mountain bike magazine
Issue 09 | May 2012 | Free Download www.freeridermag.in
We are really happy with the response to our last issue and with help and support of our readers we are excited to bring our 9th issue featuring more stories and tests from India and Nepal. We rode across Rajasthan with British TV stars Denise Van Outen and Lydia Bright after the release of last issue. Recently we travelled South India to explore riding options in Yercaud and returned with a big smile on our face and positive report. After this issue we will be heading out to Karnataka, Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh to expose more hot trails to ride in India. In Nepal, Anthill Fims latest movie Strength in Numbers is all set for the world premiere. At the same time donâ€™t forget to check out a brilliant short riding movie in Mustang area by GauravMan Sherchan from Nepal ( http://vimeo.com/41029575 ).
Vineet Sharma Editor-in-Chief
COVER - Rider: Mandil Pradhan|Photo: GauravMan Sherchan | Mustang (Nepal) Editorial Photo: Vaibhav Nijhowne | Rider: Vineet Sharma | Location: UT forest, Chandigarh
CONTENTS COVER STORY
Meadow of Flowers| 6 INDIAN TRAILS
Coffee & Trails| 14 HOT EVENT
KOS Dan Cowans account| 21 EXPOSED & FRAMED
Kasia Darska| 26
Gautam Taode| 32 INDIAN TRAILS - 2
Turhalli | 34
New Hot Toys| 38
The Team: Editor in Chief: Vineet Sharma firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor: Vinay Menon email@example.com Contributing Editor: Vaibhav Nijhowne firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Editors and Photographers GauravMan Sherchan, James & Sarah Frampton, Tej Ram, Kasia Darska, Gautam Taode, Rahul K. Thomas, Anthill Films, Jeewan Jeet Singh, Sven Martin, Dan Cowan, Kiran Ghadge, Nilesh Dhumal. Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine #2434-A, Sector: 39-C Chandigarh. 160036 INDIA. ........................................................ This magazine is intended for free distribution and is only available through our web portal www.freeridermag.in ........................................................ Feel free to write or contribute. E-mail at: email@example.com
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NOTE: We have done our best to make sure that all content in this issue of Freerider mountain bike magazine is accurate, but would emphasise that we at Freerider mountian bike magazine accept no responsibility for any errors in the magazine/content or any errors caused to your computer while reading our magazine.
G N A T S U M
Before you start your mountain biking, you have to be in the mountains. A short 15 minutes flight from Pokhara, a jewel holiday destination in Nepal will take your breath away as you fly past the Annapurna Range and into the Kali Gandaki Gorge landing in Jomsom (2800m), at the foothills of Nilgiri standing grand.
ch by: GauravMan Sher Text & Photography n Rider: Mandil Pradha
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These photos were taken along the trail in Lower Mustang which was once an independent kingdom, although closely tied by language and culture to Tibet. From the 15th century to the 17th century, its strategic location granted Mustang control over the trade between the Himalayas and India. At the end of the 18th century the kingdom was annexed by Nepal. The trail starts from the Lubra ridge (Muktinath), at 4100 meters from where you can see Dhaulagiri 8167 metres (26795 ft), the seventh highest mountain in the world and you mountain bike into the Lubra village through some amazing single track trails into Lubra village, a classic Tibetan village. From there, you bike into the Kaligandaki Gorge, which is one of the worlds deepest gorge with Dhaulagiri (8176m) rising in the west and Nilgiri (another 7000 meter mountain) rising in the east. The bikers experience a taste the true Tibetan culture at its best, amazing views of the mountains as you mountain bike and arid Tibetan topography landscapes sure to blow you away with the wind blowing in the late afternoons at over 60-80 nots as a result of the wind tunnel in the KaliGandaki gorge.
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The trail continues into Thini, Marpha (a classic Thakali Village) very popular among tourists. As you bike further down, you will be amazed at home the arid landscape changes into lush green pine forests rising up to the high Himalayas but with even flowly trails, all along the Kali Gandaki Gorge. TO BE CONTINUED IN NEXT ISSUE (July 2012) Those of you willing to check out this kingdom on your mountian bikes can contact www.himalayanrides.com
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Gulmarg is a small ski resort sitting close to the Indian/ Pakistani border, 10km from the line of control. I have been visiting the resort in winters for years to snowboard the powder. I became increasingly keen to see what it had to offer in summer times too. I dreamed about riding the mountain on two wheels, and in summer 2011 this became a reality. Myself, my wife, and my Commencal Supreme travelled overland from the East, sharing the back seat of a rickety bus. The 24 hour journey consisted of twisting Himalayan roads, endless drops to one side, crumbling cliff faces on the other. Arriving in Gulmarg I quickly realized that my plan of a 3 week research trip was rapidly turning into something way bigger than I had ever imagined. Within days of being there we found ourselves working alongside the GDA (Gulmarg Development Authority) to help design and construct a new MTB resort.
