How I rediscovered my passion for mountain biking

I’m back: On the saddle of my sparkling UT Edge mountain bike almost every day and if not during a training trip or a race, then at least I’m mentally planning training rides, looking for races, developing suitable recipes… or, or, or.

Since my life is about mountain biking in India, training in India, Indian mountain bike races and Indian mountain bike riders and their lives, I would also like to share with you and send a little Indian mountain biking to all you outside of India.

This article is about me and how I found my way back to my passion.

This article is about my rediscovered love for mountain biking.

I’ve always loved cycling. Admittedly, as a professional sport, I had never done it. But for us children from the village it was natural to own a bike and thus ride the daily 9 kilometers to the school and the 15 km for swimming classes (and back again) by bike.

In addition, I have always found it very exciting to travel by bike. What is now my profession, I did before as a teenager with great interest: I planned several days of bike tours for friends and family. The routes should be quietly a bit demanding, but above all scenically attractive.

Nevertheless, cycling has always been more of a side sport. I mainly trained in athletics, swimming and running and did yoga as a balance.

When I moved into the Indian Himalayas seven years ago, it was over with swimming and running: Except for raging rivers, ice-cold mountain lakes and hot sulfur springs, there were no swimming opportunities. The mountains were too steep for running. So I sat down on a mountain bike for the first time.

I was immediately enchanted and mountain biking immediately captivated me. Not only had I found an intense endurance sport due to the long ascents uphill, but found also great pleasure in the technical descents, in the middle of the unspoilt landscape of the Himalayas. Even if though till this day my technical skills still need improvement.

Here I also found my original enthusiasm for multi-day, even week-long tours, not only across the Himalayas, but all over India.

Poor road conditions, countless jeep slopes, single trails, high passes and remote regions are ideal for mountain biking. On the tours you can experience not only the sporty activity but also so much of culture and scenery.

So I found my way to mountain bike races in India. For me, the multi-day events offered the perfect opportunity to ride great trails with the mountain bike, to meet interesting and like-minded athletes from all over the world and simply to have a good time. Races like the Hero MTB Himalaya, MTB Arunachal or the Hell Race Dhauladhar Challenge were simply gigantic.

Since I am one of the few women in India who do mountain biking, I quickly found my sponsor Hero Cycles, who equipped me with a bike and jerseys and sent me to various races in India. Due to a lack of female competition, I was even able to win one or two national races.

But over time, my motivation somehow left me. I never managed to train properly for the races and also had no real idea how to do it professionally. Until now I used the mountain bike as a good endurance sport training and rode my daily 30 to 40 km up the mountains, simply as a fitness program and to calm down. I preferred to choose a nice restaurant as a destination and for motivation. This kept me fit and I always got all the mountains up at my pace, but I never really improved. Accordingly, the multi-day races were also exhausting for me. Most of the time I came to the finish 2-3 hours later than the professional riders and during the 6 to 9 hours on the saddle I very often reached my physical and mental limits, especially since the technical downhills overwhelmed me and I had to push a lot.

Added to this was a somewhat unprofessional appearance from my side: my bike was never really in a good shape, also because I had no idea about repairs. Also in terms of equipment I was very far behind. I even drove my first races without a watch, with heart rate monitors, GPS and click pedals!

Although the fun of touring with the mountain bike remained, I gradually lost the motivation for racing and for my own boring practice.

This was also reflected in the race results last year 2017. So no more races, just riding for fun.

But then I met David in my last race in remote Arunachal, far in northeastern India.

David is a very promising Indian mountain biker who has only been riding for two years but is already one of the best mountain bikers in India.

During the nine days in Arunachal I befriended David. I was surprised at how professional and ambitious he approached the sport, despite his very limited possibilities, as a simple Indian young man with no secure financial background and modest sources of information and support.

He aroused the desire in me to deal with the topic of mountain biking a little more and so I decided to visit him once in Shimla to train with him.

Now I’m here for three weeks – the first important race of the season in India, the MTB Shimla race is imminent.

In these three weeks there has been a huge change in me, apart from the fact that the whole day now revolves from early to late on mountain biking :).

For the first time in my life, I’m not just keeping myself fit, but  I’m actually training for something and that’s incredibly fun!

There is a training plan, I have a structured training week and I even have to put effort (I was able to avoid this quite well, riding in my comfort zone only). There are different traning days with long endurance rides, short but intensive intervals and technical rides, which still demand everything from me. I love the variety. It brings suspense and awakens ambition in me. I get back on the bike with a desire.

Best of all, I still have soooo much to improve. From my strength, to the technical skills, my attitude, my speed and, and , and.. so I certainly don’t get bored.

I stretch myself, do fascia training and strength sports. My daily yoga practice is completely attuned to my mountain bike training with breathing exercises and asanas. (I will write in more detail about this too).

I spend my free time studying training plans, browsing bike magazines and getting better mountain bike equipment online. Now I also want a bike computer, a good helmet and tubeless tyres!

What surprised me most is how much I have changed my diet

Now I am almost addicted to the homemade banana shake with nuts and fresh fruit.

The  porridge is now also one of my favourite foods.

I cook by myself. Healthy and mostly Indian. Rice, vegetables, lots of Indian cheese, from time to time meat… oh and the boiled eggs – almost I would have forgotten them. I will probably also dedicate an entire article to the diet.

My bike is also in the firing line again. A working suspension, good brakes and decent make a big difference.

yes. Mountain biking is a very big part of my life.

I probably owe this change to David. Most of it I learned from him and I am still quite surprised how he acquires all this knowledge independently, trains for himself with the ambitious plan to become a professional mountain biker and cyclist. He definitely has the potential.

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