Sonya Looney Yak Attack Nepal Race Report and Interview

Race Coverage

Stage 10: Yak Attack Final

The word to sum up today: WIND! It still cold in the room when we woke up despite being at what I considered a lower elevation…and then I remembered we were still at 9000′. After breakfast which left me still hungry, we found out our start was delayed to 930AM so I ordered some porridge to eat in addition to the eggs and toast I just had. It was very bizarre at the start! People were afraid of the wind and were going MUCH slower. I was almost afraid to ride at the front, but then I went for it. Peter, myself, and a Nepali guy rode off the front, but took a wrong turn up a hill before we turned around. DAMN! We had to chase back to the pack. I moved to the front and rode in 2nd for quite awhile. While navigating through the pack I’d notice that a gust of wind would come up and people would almost stop. Suddenly, those heinously windy 80mph days training in Colorado this winter paid off. I kept wondering where everyone was and was nervous that I’d get lost. I was so thankful to have brakes that worked!

Eventually, I was caught by a group and found myself pulling around a large train of guys!! I was frustrated that none of them were helping me do the work. The group got smaller. Ajay and I were working together which was pretty cool. Pretty soon, it was just Cefin and I left(and Ajay disappeared up the road). I faded and Cefin tried to wait to work with me. I was tapped out!! After Paul Bolla caught us and passed, Cefin took off after him. A few more guys slowly began to pick me off. For a “DH stage” there was sure a lot of uphill…my garmin said about 5000′!!!

The last 10 miles or so were downhill and very rough. There were a lot of Sadus along the way. The finish was in Tatopani in town. I had a Gorkha beer with everyone. We were all taking photos and congratulating each other for finishing. That was it, I was the first woman to finish the 10 day Yak Attack!!

Actually really disgusting lager, but I drank it anyway.

Phil Evans (race creator) and I

It rained and we hung out in the restaurant enjoying a little more beer to celebrate. When the rain abated, we went to the hot springs that were right down the steps from our hotel. It felt so great to be in warm water! After dinner, there was a little party and there were little girls in traditional clothing doing some cultural dancing.

Snow Monkey was making us all get up and dance. Paul and Doug were really funny and good! Bikash kept trying to teach us how to dance and would say, “It’s like swimming! Swim!!” “No,no… slowly, slowly!”

The next morning, we had our group ride. Despite being at 3000′, we still had a cold morning. It was nice to do a group ride and actually not be racing on day 11!

We had to stop a few times for mechanicals, but also a good time to take photos!

After a couple hours of riding, we all got on a bus (with the bikes on top) and had a 3 hr bus ride to Pokhara. We stopped at a gas stations and had noodle soup. We baked in the sun and enjoyed the warmth.

Pokhara was a great time! Our hotel was near a lake and pretty fancy. It was called Mt. Kahlish. Jeff and I got massages down the road. Mine was pretty terrible, but amusing. The lady was basically squeezing my legs and arms, but not really rubbing them. It was also really weird because the lady suddenly rubbed oil all over my chest. I didn’t realize a breast massage was part of the deal. I had forgotten that Carena told me they did that to you when you get a massage. It was even funnier telling some of the guys about it!

At the awards, Snow Monkey awarded me with “most cheerful” award with a yak.

Everyone enjoyed a very tasty dinner and the modern amenities. After dinner, a small group of us went to a bar called the Busy Bee. The next day, we flew back on a very bumpy flight to Kathmandu (and it was full of monks) I was shocked at the lack of security. The boarding passes didn’t even have our names on it!

The yak I won!

When we arrived back at the Kathmandu Guest House, it was surreal to come full circle. When we first arrived in Kathmandu at the start of the trip, it seemed 3rd world and different…and some of the poverty was shocking. After being on the Annapurna Circuit in the mountain towns, coming back to Kathmandu felt luxurious!

I have one more post on our last day in Nepal.

Yak Attack Stage 10 Gallery

Yak Attack Last Day »

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