In Kathmandu, gettin ready to race!

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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. 

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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! 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Northcentral-University-pb-Nepali-Tea-Traders-Cycling-Team/436068776464619

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Introducing the Northcentral University p/b Nepali Tea Traders Cycling Team

We are thrilled to announce the official launch of the Northcentral University p/b Nepali Tea Traders Cycling Team!

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The Northcentral University p/b Nepali Tea Traders has been formed with the sole goal of conquering the Yak Attack, a ten day mountain bike stage race in Nepal. The Yak Attack covers approximately 250 miles over ten days through the Himalayas. The race starts in Kathmandu and climbs northwest into the Annapurnas, a popular trekking destination, finishing in Pokhara, a picturesque lakeside town nestled in the shadows of 20,000+ ft. peaks. Stage nine, the queen stage of the race, tops out at almost 17,800 ft. above sea level, where there is half the amount of oxygen available as there is at sea level. The race is the ultimate test of skill and endurance on the mountain bike and will push riders and their equipment to the absolute limit.

“Its not a race of man versus man, its man versus nature and nature has the upper hand” – Phil Stasiw (UK) 2007 Yak Attack Participant

The team will consist of four riders, two Americans and two Nepali riders.

Robert Burnett, USA: Rob is the founder and visionary of the Northcentral University p/b Nepali Tea Traders Cycling Team. Rob has been racing bikes for the last eight years, mostly on the road, and races for an elite amateur team in Denver, CO. When Rob isn’t racing, he loves to travel, particularly to Nepal. Rob has lived in Kathmandu for a total of about eight months over the last five years and during his time there learned of the Yak Attack and met several of the Nepali competitors. He wants to blend his two passions, bikes and travel, and see how far he can push himself by taking on the Yak Attack.

Thor Loechell, USA: By day, Thor is a mild mannered professional pilot, but by night, Thor is a monster on the mountain bike. Thor has been an avid amateur cyclist for the last thirteen years, with experience on both the road and dirt. Thor might not be the quickest rider when it comes to pure speed, but his endurance and technical skill make him a dangerous competitor. As the stages get longer, Thor will get stronger. The most experienced member of the team, Thor will keep the younger members grounded and focused on getting the best results possible.

Aayman Tamang, Nepal: Weighing in at just 50kg, Aayman might be small, but he isaayman fast, strong and charismatic. He’s also one of the better technically skilled riders in Nepal with the sometimes frightening ability to ride down anything and everything in his path. The once junior National champ is now embarking on his third attempt at Yak Attack, 2013 could be the year for this little power house.

My dream is to represent my Country as a professional Mountain Bike Rider. I want to be National Champion and also I have a dream to compete internationally in the Asian Championships and beyond. I strive to be the best I can be in Mountain Biking.”

Aayman is an amazing kid, overcoming my obstacles in his life and a very poor background to stand up, change his life and become a charismatic, fun loving mountain bike guide and rider with the potential to be a true champion in the future.

Rajan Bhandari, Nepal: Rajan is a 19 year old rider from the region of Kavre in Eastrajan Nepal. He started Mountain Biking only a year and a half ago and has already established himself amongst Nepal’s top ten riders. He now works in Kathmandu as a mountain bike guide.

“ At first, I feel a little hard in riding, but my senior riders and other friends help me to improve my riding day by day and to become one of the better riders in Nepal, but for me, there is still lots of things to improve and learn ahead or me! Now I love mountain biking because it has become part of my body and if I don’t ride for a couple of days I feel Sick, it is my passion and my daily life. In the future I don’t want to become a champ but I would like to introduce myself as a good rider. Till now I got support from Himalayan Single Track in my every step of mountain biking and all the stuff I need to ride. ”.

The highlight of Rajan’s riding so far is finishing 3rd in the Lubhu – Lakuri race in January, it was his first time on the podium. He sees the chance to race in Yak Attack as a huge challenge and a place where he can learn and improve his riding skills.

Sponsors:

We need to thank our amazing sponsors for all of their help. Without them none of this would be possible!

Northcentral University: Looking to continue your education, but don’t want to be tied down to a campus and a strict schedule? Northcentral University is a fully accredited online university offering graduate and doctoral degrees in a variety of fields from business to education to psychology. NCU’s 1 to 1 student-teacher ratio allow for personalized attention and an incredibly rewarding student experience. Us bike racers are on the go a lot, so if you want to get a top notch education that fits with your schedule, check out Northcentral University. You can find them at: NCU.edu

Nepali Tea Traders: Nepali Tea Traders is a new tea company, based in Denver, which imports tea exclusively from Nepal. All of Nepali Tea Traders profits go to charities in Nepal, so drinking their tea is not only good for you, but it is good for Nepal as well. Tea from Nepal is some of the finest in the world, and it is a great pre and post ride drink! Give Nepali Tea Trader’s premium loose tea a try, it is truly delicious!

