Nepal (Jan 2011)
Jan 2011 saw me packing my bags, heading to Nepal! Right in time for the ‘Kathmandu Bike Station’ Extreme DH (Round – 1). After packing my Demo-8 through the night and flying out of Pune at 6am my Katmandu bound Fisher threw the landscape at me well before touch down. Driving through the crowded city to my hotel accommodation things seemed pretty much like India. People everywhere, narrow streets, dangling power cables, motorbike riders taking the holeshot at traffic junctions.
This being my first visit to Nepal I was super excited to meet the local riders and shred some of the local trails. I was joined by Ignatius Chen Chin Fa (Iggy) from Bengaluru who risked his 9 to 5 to hop in for this trip! Gautam Taode (GT) from Pune, Nilesh Dhumal (Nelly) from Bengaluru making a last minute surprise entry. P-ush Chavan and Anand Sadana from Pune too were visiting Nepal for the first time. The event organizers (Kathmandu Bike Station) had our rooms booked. Making sure our Nepal stay was pretty much dialed in the best possible way.
With the temperatures reading minus most of the mornings, none of us was excited about getting out of our warm rooms! But the trails were calling, something we wouldn’t fight. It was time to roll out and smell some Kathmandu air. Shivapuri National Park was the venue for the first leg of the 3 DH races planned for early 2011 by Nepal Mountain Bike Association. First up it was the Race Course walk day. While all my buddies opted to ride the course on the first day itself, I decided to walk and search for my favorite lines down the pre-determined trail. With the start line being next to a Monastery and prayer flags all around, the divine mountain sure sent me into a meditative state!
Come race day (15th Jan 2011) all of us, the INDIAN clan were super charged to put up a good show. Post seeding run I was marked as the 4th fastest rider of the day amongst a mixed bag of 30 riders showing up from Nepal, India and France. Waiting for my Final race run I managed to give my bruised knee a little chill sess. With a little crash in my Final run (costing me some valuable time) I ended up in the 5th spot for the day. While Shajjan Rajbanshi, the local favorite grabbed the top spot clocking the fastest time of the day on the technical and demanding course. With a couple of gnarly spills in the rock garden the competitors managed to survive and tell their race experiences.
After a fast weekend we made our way to the Local Pump Track to get some flowy sweetness. And that we did. Pump track in a school? Yes! Managed by team ‘Chain’ this crisp pump track extended into a DH section through the trees. Now that’s a school I’d want to be at.
With rest of the Indian clan heading back home, Taode and I decided to ride the Nagarkot – Bhaktapur DH trails. Starting our day at 5am in freezing temperature, we reached the top of Nagarkot with our trusted driver and the pickup truck. This mountain saw some snow fall after an absence of 60years! We were lucky to be on the trails on this day. Ripping on some fast tacky trails through the woods with rocks and roots, we reached Bhaktapur through some Jeep tracks in the lower half of the mountains. With some Thukpa (Noodle Soup), Thungba (Beverage) and momos we called it a day.
Riding with some of the best Nepali riders through the race weekend was great. Sure there is a lot more to roll in the future. Kudos to team ‘Chain’ riders and the Pokhara gang. The future of DH mtn biking in Nepal is in the right hands!
A big shout out to Buddha Lama, Ashish Tiwari, Prayash Tamang, Rakesh Manandhar and the entire Kathmandu Bike Station brigade for all the help and support through our trip.