India can be a tough place for a new sport to break through. Cricket is such a part of our lives that we hesitate before saying ‘Yes’ to anything new. However, there’s one that’s gaining ground and has been making steady strides in the world of outdoor sports: mountain biking. The thrill of adventure it promises and the challenges it offers have made it one of the more sought-after sports. It’s no surprise, then, that Hero MTB Shimla with Thrillophilia as the official Outdoor Adventure Partner is set to head into its seventh edition in 2018 amid great enthusiasm. Excitement is building up and fast as we race towards D-Day which begins from April 13th and ends on April 15th.
A Terrain That Challenges Even the Best
Adventure enthusiasts are gearing up for two days of pure thrill. The venue is the magnificent Shivalik Mountains at the foothills of the Himalayas. Racing through the pristine countryside, past serene lakes and wildlife sanctuaries, participants will strive to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. What sets Hero MTB Shimla apart is the terrain it covers. Meadows, dense vegetation, village backroads and steep inclines ensure that bikers are put to the test and that only the top dog wins. With just 80 participants, the competition is expected to be as intense as the previous editions.
An Event That Has Changed The Face of Outdoor Sports in India
Hero MTB Shimla is one of the biggest adventure sports events in India today. Participants are drawn to 7th season are from over 7 countries and 23 cities and include pro-bikers, sponsored athletes and amateurs. Owing to its rising popularity, it’s received tremendous media coverage from big names in the business such as AFP, Dainik Jagran, Redbull, Times of India, Doordarshan and Scroll.in.
From a Vision to a Global Stage Race
Mr Mohit Sood, president of the Himalayan Adventure Sport & Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA) is the man behind Hero MTB Himalaya. He took a vision and turned it into an event that today has become the face of mountain biking in India. Subsequent associations with global names such as Hero Cycles, Redbull and even BIKE Transalp has pushed the event into the limelight and helped bring India onto the global mountain biking map.
An Avenue for Lovers of Mountain Biking
Two annual races are organized, Hero MTB Himalaya, which will enter its 14th edition this September, and Hero MTB Shimla, which takes place from 13th April to 15th April and is in its 7th edition. The events have attracted Tour de France riders and world champions over the years, a testament to just how big an impact the event has made in the world of mountain biking. Along with pro-riders, it’s also helped unearth talents who once only dreamed of competing in an event of this scale. Notable examples are David Kumar and Akshit Gaur who went from being biking enthusiasts to professionals who have come out on top.
Take a look at David Kumar who topped among Indians at Hero MTB Himalaya 2017. The young man from Himachal Pradesh made it his goal to carve a niche for himself in the world of mountain biking. An unknown biking enthusiast before MTB Shimla, he left home for the capital and borrowed money to buy a bike. He trained himself through trial and error, working on his stamina, speed and skill. His performance at the event drew the attention of Ashish Sood, one of the organizers who employed him in his bike shop.
David began to train with the help of his roommate and online videos. He decided to test himself at Hero MTB Himalaya, an 8-day multi-stage race spanning more than 600 kilometers from Shimla to Dharamsala. He came fourth among his countrymen. From then on, his dreams began to steadily materialize unless he finished 10th in the overall men’s solo category of Hero MTB Himalaya 2017.
17-year-old Akshit Gaur is one of the most promising mountain bikers in the country today. His talent for cycling got him recognized by HASTPA (Himalayan Adventure Sports & Tourism Promotion) while he was studying at St. Edwards in Shimla. He took part in Hero MTB Shimla at the age of 16 and finished 2nd overall in the under-19 category. He won the race at 17 and represented India at the Rumble in the Jungle event in Sri Lanka. He was the youngest cyclist to compete internationally.
For Akshit, it’s all about the adrenaline rush and excelling at the sport. Finding new trails, being in the outdoors and facing new challenges is part of the adventure and he loves it. He’s also part of the Hero Action Team, the first sponsored Indian team.
MTB Shimla 2018
This year’s MTB Shimla event will be preceded by a media launch on 13th April followed by rider registrations on 13th April. An evening ride around the city will also be held along with a rider briefing and dinner. Stage 1 will commence on 14th April where riders will be flagged off from Shimla Ridge for an exciting 65-kilometer adventure followed by camping in Mashobra. Stage 2 will begin on 15th April with 40 kilometers of riding followed by a flag-in at Craigneno. A prize distribution ceremony will be held on the same day.
Testimonials from Participants
“Cycling has been my passion since childhood. It has had a huge impact on my life and has changed it for good. I have done MTB Shimla 4 times and every single year felt like a new experience!”
-Harpreet Singh, 4-time participant
“Annual pilgrimage for us MTB nutjobs. Each year we strive to do better than the last; and each year the organisers up the game for us flatlanders!”
-Gautam Chima, Aravalli Trail Hunters
“Great place to test your mountain biking skills against some of the best from the country.”
-Prateek Thakur, Steadfast Nutrition Athelete
“Racing in #Shimla is awesome to get the fresh air and those steep uphill to test your mental as well as physical strength. Competition here is amongst the best in the country, racing here in Shivaliks has always been a treat!”
-David Kumar, winner of 2017 Hero MTB Shimla