By: Vinay Menon
Name: Apshai Niangti
Nick name: Bhoi , Griff or Coach
Location: Meghalaya, Shillong
Current Bike: YT Capra CF 2017
Years Riding: 5 Years
FRMTB: Apshai, how did you get into mountain biking?
Apshai: Mountain biking for me started at a young age. It all started as a hobby with me and some of my friends just having fun in our free time. We would find ourselves some trails to ride and would actually do some “rad” stunts. We enjoyed doing jumps off footpaths and imagined ourselves to be very cool, much to the annoyance of the elderly who thought we were being reckless children. There is also a history of motocross racing and car racing in my family that just found its way to creating a foundation for mountain biking in my life. So when I discovered mountain biking, it just clicked.
FRMTB: What style of riding do you follow more?
Apshai: I started out with downhill racing and have spent the most time following this style of riding but over time I’ve started enjoying Enduro as well. I wouldn’t mind trying out freeride and dirt jumping either!
FRMTB: Who inspired you to take up the sport?
Apshai: The inspiration came from a lot of people in my life. A few of them including my own Uncle, who was a pioneer in motocross racing and 4×4 events here in our state. Then there’s my granddad who has always lived on the edge of life and still is doing so to this day. My friends, Ismamaul Howk and Anissa Lamare who constantly upped the riding difficulty pushing me to train more and grow better at the sport. My mentor Gregory A. Warjri also inspired me greatly and helped me get into the mountain bike scene in my state and neighboring states and not to forget the flawless Brandon Semenuk whose videos constantly motivate me.
FRMTB: What do you do for a living?
Apshai: At the moment I’m still looking to finish my Bachelor’s degree, studying in St. Edmund’s College on my 5th Semester as a B.COM Undergraduate.
FRMTB: How often do you ride in a week?
Apshai: The amount of time I get on my bike is heavily dependent on how classes and related work goes. During the weekdays, if time permits I go out for short trail rides in the nearby trails and on the weekends I make it a top priority to compensate for the entire week’s lack of practice. On average I would put in around 3 or 4 days a week where in which I get time ride. On the fitness side of things I only exercise at home and I the visit the pool for full body exercises. I do undergo intense training exercises for races but I schedule them for 3 weeks prior to the events. That window of time is where I put in a lot more time and effort into training that I believe helps me in every race.
FRMTB: You’ve been landing on the podium in most downhill races you’ve entered. How’s the lead over the competition treating you?
Apshai: Getting on the podium time and again still excites me greatly. I have a tendency to just have a good time and enjoy these events but there’s this habit that might be good or bad for me – it’s my habit of being a competitive brat and that is what pushes me to go the extra mile. Winning all these races have come with a little fame and recognition but the people you meet in these events give you a glimpse of their lives and that in turn makes and shapes you as a person. You keep on learning more and more from others around you. You keep evolving both as a rider and as well as a person. Being up here is a bit nerve wracking. The pressure does get the best of me at times, but at the same time it has built up the excitement that other racers are trying to beat me and that is yet another motivator that pushes me to go faster.
As for the support and the opportunities are concerned, there has been a lot of growing support, not just with peers but also from the general audience as well. It has also grown apparent to me that with more races won, the more opportunities open themselves before me. I still look forward to winning more in future races.
FRMTB: You recently competed in the Asian Enduro Series – Nepal Round and raced the Indian National DH Championship in Pune. How was the experience?
Apshai: The National’s DH in Pune was a door opener for me. I got the opportunity to meet dozens of talented riders from whom I learnt from and gained inspiration from. It also gave me an insight of the progression of mountain biking as a sport in our country. There was a lot of pressure going into this especially when you consider that this was a national event. The pressure grew even more not because people expected anything from me but that I expected a lot from myself. Pune was also where I learnt that you win some, and you lose some. It was my first time off podium and that maintaining composure is a key attribute in racing.
Nepal was an eye opener. It was the first time visiting and from my personal experience the place felt majestic and it was so amazing to see the progress made in the mountain bike scene over there. I met a lot of people who have progressed significantly in the sport and that has made me want to push myself even further. Nepal was the first place where I raced Enduro and to put it quite frankly, I was all over the place. It was a different ball game altogether compared to downhill. Here is where I learnt the concept of pace and consistency, and that maintaining flow on the bike is significant in winning a race.
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FRMTB: What’s on the card next?
Apshai: This year will be my last year as an undergraduate so I don’t have much planned with regards to mountain biking, although I will be competing in the National DH championship and a few races here and there.
FRMTB: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Apshai: I don’t really know what future God holds for us but I would like to think that 10 years from now I’ll be somewhere in Meghalaya running a bike park or an adventure park with a title of Asian Championship under my belt.
FRMTB: Shout out to your sponsors
Apshai: As of right now, I am still a privateer in the mountain biking scene with my family as the ladder who continue on taking me to greater heights. I am extremely grateful for them and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.