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freerider mountain bike magazine

ISSUE 17 / SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2013 / FREE DOWNLOAD www.freeridermag.in


EXCLUSIVE STORY Getting High in the Himalayas | 5

EPIC INDIAN TRAIL Monsoon Mashup | 38

FRESH JUICE iXS Gear + More | 50

EPIC INDIAN TRAIL Highway to Heaven | 43

COVER | PHOTO: Vineet Sharma | RIDER: Guido Tschugg | LOCATION: Sarchu, INDIA

WHATS UP Chriss Keeling’s Biking Adventure in France + More| 56


PHOTO: Naveen Barongpa| RIDER: Vineet Sharma, Carlos Blanchard Nerin and Arne Reh | LOCATION: Sarchu, INDIA

Monsoons are almost over and a new chapter in the history of Indian mountain biking took place recently in the mighty Himalayas with star riders Andi Wittmann, Guido Tschugg and the crew. We were really pleased to be a part of it and here we are… “Alive” to tell you the complete story of the epic road trip in this Big Mountain Special. This is probably our first mega size edition which sucked out a lot of energy and it’s worth it as always. I hope this Big Mountain Special will inspire the budding mountain bikers from India to research the unexplored trails which are waiting for us impatiently.

Vineet Sharma

Founder | Editor-in-Chief Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine vineet@freeridermag.in

The Team: Editor in Chief: Vineet Sharma vineet@freeridermag.in Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine #410, Sector: 10 Panchkula (Haryana). 134109 - INDIA. ........................................................ This magazine is intended for free distribution and is only available through our web portal. E-mail us for more details. www.freeridermag.in ........................................................ Feel free to write or contribute. E-mail at: vineet@freeridermag.in | vinay@freeridermag.in

Deputy Editor: Vinay Menon vinay@freeridermag.in BMX Agent: Dipak Panchal dipak@freeridermag.in Himalayan Trails Minister: Naveen Barongpa

Contributing Editors and Photographers Chris Keeling, Stephen J Keeling, Valentin Garyga, Stalin SM, Red Bull Media, Swati Langeh, Robin Darius Conz


An epic road trip with Andi Wittmann and Guido Tschugg Words & Photography: Vineet Sharma

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How it started: Andi Wittmann and I were having a general chat last year and the plan to ride the big mountains in the Indian Himalayas came up erratically. Who wouldn’t love to test their riding skills and have fun in the Great Himalayas which are extremely demanding at the same time. After months of conversations we decided to make this trip a reality in the Ladakh region located in the Indian state of “Jammu and Kashmir”. To make it interesting, it was later revealed that famous RedBull rider from Germany ‘Guido Tschugg’ would also accompany Andi Wittmann “The Host of the famous Nine Knights” during this epic road trip.

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Plan progression:

After all the hellos and hugs we started loading the luggage and bike boxes in the shuttle bus which took us to the convoy waiting for us.

After finalizing the locations and logistics, the riders and the crew from Europe lands at the New Delhi Airport on a hot sunny morning of June. I had to travel down to Delhi all the way from a small Himalayan town ‘Manali’ located in Himachal Pradesh. The fifteen hour bus journey was very annoying as I could not sleep at all because of the bad road conditions. My partner ‘Vinay Menon’ one of famous Indian mountain biking pioneer known for hucking was already with the crew. I finally located the group and was surprised to see that everybody was out so soon. Usually it takes more than an hour to check out with bike boxes. A gentle Hello by Andi and Guido started the greeting session and the introduction started with the crew members Arne and Carlos. A familiar face popped out and I was surprised to see Martin who met me during his last visit to India.

