Mountain bike Republic of Sikkim (Riding session in Sikkim on Republic Day)
By: Vineet Sharma
Location: Gangtok, Sikkim – INDIA
Also featured in Issue #2 | March 2011
I again visited my favorite Himalayan wonderland – Sikkim in January. Sikkim is tucked away in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas’ and is under passed in scenic beauty making it one of the best mountain biking destinations in India.
I was enjoying my week in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim which is situated at a height of approximately 5500 Feet above sea level. I had planned my visit just to chill out with no intentions to ride bike.
Having many wonderful friends there who are also passionate mountain bikers convinced me for a small group ride and even arranged a bike for me in no time.
The eight of us; Karchoong, Brinda, Palden, Jigmee, Sonam, Passang, Sonam, Raman and myself decided to ride on 26th January as its India’s Republic day and of-course an excuse to go for this group ride. The great thing was that few of them recently started mountain biking seriously and are enjoying every moment they spend riding their bikes in beautiful Sikkim.
The night before the ride was spent planning the route, drinking beer, having good food and talking about bikes. Later I realized that the bike I got was big for me; but I’m not complaining. I was stoked to ride out with my friends who are really riding and working hard to develop mountain biking scene in Sikkim.
There are plenty of perfect trails and awesome placed to ride your mountain bike in Sikkim which is a land of dramatic contours, rugged mountains, deep valley and dense forests consort with raging rivers, lakes and waterfalls to create visual feast. But most people have no idea they even exist, until very recently. Most of the cool places to ride are unmarked and you may never find them without some local knowledge.
Jigmee (also the owner of the Modern Central Lodge where I was staying) knocks at my room door exactly at 0700 hours as decided and finds me begging for five more minutes. Not to mention; in my ghetto outlook. A red rain jacket with an off white colored lower pants and a mineral water bottle which somehow got in the bottle cage perfectly mounted on the bike frame.
Jigmee, Sonam and I pedaled our way to Ramans book shop ‘Ruchi’ which is the best book shop in Gangtok. Raman who got his hands on a new mountain bike just two days before the ride was excited and nervous at the same time. Passang joined us at the book shop and we started following our route where rest of the gang joined us in between and after covering few Km’s we halted for breakfast at Tashi view point and hogged on muesli, tea and boiled eggs. We carried on the gradual climb with a dash of broken sections. As we headed further up riding and pushing, we reached a quiet place called Pangtahng where Palden showed us a piece of land which is perfect for chilled out riding sessions. It was no surprise for me to see all of us monkeying around on our bikes. Wheelies, hops and some short descent sections.
I wish I could capture Jigmee’s no-footer descent with his stomach on the saddle. I still haven’t figured out what to name that trick. Karchoong tried experimenting drops on his full suspension rig and Brinda was all charged up riding around doing wheelies and bunny hops.
After trying few more short tricky sections we started cranking back to the town. The temperature suddenly dropped so we stopped for lunch and got some energy to complete the ride back to town.
For me it was a proud moment when Karchoong told me “It’s the first time a group ride with so many riders was done” and I was a part of it. There were few more friends who wanted to come but could not make it because they were stuck with some work.
This ride resulted in a perfect Republic Day holiday that involved a perfect company, good food and of-course mountain bikes.