The 2015 season kicked off with Maharashtra hosting the 11th National XC Championship in January. Sports capital of the state, Pune City was the action zone for India’s strongest Cross Country racers. With over 200 racers listed in different categories, Men/Women – Elite, Juniors & Sub Juniors, the race venue was packed with shredders. Being a National Championship, the racers were representing their states in ‘Time Trials’ and ‘Mass Start’ events.
A 3 Km course through thorn infested walking trail, gradual climbs and a moderate descent, was full of surprises! Elite Men with 12 Laps, Elite Women with 10, Juniors racing 9 Laps and Sub Juniors 5. The ‘Time Trial’ event saw some fast laps in both ‘Elite’ as well as ‘Junior’ category. Having the whole trail to one self to rip on, is fun for sure! The Start Line for ‘Mass Start’ event looked like an exploded pack of M&Ms. The state team jerseys were screaming out the fast developing Indian MTB scene.
The women’s category was ruled by Kerala, Karnataka and Haryana state racers while the Men’s category was bombarded by the Army team and Himachal boys. The XC racers are a fighting breed. With several crashes on the course the lycra clad beasts kept their heart rate in control to deliver a strong performance. Broken collar bones, scabs and scuffs didn’t stop the country’s strongest racers. Overall team results proved the Kerala team as leaders in women’s category and the Indian Army men’s team didn’t let go of their winning trophy once again!
The Cycling Federation of India has been organizing the XC Nationals for the past 11 years now. With very little resources the authorities have helped pull the sport through time. But its sad that CFI still hasn’t been able to support a “real” Downhill race so far. As the Indian gravity squad is winning international podiums, the federation still waits for the stars to align. With XC gaining 11 years in the bag, DH stands with non. Only time will tell if Indian national sports authorities will do better for the sport of downhill mountain biking or will it only stay at the bottom of the hill!
Words: Vinay Menon \\ Photo: Vinay Menon, Ajay Padval, Cephas Joseph.