Gangtok, Mar 3 (UNI) Sikkim Tourism Minister R B Subba today flagged off the ten-day first Khangchendzonga Mountain Biking expedition from Ridge Park here.
Termed as an expedition to conquer the Himalayas, the ten-day thrilling extravaganza will cover all the four districts of the state with the participants to be aided by Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers since the terrain is new for most of the participants from outside the state.
Altogether 32 participants from the host state, the Army, the US, Nepal and other parts of the country set off in their bikes to test their limits of endurance at the high altitude areas of the Himalayan state.
''I love mountain biking in Sikkim as I can enjoy sights of its exotic locales,'' Padam Limboo, a biking enthusiast from Nepal on his second biking trip in the state, said.
Earlier, he had participated in the high altitude biking meet at Hee Gaon, West Sikkim last year.
Three bikers from Nepal are participating in the meet.
The Army has sent a strong contingent of 15 men for the expedition.
''We had earlier participated in a similar expedition at Shimla,'' sepoy Dilip Singh from Dehradun said.
Seven local persons are also participating in the meet.
Besides, three women - two from Chandigarh and one from the US - are participating in the meet.
The oldest participant is D K Singh (58 years) from Delhi while the youngest one is Monica from Chandigarh.
The ten-day meet will see the cyclists crisscross the length and breadth of the Himalayan state at climatic zones ranging from tropical in south and east districts to alpine in north and west districts in rough terrain and steep inclinations. They will cover a total distance of around 450 kms during the meet.
State Tourism Minister R B Subba, who declared the meet open, said its objective was to spread awareness among the people about the adventure tourism potential of Sikkim.
State Tourism Secretary G P Upadhyaya said the response for the expedition had been good in the inception year itself.
''We intend to do it every year and hope to organise it in a bigger way next year,'' he said.
High-level sponsors from the public and private sectors have come ahead to support the eco-expedition.
The event has been organised by the Sikkim Tourism department and is supported by the Union Ministry of Tourism under the Incredible India campaign.
The tourism department had also extended an invitation to Indian Football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia to hand over the prizes.
The expedition has 15 technical officials and ten volunteers for marshalling duties along with assistance from Sikkim Police, the health department ambulances and doctors.
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