The Northcentral University p/b Nepali Tea Traders cycling team is finally together in Kathmandu! It has taken almost a year of preparation, but the team is finally all in Nepal, with the Yak Attack less than a week away. Excitement is high as other racers trickle into the city from all over the world. Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Sweden, Japan, Nepal and America are only some of the nations represented in the race. Bikes are being built, legs are getting stretched and the racers are sharing stories about training, travel, and the sacrifices made to get to this point. The atmosphere at the race hotel is a tense calm, with everyone enjoying themselves, but getting anxious for the race to begin.
I (Rob Burnett) am enjoying readjusting to a city I know and love. Kathmandu is a whirlwind of activity that can be overwhelming at times, but I find a certain peace in all of the chaos. There is something very calming about the country of Nepal, it might be the vastness of its landscapes, or the beauty and energy of its people, but whatever it is it draws me strongly to this place. I feel very lucky that my work with Nepali Tea Traders allows me to visit often, and that my school, Northcentral University, gives me the freedom of schedule to travel. I have had my eye on this race for a long time, and now I just can’t wait to get started. I am feeling good and all there is left to do is stay rested and start the race fresh.
Thor, my roommate and friend has had a bit of a rough trip. He traveled to Nepal with a nasty chest cold. Fortunately, with the help of antibiotics the cold has subsided, but in its place food poisoning (not uncommon in Nepal) has laid Thor low. Luckily, with two days to go until the race starts there is still time for him to get his feet under him again. Illness aside, Thor’s big personality has made a great impression on the group. He and defending women’s champion Sonya Looney have been trading movie quotes during the pre-race rides, to the enjoyment of the whole group.
Our two Nepali teammates, Aayman Tamang and Rajan Bhandari have been a fantastic addition to our little team. They are both extremely talented, as well as extremely warm-hearted. They are both crack mechanics, and have kept Thor and My bikes in good working order, insisting on doing the work themselves and not letting us help. Both are small, but their legs and lungs pack a lot of power. Aayman is an underdog for the podium and Rajan is a wildcard where the sky is the limit. Both are younger and less experienced than some of their more experienced Nepali counterparts, but both have unlimited potential. Even in training the last few days their natural climbing talents have shown through clearly.
Going into the race I like our chances to mix things up and maybe surprise some people. We are the biggest team here, and we have the potential to achieve some great results if luck falls our way. Stay tuned on our blog and Facebook page for mid-race updates, we will update them as much as possible given the limited availability of internet during the race.
A huge thank you and Danyebhad (Nepali for thank you) to all of our sponsors, we wouldn’t be here without you!