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The journey starts: The journey starts from New Delhi airport and we headed to the RedBull India office to pick our RedBull supplies for the next ten days. The RedBull India team was really excited to see us and the 15 minutes meeting stretched to good 2 hours and we were thinking about the long road journey ahead of us. After getting our lunch packed we charged to the next stop “Chandigarh”, my hometown 250Km North from Delhi. During a small stop mid-way I realized the vehicle with the other crew members were sweating and sitting without their shirts on. Later it was found that the driver was assuming that the fellows love hot weather and that’s the reason why he did not turn the air conditioner on! However everybody was relieved to know that their van atleast had Air-conditioning. Approximately 5 hours later we reached Chandigarh where we interacted with local riders Dhruv, Jeewan and Kabir. Unfortunately it got dark soon and we had another 9 hour journey ahead of us. After a quick dinner we were on the road again… Sleeping. I woke up after an hour when the driver opened the windows as we entered the mountains and I found Andi and Guido giggling because I was sleeping with my neck literally bending 90 degree left and drooling at the same time. Soon we found ourselves stuck in a traffic jam (in the mountains) with lot of trucks! The drive later requested me to take over the wheels as he was sleepy. He woke up early morning when we were about to enter Manali. The boys were stoked to check out the mountains with the first sun light hitting on them. We were waiting eagerly to reach Solang Valley where we had our rooms booked. Not to mention another half-hour traffic jam we had to negotiate because of the peak tourist season.

We finally reached Solang Valley where our team member Naveen Baronpa was waiting for us eagerly. Everybody decided to rest for an hour or two which we really deserved.

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Two Wheels finally: We woke up and could not wait to assemble the bikes and start riding them.

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Arne, Martin and Carlos were busy shooting the epic scenery at 8,500 Feet while Andi and Guido were pulling their bikes out of the box to assemble them. After couple of minutes 8 full suspension mountain bikes, photo and video shooting gear were ready for some action with us and to acclimatize at the same time.

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We cranked to the Ski Himalayas – Solang Ropeway and Ski Centre which is the only ski resort in Himachal Pradesh with modern gondola and ski lift facilities. Ski Himalayas had already arranged our boarding passes so that we can shuttle the bikes to Mt. Phatru at 9,500 Ft. Hundreds of tourists at the ski resort were watching us with confusion as people in colourful clothes with bikes on a gondola is not a common sight in India.

While they all were figuring out what we were upto, we were crossing the que with special access and soon we were on our way to Mt. Phatru.

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Andi and Guido start the ride from Ski Himalyas ski resort.

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Andi takes some air time in the pristine mountains of Solang Valley.

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After checking out the scenic snow-capped peaks, we start riding down with literally no trails in-front of us. The ride was pretty amazing and an eye opener for me as I never saw any one descending at high speeds on these kinds of slopes in Solang Valley. The ride continued all the way to Manali with a small hiking section, couple of cows and villages in between. All I could see was happy faces asking for more!.

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We shuttled our bikes back to Solang decided to hit the sack as we were required to wake up early at 3 AM to cross Rohtang Pass in order to avoid traffic jam situation. Surprisingly we were the only people who reached Rohtang Pass and it was quite chilly and windy as usual. Rohtang Pass literally means Pass of the dead people, as many people have died here due to bad weather, avalanche etc. After couple of photos, we carried on “Alive� to our lunch stop at Keylong. The 230 Km drive continued to our first camp at Sarchu located at 4253m. Everybody did feel the altitude playing with their body and we all decided to rest and fresh-n up after this super long journey in the mountains with some really beautiful views all the way.

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Andi spotted a prospective place to build a kicker and the next morning we all rode to the spot which was across the river. ‘Vinod’ our SUV driver tried his best to take the truck across but it was possible till mid-way only. Crossing the super cold river coming straight out of the glacier was bit of a task, especially with bikes, digging tools and other gear. We started digging the dirt to build the kicker and destroyed 2 shovels in this process.

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However the hard work paid and the kicker was ready and without wasting any time Andi and Guido started gaining air in no time followed by some sick drifts. I was really overwhelmed to see how these guys change the position in mid-air before landing. The road construction labourers who saw us crossing the river came to that spot and were totally amazed to see Andi and Guido jumping in the middle of nowhere.

