Prodigy MTB Interschool Race 2016 makes a Muddy Debut
Prodigy MTB Race 2016, an inter-school cycling event organized on 13th August, 2016 by Gnarly, took place with a grand success in Chobar, outskirts of the Kathmandu valley, Nepal. The event saw almost a hundred school kids from ages 3 to 18 maneuvering muddy tracks of the southern edge of Chobar! While several biking races take place each year in Nepal, a race dedicated to school kids are few and far between – and undoubtedly, Prodigy MTB Race has broken the mold with an unprecedented number of participants in the very first edition of the Prodigy Series.
The trail was composed of two off-track circuits of varied laps depending on the category and donned spectacular views of the lush Chandragiri hills. The race was divided as Categories A (grades 9 and 10), B (7 and 8), C (5 and 6), D (4 and below) and F (girls). The muddy spectacle saw enthusiastic kids as young as 3 years old – undaunted by the monsoon humidity and sun, challenging trails and for many, their first ever biking race. A crowd of over 400 cheered at the top of their lungs to encourage the kids. While the fast-paced and fiery showdown of bigger kids was a thrill to watch, it really was animated toddlers mounted on tiny bikes on bikes that took the cake.
|Category||Winner||1st Runner-up||2nd Runner-up|
|A||Nirav Shrestha||Devashish Chaudhary||Yojak Chaulagain|
|B||Saroj Tamang||Ujan Manandhar||Nischal Banu Rai|
|C||Singhe Dandur||Samanta Bajracharya||Ashish Basnet|
|D||Due to the difference in the age range in this category (3 to 11 years old), participants from this category were not called on the podium. This would have been discouraging and unfair to very smaller kids of this fun category, defeating the purpose of the event.|
|F||Humee Budamagar||Avantika Rana||Panchamaya Tamang|
Winners took home gifts, while all the riders received finisher’s medals and certificates. Gnarly maintains that in doing so no kid would feel discouraged or disappointed. With more such races, it’d be quite amazing to have young faces take the mountain biking scene by storm and ultimately perform like seasoned athletes or recreational riders no less in due course.
With several internationally recognized races already under its belt, including Asian Enduro Series and Tansen Ultra, mountain biking company Gnarly has now forayed into school-level races with Prodigy MTB Race. The company intends to pave a solid way for a more grand kids’ events to take place in near future. In fact, given the positive reception of Prodigy by kids, schools and parents alike, Gnarly is gearing up to make the event a series, with the next edition already in the pipeline for coming winter.
Alluding to the need of developing new riders in Nepal, Shyam Limbu, race director and co-founder of Gnarly, said, “The number of kids interested in biking is definitely increasing, but the growth is rather slow. What we’ve tried to achieve with Prodigy MTB Race is to inspire more young kids to take up this adventurous sports and expand their horizon. In addition to organizing races, we also provide mountain biking skills training to school children and individuals through Squadron, an open community for mountain biking lovers. In fact, we trained most of the kids for this race through Squadron’s rides.” As a former member of the national downhill team, Limbu remains in a credible standing to imparting his knowledge to the younger generation.
Speaking about the number of kids who showed up, Anuj Adhikary, Co-founder of Gnarly and race brand director, said, “A turnout of a hundred kids in a mountain biking race is unheard of. It signals a growing interest in mountain biking among the youth and definitely a shift in mindset of a society choked by smoke and dust, and confined by concrete and traffic in the valley.” He adds, “It still sadly comes as a surprise to many smartphone-consumed Kathmandu denizens that just a few kilometers away lies valley’s lush outdoors. With a race like Prodigy, this is exactly the change we want to bring to kids, from a very early age – to develop a spirit of adventure and in that, self-discovery.”
Winner of Category A, Nirav Shrestha, shares his experience, “It was quite a tough race. It was very obvious that a handful of the bigger boys had been training well for the race. Coming from downhill background, I wasn’t sure how exactly to tackle the race course. But I gave my best and it turned out well. I thoroughly enjoyed the race and I look forward to the next Prodigy MTB race!”
Guardians present at the event to hoot for their young ones concurred. “Not only is mountain biking a healthy activity but it is extremely fun. Especially for kids!” exclaims Bikas Shrestha, the winner of Category A, i.e. grades 9 and 10. “I encourage the young ones of my family to ride bicycles and within a short period of time, they have gotten a hang of it.” Referring to his love for enduro riding, Shrestha adds, “Though I’m fully involved in my venture, I always make time for mountain biking. And seeing kids excited about adventure definitely makes me happy!” He adds with a laugh, “My nephew who raced slept with the race medal on!”
Words: Anuj Adhikary