Words: Ajay Padval \\ Photos: Gitesh Gupta, Vinay Menon, Kaushik Sinha, Lou Wittekind.
With the 3rd Himalayan Mountain Bike Festival just around the corner, it was time to pack my bike and head out to Himachal’s buzzing town, Manali. My daily routine was to ride with all the racers from around the country who’d came to Himachal’s honey moon getaway for just two reasons: Race and Party! What reason did you think?
It was great fun catching up with all the riders and the local support crew headed by FRMTB’s northern trail correspondent, Naveen Barongpa and Anil Kumar (Musa) from Manali. The riders and the crew spent an entire week in cleaning up and bringing the downhill trail back to life.
As the weeks rolled, a simple commute through the blue level trails in Manali town, I crashed! Pretty much knocked my self out with a broken helmet and a bruised Shoulder. Two days off the bike, missing practice I was kinda bummed about the whole thing. But had to Race, no matter what!
The race day was blessed with excellent weather unlike last year. Over 30 racers from across the country were in attendance. Yeah 30 is still a big number of racers here in India! Though my race run wasn’t great, I still managed to grab 5th behind Vinay Menon (4th), Gautam Taode (3rd), Piyush Chavan (2nd) and Suman Tamang (Winner) of Nepal.
With the ‘Himalayan MTB Festival‘ complete, I joined Vinay Menon and Kaushik Sinha (Refractor Studios) up to Spiti. A location Vinay has been scouting since the last 2 years and says is “one of the best places in India for freeriding!” Over 10 days we rolled through the valley. After a long trip, Vinay and Kaushik intended to go back home but I still wasn’t satisfied with my trip.
Decided to spend another two weeks in the mountains scouting for trails around Manali. During this time the guys from 4play Magazine were kind enough to host me at their place. A call from a good buddy Tuhin Satarkar (one of India’s most promising rock Climber) stating his arrival in Manali. And ended up making my next trip to Chattru along with Lou Wittekind a German climber.
With some climbing days in the bag, Manali’s local trail bomber, Raj Kaushal and I hit up the Kaniyal trail and rode it for the next few days. This was by far one of the most amazing trip I’d done, Manali and the mountains around it are a pristine location for riding in India and should definitely be on the itinerary for anyone who visits India to ride.
6 weeks of bikes, friends, new mountains, new highways. Appetizers were good. Need more…