Riding & Text: James Frampton Photography by: Sarah Frampton
W O D MEA s r e of flow
Gulmarg means ‘meadow of flowers’ and in the summer months the huge meadow is saturated with flora, giving justification to its name. The rideable terrain that descends from the resort takes you down a variety of trails, through ancient forests and fruit orchards. Tree roots fill the ride with challenging lines and steep drops. My first ride of the summer dropped in from the meadow, down. Steep lines and sick roots provided an intense, thrilling ride. After reaching the area of Baba Reshi, the trails continued a further seven km down. The track became more easy going, not so steep, but was still a great downhill ride. I was with a group of local guys, who became instantly hooked. With their help we were able to access funds from the GDA to begin to build Gulmargʼs first dedicated MTB trail, running from Mt. Apharwatʼs mid-station to the village base.
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We worked as volunteers, and spent weeks researching trails. It wasnʼt an easy task as I had to obtain numerous permission letters to continue the work - from the gondola management to the Indian Military, everyone had to be convinced it could work, and that I wasnʼt a militant trying infiltrate the borders! Mt Apharwat dominates the Gulmarg skyline. Being so close to the LOC the resort is heavy with military, more so in winter, as they practice high altitude mountain warfare. Although Kashmir has had it’s fair share of problems, the state is slowly catching up with adventure tourism, and gearing itself to becoming a fully-fledged adrenalin junkie playground. Winters are booming, and I wanted to help give summers a nudge too.
After weeks of pestering, I finally received permission to ride the peak. Having been closed to the public for over 20 years, this was an incredible feeling - taking a bike on ground that had never been ridden before. The Kongdoor gondola ascends Mt. Apharwat’s peaks, reaching it’s climax at 3990m making it the highest gondola in Asia, 2nd highest in the world.
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After 30 minutes of answering tourists questions, posing for photos and escaping the clutches of over-keen kids, I dropped in. From the top station I traced the ridge for three km, before being stopped in my tracks by Indian Military. My permission letters werenâ€™t enough to carry on, seemingly unable to convince them I wasnâ€™t a militant. I had to change my route to keep them happy, and chose a line that cut back across the mountainâ€™s face. The Commencal did me proud, and 300m vertical later I hit my original trail. Huge boulders, fallen rocks and breath-taking Himalayan views came into my sight and I rode a further 1km vert until I reached the mid-station base. It was an epic ride, but I knew there was more to discover and could only do this with further research and permission. I was determined to experience the mountains full potential, but had get by the soldiers in order to do this. While waiting for permission I spent my time researching trails. Both from the mountains top and mid-station, as well as runs from Gulmarg down through the forests to the traditional villages below.
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I woke one morning to find 20 Burmese refugees waiting outside my door, with basic tools and flip flops, ready to begin trail work. With a massive language barrier as no english was spoken we began work. We worked every day for three weeks to reach the bottom. The track has been named â€˜Khilmish Trailâ€™ after a berry shrub that surrounds it, and begins at the mountains mid-station. It flows through fertile jungle and rock gardens, passing nomadic tribal huts in the distance. There are trail filters at the start to help the locals progress, and a mix of bermed and off camber corners. The GDA have promised to build more trails next year, and for the foreseeable future ahead. It was an incredible summer. The local authorities were so supportive. We visited to find out the possibilities, and to show our friends what mountain biking could be. A chance for a different future as well as a sport. This was only the start, who knows where it could end.
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Gulmarg Resort will be open to bikers May/June 2012, as soon as the snow melts. The ticket prices for the gondola on the first phase is 150rs, while the 2nd phase is 250rs for a one-way ride. Although we sometimes found ourselves battling with the gondola staff to give us access, we have been promised that bikers will have no problems using the gondola in 2012. The resort will stay open all year, but snowfall will ultimately close the resort to riders, from October/ November onwards. Accommodation in the resort tends to be more expensive than the rest of India. You can still find a few basic, cheap rooms for around 800rs, but the majority of hotels are priced 3000rs and up.