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Andi Wittmann gaining air and style in Sarchu.

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Sun was about to set and the road workers told us that they came to that spot for the first time ever and we were probably the first people to visit that side. Later we saw them rushing back and realized that the water level of the river had gone up! We packed up our stuff and started walking back. The line we selected to cross the river had completely disappeared because of the high water level.

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The current was so strong that it was pushing the bikes away and we had to carry them on our back. For me this was a very scary moment because the water level was rising almost till the waist when I reached in the middle and that’s when I lost my balance and got swept with my bike for apprx 150m! To make this situation better… I don’t know how to swim and I did not want to lose my bike. While being swept in the scary grey colored river, I was thinking about my shoes which were tied to the handlebar, my camera which was in my hydration bag and my riding socks which I saw floating away while I was struggling and almost drowning. Carlos and Vinay caught hold of the front wheel of my bike which stopped me too and saved my life. I found out that Vinay also took the plunge and was shivering like crazy as the temperature was also dropping down. Meanwhile I did couple of pushups to warm up my body and we rushed back to the campsite and changed quickly followed by nice dinner and a good sleep in minus temperature. Me and Naveen all set to go back to our campsite.

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After spending another day in Sarchu and making few changes in our plan, we decided to drive straight to our final destination ‘Leh’. After couple of halts during this long drive we reached

TangLang La; the 2nd highest pass in the world at 5328m. We could not resist to descend down from this pass‌ and so we did. This was probably my fastest ride with friends from that kind of altitude. I almost got my ass kicked when I tried to keep up with the group and got in a drain. Luckily I managed to get back on the trail and continued. After loading the bikes back on the truck we aimed directly to Leh without stopping in between.

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Andi, Guido, Arne, Vinay and Me descending from Tanglang-La Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine |26


Me, Andi , Guido and Vinay reached the Leh border and waited for the crew to arrive. We slept for more than 40 min, had some snacks, Talked a lot, paid some bribe to the check post master as they always create trouble. But the van with the crew never showed up. After waiting for almost 2 hours, another van driver who was on the same route informed us that the crew van had broken down 50 Km behind in the middle of nowhere.

We decided to head back and help our comrades, but just couple of moments later the van showed up as they managed to fix the broken axle. Well.. it happens and the journey continues. We reached Leh pretty late at night when everything is closed. All the restaurants we checked were closed and after lot of scouting we found a restaurant which was about to close, but we requested the owner who understood and served us a good meal.

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Final Ride: Our original plan was to check out the world’s highest motorable pass “Khardung La”. But we decided to change the plan and do something bigger and better. We drove 20 Km away from the town and found a really electrifying place full of elements that every mountain biker dreams. Drops, Chutes, rock sections and a lot more. This package was surrounded by an epic scenery and crisp blue sky with sun eating us out.

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After couple of fruits and sandwiches Andi and Guido located a very interesting line with a sweet drop section. They both executed this line so smoothly which pumped up Vinay who tried the same line and did it flawlessly. Naveen and Me were also pumped up and were trying some lines on our own. For me, it was the very first time I tried my hands on that kind of terrain. I was scared but I loved it and would definitely go back to try again.

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Naveen “The Natural Born Shredder� trying his luck on the same day. Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine |30


Eat My Dust... A simple statement by Andi and Guido. Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine |31


The ride back to town was even better. It was full of steep sections and switch-backs which took us all the way to the main town. I must confess here that I got so scared taking those super tight switch-backs! Our fellow rider Naveen displayed his natural shredding skills. He was super stoked to find out his hidden talent.

