The time has come! Yak-Attack!Jeff Kerkove 8:47 AM
I am typing this the day before a mega 30+ hour flight from Denver to Kathmandu for the Yak-Attack. I feel ready physically and mentally. This race has affected everything in my life for the past 5 months. Everything. Some for the better....some for the worse....things you wouldn't think an event/training could alter. I think about it non-stop, to the point my sleep cycle is not 100% solid. Yeah, call me sick....obsessed.....crazy. I do. I have to admit, it does feel odd having good fitness this early in the year....something I shouldn't see until June or July. I am for sure taking a break once I get back so I can focus on the racing here in the USA in the coming months. I have a sense of nervous excitement. I am ready to get this show underway! I am ready to race, but also not to bury my head to the stem in suffering and not taking the time to look around and enjoy the reasons Sonya and I are going here; culture, racing, BIG mountains, the people, the food, the adventure.
A lot of people are curious about the Yak-Attack, as it is a relatively unknown event. Here are some facts....
- The race is solo. No teams.
- 11 stages total with 1 acclimation/rest day at 12,000 ft. This comes after Stage 7. Final stage is a celebratory group ride to the finish.
- Only 15 international athletes are allowed to compete. Remaining are Nepali. Expect no more than 50 racers total. The services along the route can handle no more than 50 people, hence the limit on the field.
- No tent camping. We stay in tea houses along the route, which are very similar to hostels here in the USA.
- We are allowed 44 lbs of gear for transport for first few stages, which is transported by trucks to the overnight villages. This is then cut to 22 lbs as our gear is carried by sherpas to the overnight villages and tea houses at the higher terrains. Any gear that does not fit in these weight allowances must be carried on the bike by the riders.
- Stages are relatively short compared to most stages races, covering 15-30 miles a day. But, the elevation, terrain, hike-a-bike, etc, make for roughly 2-4 hour days on the bike. Some days shorter...some days longer. Terrain and health will dictate.
- The purpose of the Yak-Attack is to give the Nepali riders an international field to race against, to finance local businesses along the route, raise awareness of the diversity of activities available in the area, and to create and concrete bonds between international communities, individuals, and Nepali athletes.
- Lowest elevation we compete at is 4,200 ft. Highest elevation we will get to is 17,775 ft! Highest I have ever been is 14,400; Mt. Elbert west of Leadville, CO
- Mountain Bike UK magazine lists the Yak-Attack as one of the Top-5 hardest mountain bike events in the World!
As far as equipment goes, the 26" hardtail with 2.4 tires gets the nod. Loads of climbing and hike-a-bike makes this the logical decision. Also installed a new Ergon SM3 saddle for 'testing'. Gear will be carried in a Ergon BX3 pack, as well as a new 2012 Topeak Fuel Tank, size medium. Navigation, which is required of all competitors, is a Garmin eTrex 30.
For the twitter links, Sonya and I will use #yakattack during the trip.
Expect updates during the first 4 stages. After that, updates will become sparse as we start to get remote. Very remote.
When this trip is all said and done, Sonya and I plan to come back with a great story/adventure. We are loaded up with Epic Cams, spare batteries, and SD cards. You will get to experience everything we do!
I leave you with an image from what might be the highest hotel in the World (15,500 ft), which we get to stay at!
Video from the 2010 event.