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Gravity Assault Tours is a UK company, offering adrenalin-fueled downhill and freeride mountain bike tours in the Indian Himalayas. All tours are fully guided and include all uplifts, so minimal walking is required. As well as Gulmarg we also offer guided tours in and around the stunning region of Manali, Himachal Pradesh. Here you can sample some of Indiaâ€™s most spectacular terrain, with snow-capped peaks, stunning waterfalls and deep valleys as your backdrop. Our Manali tours include descending off-road down the infamous Rohtang Pass, using secret trails and ancient tracks, we will show you the best of what the Indian Himalaya has to offer. Our tours will take you down steep, rocky terrain, through traditional mountain villages, fruit-filled orchards, paddy fields and terraces. Its free-riding at its best. Raw, rugged and unique. We offer the highest professional service and safety is paramount. Check out their website: www.gravityassault.com or contact for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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INDIAN TRAILS Text & Riding by: Vineet Sharma | Photography by: Tej Ram
Riding around Yercaud (Tamil Nadu) Summer – Time to teach mountain biking to school kids who have never experienced this sport before. I have travelled to many places in India for this work and I love it as it gives me a chance to check out this wonderful country, meet new people and educate the new generation about mountain biking. This summer I got a chance to check out a small hill station “Yercaud” in the Southern India state Tamil Nadu. Before leaving I had imagined the place to be just hot, plain and full of thorns. But once I crossed Bangalore and entered Salem District my imagination was proven wrong when the scenery changed and Shevaroys range of hills were in sight! Soon I was climbing up to Yercaud main town which comes after 20 hairpin bends uphill. As a popular tourist destination, Yercaud is also called the “Jewel of the South”. Scenically, Yercaud is as enchanting and picturesque as the hill stations on the Western ghats and I soon realized mountain biking here can be one of the most pleasurable ways to pass time. The place is full of Coffee and Black Pepper plantation, and that’s where I had my camp site.
The camp was located in NS estate just 100meters away from Karadiyur watch tower. This spot is very famous among the locals who visit there very often with their family members. From this watch tower you can check out the glowing town of Salem during night.
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Without wasting time I unpacked and assembled my bike and was all set to ride around this estate full trails and jeep tracks. No sign of tarmac made me very happy and started the ride with a lose rocky downhill stretch. The N.S Estate was full of downhill trails or demanding climbs only! Snakes, Scorpions and sometimes big Chameleons can greet you during the ride.
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The kids were pretty worked up at the end of the day and slept like a star fish. Surprisingly they were ready for the next day and were performing better. The only thing they hated were the climbs which sometimes were super steep and never ending. After few days I also got a chance to cycle to the main town of Yercaud which was a joy cross country ride of 11 KM one way. You can see so many riding options around the areaâ€Śand I mean really sick trails everywhere. Unfortunately, you cannot enter these trails as the estate owners are pretty strict about trespassing. Once you are caught trespassing some other estate â€“ you will not be released until the owner of the estate where you are residing, comes to the police station and apologizes in public to the estate owner where you trespassed. Keeping this in mind I tried to act bit smart and requested the guard to let me in for some-time. The curious guard started admiring my bike for couple of minutes and then asked me to walk away from the estate!! Feeling weird and insulted I carried on cycling to the town and back.
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I did manage to locate few trails that go through the village areas and were fun to ride. Checking out surprised villagers who never saw mountain bikes zipping through their village was also a good experience. These people are pretty friendly and showed more places to ride and also warned about Bisonâ€™s! Yes sir..the place has lot of Bisonâ€™s and locals donâ€™t dare to go close to these beasts. Not to mention I had become more active while riding around and scanning the farms and trails before entering them.
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During my 3rd week, I became addicted to this place and every day was super fun riding around the coffee plantation and chewing black pepper. Yercaud is definitely a fun to ride place. People from Bangalore can drive and reach here in around 4 hours. There are lots of guest houses and hotels in the main town of Yercaud and you have to take permission from the estate owners to ride offroad. Its worth it without any doubt!
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DAN COWANS ACCOUNT
By: Dan Cowan
Getting the opportunity to go to India and perform our Flowshow was a dream come true. India has always being one of the countries I’ve dreamed about visiting and to be able to do a bike show there with India’s most prominent mountain bikers was an honor. To make it even more exciting the show was part of an even bigger event featuring extreme freestyle motocross riding from some of the best riders in the World - it was a perfect fit. Our Flowshow has being doing big gnarly shows for over ten years here in Canada and we’ve also had the opportunity to do our shows in many locations through North America, and Europe. But going into Asia was the biggest step yet for us. After all, there has never been such a big mountain bike/FMX show ever in this part of the subcontinent and this was to be history in the making, and we were there making it happen. Of course the KOS crew were the ones who were really making it happen. Just to get us all there must have been a major undertaking, not to mention the freestyle motocross guys, the huge set-up for both mountain bikes and FMX, the massive sound system, pyrotechnics and much, much more.
