast paced down hills. On few non-rideable patches on the route, they would have to carry the bikes on their shoulders.

Barot Valley challenges
Barot Valley challenges

The organizer of the race, Vishwas Sindhu told The Outdoor Journal, “I always felt the adventures, our lone rangers, are scattered all over and this race could be a humble attempt to bring them together & create lasting stories.” When asked why did he chose Bir for the race?, he said, “Bestowed with the serene landscapes, Bir is a hub of unexplored mountain biking tracks of all levels – easy, medium & difficult. It becomes easy to set stages for any race here and the unknown factor builds the curiosity”.

43-year-old, Gurleen Kaur a participant from India capital city New Delhi said, “The terrain seems to be cruel and designed to test the skills and will power of the rider. One can’t afford to be weak. I like to test my own physical and mental strength and this this is going to be a real opportunity for that.”

The route will be as below:

  1. Bir to Billing:

Distance: 18km | Uphill (1000m Elevation gain) | Tar Road

Difficulty: Tough

This is the starting phase of the race where participants would ride on the tar road, mostly uphill, for the initial 18kms. Riding in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, riders will experience the beauty of nature at its best.

  1. Billing to Chaina Pass:

Distance: 8km | Uphill (400m elevation gain) | Slushy-Muddy | Technical

Difficulty: Extreme

This phase of the route is meant to test the best of riders in the worst! This phase gets riders to ride the muddy, slushy & bumpy paths of the narrowest trails. This will challenge them to the extreme and will try to falter their will power at every possible second.

  1. Chaina Pass to Baragram:

Distance: 13km | Downhill (470m Elevation loss)| Bumpy | Very Technical

Difficulty: Tough

This phase is the most beautiful of all in the Hell Race. In other worlds, riders will be gifted with a heaven of the nature right after grilling themselves. This part of the route gets them ride over the hanging bridge & crossing various streams. The welcoming Dhauladhar ranges alongside the route are the added charm. Some section of this part has narrow single-track as well as some non-rideable section where riders will have to carry the bike on their shoulders.

  1. Baragram to Barot:

Distance: 16km | Downhill (500m Elevation loss) | Tar Road

Difficulty: Easy

This phase is the easiest of all where riders can put their best to speed and cover up. This part of the route is mostly on tar road.

The valley beyond Billing!
The valley beyond Billing!

The cut-off time for men is 6.5 hours and for women is 8.5 hours. The participation fee is Rs. 6,500 for males and 20% off on females. Registration can be done here.

Images courtesy: The Hell Race

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Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.



Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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