Primal Wear: Primal Wear is one of the premier cycling clothing companies in the world. We are happy to say we will be rocking their clothing throughout the event. Primal Wear’s performance clothing will keep us cool and aerodynamic during the first few warm stages of the race, and then will keep us warm in the sub-freezing temperatures on top of Thorong-La Pass at 17,800 ft.

Our other sponsors:

  • Ergon: Best grips and saddles around! Super comfortable.
  • Golden Bike Shop: Best shop in Colorado to fill all your mountain biking needs.
  • Bent Gate Mountaineering: Best shop in Colorado to fill all your mountaineering needs.
  • Retul: Best bike fit around. Period.
  • Rocky Mountain Bicycles: Killer rides that can tackle any terrain. Seriously. If they can handle the Himalayas, they can handle your local trails.
  • Bell Lap Coaching: Want to take your riding to the next level? Work with Steve, he is the man.
  • Khumbu Adventure Gear: Outdoor gear straight from Nepal.

You can follow the Northcentral University p/b Nepali Tea Traders cycling team on this blog as they take on the Yak Attack. See video, photos, product reviews and race write ups as the racers travel from Colorado to Nepal. It is sure to be a wild ride, so don’t miss any of the action!

NCU_logo NTT_Logo_CMYK profile_jpg rockymtn retul_logo BellLapErgon_logo_webkhumbuLogoLarge

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Ridin the Rollers

Yup, its that time of year… that time of year when it gets just a little too cold and snowy out and you are forced to bring your training indoors. Like most cyclists I know, I have not been looking forward to this. 

Last year, I’ll admit it, i got really good at riding the trainer. I got to the point where I was doing 3 hour rides indoors. I don’t know how I did it, but I did. This year I have been far luckier with the weather. Colorado is simply amazing when it comes to weather, and I have been able to train outdoors almost entirely uninterrupted since I began training again in early November. So earlier this week, then the time came to hop on the rollers, I’ll admit it was a bit of a shock to the system. Even with the entire Netflix library at my disposal I had a hard time keeping motivated. The one thing that did keep me going was the thought of how all the training would pay off come march. Plus, I always hate to disappoint my coach Steve. Got to get in those workouts!

All in all I’ve done 3.5 hours on the indoor trainer this week, and I’ll be doing a bit more today as a part of getting fit on my new mtb (details coming soon!).

Tis the season for getting both mentally and physically strong! And hopefully things will get more exciting as the new year comes and I really start to pick up my training. 

 

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robertgburnett:

Another great post from my friend and teammate Andrew. I agree with him that base training is awesome. Long miles on the bike are very therapeutic. You get to spend a lot of time in your own head working through all sorts of things, from work issues to girl problems to worries about how many points the Broncos are going to win by. This time of year its just great to get our for 3-5 hours at a time and just ride. Having a good training partner also really helps, so thanks to Andrew and Garrett for being the primary guys who accompany me on the long rides. Check out Andrews blog at upandandrew.wordpress.com

Originally posted on Up and Andrew:

Great Success!Actually, I love base training. It is one of my favorite aspects of cycling and this year I got it going early. In the past my routine has been to train through the end of November (if less than 10 hours a week for October and November can be called training) take most of December off and then start things up again in January. But, with my first race, The Boulevard Road Race, taking place on February 2nd and with big goals for Valley of the Sun Stage Race February 15th-17th I decided it was time to up my offseason game and start playing for keeps.

I called the 2012 season early and started my break on September 23rd. Two weeks later, with some solid hours of hiking in my legs, I was mentally refreshed and beyond ready to get going on 2013. Unfortunately my body was not ready. For the first 3 weeks of training…

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Ergon!

We are proud to announce our new sponsor: Ergon bike ergonomics. Ergon_logo_web

Ergon is hooking us up with the best in bicycle grips, saddles, and backpacks. All three will be essential for keeping us comfortable and connected with our bikes over the 10 days on racing in the Yak. We are going to put their products through the ultimate himalayan test and see how they do!

For grips, we will be using the GS2 model, with bar ends. The should be great for the climbs.

http://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/product/gs2

For saddles we will be using the SM3 Pro. I can already tell it is super comfortable, and I am looking forward to testing it out over longer distances.

http://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/product/sm3pro

And for a racing backpack we will be using the BX3. This pack is awesome! It is lightweight, fits great, and carries a ton of stuff. I have already started using it on my commute to work and it carries it all. This will be a huge asset during the second half of the Yak Attack when we will have to carry a lot of our gear.

http://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/product/bx3

Check out this video from Ergon, and stay tuned for more reviews of their products, and more sponsor announcements!

