In the west, mountain biking as an extreme adventure sport has been popular for a long time now and is slowly making its way to India as well. Given the rough high altitude terrains, the Indian Himalayas have to offer, it is no surprise then that mountain biking has become a popular sport amongst many, in a short span of time. Off-road driving through tracks that barely exist, on bikes specially designed to withstand the dangerous rugged terrain- that is the kind of thrill mountain bikers seek. Mountain biking requires rigorous training and expertise as it involves riding uphill and downhill on difficult roads, and hence the biker must be familiar with precise navigation and maneuvering. Professional guidance is advised at all times. Riding in these conditions and being able to handle the bike is an ultimate test of fitness, nerve and endurance.
Mountain biking apart from being a well-recognized adventure sport internationally is gaining popularity in the Indian adventure sports scene. The northern ranges of Himalaya and Shivalik are a hot-spot for mountain biking for Indian as well as international enthusiasts. Biking trails in Munnar, Chennai and Kerala are also emerging as go-to spots for the bikers in the southern part of India as well. Apart from exploring the enthralling natural off-road trails, India now has a few specially designed mountain biking arenas and parks as well for you try your hand at before venturing out in the wild. These parks facilitate biking in a low-risk environment for you to hone your skills until you become a pro.
Mountain Biking Destinations in India
If you own a mountain bike you can head out to one of the trails mentioned below. No need to worry if you don’t own one. There are numerous agencies and cycling clubs that would rent you one at the venue if you sign up for their biking expeditions as an individual or even as a group. You can choose between Downhill (DH), Cross-country (XC) and a few other kinds of tours available in different parts of the country. These tours usually last for anywhere between 5-15 days depending upon the difficulty and length of the trail. Listed below are the major biking zones where the most popular trails in India are:
LEH – ZANSKAR, LADAKH
At an altitude of 4500 meters, this is one of the most demanding and dangerous tours in the country. The trails here are considered the epitome of adventure and risk in the amongst the biking enthusiasts in the country.
MANALI – LEH, HIMACHAL PRADESH
This tour is right up there with the Leh-Zanskar tour in terms of its risks and the level of skill required to undertake it. It stretches from the daunting trails of Manali and dramatically goes on to the highest motorable pass in the world- Khardungla, and further.
KANGRA VALLEY, HIMACHAL PRADESH
This 260 kilometres long thrilling tour in the spectacular Dhauladhar range is full of obstacles and is mountain bikers wet dream.
KUMAON & GARHWAL, UTTARAKHAND
The whole tour is an endless saga of steep uphill climb along a rocky terrain which makes for an excellent mountain biking location.
Mountain Biking Courses and Certifications
The Cycling Federation of India (CFI) is the apex body for mountain biking. It organizes approves and certifies most mountain biking races and expeditions around the country. Formal training for mountain biking can be taken from privately owned biking clubs and even independently. Along with the Cycling Federation of India, MTB Himalaya organizes eight major biking events throughout the year across all formats for bikers around the world to test their skills at.
Career in Mountain Biking
Becoming a professional mountain biker is an excellent career option. Especially with the rapid emergence and presence of a flourishing mountain biking culture in the country. There are multiple events and professional races throughout the year and all over the country.