Mountain bike racing has evolved a lot in India ever since the first mountain bike Nationals held in Chandigarh in 2000. It is exciting to see the number of mountain bike races being organized every year from North to South of India.
This evolution has not only helped the riders enhance their skills, but has pushed the organizers to set up races more professionally, while encouraging bicycle brands to bring in better equipment.
How to start racing career?
Symptoms: You got a mountain bike and love dirt. At the same time, you are always ready to explore and go fast, then bike racing may be for you.
However, there are certain procedures and tips that are useful to remember before you start your racing career. Once you start racing regularly these preparations will become habitual.
First ensure you have the following:
1: A good quality helmet – Very important. No exceptions!
2: A decent mountain bike of your choice with reliable components and correct sizing.
3: 2 sets of breathable cycling jersey and padded shorts to keep yourself comfortable while racing.
4: Padded gloves – full or half finger style.
5: Good cycling shoes – Flats or Clipless (whichever suits your riding style), however Clipless shoes and pedal combination is very efficient for long races with climbs.
6: Water bottles or hydration bag.
7: Your own basic tool kit, pump and your bike specific spares. – Very important.
8: Your own snacks such as juice or energy drink, bananas, cakes or chocolates.
9: Complete set of clothes (riding kit, and after event set) including rain jacket and warm layers if necessary.
10: Your personal ID card with emergency contact details and your blood group.
11: Your race number plates and license (if provided by the organizer)
STEP 1: Register and try your first race
You’ve made your mind to race. To try and test your skills, first choose a local mountain bike race or a race that isn’t too far from your house. You can also register your name with the Local/State Cycling Association which is registered under the CFI (Cycling Federation of India).
The State Cycling Association will update you if there is any State or National level mountain biking championship scheduled in their calendar. The association usually conduct time trial in order to select the best participants for the National Mountain Bike Championships. The registrations are done accordingly.
Incase you have registered for a mountain bike race by private organizers, you can directly report at the race venue after complete registration. There is no riding license mandatory for private mountain bike races. However, you are expected to ride and race within your limits.
You can keep yourself updated about the mountain bike races through social media and groups created by local clubs. For Eg: Aravalli Trail Hunters, A local cycling club based in New Delhi regularly organizes mountain bike races on the outskirts of Delhi.
STEP 2: Prepare yourself and the bike before the race
Get your bike tuned by a professional technician before the race day. This is very important and you both rely on each other.
1: Ensure the suspension and drivetrain is working smooth and shifting accurately.
2: Ensure there are no loose bolts or skewers.
3: The chain and all moving parts (suspension linkage, cables, derailleur) should be well lubricated.
4: Prepare your bike specific spares like a pair of tubes, tyre levers, multi-tool kit with chain tool, a spare chain if possible and a couple of zip ties.
5: Prepare your trail snack – Dry fruits, energy bars and gels should work fine.
In other words, you should not be seen fixing your bike at the start line.
Study the rules and regulations laid by the race organizers and ensure to follow them to avoid any disappointment later.
If allowed by the organizer, you can scout the race route few days before the race. The track walk can help you to plan your riding and attack locations.
Additionally, you can set your diet and workout which can be an added benefit to your performance.
Please Note: We recommend to “Not” ride before the race day. Chill out and let your body recover for the race day. Stay focused and sleep early so that you can report on time.
STEP 3: Report at the start line
Race day is here. The best feeling is to report at the race venue, in your riding gear, where the organizers and early morning fresh air welcomes you! You will see fellow competitors doing their thing but don’t get distracted.
First priority: Report and mark your attendance to the race desk / race organizer and pick up your number plate and instructions if any. Confirm the race flag-off time well in advance!
Get familiar with the race track marshals and volunteers. Observe the location, start line and markings carefully. At the same time start nibbling dried fruits or energy bar 45 minutes before the race starts. Don’t forget to sip water frequently and don’t forget to refill before the race.
Additionally, you can start warm up exercises and go for a short warm up spin around the venue. This will also ensure that your bike is in perfect condition for the race.
IMPORTANT: We recommend to ride around the venue only so that you don’t miss any important announcements or updates by the race organizers.
Greet fellow riders while assembling at the start line with genuine smile on your face. This is a proven secret to complete the race happily and enjoy your first ever mountain bike race.
After you’ve gained enough experience by participating in various mountain bike races (local and other places) we would also suggest you to try other disciplines like Downhill and XCO. Additionally, you can also try participating in mountain bike races in neighboring countries like Nepal and Bhutan. This will give you good exposure and make you a better athlete.
Quick tips to start your racing career:
1: Start racing in your teens.
2: Train regularly on trails and stay focused.
3: Have ambition, patience and no ego for your entire career.
4: Have a healthy diet.
5: Maintain, record and compare your race timings regularly.
6: Respect your riding equipment.
7: Always register before the deadline.
8: Learn / enhance your technical riding skills.
9: Never forget people who are/were involved with you in your racing career.
Few of the popular mountain bike races in India that you can try:
1: MTB Himalaya – A multi-day endurance stage race that goes around Shimla and beyond.
2: Himalayan Downhill Mountain Bike Trophy – The biggest downhill mountain bike race of India during the Himalayan Mountain Bike Festival in Manali.
3: National Mountain Bike Championship – Organized by CFI every year in places like Pune and Chandigarh.
4: Himalayan Mountain Bike Festival – Four days of BMX, XC, DH and Enduro Mountain bike races in Manali.
5: The Impossible Race – Two days of Cross Country racing in Gujarat.
6: Bangalore Mountain Festival – Cross Country and Downhill race on a challenging new course every January.
7: BBCH MTB Race – XC and DH MTB Race organized regularly in Bangalore.
8: Himalayan Trails n Dust MTB Challenge – One of the most technical MTB Race of India organized in Manali.