Huck master Vinay Menon having fun on the other side. Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine |32


The following day we drove all the way across the Leh border and went ahead of Karu where the local guide claimed a place with red soil. We reached the place, but the only thing missing was the red soil. It was bit funny moment when most of us were scratching our heads and wondering what to do. The best thing we spotted was this super big chute. Andi and Guido decided to give it a shot and geared up for this long hike which took half day. It was definitely not an easy hike with the sun burning us all at that altitude. While they both were on their way to the top, Vinay spotted a massive drop and started scouting the place which looked like an extra-terrestrial house.


After few moments and without any information we saw him landing the drop gracefully. By late afternoon Guido and Andi reached the top and started to descend down with style. However Andi crashed in the beginning but got up quick and started the descent. It was a very spectacular view to watch these two riders coming down and blowing the dirt. The joy of completing this stretch successfully was clearly visible on their faces and the only thing missing to celebrate this moment was a bottle of champagne.

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After a small photo shoot session the riding in the Himalayas was finished and we headed back to the town where our victorious team celebrated with a nice dinner which I missed unfortunately. The team from Europe had to leave early morning and Me, Naveen and Vinay drove all the way back to Manali where we rode some local trails again.

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With the memories of this epic road trip fresh in our mind we decided for another get-together in August. As mentioned before, this trip definitely was an eye opener. Having riders like Andi and Guido in the Indian Himalayas made this trip even more epic and encouraging for riders to experiment more in the big mountains here in this country. There are so many untouched trails, descents and extra-terrestrial looking mysterious structures here waiting for more riders around the world and I’m pretty sure The Indian Himalayas will be one of the most popular big mountain destinations in coming time.

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Pune – Bangalore crew hit some moist dirt! Words & Photography: Vinay Menon

Dark clouds, humidity, dull mornings and thunder concert nights, welcome monsoons. Pouring rains got the baking summer affected mountains a relief. Not to mention the super traction mode they switched on for some trails. While all of us here in Pune swapped our 2.5”s for skinnier 2.3”s, the slush fest was just getting started. After taking the top spots at the Bangalore Bicycle Championships ‘Turahalli DH Madness’ again this year, The Pune crew was getting warmed up for the rain slides on home trails. But before we left from namma Bengaluru, we stuck some more Turahalli and Nandi hill dirt on our tyres.

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Photo: Robin Darius Conz

Post BBCh event rides are a good outro to our Bangalore visit. While Piyush and his buddies packed back for Pune cause of School, Gautam Taode and I along with Bangalore locals Ignatius Chen Chin Fa and Robin Darius Conz logged in some more Bangalore trail time. Some newer lines on Turahalli were spotted; some cameras were ridden over before we headed to Nandi hills. A longer pedal power trail, Nandi on a drizzly day is fun for sure.

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Sharp turns, baby heads, roots and rock slabs, the ride was captured beautifully by the photog crew, Swaati Langeh (BigRush) and Robin (‘The Con’ Photographer). Once off from Bangalore, the rain songs were playing full volume in Pune on arrival. The OG mountain bike fanatic from Pune, Sameer Dharmadhikari was all stoked to ride the old Pune trails with us, the new kids he says. Small cars full of bikes, Sameer, Gautam Taode, Praveen Prabhakaran and Piyush assembled on our favourite hill, Dighi. All green in the monsoons, the trails were painted with beautiful fluorescent grass. To add to the colour scheme, GT and P-ush blazed down the dirt on bright orange and green bikes. While the older gentlemen on bikes, Sameer and Prawnz took it easy on the dew trails, the rest of us went hunting for new steeps and bigger drop lines to launch off of, with cream results. As the rains are exiting the skies, we are excited to see what the dry winter sun brings along. Sure some wicked times will be seen in beanies and sweatshirts.

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Words & Photography: Naveen Barongpa Our team member Naveen Barongpa is one aggressive rider from the Himalayas. This 30 years old has covered some epic hidden single tracks to famous and demanding routes. Recently he cycled on the famous Manali to Leh route leading a group “again�. Though he has cycled this route couple of times but this time he got a chance to explain how it goes on this famous route which is on list of many mountain bikers around the world.