Frankie Vass and Dangerous Dan Cowan at the KOS 2011 Venue
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To be honest, we really didn’t know what to expect. I had talked to many people who had been to India for trips etc. but of course there was no one who could give me an indication on what KOS (Kingdom Of Stunts) would be like given the fact there had never being anything like it...ever.
None of this would have happened from our perspective if it weren’t for VinayMenon. Vinay contacted me about ten years ago to inquire about various aspects of mountain biking and to share his enthusiasm for the sport in his country. Of course back then Vinay was probably one of a handful of mountain bikers in the entire country. I found it very fascinating that the influence of North Shore mountain biking that I had being a major developer of, had spread to a place like India and that there was at least one person in a country of a billion people who was super stoked on it.
Vinay continued to communicate through the years and even met up briefly here in Canada when he was on a mountain bike trip to the “promised land”. So when Vinay emailed me about this potential gig, of course I was very excited. We were wondering if it was going to happen to almost the last minute. I had all our riders ready to go, and they were as excited as me. We had four of the Flowshow’s finest - Mike Laudrum, Andrew Baker, Frankie Vass and Andrew Bigelow. After receiving our e-tickets the game was on, and our level of stokedness ramped up....
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As I mentioned we really didn’t know what to expect. I have done my fair share of travelling so arriving in Mumbai was not quite the shock that some of the younger guys might have had, in particular Bigelow, who had arrived slightly earlier looked a little sweaty and stressed with the hassle of the airport people. However, the ‘KOS’team had it dialed. We were picked up promptly and headed to Pune.
Mike Laudrum in action
Like we were promised, the accommodations in Pune were top-notched. The food was amazing; the rooms incredible (don’t think I’ve ever had better on any Flow Show trip in fact). Getting to the site was pretty hectic at times given the traffic situation in Pune, but for us it was fascinating because of course there is nothing even remotely close to it here in Canada. The sounds, the sites, the smells were all new and that’s super cool. We were amazed out how laid back everyone seemed to be considering the craziness of the city....
The site was perfect for what we had to do and we started right away with the design. With five of us and Vinay it didn’t take long to settle on a cool design with the mountain bike track circling the big FMX hits. It was amazing to see how well the mountain bike complemented the motocross and the motocross the mountain bikes.
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The steel structures with bamboo scaffolding and rope seemed sketchy at first but when it was finished I was amazed at how strong and solid everything actually felt. I was stoked and so were the boys. Like any event we’ve done, things were really hectic up until the time of the event and you always wonder if things are actually going to come together. Amazingly, Karan Chavanand Eeshan Lokhande of ‘KOS’ pulled it off and in fact made it the most amazing show I’ve ever being a part of.
Andrew Bigelow in action at KOS 2011
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By the second night things were dialed. The crowd was responding and the riders were on fire (actually almost on fire literally with the pyrotechnics). The back flipping, 360’ing tailwhipping mountain bikers were weaving in well with the massive airs of the back flipping, whipping freestyle motocrossers. To see this thing transpiring before my eyes in India was truly a dream. As I’m sure it was a dream for everyone involved
Being part of the evolution of mountain biking in India has been one the most inspiring aspects of my life in the sport which spans over twenty years. We’re keen to help continue this evolution in a country that is undoubtedly embracing the sport full on....looking forward to KOS 2 and more adventures in India.
