The recent Firestorm mountain biking event proved that Indian bikers have an uphill task ahead

If you thought mountain biking is big in India you are right. If you thought Indians could take on the best in mountain biking you could not be more wrong. It was proved comprehensively at the “Firestorm” mountain biking event recently that Indians have a long way to go in the field.

At the contest which attracted nearly a hundred participants there were only half a dozen foreigners. Yet the first three positions went to non-Indians. Among them were Luis Canto Moniz from Portugal who now lives in India and works with Ferrari Motors. Luis who came to India just a year ago has earlier participated in four-five biking events in Gurgaon, Shimla and Delhi. He completed the 30-kilometre distance in just 1 hour, 34 minutes and 6 seconds. After being declared winner, the 45-year-old Luis said, “The terrain here is harder than some other hill stations. It is fast and climbing down is a difficult task here. My tubeless tyres also helped me in escaping punctures.”

Johan Bentinck from Holland, now living in Dhaka, flew in specially for the event and took the second position with a time of 1 hour 40 minutes and 58 seconds. The 43-year-old Johan has earlier lived in Delhi. Marco Ferrario from Italy secured the third position, clocking 1 hour 42 minutes and 11 seconds. The 37-year-old Italian lives in Delhi. The winners took away cash prizes of Rs.50,000, 30,000 and 20,000 respectively.

The Indian participants can draw consolation from the fact that they could not only participate in such a rigorous race, but also complete it. The 30-kilometre long race began off Surajkund Road in the foothills of the Aravallis. It was a true test of endurance with broken rocks, dirt path and thorny Keekar trees along the way. In fact, one female participant Usha Prasad met with an early accident. In spite of wearing all the safety gadgets, she required prompt medical attention and two stitches.

However, another Indian Anita Groser proved sturdier, winning the women’s event. A homemaker and a mother of two, her task was made relatively easier because of the absence of foreign competitors in the segment. She got a prize of Rs.20,000, completing the 20-km race in 2 hours, 1 minute and 08 seconds.

Kavita Sri Mala Rao, a 12th standard student from Delhi, a silver medallist at the 2012 Pune Nationals, secured second position clocking 2 hours, 9 minutes and 43 seconds. She took home Rs.10,000.

The event was split into two categories; one was the ‘experts’ (five laps of approximately 30 km) and the other ‘enthusiasts’ (one lap of approximately six km). In the enthusiasts category, Himanshu Kumar from Delhi who covered the distance in 19 minutes and 3 seconds was declared the winner. Following him was Pradeep Kumar, also from Delhi, completing the distance in 19 minutes and 05 seconds. In the female section Monika from Chandigarh won the race, clocking 31 minutes and 41 seconds.

The one-day mountain biking event “Firestorm” was sponsored by Firefox and was supported by the Cycling Federation of India (CFI).

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