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This tour was organized by one of the famous guides ‘Raju Sharma’ better known as Raju Guide from Manali who is probably one of the first bicycle tour operators from Manali. He has also inspired many cyclists from the region. This year I had an opportunity to lead this bike tour with 9 riders from the UK, Ireland and Germany who were all set to cross some of the highest passes in the world on their bikes. The first riding day, this was a 40Km warm-up ride to a nearby place ‘Naggar’ which is one the attractions of Kullu District. The ride was mellow until we found the only female rider in our group Charlie had a crash and bruised her knee badly. Everybody thought the Charlie’s ride to our main destination is already over. But the tough lady did not give up and ignored that part and continued with the ride. Not bad! The day was wrapped up with an early dinner as we had to leave early the following day.

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As I have ridden to Leh couple of times many people ask me how to prepare for this tour. It’s not too technical and can be fun if done properly. Just make sure you have trained for climbs in advance and acclimatized well. The combination of right equipment makes it even better. Though many tour operators offer rental bikes, but I would suggest you to bring your own bike and tools with basic spares like tubes, tire and bleeding kit if you use hydraulic brakes. The most common problem found on rental bikes are loose bottom brackets and horribly adjusted cantilever brakes which can be a pain in the @$$ during your tour. We did not require panniers as we had backup vehicles carrying our luggage and other stuff. Made life so much easy! We cycled to Marhi on day 2 without any problems, but it rained on the last stretch making the place cold. Our tents were already pitched and the dinner was being prepared by wonderful cooks who were travelling with us. Quite a luxury trip I must say. Later our friend Vineet surprised us.. bit drenched he was forced to stay with us that night as the visibility was almost 0 because of dense fog + clouds and rain. I thought it’d be cool to cycle down half a Km to Vineet while he was climbing the last stretch. This decision made the 2nd crash victim of this tour. I don’t even want to mention how it happened.

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The next morning we all witnessed the much needed sun rise and got ready to cross the first pass of this tour known as ‘Rohtang Pass’. It’s another tourist attraction for people who visit Manali. After bit of struggle, we all conquered it and were on our way to Keylong after couple of photo sessions. This is the day when most of the people do feel tiredness because of high altitude. After ignoring the altitude tiredness and sun burns we carried on to our todays destination ‘Keylong’. Note: If you are a foreign national (who does not have an Indain passport), you will be required to stop at Koksar and Darcha for identity check for security reasons. We continued our ride to Patseo the next day crossing Darcha which is the last village. After this we would see civilization in Leh. It started raining when we reached Patseo which was quite unusual. It rained so much that the water level started rising and we had to move our campsite to a safer place. The next day was a pretty long one… all the way to Sarchu. This route is one of the most interesting one with lot of good scenery and a stunning blue lake called ‘Suraj Tal’ which is the source to River Bhaga. How can one not stop and take photos here? We carried on and the smile on our face started fading away when we started the climb to our next pass in Zanskar range ‘Bara-lacha La’ at 4890m! This pass connects Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. To make this better; heavy rainfall became an obstacle and there was no option but to cross it ASAP. We reached the campsite all drenched and cold. We were informed that this was the heaviest rainfall in last 4 year in Sarchu area. We had to ignore the rest of story and changed quickly.

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The fifth day was a rest-day and we chilled out in Sarchu campsite. Most of us cleaned the bikes and washed our riding clothes. This evening we had a mini party assisted by rum and lot of dancing. This was good enough to complete the remaining 5 days of riding. After crossing and camping at places like Whisky Nallah, Tsokar and Lato we reached our final destination ‘LEH’! Our fellow riders Julian and Ray who were acclimatized properly to the Himalayan terrain cycled so fast on the last day, while David ignored all the speed breakers and the broken section on his full suspension bike. We reached our hotel in Leh where chilled beer was waiting for us. Our hotel ‘Ladakh Palace’ was very clean and we were honestly glad to see bathroom with hot water shower!