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EXPOSED FRAMED Kasia Darska, an amazing artist and a mountain biker from Poland
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Artwork: Kasia Darska
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Artwork: Kasia Darska
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Artwork: Kasia Darska
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Artwork: Kasia Darska
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Text & Photography by: Rahul K. Thomas | http://beingthomas.wordpress.com/
Stand up on the pedals and feel the rush as you roll six-and-a-half feet down the rock and lean into a long left-handed curve. You want to crank harder but the dry, dusty track has you wary as you stick that left leg out for balance. Switchback left and head straight for the crack in the rocks. As you squeeze through, you realise you’re going too fast. Your brain screams, “STOP!” You battle the reflex that makes you want to grab those hair-trigger brakes and, instead, gently tease it with a finger. Take the switchback to the right and the urge to stare at what’s immediately in front of your wheel is overwhelming as you dodge rocks and struggle to keep from skidding through a rut. The trail banks right around a massive rock. You fight the sand which threatens to fling you headfirst into a little stone – a stone so inch-perfectly placed to split your skull that it has to be work of some diabolical entity. Slip and slide your way around the rock and you’re greeted by the welcome sight of a long straight sloping upwards to a crest. Excited at finally regaining control over your fate, you crank away and burst over the top only to be brought down to earth. The trail banks hard right and then left immediately. You overshoot. If you’re lucky, you slow down enough to take the second turnoff. Blitz down the long, pebble-strewn straight at breakneck speed and shred your way up a short rise to hit the last of the straights – dusty, sandy and deceptively easy. Stay off the brakes and grimly pray you sussed the right pressure for the tyres to be able to do their job. Hit the bottom at full pelt, jink left, take the chicken line and hang on. The trail dips and lifts as it slingshots you straight towards an obstinate outcrop. Something’s wrong! Pedal spin’s shifted your left foot off kilter. You’re moving too quick to shift back and that rock is coming up fast. Bank right! Too late. First line missed. Your rear brake sends you into a sketchy skid as you make the second line. Barrel down the last stretch still balancing the bike with one good leg, dodge the tree and as you come around the last curve, a smile begins to spread. You’ve made it. Without a fall. And you were pretty quick too. Wham! Only wind beneath your feet. Faceplant! You bite the dust with sickening crunch and lie there in the swirling dust trying to breathe. Trying to figure out where your bike is. It’s done a couple of flips and lies forlornly in the dust, ten feet away. You hope like hell you haven’t broken anything – on you and your ride. As you painfully pick yourself up, people come running up – walkers, bird-watchers and random strangers. They all wear a curious mixture of expressions on their faces – concern (for soundness of body), amusement (at obvious unsoundness of mind) and bewilderment (over what would possess someone to do something this idiotic).
The diabolical entity which is the life-force of Turahalli looks on and smiles - a hard lesson taught. Note to self: It ain’t over until the wheels stop spinning! In the sport of downhill mountain biking, tragedy lurks behind the most innocuous-looking corner. Just ask the two who broke their collar bones at last year’s downhill race at Turahalli – one a noob (in practice), the other the man who came in second, only to take a toss while having a little fun after. You trudge home with your bruised baby in tow, sights squarely fixed on the next ride. Turahalli – yesterday, today and tomorrow Sometime in April of 2009, I stepped out of the house in the wee hours of the morning to make what seemed like a loooooong trip out of the city. I was accompanying a couple of climbers to a place locally famous for great bouldering action. Spread over a number of little hills, Turahalli turned out to be a reserve forest filled with rocks off all shapes and sizes each of which was being sized-up by a motley crew, all with the same gleam in their eyes – climbers eyeballing the day’s challenges. Somewhere around the same time, a young man from a related tribe spun his crank down Kanakpura way on a quest of his own. As he made his way towards the outskirts of Bangalore, Nilesh ‘Nelly’ Dhumal kept asking puzzled locals if they knew of a hill with a mandir on top. Why a hill with a mandir? Well, he knew something known only to members of his tribe. And when he finally passed a curve in the road and spotted the hill, he knew he had been right. For as only members of the Indian downhill mountain biking tribe know, where a mandir sits on top of a hill, there awaits a course begging to be shredded. The next time I went bouldering at Turahalli, I was presented with the somewhat curious spectacle of three helmeted men lugging bikes up the hill while a fourth dragged rocks off the trail. Word had gotten out and Tribe MTB had begun their infiltration of Climber Central.
Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine | 35 Nilesh ‘Nelly’ Dhumal at Turhalli
Riding with the man who opened up Turahalli to mountain bikers, one learns to view things in a different light. You learn to memorise the course, begin turning before you actually see your destination, work up the nerve to take a few drops and keep coming back after a faceplant (as I did). It’s been a while since that first sight of the hill with the mandir and, over time, Nelly’s come to know it well enough to roll ol’ Faith(ful) back down the hill in the dark, riding the trail from memory. Turahalli is now a favoured venue for the offroad races of the hugely-popular Bangalore Bicycle Championship, hosting XC, downhill and even cyclocross races. Last year’s downhill races saw participants from across the country shooting it out on the slopes. The last XC race which took place barely two months ago saw a monstrous turnout. Weekends see Turahalli thronged by riders of all levels, from noobs eager to get out of town and experience a break from their humdrum lives to experts trying to build jumps, take drops and up the ante in general. When Tribe MTB Chieftain Nelly calls out to the Bangalore Bikers Club to enlist help to build a trail, people enthusiastically respond and pitch in. The downhill line has metamorphosised over the years. Erosion has smoothed some of it, the forest rangers have blocked them with rocks, plants have grown and things have shifted, ramps have been built and mud cleared. Each new change throws up a new challenge and keeps the rider sharp.
