Apolo Esperanza, a renowned adventure sportsman from Spain, led a team of mountain bikers in the very first bike race of its kind across the Himalayas, in the stunning Annapurna region, and over the world’s highest mountain pass at 5416 metres above sea level. Here is the outstanding story of one entrant, Ray Kleiner, as he took on an epic and stunningly beautiful ride across the Annapurna region in the Himalayas and coma home with more than one prize!

Race Profile

240 kms of riding across every kind of terrain imaginable, with 7,500 metres of cumulative climbing spread across 7 stages, of which 6 are competitive. You ride through the stunningly beautiful Annapurna nature reserve, covering 7,629 m2 of protected area and descending from the famous Thorong-La pass into the Lupra Valley, one of the most amazing valleys in the entire world.

The Terrain

You ride through canyons, huge hills, valleys and plateaus passing through some of the world’s most stunning scenery. You will start in tropical climate and at the Thorong-La pass you will be in the arctic conditions.

This sporting event is organised by Makalu Adventures – a leading Nepalese travel company specialising in adventure travel.

Ray’s Race

At the start line in Besi Sahar, little did we know that the monsoon rains would arrive right at the start so that we would be riding in torrential rain, in some of the worst biking conditions imaginable.

We ended up riding in pitch black darkness, totally lost in the hope we would somehow find the finish live and our hotel, before getting washed away into the angry river below us.

“The pinnacle of this ride is undoubtedly the crossing of the world’s highest mountain pass, the Thorong- La at 5416 metres above sea level.”

The Pinnacle for every participant was safely arriving at the Thorong-La pass with an election of 5416 metres above sea level being the world’s highest mountain pass.

This is a very dangerous place where the rapidly changing arctic weather conditions can be dramatic.

The group was joined on the lower slopes, by a group of Nepalese mountain bikers, including the male and female MTB champions of Nepal all heading up to the world’s highest pass: Thorong-La. The Annapurna region of Nepal has some to the toughest mountain biking conditions in the world.

The Race in Stages

Stage 1
Besi Sagar to Yagat

Distance: 30 kms
Elevation: 1200 metres climbing
Difficulty: Moderate

You will follow the tracks along the Marsyarni River ascending all the way heading north in lush tropical landscape. Some ramps well exceed 15%.

Stage 2
Yagat to Koto

Distance: 32 kms
Elevation: 1200 metres climbing
Difficulty: Extreme

The hardest stage with an early start. You will climb over 1200 metres of altitude in 32 kms or riding, passing waterfalls, wooden bridges, and villages along the way.

Stage 3
Koto to Manang

Distance: 32 kms
Elevation: 1,600 metres climbing
Difficulty: High

The effects of high altitude start to be felt at this point. This stage is less demanding but the effects of altitude take their toll.

Stage 4

Distance: 11kms
Elevation: 1000 metres climbing
Difficulty: High

Deceptively ‘short’ stage where you ascend into the Lupra valley, and one of the most beautiful descents on the planet!

Stage 5:
Ledar to High Marpha

Distance: 44 kms
Elevation: 2,100 metres climbing
Difficulty: High

Early start with sherpas ascending over 3,000 metres towards the Thorong-La pass and the Supra valley below.

Stage 6
Marpha to Tatopami

Distance: 40 kms
Elevation: 1,400 metres climbing
Difficulty: High

The final timed stage and where the winners will be decided. You will pass through amazing forests and enjoy the thermal waters of Totepani.

Stage 7
Tatopami to Beni

Distance: 22 kms
Elevation: 400 metres climbing, 900 metre descent.
Difficulty: Moderate

The very final stage arriving at the small town of Beni. Here you will pack your Nikes together and be transferred to the resort of Pokkara.


Ray Kleiner: Winner +60 Master category; Winner Stage 7 Tatopani to Beni.

Sat 13th Oct, 2018 @ 9:30 pm

By James Swann
Originally from Sheffield, James lives and works in the mountain bike mecca that is the Lake District and has been falling off bikes since he was six. In between working on bike events, riding bikes, racing bikes and writing about bikes he enjoys talking about bikes with anyone who will listen. He really likes bikes.

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