It’s really embarrassing to admit how long I have been riding my mountain bike, but when it comes to the technical trails, I’ve been a bit of a wuss. Pitched roads, gravelled paths and even some trails with a small drop, that’s all fine for me. But take me to a trail with a steep drop or even an inch of man-made downhill trail, I’d rather carry my mountain bike and come down than ride those trails. I am sure many mountain bikers would relate to this. So, what exactly is downhill riding? It is all about the flow of your bike and the rhythm of your movements. As riders descend, they go as fast as possible by finding the best lines on the trail and riding smoothly.
“It’s just riding a bike, right?”, you might be thinking. Well, not really. Riding your bike downhill takes a very high degree of mental and physical stamina, whether its competing or just trying to keep up with fellow riders. What riders tend to do is take their bikes on a truck or a jeep to the top of the hill and come down fiercely with their adrenaline levels uplifting so briskly that they don’t care about how dangerous the trails are.
No one knows how and when the trend of downhill mountain biking in Nepal began. A few adrenaline junkies from Nepal used to take their bikes to remote places and ride along the trails. Then slowly, youngsters began realizing the value of riding their bikes and learned about different biking techniques. Gradually, what used to be a small number of people grew to a massive community here in Nepal. Biking enthusiasts started to form groups and go on rides whenever they could find the time. Eventually, mountain biking races were organized in different parts of the country so as to let people know the prospect of the sport. One of the most notable races is the Asian Enduro Series organized by GNARLY. The term “enduro” is an intermix of two areas of biking, one being cross-country and the other being downhill. Set up in the hills of Nagarkot, the Asian Enduro Series is one of the most exciting and challenging races which demands a lot of physical as well as mental energy. The other recognized races are the Yak Attack and Yak Ru both being in the Annapurna region with the trails at unforgiving high altitudes.
One of the top mountain biking companies in Kathmandu, Gravity Nepal are doing their best to nurture and give the best services to the biking industry and develop it as a sport. Shyam Limbu, who is the MD of Gravity Nepal, has been in the mountain biking industry for a decade. He said “Being an outdoor enthusiast, I have always wanted to contribute to the mountain biking industry. We are simply helping the present as well as the next generation learn the art of mountain biking with safety and comfort in mind.” Gravity Nepal organizes short as well as long mountain biking trips all across Nepal. They go for rides every weekend to trails around the valley like Nagarkot, Phulchowki, Shivapuri and Kakani. For long trips, they take interested ones for heli-biking to the splendid landscape of the Himalayas in the Annapurna region.
Being a country blessed with rugged terrains, Nepal is a hub for adventure aficionados of all types with the biking industry being one of the most sought-after. There are countless trails here, and most of them are ancient. If you’re looking for trails within the Kathmandu valley, the most popular ones are the gnarly trails of Nagarkot, exhilarating drops of the Helipad trail in Shivapuri, and the tough yet scenic views of Phulchowki. Most riders take a jeep or bus with their bikes to the top of the hill and ride down with all their strength, agility and expertise.
“Looking for an adventure?” If you look inside the brochures with a caption like this one, you’ll be seeing, first, the adventurous trails within the Annapurna circuit, offering pristine views of arguably the most beautiful mountains and diverse culture. Secondly, the Mustang area, with truly spectacular landscapes which provide truly mystical vibes. Lower Mustang is convenient to get to and the Lubra valley is one of the most beautiful trails in the area. On the other hand, Upper Mustang is very remote and not so accessible but it is well worth the risk as you can ride along the ancient city of Lo Manthang. The trails are unforgettable in these areas; no one knows how many trails are waiting to be discovered, as the whole country is diverse with walking trails, beaten smooth by isolated tribes walking across the valley.
To ride downhill gnarly trails you will need proper gears. Helmets are certainly mandatory for all riders. A basic bike is a good option as a start which you’ll eventually want to upgrade for improved performance, proper suspension and positioning. Body gear is highly recommended if you want to challenge yourself on trails with huge drops and narrow trails. Buying a bike without knowing the perfect fit to your needs can be really stressful. So, renting a bike may be a good idea because the rental shops surely offer you a wide number of bikes appropriate for you and your riding preference. Contact Gravity Nepal for the bike-rental service if you’re in Kathmandu. As for other gears, wear protective eye-wear to avoid dust and harmful rays. Padded shorts with a breathable outfit will be most helpful. You get to buy those small yet handy daypacks useful for keeping your bottle of water, protein bars and other things. Additionally, a good pair of shoes with a nice grip is also recommended for maintaining proper balance.
For your safety, shin guards, elbow pads and guards, plus full-face helmets are necessary. You need to do a proper stretch before and after every ride to stay in good shape. Correct stretch postures allow you to achieve greater aerodynamic position on the bike. As cyclists suffer from shortened muscles, stretching is one of the many important exercises. Don’t push yourself too hard and go slow. Fill yourself up with proteins and carbs to help being energized at all times. Nourish yourself with foods like oats, porridge, rice and rye bread for carbs and some beans, soy, eggs and meat for protein. Keep hydrating your body as you’re bound to lose a lot of sweat while riding. Be sure to keep your bike well-tuned and serviced to get rid of any difficulties. Cleaning and lubricating your chain on a regular basis and wiping any stains or mud off of your bike and derailleur wheels is good practise. If you’re planning to take a mountain biking trip, always pack light and never underestimate the terrain.
So grab yourself a bike and hop on gravity’s back for a thrilling downhill ride. Go on rides despite the reluctance to get out of bed. It’s really fun when you are in the outdoors. You feel so much freedom and relief from stress when you ride your bike. Enjoy the sport and never let the adventurous spirit die!