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But, every story has to have a darker side. Multi-storey apartments are beginning to form the backdrop of the trail and in the not-too-distant future, Turahalli might become something of an island in a concrete sea. This isn’t the first time Turahalli has been under threat however. Climbers talk about how Turahalli was under threat more than a decade ago from land-grabbers. In a bid to save what was then an arid land, fast-growing trees were planted and the area was declared a reserve forest. These same trees now form neat rows and a beautiful green cover - the same trees through which bikers now fly in headlong pursuit of a rush. The government is toying with the suggestion of making it a park but this isn’t the greatest of news for us as it’s hard to imagine a rider shredding his way through a trail dotted with lost lovers. For the moment though, Turahalli’s trails continue to provide endless days of great riding, climbing and other outdoor activities. The local biking community is hard at work building some great ramps and opening up new lines for this year’s downhill championships. So, if you’re in search of a rush and like to live life on the (t)rails, come on down to Turahalli this July and put your body where your mouth is.
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E C I U J H S
Kona Bicycles are well known for their downhill / freeride rigs since ages. They aren’t new to the mountain biking business. Being one of the most influential names in freeriding and having a cult following all over the globe, Kona Bicycles have been sliding out quality bicycles since the late eighties. Not following the regular path in mountain bike designs and concepts, Kona Bicycles carved a niche for themselves in the late nineties with bikes like the aggressive hardtail called Chute along with the Stab and Stinky series of full suspension monsters that made affordable trash-able bikes a reality. In India, Kona Bicycles are distributed by “Rider Owned Bicycles” of Pune since 2008. The bicycle being reviewed here is the Kona Blast (16”), a hardtail trail bike. In a week of riding, the Blast was bombarded with steep climbs and moderately technical decents. Heres an account of what the Blast stood up to.
Text & Photography: Vinay Menon
| Rider: Nilesh Dhumal
The Ride: As any hardtail trail bike the Kona Blast performed efficiently on hardpack smooth trails. The steep head angle complimented the light build of the Blast on the climbs. Though the stock tires were pretty good on most of the terrain, it did keep washing off on ‘out of the saddle climbs’ on gravel trails. The WTB Valcon Sport saddle kept the rider blister free through the long summer rides. The crisp shifting and affordable Shimano Deore SGS was a delight on the Blast as it kept the chain department under control on struttery sections
FRAME: Kona Race Light (7005Al Butted)| FORK: RockShox TORA TK Coil 100mm W/Lockout | HEADSET: FSA | HANDLEBAR: Kona XC/BC Riser STEM: Kona XC/Road | SEATPOST: TKona Thumb w/offset | DERAILLEURS: Shimano Deore SGS| SHIFTERS: Shimano ALIVIO | BRAKES: AShimano M445 Hydraulic Caliper w/180 & 160mm Rotor | CRANKSET: Shimano FC-M430 | RIMS: Alex Ace-18 | TIRES: Maxxis Aspen PRICE: 48,000 INR which keeps them out of the way. Cockpit: Kona’s in house XC/BC, 31.8mm OS Low rise handlebar (710mm Wide) paired with their in house XC/Road 4 bolt stem helped maintain a snug hold on the Blast in tricky sections. These bars seemed stiff enough on the pounding climbs too. With a solid grip on the bike the WTB Valcon Sport saddle added value to the Blast’s cockpit with its comfortable padding and designer looks. Though the pedals are something of a riders personal preference, the Blast comes with a basic Wellgo platform pedal, which worked fine for basic mountain biking.
Frame: The 7005Al butted tubes on the Blast lets the frame run light with its thinner walls. The internal headset, neatly routed cables under the top tube, concealed welds and the hydro-formed downtube gusset, some aspects of expensive models, are all squeezed into the Kona Blast frame at an affordable price. Wheels: The Blast comes stock with the Alex Ace-18 (6061Al) trail riding rims. These 32 spokes rims are laced on Formula front disc hub and a Shimano M475 rear disc hub. Through a week of trashing, these wheels held up just fine for the purpose they are built for – Trail Riding/XC. You may not want to go overboard with bigger jumps, cased landings, etc. on these wheels, they are not meant for extreme freeriding. The Maxxis Aspen 2.1” tires were a decent mix on the Blast, as they rolled fast on the smoother sections of the trail and gave enough hold on the rocky patches. While running higher PSI, the Aspen did wash off on loose gravel climbs, for which we ran mid PSI as recommended and the ride became a bit more controlled.