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For a change we all were dressed in non-cycling clothes and ready to spend some money in shopping and good food. While you must be thinking that the ride is over… well there was another day of hardcore climb to Khardung-La at 5359m. It is the highest motorable road in the world. However there have been some debates recently which claims that there are more higher motorable roads than Khardungl-La. But who cares really? The ride to Khardung-La was an optional one and only two people from our group ‘Dirk’ from Germany and ‘Julian’ from Amsterdam decided to conquer this pass with me. This is pretty tough and it took us 7 hours to complete this 39Km of climb. And we did it! After taking couple of winning shots we witnessed something sad and not funny. People shuttling their bikes all the way to Khardung-La to take photos with their bike and claiming that they conquered! And some individuals coming to us and request to borrow our bikes so that they can take photos and claim that they did it! We got bit upset with these requests and did not allow these people to borrow our bikes for posing shots and false claims. The three of us cooled down at the world highest cafeteria for a while and descended down all the way to the town which was super! This was another excuse to celebrate and have more beer and this tour was officially over… until next time.

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Review: Vineet Sharma | Photography: Naveen Barongpa

Renowned athletes like Hans Rey, Geoff Gulevich, Darren Berrecloth and more are associated with iXS to develop and design world class safety gear. Freeride legend Richie Schley helped in the design process for this sleek looking 320grams enduro helmet that was released recently and is now a part of his ‘Schleyer’ collection. The Trail RS helmet design is pretty unique compared to the other helmets we have tried so far and fits perfectly covering your entire skull. To make it better, it even has a grippy ratchet dial closure system placed at the back that can be operated with gloves even on move. Another great feature about this helmet is the adjustable bolt system MX style visor. This visor has a breakaway plastic screw which helps the helmet to survive the worse and keep your precious head safe at the same time. We used this helmet on long distance sweaty cross country rides to gravity assisted trails in rain and the big sized 22 vents worked flawlessly and kept me cool all the time. Not to mention the color + design makes the Trail RS a true head turner. Fitting, Style, Safety and Design The Trail RS helmet hits A+ everywhere and is one of our favourite products ever tested. It may be bit pricy, but it’s worth it!

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• Full inmould coverage for optimized absorbtion and weight • Aeration system with 22 large vents and internal air channels • Adjustable bolt system MX style visor, optimized • Felxibility and full visual field • Crash release visor • Dual-Compound dial adjuster • Ergo-Fit Ultra, fully flexible and adjustable retention system • Dual-Compound head ring for highest comfort and optimized fit • Dual-Inmould, lower 360 degree inmould shell to prevent from damage • Y-Clip adjustable strap system • Ratchet safety closure • SM (54-58cm), ML (58-62cm) • Weight: 320 Gms • Price: € 99.95

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If you are an aggressive trail rider or someone who loves gravity and looking for serious knee protection then look no further. iXS Dagger knee guards are just the dead-on knee protection for you. The Next Level Series Dagger knee guards are ideal for downhill and trail riding without compromising on comfort side. The overall design and fitting of iXS Dagger knee guards is pretty interesting and full of smart features. The Squeezebox joint between knee and shin provides protection while sustaining flexibility and mobility while the extended shin padding protects you from rocks and those brutal pedal assaults. What we really liked about the design was that they even cover the lower thigh area... Which means more protection when your luck fails. This feature also prevents them to slip down while riding or while crashing. To make it better, A hard plastic cup on the outer side of the Dagger guards your knee from rocks and those hard crash on gravel etc. while the soft padding and layers on the inside works perfectly and is not harsh on your skin. The pre-moulded shin extension is great but we wish if it could be a little longer with more vents.

