Slade Gomes | Rider Interview

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Name: Slade Gomes
Age: 21
Mountain biking since: 2015
Profession: Engineering Student
Hometown: Mumbai, India
Current Location: Pune, India
Current Bike: Lapierre Zesty AM 327 650B (2015)
Current Sponsors: Parents

FRM: How would you describe yourself?
Slade: I am the one who has a split personality or I should say , split lifestyle. I spend one half of the day working hard at class and studying my engineering stuff at college like a studious kid While I spend the other half of the day shredding hard on the trails riding downhill all out everyday. Beast mode on!

FRM: What does a normal day look like to you?
Slade: Every day is a race against time. I wake up to rush to college and complete all the homework and attend all classes. Class ends late but it’s never late when you have to ride. Every evening from 4 to 7 is shred time. Straight from college I switch to Beast Mode !! And hit the trails and build features if m not riding making sure I get better on the bike either by riding or by building a challenging trail helping me to progress. After the ride I head back home to study and wind up the day by doing daily chores like cleaning the house,maybe cooking,studying! Finally before hitting the bed I Clean the bike and polish it for the next days ride!

Slade’s taking over the Indian DH race scene, one race at a time. \\ Photo: Krishna Kumar

FRM: Tell us about your MX career and what brought you to the sport of Mountain Biking?
Slade: I always rode Dirt Bikes with my family as a kid. At about 15years of age I joined MX Racing School held by Rustom Patel(8x national champ). I won my first race after one month of joining the Training academy. By the time I was 17 I made the podium spot on all 7 events I raced. I was racing Group A foreign class and Competing with the best! I also had the opportunity of getting a few sponsors. I was one of the well known upcoming Rookie who would give the pros a tough time and was mostly one of the youngest in the Group A Class.

After finishing my 12th Board Exams, I had to leave Mumbai to do Engineering in Pune and my parents were strict as a result of which the MX bike had to be kept at home. As I was staying in a hostel there was no place or chance to ride or maintain my MX bike. So I started to going to college on cycle and not long after I ended up running away from college and riding on the hills for fun. Until one day I decided to climb up and only ride down the steepest line I had seen. 

That was it. I was hooked onto it and could feel that MX vibe. It was fun and I would wear my MX kit and started riding. People would laugh at me.  But I loved riding on the hill, so I kept doing it daily. Until I decided to make that small line Into a full trail. As far as I can remember 8 months down the line I had made the longest trail with my classmate Vishal that I could imagine. That’s when I got to know of Downhill as a big sport. I had already been riding DH without knowing much about it. While advertising my trail I got in touch with Piyush Chavan. He Invited me to his race and I was the fastest hardtail in Seeding on my first race. That was it. I was into the sport.

People started visiting my trails, the community was friendly and very helpful and very motivating. Unlike the MX community, that was helpful until competition became very serious and led to fights or grudges after! Some were not very inviting. In the Downhill community your biggest rival on track is your great friend off the track even if you took his chance to get a podium.

Launching drops isn’t a problem for MX practitioner, Slade.

FRM: How similar is MX and MTB? What were some of the challenges you faced transitioning from the throttle to pedal?
Slade: There are a lot of technical aspects that are very different in MX from Bicycles. But the main similarity between both the sports and something that i always focus on is 

“THE ATTITUDE AND THE MENTAL APPROACH” The aggressive riding on intense terrain helps you develop a certain mindset. That’s the “MINDSET” which is common in both sports. Also features like, ruts, berms, jumps, gap jumps, etc remain the same as that of MX. While MX bikes give u the excess thrill of big jumps and powerful bikes! Downhill gives you the uncertainties of your bicycle which is lighter and can wash out and kick you flying off in the blink of an eye!

Both of these are tackled with the same mindset. Both MX riders and DH riders shred hard and they are sports of the same family! Making them very similar in ways that we don’t see directly!

Clipped in and ready to boost.