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Climbing is Hard

Happy (post) Thanksgiving everyone! Time to get back on the bike and work off all of that turkey!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday week and got to enjoy good food and time with friends and family. I have been neglecting this blog a little bit, but I am back with some training updates after a nice little break.

So, as many of you know, climbing is hard. And I will be doing a lot of it over the next few months to prepare for the 40,000ft of it that I will have to do in the Yak Attack next year. This past week I had an interesting contrast in the amount of climbing I did and I though I would share.

It is has become a tradition in my family over the last few years to spend Thanksgiving in Hilton Head, South Carolina. During these week long vacations, my Dad and I have taken to renting road bikes so we can get some rides in and burn off all that turkey and stuffing. Hilton Head is both good and bad for cyclists. It is great because it is covered in bike paths, which makes it very easy to get around on bike. It is bad because the roads are very bike unfriendly (no shoulders whatsoever) and anyone who has done it knows that riding a road bike exclusively on a bike path can be frustrating. Luckily, I used this week as some active recovery time, so I didn’t have to worry too much about how fast I was going or how hard I was working. In total we rode four times, for a total of just under 100 miles. During those four rides, we climbed a total of just over 500ft. Hilton Head is FLAT! Great for recovery, but not exactly the best training for Yak Attack.

I got back to Colorado Saturday evening, and yesterday my friend Andrew and I decided

Andrew and I at Echo Lake near the top of Squaw Pass. Its about 30 degrees out!

we were going to get some climbing in. We have been wanting to climb Squaw Pass on final time this year, before it got too cold, and yesterday presented a perfect opportunity. For those of you who don’t know, Squaw Pass traverses from Evergreen CO to Idaho Springs, CO peaking at over 11,000ft above sea level. Basically, this ride was the exact opposite of what I was doing in Hilton Head. I have to say, climbing for almost 30 miles straight was definitely a bit of a shock to the system, but standing at the top of an 11,000 foot pass in the middle of November on a bluebird day in Colorado was incredibly rewarding. In total, our ride was 73 miles and we did over 7,600 ft. of climbing. Almost 15 times what I did in Hilton Head!

There will be lots more climbing to be done before I head out to Nepal in February, and this ride felt like a great start!

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The Weather Outside is Weather

robertgburnett:

Andrew is a good friend of mine, and a pretty funny blogger as well. We will be periodically sharing each others posts, I hope you enjoy!

I will say that the day Andrew wrote about was some seriously hardcore training. Rarely in my life have I been that cold (and I spent my high school years as a ski racer) and I was legitimately worried for my limbs. Andrew’s description of us as Otter Pops is particularly fitting. While I hope I do not have to deal with anything that cold on the Yak, it certainly helped to toughen me up. Stay tuned for more training updates and hopefully more contributions from Andrew. Check out his blog!

Originally posted on Up and Andrew:

Finger guns always get the job done.

On most, maybe all days the weather outside is weather. This past weekend the weather happened to be quite awful. Not to be deterred, myself and teammate Rob Burnett (along with the always amiable Kit Recca) braved the harsh conditions and went riding.

Saturday was quite moist, too moist for some, we headed out along the flats north of Golden. The road spray quickly leeched through my leg warmers and small pools of icy water formed in my feet. My upper body was dry and cold fingers and toes are pretty much standard issue for a rainy November ride. After an hour or so on the flats we came back to town and headed up Lookout mountain. Climbing in the cold is the best, well not the best but better than say descending in the cold. Before long we were up in the…

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Lots of updates soon!

So this is a post to update everyone that there will be a lot of updates very soon. I know the blog has been quite for a while, but we have been working hard behind the scenes getting everything ready for the race!

Keep an eye on the blog. We will be announcing new sponsors soon, as well as introducing some Nepali riders who will be joining the team.

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Nepal Wrap-Up and Back to Colorado!

Sorry for the long delay between posts, it has been a whirlwind last few weeks. Let me try to get you all caught up.

After spending a week out in the eastern tea-growing region of Nepal, I made it back to Kathmandu and finished up my work there. I was lucky enough to get a few more mtb rides in. Nothing too crazy, but enough to keep my legs loose and continue to work on my technical skills. When the time came to pack up and head home I was definitely sad to leave Nepal behind, but I knew that before I knew it I would be back. I feel lucky that I got to spend that time in Nepal, my time there only deepened my appreciation of that countries beauty and people, and I can’t wait to get back there to race my bike!

But in the mean time there is the small matter of training and trying to do so during a Colorado winter. Over the next few months I will be detailing my training, and hopefully be providing some interesting and entertaining insights along the way.

