Nepal’s national mountain bike team turn rescuers[courtesy:BBC NEWS]

A girl is saved by a Nepali cyclist

Having been on a training ride on the day of the earthquake the mountain biking team set about rescuing people in Chobar

On the day a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal in April, the nation’s top mountain bikers were out preparing for the national championships.

They soon found themselves thrown into the emergency rescue effort, pulling victims alive out of the rubble.

In the aftermath of the disaster, which killed more than 7,500 people and injured more than 14,500, the cyclists found their riding skills invaluable.

They are still working to access remote mountain communities vehicles cannot.

Nepali national mountain bike champion, Ajay Pandit Chhetri, told BBC Radio 5 Live Daily he and his team mates were training on a single track in Chobar, about 10km north of the capital Kathmandu and close to the epicentre when the quake struck on 25 April.

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The day job: Ajay Pandit Chhetri in the men’s cross-country final of the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea

“We were scared. We were nervous and thought about our families and friends around Nepal. The communication was disconnected,” he said.

The riders soon heard screams and dug out a woman and child who were buried alive.

They had been preparing for a national championship race scheduled for 2 May, but it was cancelled as the full extent of the humanitarian disaster in the country unfolded.

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Riders helped a rescue team the afternoon after the earthquake in Kathmandu

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A third of the population has been affected by the country’s worst natural disaster

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Ajay Pandit Chhetri gives out aid in the team’s main project area in remote Shikhar Besi

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Ajay Pandit Chhetri leads riders on their favourite single track on the way to help at a school in Bhimdhunga

They spent the first few days after the quake helping in Kathmandu.

Mr Chhetri, a former cycle mechanic who had been due to defend his title, said: “The bike is always valuable in Kathmandu but at that time it was even more valuable to get around, access remote areas and find out what help was needed.”

A picture of one of the team’s rescues is on the Nepal Cycling Association’s Facebook page. A user remarks: “This is why I love cyclists.”

Eight million people – a third of the population – have been affected by the country’s worst natural disaster and the UN has estimated three million are in need of food aid.

Nepal earthquake relief

$415 million

needed for humanitarian relief

  • 3 million people in need of food aid
  • 130,000 houses destroyed
  • 24,000 people living in makeshift camps
  • 20 teams working to reunite lost children with their families
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