FRM: We know that you are really involved with the whole community in the grassroots level of the sport and have been instrumental in promoting trail building and encouraging and guiding new and upcoming riders. What were/are some of the challenges that you face?
Slade: Just like how I was welcomed by all of my senior riders I encourage a lot of new guys and also provide a parking space for all bikes inside my house. Lot of these young riders are very motivated to become good and thrive on the positive encouragement that we must give them. The biggest block for a new guy is once they have their first hard crash they tend to get derailed this is when motivation is needed to boost their confidence. While some of the new boys tend to get a hang of things and practice by themselves and go to become real fast. I have seen some new guys on hardtails go faster than guys on a DH bike in just a few Months! A few people do fade out as it becomes heavy for them physically or normal life takes over them.

“There is a point in riding, there is this particular skill level where you can feel your bike under you and you can understand it!” Once you learn that there’s no looking back and that when you are hooked to it! Some riders give up or loose interest before reaching that switching point in skill!

Hours with a shovel, followed by hours on the saddle. Slade belongs to the young breed of dedicated Indian downhill riders.

FRM: You have been involved in the MTB scene for a while now and have also been an evangelist towards the sport and how has this been instrumental in progression and promotion of sport in the Grassroot Level?
Slade: Our community has not yet picked up the habit of building trails by hand and this skill of building trails is very integral to a Mountain Biker this is one trait that I am looking to instill in every rider. I keep telling the other riders, “The secret to all my speed is not the training but the will to build a new type of trail all the time that has automatically made the difference.”

Many of us don’t have that habit of building new trails new and younger riders except a few are not even keen on building and digging out a new line or trail but things have come quite far and I hope to make a difference in this community. My biggest desire is to build a solid community that rides almost everyday. It may be any trail or place but the love for riding has to spread. Currently I am involved in helping new riders by training a few, building new trails with new riders, introducing people to the sport and helping them with bike maintenance. All for free. Also, I help in organizing local races to get everyone to ride and keep that enthusiasm and the spirit of competition and riding.

When not in college, building trails and airing doubles is a daily routine for Slade.

FRM: One such initiative by you that we are aware of is organising Pune Downhill Cup can you give us some insights on that?
Slade: : Pune Downhill Cup is one of the biggest initiative from my side to promote Downhill and is specially geared towards Pune and the local riders. Although very few riders (about 15) were expected. Surprisingly 36 riders showed up.

We have also taken a major initiative to bring up the hardtail class cause that’s where to roots of the sport are. Along with a few active riders we plan to put up Events every 2 months. With this race we want to put the hardtail boys together so that they have the chance to win and compete for themselves. So that they will be motivated to get better and with the DH class we want to provide a great trail to show that all boys must step their game up.

FRM: How would you describe your riding?
Slade: CALCULATED & AGGRESSIVE! Once you know what your bike should do and is capable of doing then there is no holding back. I am not silly and careless but make sure I ride hard and aggressive all the time. I also limit from s doing stupid things like flat drops on an all mountain bike.

Slade punching out some strong riding skills on a 140mm AM rig.

FRM: Can you share your personal goal’s that you have towards the sport?
Slade: My personal goal is mainly to merge my two worlds. i.e bringing Engineering to Mountain Bikes and Mountain Bikes to Engineering. One of my best decisions was Interning at Psynyde Bikes, not as a “rider” but as an “engineering student” and I feel this was the best step towards my goal. Personally merging science and riding not only keeps me motivated to study but also helps me make calculated decisions on the track.

I hope to race for Team India at the Asian Downhill Championship soon!

Flying in with speed. \\ Photo: Krishna Kumar.

FRM: How has your journey been so far?
Slade: Journey has been awesome! Riding has been super fun with the community, I like the people and everyone is decent and friendly. All are willing to help and everyone cheers for each other. It’s been very exciting so far. I’ll definitely miss my riding friends easily more than my college mates in the future.

FRM: Any Shout Outs?
Slade: Indian shredder for pulling me into the racing scene and getting me in direct contact with all the senior most riders, Psynyde bikes for giving me the chance to merge my engineering to my riding, Freeridermag for being very supportive and encouraging. They are the ones to spot and appreciate my efforts all the time. They always have that great click and mention about me at all the national races around the country.

And finally all the boys , my family and my girlfriend for being the backbone to push more and they always cheer for me while I do my thing.


 

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