K Kiran Kumar Raju
By: Vinay Menon | Photos: Vineet Sharma
Also featured in Issue #20 | March 2014
Years riding: 3years
Primary steed (Main bike): Specialized Epic 29er
Your most preferred style in Mountain biking: XC racing and free ride.
FR MTB MAG: How did Mountain biking come about for you?
KIRAN: It happened by chance, when I borrowed a friend’s bike to compete in my first ever BBCh mtb race in March’11. I ended up finishing 3rd and was hooked. The track-technicalities and bike handling skills involved in XC racing coupled with raw muscle power that the sport demands, caught my fancy. The rest as they say is history!
FR MTB MAG: Riders that inspire you?
KIRAN: Ajay Pandit Chettri from Nepal, Burry Stander and Jaroslav Kulhavy from Team Specialized
FR MTB MAG: How does your productive week look like?
KIRAN: I work for a construction firm where my work-week involves rushing between two construction sites in Bangalore, making it an exhaustive 9 hours a day ‘times’ 6 days a week. Sunday, therefore, is the only day when I get to hop on my bike and take it for a spin. This usually involves 4 to 6 hours of intense training.
I also play ULTIMATE FRISBEE 3 days a week in the mornings for 1.5 to 2hrs and commute to work on cycle every now and then to keep my cogs going.
With competition catching up and time always being a limitation, I have taken to indoor-training with ‘trainers’ to put in quality training schedule.
FR MTB MAG: You’ve been racing the BBCh events for a few years now and have raced the MTB Himalaya as well. Do you wish to race more often?
KIRAN: The answer is definitely an unequivocal yes. With MTB cycling gaining popularity all across the country and competitive races being organized more so as calendar events, my motivation to stay focused and compete has never been better.
The race which gave me a huge ‘high’ and put me on track to take up cycling more seriously and train harder was the Bangalore-Ooty- Bangalore (BOB) race in Nov 2011 where I had to cover a distance of approx 612kms in 32.5hrs that also covered the famous Kalhatty climb in Ooty. I completed the race in 32hrs 5mins and became the 2nd guy to qualify for RACE ACROSS AMERICA (RAAM) (first being Samim Rizwi another veteran cyclist from Bangalore).
My best race result that remains closest to my heart has been the BBCh off road race that was held in March 2013 where I finished first. This came to me despite having a bad crash during my training in Feb the same year where I broke my jaws, got scars all over my body and was on liquid diet for 3 weeks leading up to the race. The only saving grace about this accident was that my limbs were in one piece. The result had a magical effect on my spirit to go on and on..
FR MTB MAG: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now in the sport?
KIRAN: I hope to represent India in XC-Asian Championships, the Olympics and the World Championships. I have faith in the sport and a firm belief that with quality training, guidance, exposure and whole lot of support and encouragement from friends, family and potential sponsors, I will be able to walk the talk in style.
And while competing at the highest level, I also see myself giving back to the sport and the country by guiding the youth to take up the sport and encouraging them in all ways possible and also spreading the word about mtb cycling in the country.
FR MTB MAG: Any shout outs?
The results that I saw achieve in 2013 would have been a far-fetched dream had it not been for the unfaltering encouragement that I received from my sponsor SKCT and the person behind it, Mr.Vivek Radhakrishnan, who believed in me and gave me the red-n-white jersey. The special support that I have received from my mates from the “Ultimate” Frisbee team “DISC-O-DEEWANE” who could always be seen cheering me at every one of my races, cannot be highlighted enough . Ultimate (Frisbee) is another sport that I hold very dear to my heart and that I actively participate in at the national level.
A huge shout out to Mantri Developers Private Limited, my employers, who have unflinchingly supported my cycling career and facilitated my regular breaks and time off from work, owing to my races.
A shout out wouldn’t be complete without crediting the support, adoration and love that has been showered upon me by my Parents and extended family. They’ve stood by my side through thick and thin, helped me recuperate during my crashes and injury, and have inspired me to perform to the best of my ability in all my races.