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After almost 3 months of abuse the iXS Dagger knee guards don’t show any wear signs. The stitching is strong and still holding well and the Velcro straps are still problem free. When you don’t wish to use them, they can be fitted very easily in your hydration bag. After using the Dagger NLS series knee guards we understood why its favourite knee protection for riders like Darren Berrecloth. Another great product by iXS.

• Ideal for downhill and gravity extreme sport • 360° all around breathable “AeroMesh TM”, moisture wicking, anti bacterial - does not stink! • Shin extention to prevent from pedal penetration • “ArmadilloDuo TM” - high quality double injected protection shells made of shock absorbent polypropylene • Skid Protection - tear resistant Nylon layers prevent protection zones from cracking • “NockOut TM” - shock absorbent padding along the leg, upper leg and knee sides as well as in all vital zones • “SideTap TM” - integrated side padding • “LoopLock TM” - fasteners. maximum security and adjustability, decompression • Silicone - non slip, no creep • Weight: 360g (pair) | Price: € 75.95

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as an and h iw a T m o urers fr anufact tching red; m l a d e eye ca ading p of the le . We tried their e n o is ars orp. es edal’s C y for over 16 ye dals com . r e Wellgo P t 3 s p 3 u y 2 d d G o in this dal, M sium b in. been in tform pe e magne all kind of terra omo s la e p h T m . iu y sturd almost ined Cr magnes and yet ping on nd a CNC mach le hich ip p r g im t s a s ok gre rands w ga b s lo in e r n h e iv s o h g u t ti c b o h U tru ke hic It ’s cons eable spikes w eature sealed D ot expensive li f c n la o is p ls d nly an with re edals a G-233 p eighs 350gms o M o g ll e ore. w W is baby ing for m pindle at all. k h s T a . ll le ti g s spin y. the s d are e qualit mud an he dirt to enter g enough so d n a in offer sam a t r on w d are str rfectly in d does not allo n e a p g d e in n rm rid b well a il or DH als perfo ected. The ped r cap does the jo t enough for tra we did not exp gh be ich The rub se pedals are li oon wh s ff o e the ill com Overall int job w a p e h t far and

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Words: Chris Keeling Photography: Stephen Keeling & Valentin Garyga Chris Keeling is an up and coming gravity enduro rider based in Kathmandu, Nepal. In July he went to France to attend the first MegaKids race. The race is for under-14 year olds and was held on the same day as the qualifying races for the world famous Megavalanche race along the bottom part of the qualifying course. Chris and his Dad stayed on to watch the Megavalanche race two days later, which was won by Jerome Clementz. Chris tells the story of their experiences. These races are run around the skiing resort of Alpe D’Huez in southeast France. We had just entered Allemont which is located way below below Alpe d’Huez at the point where the Megavlanche race finishes at 900m above sea level. We chose the cheapest option which was camping, about 6 euros a night. I fixed my bike up while my dad tried to make the stove work. By the time I had fixed my bike up (Commencal Ramones CrMo) my dad still hadn’t got the stove working. So we ate out at the local pizzeria. The next morning I put on my gear and rode over to the bus stop. The bus arrived and myself and many other riders with full suspension bikes loaded their bikes into the trailer behind the bus. The trailer behind could fit about 30-40 bikes. There were buses from Allemont every hour. We got taken up to Oz station where the cable car lifts start. We had bought a card that we had to swipe to get onto the cable cars. Each cable car could fit about 4 bikes and riders.

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At first sight Alpe d’Huez was just amazing with the cable car lifts, the trails and all the riders. My first taste of the MegaKids race trail fascinated me — just the mixture of everything, freeride, road pedalling, technical jungle, steep loose rocks and even going through a dry sewer. Getting to the top of the trail was easy, taking a cable car lift up for 10 minutes then riding the whole trail down for 30 or 40 minutes. So we signed up for my race at the Megavalanche office.

