While most of us are aware of biking or cycling, it is only a select few who may know of Downhill mountain biking or Downhill mountain bike racing athletes. An offshoot of mountain biking, downhill (or DH as it is popularly known) is a riding style that focuses on cycling down steep mountain trails, carving smooth lines, negotiating cliff drops and rock gardens at times. Conducted on purpose built MTB downhill bikes, being an extremely technical form of mountain biking, DH involves wearing full face helmets and padding too.

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Vinay Menon executing a big drop in remote Spiti

The status of DH is like most other adventure sports in our country. Still nascent, and due to its extremely technical nature the sport of downhill mountain bike racing in India, has only a select few takers. Also, limited availability of gear, instructors to learn from or, developed trail networks are a few reasons for the slow growth of the sport. However, Manali is one of the few locations in India, that has become a true nurturing ground for this unique riding style. In fact, the country’s most popular Downhill biking competition, Himalayan Downhill Mountain Bike Trophy organised by the Himalayan Mountain Bike Network takes place here.

Watch a city tour of Manali through this downhill mountain bike video.

No discussion about the Downhill Biking scene in the country can go without a mention of Vinay Menon. A DH pro in the truest sense, Vinay who is also known as Venom in the circles, has been riding, competing and contributing to the community for almost two decades now. Vinay who used to fantasize about motocross from an early age of 5, found in downhill mountain biking a logical alternative and an instant hook. An avid seeker of big mountain cliff tops, he recalls landing a 15 feet+ drop, a 360 on his BMX bike and winning the ‘Ultimate Summer of Freeride’ as his ‘moments’ in the sport.

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Vinay Menon

Lately, Vinay is enjoying riding new trails and nurturing a startup in Psynyde bikes. By his own admission, ‘being a part of a bicycle’s birth as it reaches the rider, is a fun process to be involved in.’ This multitalented mountain biker divides his time between freeriding, serving as an editor for the Freeridermag, filmmaking and ‘starting up’.

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Vinay enjoying some airborne action

As the sport is picking up, there’s also an upcoming generation of young downhill mountain bike racing athletes progressing to push and better the scene in the homeland.

Piyush Chavan or PUSH as he is popularly known, is one from the recent generation of Downhill riders in the country. A racing enthusiast, PUSH attempts all the events he can get his hands on. Practising on his native, dusty trails of Pune, Piyush enjoys and appreciates the camaraderie in the sport.

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Piyush Chavan

Know more about Piyush here.

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Piyush shredding some. Picture Credit: Shekhar Bansal

Gautam Taode or, GT as he is lovingly referred to, is another young’un of DH. Hailing from Pune, GT is addicted to this lifestyle due to the intrinsic adrenaline rush associated with the sport. For now he is excited with the gradual growth of the Downhill mountain biking community, starting his own company in the adventure sport/travel space, and the arrival of his new pickup truck.

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Gautam Taode

Connect with Gautam on Facebook.

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Gautam Taode

Another Punekar, Ajay Padval has been riding for 6 years and likes every form of mountain biking that can get his blood pumping. Padval who considers the day he learnt to ride as his happiest, loves scooting through technical sections and rock gardens. With a lot of races and video projects slotted in for this year, Ajay is excited about ‘going big and going fast’.

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Watch Ajay shredding his native trails in Pune.

Learn all that there is to know about the mountain biking discipline with this cool Adventure Baba infographic.

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Get the full (HD) infographic here, Mountain Biking: Things To Know

Sukrit Gupta

Author: Sukrit Gupta

An avid climber, ultrarunner and day dreamer, Sukrit is a fan of everything that is self-managed and solo. A flag bearer for self sufficiency and pushing beyond limits, he loves to spend his time slithering over rock faces and devising cruel trail running courses in his mountainous backyard in Manali.

Downhill Biking in India: Athlete and Ecosystem

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2 Comments

  • tejas singh
    Reply

    hello sir,enjoyed reading the article,wanted to ask you a question since i am just getting in the hobby of downhill mountain biking,
    Are there any downhill mountain biking trails/routes or parks in India preferably in or near the Himalayas which have steep jumps ,climbs,slopes,etc .
    Asking this because of all the research i have done,i have not been able to find one with the above mentioned characteristics.
    thankyou

    • 4Play
      4Play
      Reply

      There are many downhill trails in Himalayas, some that have been developed specifically for the purpose. For instance Solang Valley has some really nice downhill trails which also host the most popular downhill competition in India. Then there is an MTB park in Shillong as well.

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