The first thing that pops into mind when you think of mountain biking is youngsters making their way over difficult terrain in a bid to reach the finish line. After all, it’s a sport that’s extremely challenging and requires riders to be in the peak of health. But 55-year-old Harpreet Singh is a man who breaks this notion. Older than most of his riding peers, he’s participated four times in the Hero MTB Shimla stage race, a gruelling two-day event that tests even the best. The 7th edition of the race also marks Singh’s fifth consecutive presence in the masters’ category.
Known as ‘The Cruiser’, Singh love affair with cycling began decades ago all the way back in 1973 when he was given a BSA SLR by his father for coming first in class. He stoked his passion over the years and it’s plain to see his love for the sport. He’s a huge inspiration for young aspiring riders looking to make a career in mountain biking. Cycling is also in his blood as his father and brother would make long cycling trips back in the day.
Despite his age, Singh is a force to reckon with. He participates just as eagerly as the rest and has ridden in various circuits in the country. In mountain biking, the experience is invaluable and he has plenty of it! He admits that the races are tough and push him to the limit but therein lies in the thrill. The respect he receives from riders and event organizers is undoubtedly another.
Singh has many fond memories of his mountain biking career but finds it difficult to zero in on the best. He did mention that he was given the opportunity to present awards to winners of the masters’ solo category in Hero MTB Shimla 2017 and added that such moments only make mountain biking even more cherished. Each year, he returns to participate in yet another race, adding more memories to his well of plenty.
In an interview, Singh revealed that Hero MTB Shimla and Hero MTB Himalaya are two races that he looks forward to the most. In his words, what separates them from others is the top-notch organisation. He also added that the variety of riders taking part is something that is unique to these races. He believes that the sport will soon be becoming mainstream as more people make lifestyle changes such as opting for cycling as part of their commute. And we can see this small but important change happening. Just look at the people who participate in Hero MTB Himalaya and Hero MTB Shimla. They come from all walks of life and include defence personnel, professional riders and amateurs.
It’s not just the cycling aspect that makes mountain biking so alluring. Multi-stage races such as Hero MTB Himalaya and Hero MTB Shimla involve hiking and camping as well. Participants have to rough it out and only those with the strongest will and determination come out with flying colours. The challenge is intoxicating and you can’t help but want to prove yourself among other like-minded competitors.