The 220 km Annapurna Circuit has often been voted the best long distance trek in the World. It goes through a variety of climate zones from the tropics at 750 m to the Arctic at 5416 m and a variety of cultural zones from Hindu villages in the foothills to Tibetan culture in the Manang and Mustang valleys. Mainly to due the high altitude, it generally takes 2-3 weeks to trek it or more recently with the construction of some roads, 7-10 days to bike around the circuit which encircles the Annapurna massif and crosses two separate river valleys. It’s one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever ridden and also most challenging due to the high altitude and cold weather.
In 2017 I set out on an attempt to see if the circuit could be done in less then 24 hours. This coincided with a fundraiser to try and open a Cycling training centre in Kathmandu for the Nepal national mountain bike team. The ride nearly ko’d me as I suffered from altitude sickness and stomach problems, barely scraping around the circuit in 23 hours and 57 minutes. The great part was the fundraiser for the training centre blew all expectations as people generously donated over $3000 USD. With this money the training centre in Kathmandu was open and our goal had been accomplished. With the success of the first year, and the need to conquer some demons after having gotten my ass kicked by the Annapurna Circuit the first attempt, I opted to go for a 2nd attempt last year, this time learning from my mistakes and also acclimatizing better, I managed to knock over 2 hours off the time coming in at 21 hrs 27 minutes. The real highlight was that people donated over $7000 USD to the Nepal training centre which enabled it to be open for another year, a massive high altitude training camp to take place for 9 riders, and the ability to bring over some coaches from Balance Point Racing in Canada to test, bike fit and educate 18-20 Nepali National riders.
This year the goal was to fundraise enough to keep the training centre going for another year and try to knock some time off the current fastest known time around the Circuit. Not being quite as acclimatized as last year there were some question marks, but the body has been running stronger then ever this year so I opted to give it a go. On Nov 23rd I set off from Pokhara, riding 80 km via the backroads to Besisahar, the gateway to the himalayas. The Idea was to rest a day then head out at 12 am on Nov 25th, but unfortunately a small stomach bug hit which delayed the start a day. Heading out at 12:15 am on November 25th the 3rd attempt to round the Annapurna Massif in a day was underway! The stomach was still not 100%, and it was a pitch dark night under a new moon as I pointed my Kona Hei Hei full suspension mountain bike up the dirt road heading to Manang. Annapurna 24, round #3 was underway!
To be continued…