As for the training since I’ve been back, so far so good. I have been putting in the miles here in CO with some teammates, and I have to say, Colorado in the fall is amazing. Unfortunately, it snowed today, so I believe today will be the start of a long, cold winter of riding.

That’s all for now, sorry for the lack of substance, I promise there will be more soon!

Also, stay tuned for some exciting sponsorship announcements coming soon!

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Training for Yak Attack: Taking it to the next level!

Training in a developing county like Nepal presents many challenges that I do not have to face at home. Us cyclists have been know to be pretty up-tight about our training and nutrition, wanting to make sure everything is just perfect so we can get the most out of our bodies. In Nepal, you have to throw most of what you know completely out the window because training over here is a whole different animal. Here are just a few of the more interesting challenges I face while training here in Nepal.

Nutrition:

Lets start with nutrition. While my normal training routine almost always includes a big breakfast before I ride, for the last three days I haven’t eaten anything. Breakfast is not a big meal in Nepal, it usually only consists of tea and biscuits, and on top of that almost nothing is open at 6:30 when we begin our rides. Normally I would be afraid of bonking or simply not getting the most out of my training, but here, I just roll with it and hope for the best.

On longer rides we do stop for snacks to keep ourselves fueled up. Tea shops on the side of the road serve as our convenience stores, except the food is better! At the beginning of our ride we stop and order chana unda (fried chickpeas and a hardboiled egg), which is a favorite of the local riders and is delicious. The shops do not exactly look like they would pass a health inspection in the States, but the food is good and like I said before, you just relax and go for it. In the afternoon, when we stop, we get wai wai (ramen noodles). Ramen noodles? On a training ride? Yup! Because here they do ramen right. Not only do you get the noodles and the flavoring, they include a bunch of fresh vegetables and egg on top, turning it into a relatively hearty meal. Every stop includes tea, which helps keep me hydrated when much of the water here is unsafe to drink.

The small mid ride meals help make up for the fact that here there are really no energy bars or gels to eat during the ride. My mid-ride food back home is usually well thought out and consists of energy blocks and gels, but here it consists of bananas and snickers bars. While perhaps not ideal, it is actually a pretty effective combination.

 

Leeches:

The challenges go beyond nutrition and some of the challenges are just plain weird, like leeches. Yeah, that’s right, I said leeches. At the top of the last climb of Fridays ride I looked down and noticed something on my sock. A leech was attached to my ankle, fat from filling itself with my blood, with another moving up my shoe. Leeches can smell blood and are quick to latch on. While leeches are completely harmless, and the do not hurt, they are still not fun. After I pulled them off, some ladies on the trail gave me some salt to put on my ankles and in my socks to keep more leeches away. For the rest of the ride I was squeamish, you cant really feel leeches, because they numb you, but I was convinced that there were more in my shoes. Unfortunately I was right. When we stopped at a roadside tea shop on the last hill before reentering the city we ordered some chana unda and both Tyler and I removed our shoes and socks to see if there were any we missed. I had two on each foot and plucked them off before putting my shoes back on, finishing my snack and heading home for the day.

Stomach Issues:

But more than anything, the biggest obstacle to getting effective training here is the fact that it is almost inevitable that as a westerner you end up with some kind of stomach bug. I know this better than most. On my last trip here I was hospitalized for a night with severe dehydration after a stomach bug. I went from feeling completely normal to almost past out on the bathroom floor in less than three hours. The bugs here can really pack a punch.

Well, the inevitable caught up with me Friday night (Saturday morning actually), right before I was supposed to do a 5-hour ride with my friend Tyler. I awoke around 4am with my stomach in knots. I’ll spare you all the details, but essentially the next few hours were spent rolling around in bed or running to the bathroom. When 6:30 came around I was actually feeling a bit better, my stomach was still upset, but I didn’t feel sick. I had a choice to make: take a rest day, or go out and see what I can do. At home this wouldn’t have even been a question, I would never ride with an upset stomach, but here all of a sudden it actually seemed like a good idea. In five months I will be racing the Yak Attack, and chances are there will be at least a day or two during the race that my stomach will not be feeling 100%. I decided it was best to see how my body reacted, and I could always turn around if I had to. Luckily, my legs and stomach both reacted well, and I was able to finish my 5-hour ride with a significant amount of climbing with little problem. It was definitely good to be able to test myself like that before I have to do it in a race.

This is a favorite stop of all of the Nepali mountain bikers. They serve great chickpeas and eggs!

Well, now I am off the bike for a week while I travel to Ilam, in the east of Nepal. Ilam is a tea growing region, and supposedly beautiful. I have never been there before, so I am very excited. I will be off the grid for a week, but hopefully I will return at the end of the week with some stories and amazing pictures!

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