Overall Performance: The Blast lived up to the quality that Kona Bicycles have come to be known for.Perfect trail gearing along with stiff cranks, the Blast kept cruising through even the rough sections of the trail. Reliable trail bike with an affordable The smooth engagement of Shimano’s budget price tag is a perfect fit for the Blast. trail brake system is a bonus on a bike in this A total fun hardtail, this slick blue trail price range in India. These Shimano M445s felt bee is sure to get listed in India’s trail riders and adventure racers wish list. hassle free through the week long trail use. Brakes: Something that’s good for the price on the Kona Blast is the Shimano M445 Hydraulic brake. With a 7” Front rotor and a 6” Rear rotor, the Kona Blast truly is under control on fast scary descents.
Jumping is all about control. The more control you have, the higher you go. With sturdy 32mm upper tubes, the Maxle Lite thru axle and externally adjustable Motion Control damping, the sky is the limit. Adding an even longer and lighter 140mm chassis to the Argyle lineup, this fork gives you the precision to dig deeper, go higher and nail the landing so smoothly all youâ€™ll hear is silence.
After testing the fork for a week in and around city and on different obstacles we found the fork performing like an ace. We will keep on monitoring the performance and update in our coming issues in long term tests.
The Argyle RCT Solo Air fork claims to weigh around 2016 grams and has adjustment options like External Rebound, Low Speed Compression, Tooled Floodgate and a Air adjustment valve. The fork also comes with a 20mm Maxle Lite which makes the life and ride more comfortable. The new Maxle has been designed and engineered to reduce the weight where it is not required.
Text & Photography: Vineet Sharma | Rider: Jeewan Jeet Singh Dhillon If you fancy Dirt Jumping or Slope Stlye riding and want a light fork that can take whatever you throw at it, then Rock Shox Argyle RCT is a perfect weapon for you. We tested the new 2012 Rock Shox Argyle RCT and were totally impressed by its performance. The Argyle RCT is packed with Motion Control, Solo Air and Maxle lite options and is top of the line Argyle series.
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NOV A TEC Mountain Bike Hubs Text & Photography: Vineet Sharma
Novatec hubs may not be very well known, but they have been out there for a long time since 1989 delivering quality hubs and wheels to well known companies all over the world. Every product in Novatec Brand is all made in Taiwan. We decided to test the Novatec D041SB and D042SB-SA mountain bike hubs. These anodized red babies include a Cr-Mo axis and 7075 aluminum cassette body and sealed bearings. Front hub weighs around 216 Gms and rear apprx 414 Gms. The rear hub comes with 3 pawls and isnâ€™t much noisy. The hubs have really smooth rolling and finish and will be tested on various terrain and locations. Watch out for the long term test in our coming issues.
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Text & Photography: Vineet Sharma
Answer Rove Dirt Jump Stem
This stem looks like a part out of Transformers and is as strong as it is simple. It is made of 7075 series alloy for maximum strength and features a wide faceplate for stiffness and evenly distributed clamp force. Two lengths allow you to perfectly dial in your reach. The stem give super strong feeling to the cockpit and looks good at the same time.
Answer Pro Taper 780 DH Riser Bar
Answer Pro Taper 780 DH Riser Bar is strong, wide, and low. It features ProTAPER technology to put added strength in the clamp and rise sections without adding excess weight at the ends of the bar. Cutmarks make it easy to cut to your desired length. These bars were hooked to the Rove Dirt Jump stem.
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We introduced the 2012 Avid Elixir 7 in our 6th issue (November 2011). We have been testing the Elixir 7 ever since in various locations and weather. So far the brakes are working pretty well offering good modulation and A+ stopping power. The lever feel is really awesome, by far the best we have experienced.
Initially we had an issue with the pads compressing in really hot weather, but we figured out that it can be corrected with the reach adjustment dial.
From the looks of it these brakes will keep taking more and more. In other words - pure and simple performance is what you can expect with the Avid Elixir 7.
