By: Vinay Menon
The new crop of downhill racers in India radiates potential to win international races. One such ripper is Ismamul Howk from Guwahati, Assam. We caught up with the soft spoken 23 year old lad who juggles between college lectures and winning races.
Name: Ismamul Howk
Nick name: Babu
Hometown: Guwahati, Assam
Current Bike: Giant reign 1.5GE
Years Riding: 4
Current sponsors: Spoke Hub Cycling, Starkenn
FRMTB: Ismamul, how did you get into mountain biking?
Ismamul: It all started with racing my friends on a BMX. Got into mountain bike racing after the Kohima Downhill 2015. In-spite of being a beginner, my results were quite good. This fueled my determination and I decided to practice more and get better.
FRMTB: What style of riding do you follow more?
Ismamul: I’m passionate about Downhill and Enduro racing. Currently I’m focusing on downhill racing but would love to race Enduro internationally.
FRMTB: Who inspired you to take up the sport?
Ismamul: Though I was into BMX freestyle before mountain biking, I was always good with cranking distances. I could pedal better than some guys on mountain bikes. “Garry Umdor” from Shillong is someone I look up to. When I was into BMX, he was the guy winning most of the MTB races in the Northeast. That inspired me to work harder and win races.
FRMTB: What do you do for a living?
Ismamul: Studying in college. Currently 7th semester B.tech in mechanical engineering. I win races to get my pay cheque!
FRMTB: How often do you ride in a week?
Ismamul: I usually ride 30 kms thrice a week and downhill training on weekends with friends.
FRMTB: With your ‘podium or bust’ riding style, you have won some races and lost some. Do you ride full throttle with a blurred vision or memorize the fastest lines and fire out?
Ismamul: I am pretty good in memorizing the trail and finding out the fastest lines. I love to ride smooth and fast rather than just going out full throttle.
I recently got onto proper full suspension bikes. These bikes are so smooth! During last year’s races, on certain sections, I couldn’t control my speed and went of the course, missing podiums. At the MTB Nationals, had a little technical issue with the bike and missed the big win! Hoping for the best this year. Will go full gas and stick on my lines this year!
FRMTB: What’s on the card next?
Ismamul: Have been racing in local races from the past few years and raced the Nationals last year with a podium finish. This year’s biggest plan is to do well at the Nationals and get selected into the national team to represent India at the Asian Downhill Championship
FRMTB: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Ismamul:10 years from now I don’t see myself racing but rather would love to train youngsters, organise races and direct the young talents in the right direction and also help the community of DH and Enduro to grow. And maintain a record of the podiums of guys in Northeast as I am doing now.
FRMTB: Any shout outs?
Ismamul: All thanks to Starkenn bikes, Spokehub, their whole team and all my friends, training partners for the continuous love and support.