Words: Ignatius Chen \\ Photos: Robin Conz, Aayush Basavesh, Veloscope.
A beautiful Sunday morning with heavy clouds, slick rocks and grippy soil. With some of India’s top descenders in attendance, breeze on the quite Avathi Hills in Bengaluru whirled out last weekend. The Bangalore Bicycle Championship 2016 – Downhill comp raised the speed bar yet again.
Lets get to know the race course first. This is a new trail on the out skirts of Bengaluru town, cooked up by Bangalore Mountain Festival‘s Sunil Nanjappa and our trail correspondent Ajay Padval. The 1km course starts on a rock slab platform and turns into a green single track followed by a straight sprint patch to a ladder bridge with tire residue from the weeks practice session. After the twig bridge you jump into a rock party section. Remember, these rocks can crack open a coconut shell and offer it to gods. Up next is a winding smooth patch which leads to a 40ft table. A new addition to the already fun course. Kudos to the BBCh team for piling up this joyous dirt pack. Now once you’re done showing off its a sprint to the finish line with an off cambered turn and through the arch where gods smile and time keepers wait for you.
This year the race format was changed to “Best of two runs”. Categories included ‘Under 18′, ‘Amateurs’, ‘Elite Men’ and ‘Women‘. The women’s category saw only 1 participant – Lena Robra! Hope to see more sistas joining in the future. Podium finisher, Piyush Chavan’s mom was at the event as well and even tried riding a bit of the course! The under 18 was a pleasure to watch with young guns charging the track on their shiny toys as their parents cheered for them. Pune’s Ruturaj Bhopatkar took the win with a 1:47.5 as Errol Dmello grabbed 2nd. Gary Beelen from Pune on his new downhill sled finished 3rd.
The amateur category saw some new faces. Pune’s Rohan Gawade flew down the rocky track like a pro, straight onto the top spot with a 1:52.6 (Run-2). Only a few seasons into the sport, Gawade is a serious contender for the ‘Elite’ category next year. Not just a speed slicker, Rohan even attempted to 3 the table a few times on his big rig during the dirt session. Bengaluru’s Pranit Hemant couldn’t finish his second run due to a nasty slam but managed to stand on the 2nd spot in Amateurs with his Run-1 timing of 2:28.
The Elite Men were on their toes trying to punch out each other. Pune’s Piyush Chavan snapped his chain in both runs and yet “Gwined” his way to a 3rd place finish (1:40.5). Veteran rider Nilesh Dhumal from Bengaluru grabbed a 2nd spot on his 26er just a fraction of a second off the winner Gautam Taode from Pune. Gautam (GeeTee) also on a TwoSix, styled the post race jump sess throwing his trademark no handers for the crowd. In the process Toade has retained his BBCh DH Champ title yet again. Hes taken the top spot in 2012 “Turahalli DH Madness” and 2015 on the Nandi Hills course. Coming back from a shoulder injury that put him off the bike for 5 months, this natural power hitter is set for a strong showing this season.
With more riders popping up on the start list each race, downhill racing in India is sure set for a NOS boost.
Big thanks to BBCh community for conducting this event every year and all the volunteers for their constant support. Shout out to Bums On The Saddle (BOTS) crew for their wrench support. Hi5 to the photographers and the videogs and the entire Veloscope brigade for covering the races season after season!
This event is supported by: Adidas, Yoga Bar, Spectrum Physio, Sita Bhateja Speciality Hospital, Tour of Nilgiris, Lumos, Veloscope, Crankmeister, Nomadic Destinations.
BBCh.in for all the race details.
Veloscope.in for all the action shots from the BBCh events and more.
Robin Conz – ‘The Con’ Photographer .