Chhimi Urkyen Gurung, president of the Nepal Cycling Association (NCA), puts it best: "Mountain biking and Nepal were made for each other."
With its endless rocky trails, tough climbs and steep descents, Nepal is the perfect place for mountain biking. And you only need to ride a few minutes outside Kathmandu's Ring Road to get there with the added bonus of a splendid mountain backdrop.
After two years of lobbying by the NCA, Nepal finally signed a contract this summer to host the XIV Asian Mountain Bike Championships, the first such event the country has hosted. If it goes well, this should open the door for Nepal to host other sporting events, including the 2010 World Mountain Biking Championships.
Dhanjit Rai, one of Nepal's top riders, is keen for the country to put on a good show: "We all hope that this will heighten the interest in mountain biking as a sport for both tourists and Nepalis here."
Shailee Basnet and Shradha Basnyat
ALL OTHER PICS: SUNDAR SHRESTHA
About the race
From 6-10 November, more than 60 competitors from Nepal and 12 from other Asian countries will take part in the XIV Asian championships. The winning team will qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. In the cross-country race, 30 men and 11 women will compete in their respective elite categories over the steep, rocky five-km track at Chobar. There will also be a downhill race, with 22 men and three women competing.
About the competitors
Sajjan Rajbanshi and Padam Sabenhang (Limbu) are two of the toughest riders in the squad. Rajbanshi, nicknamed the 'Himalayan Hurricane' in the US, spent six years in cross-country races before switching to downhill two years ago. He has participated in two Asian Championships, and finished 12th in 2001 in the championships held in Thailand.
Sabenhang, though one of the youngest contenders, is considered one of the strongest. He started racing for fun five years ago but began to take it more seriously after he kept finding himself on the winners' podium. As reigning national champion and the best cross-country racer in the team, his medal chances look bright.
Among the international competitors, China, Japan and Korea are all fielding very strong teams.