We started out around the same time next morning, the race was flagged-off and the riders went on their course. Mountain biking is a sport that teaches you how to compete with yourself and helps you find solace in being alone. It helps you be one with nature. In essence, it is a form of meditation. But there's much more to this sport, specially for the state of Himachal Pradesh (HP). There is a bunch of people, lovers of mountain biking and believers in the potential of HP, who formed this organisation called HASTPA. Let's just say that these innovative geniuses are using mountain biking to increase experiential tourism and sports tourism in the state. The organisation has managed to train talent from the state, and helped them bag laurels both nationally and internationally. And I could see the fervour of those kids in this race. Like they'd found their calling, and that's something big!
The day went on and we stationed ourselves an hour away from the start line. It was close to a small village on the way back to Shimla. While waiting for the cyclists to pass, Ricky bhaiyya (our driver & a quintessential part of the organising committee) and I listened to and sang some Punjabi songs, chilled and had some tea and cookies sent by a local. Again, I ventured into the woods and found myself a spot on a rock overlooking the mountains. I played my audiobook, "Meditations by Marcus Aurelius" and listened in for the longest time.
After a while, this lovely lady, a local, walked up to me and said hello. She invited me over to her place, and I went with her. She told me stories of where she grew up, how she got married into this remote village, how she helped her husband create a livelihood for them with a few trees and a caring hand, how she build her 'pakka' house from the ground up, and well, how she was the lucky charm for her family. We spoke for an hour after which she offered me some lunch. I had the most delectable home food, with a pickle to die for. Before I left, she gave me a bottle of her pickle to take back home.