Text: Vineet Sharma | Photography: Rahul Datta
2012 AVID ELIXIR 7 LONG TERM TEST
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www.anthillfilms.com/strengthinnumbers Anthill Films, The production company that brought you follow me and the crew behind Seasons, Roam and The Collective, is excited to announce a new film called ‘Strength In Numbers’ to be released Spring 2012. Strength in Numbers will explore the shared experience that connect us all, regardless of location or language, as mountain bikers. From the weekend warrior chained to a desk to the bike-bum who worries that even riding every single day of the season still might not be quite enough to satisfy. The purist riding alone in far-flung parts of the globe has the same single-minded focus that drives the most elite racers to be world champion. Call it passion, obsession or something else that we can’t quite put our finger on, the film will delve into diverse mountain bike communities in search of an answer. But Strength in Numbers will be more than just a film. Following the community-bases film concept, Strength in Numbers will be available for all mountain bikers to experience and share. The film will be available for free – online. At the end of a worldwide premier tour in spring 2012, Strength in Numbers will be streamed online for free- creating the potential to spread the culture of mountain biking to every corner of the planet. “As a crew, We’re always looking for ways to grow the sport and one day it just hit us… we should make the move free.” Says Darcy Wittenburg Producer/ Cinematographer for Anthill Films. “We’ve been talking about it for a while but now the technology has reached a point where we feel like we can pull it off at a level that our audience has come to expect. its bit scary to just put it out there – but we’d rather be trying new, unique things than settling for what’s comfortable.” Free online streaming will not be the only way to see the film. On top of exclusive worldwide premiere events, fans will have the opportunity to get the film in all kinds of formats. For those that want a digital copy when not connected to the internet, a low cost download will be available through iTunes and the Anthill website. As well, a limited edition DVD/BluRay will be available with tons of extra features, including a full-length documentary about the making of the film. Anthill has spent more time and money than ever before to make sure Strength in Numbers showcases the crew’s best possible work. Since wrapping up Follow Me last spring, the crew and riders have spent months researching and developing stories that represent the many different sides of the sport. “From concept to visuals this is our most ambitious project ever”, says Darcy. “Our goal is to create something that helps define the culture of our sport.” To execute this vision, Anthill has invested heavily in all new production equipment that will integrate camera systems such as Phantom HD and Red Epic into a completely overhauled kit.
FACTORY RACING Photography by: Sven Martin
launches team look
Finalising a three year deal with Shimano this winter means the team will be running Shimano Saint groupsets, Shimano shoes, and Atherton edition Pro components aboard the quiver of GT bikes. Also gracing the bikes will be Fox suspension products, which in turn will be supported by Fox’s race program, custom tuning and product support from world class technicians. New team member Marc Beaumont said ‘’Switching to the Shimano and Fox components this off season has been smoother than I expected, the Fury hasn’t felt this good in years!” Continental continues to supply the ‘Black Chili’ rubber for the team which keeps the bikes firmly on line. “Working with Continental is really good for me right now, they have a whole host of tyres that I can use for enduro, I’m favouring the Rubber Queen and Baron at the moment they are both so good’ Mentioned eldest sibling Dan.
The GT Factory Racing Team is raring to go at the first World Cup of 2012! The team launched its striking new look while out on their pre-season training camp in Newport Beach, California. The strong design heritage of GT bicycles’ race teams was always going to be a hard act to follow but the team have worked with GT’s designers and new apparel sponsor ONE Industries to put together a sleek and professional look for the 2012 season.
On board the team issue GT Fury and decked out in the latest ONE industries kit, the team showed off the black, yellow and white colour-way that will be gracing mountain bike events around the globe this year. “We’ve gone for a subtler look this year for our main race kit but don’t worry, we’ll be mixing it up with a few other offerings from ONE as the year progresses” said 2008 World Champion Rachel Atherton.
Meanwhile E-13 supply the chain-guides, new sponsor FSA supply the headsets, Stan’s No Tubes keeps the guys inflated, while tibolts.co.uk finishes off the build to ensure the weight of the bikes is kept to a minimum. Hitting up races the world over the team have again selected the Mercedes Vito Sport as our vehicle partner for 2012, “The amount of miles we do in the Vito Sports is amazing, I think we clocked up over 60’000 last year alone yet the van is still awesome, as perfect for those long trips between races as it is for nipping down to the local trails’ commented Gee Atherton. Using the amazing Alpi Bike Resort in Torinio, Italy as its base for the summer the team’s schedule will take in the full World Cup circuit, Crankworx Canada and Europe, Mega Avalanche, Super Enduros, select BDS events as well as Rampage and a host of other Enduro events.
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Photography: Vineet Sharma | Rider: Kabir Dhillon
Issue # 9 - May 2012