Trailing the mountains

Trailing the mountains
City-based mountain biker Kiran Kumar comes across as a tiny, humble elf but in hindsight, he is one of the few who has traversed some of the toughest trails and orbited offbeat, laborious journeys which remain a dream for many. Onerous roads in remote areas such as the Himalayan terrain are more than just paths. They spell out his achievements in mountain biking.

Kiran not only decided to ascend a trail this time but touch the peak too. The only Bengalurean to have won the ‘MTB Nationals’ that was held at Pune, he says, “I didn’t expect to win as the competition is extremely difficult. I just expected to give my best. This achievement has surely affirmed my faith in the sport and has given me the confidence to improve further.”

Kiran has secured the gold medal at the ‘Individual Time Trial’ and third place at the ‘Mass Start’ event in the Nationals. Kiran took a break from his full-time job to improve his power and strength and also practised at trails in Nandi and Turahalli. Three weeks before the national-level competition, he participated in the ‘Himalaya Multi-Stage Race’, where he secured the fifth place and became the first Indian to win the event.  “Competing at the Nationals was a completely different experience altogether. I represented the Cycling Federation of India and met bikers from different states. My toughest competitors were those who were representing the Indian Army. They were a tough lot and five riders, who were representing the Indian Army, gave me some good, healthy competition. Apart from an achievement, it was a learning experience.”

It was only in 2011 that his love affair with hairpin bends and curved roads started. He participated in the ‘Bangalore Bicycle Championships’ and won that race, after which he realised that mountain biking was his true calling. He has a bag of goals in his kitty to unleash and one of them is starting a collaboration with a popular cycle store in the City so that he can conduct mountain biking classes for youngsters during summers. “Mountain biking is the second most expensive sport after golf, which is why most people don’t take it up. It’s quite difficult to take up the sport professionally without sponsors as cycles and equipment cost a lot. There also have to be more events organised so that the awareness towards the sport can increase. Another thing that should improve in mountain biking is the level of the tracks. The track at the Nationals should be nuanced, more technical and have more hurdles as it would improve the level of the rider as well.”

The view after a tough climb as this is surely a beautiful one as Kiran has got the opportunity to participate and represent the country at the Asian Games, which is set to take place in June.

He adds, “I am looking at sponsors, raising funds through events and approaching corporates as it’s very expensive to participate and fund the entire journey on my own.”  But his long-term goal is to go beyond the border. “I hope to participate in the mountain biking race that takes place in Africa, every year in March. It’s called the ‘Absa Cape Epic’ and it’s every mountain biker’s dream. It’s not feasible to try in 2016 but hopefully in 2017, I should be able to participate.”

For details, email narikumaraju@gmail.com

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