I spent two days practising on the course. My riding was smooth. I fell off once and luckily managed not to hurt myself. There was snow and mud at the top of the qualifier — it was crazy. Hard to stay on the bike on the snowy parts, always having my feet on the floor. After a nice fun run down the qualifier our bikes were all muddy. In Alpe d’Huez there were places where we could clean our bike with a water hose (up to 6 hoses) but we had to wait in line a while for our turn to clean our bikes. I met some guys from England who were my neighbours at the campsite — seven guys who had just came to enjoy the race, not competitive. One of them had a Karpiel, a huge bike with 300 mm shocks front and back! These were the guys I would hang out with, eat dinner. Very nice people! My race started at about 2 pm after all of the 12 men’s qualifiers and the womens qualifier race. I had plenty of time to get there from Allemont. We set off at about 11am… it’s good to leave some time before a race starts because normally there’s a huge queue of bikers to get the top of the qualifier. On our way a women told us that the MegaKids race’s starting point had been changed. Me and my Dad were disappointed to hear this because I had been practicing that top technical rocky section a lot. So it was now starting at about the half-way point where the rocky section ended, which then came to the free ride, pedalling and jungle track sections. The route had been changed because the parents of the youngest had said that the top half of the race was too difficult for them. The race was for 8 to 14 year olds. Later on I realized that the change was good for me because I had a hard tail bike and the bottom half isn’t so rocky. We then got to the start and rested up for an hour.

All of us kids were waiting at the start, I was to on the left side because of my number (3201). It was boring waiting for the race to start — we had to wait for the women qualifiers to race past and then had to wait for a woman who had broken her leg to be taken down. So we waited standing underneath the hot Alpine sun. The other kids had full suspension bikes, spd shoes and full body armour. I only had knee and elbow pads and a hard tail bike. These children are rich I thought. The race was about to start! The starter started to count down in French. Luckily I was studying French in school so I understood him … quatre, trois, deux, un, allez!!!! Then I blasted off and managed to get in front. I gained a 5 second lead soon after the start. I was thinking that the other riders weren’t that fit. In the middle of the race I looked back and saw these 3 riders about 15-20 seconds behind. This was my favourite part of the course — the free ride bit. I zoomed through that bit with ease. Near the end this one rider had caught up with me, so then I gave it my all and pedalled as fast as I could to the finish line and ended up first. I was so happy! I had a big smile on my face!! Then the announcer who was talking on the mike asked me loads of questions. Many people congratulated me. I was pretty tired and took the cable car back up to Alpe d’Huez.

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The trail went all the way down to Allemont. Later we celebrated again with a pepperoni pizza. My experience in France was really amazing! I suggest you to go to Alp d’Huez. Having spd pedals will help you a lot in the Megavalanche. The best place for biking is the French Alps! If you ever go to France. Go to the Alps!

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year lived up to big The most eagerly anticipated BMX event of the s, and the level rider expectations, with massive dirt jumpssending of BMX progression, to new heights. weeks, boosted The course, carefully groomed over the past six y, originally Case Pat riders over 30 feet into the sky and sent in a 12-man final. attending as an alternate, to the top of the heap

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no other in the history of the sport. ANGEL FIRE (United States) - The course was like was carefully chosen due to the unique The mountain resort of Angel Fire, New Mexico groomed jumps. After six weeks of consistency of the dirt that lent itself to perfectly t creator Anthony Napolitan unveiled meticulous crafting, builder Adam Aloise and even t. The course spanned nearly half a mile, the top-secret trails to the best riders in the spor start. With nearly 55 seconds riding from descending down from the 9700-foot elevation to put tricks on display to the sold out start to finish, riders had boundless opportunities crowd who hiked out to watch. a progression session in a two–hour The 12 competitors who rode in the finals put on ted riders who did not advance from jam format, and werejudged by five randomly selec y, TJ Ellis and Kyle Baldock impressed yesterday’s qualifiers. Top three finishers: Pat Case never before seen combos and general the judges and the crowd, run after run, with some fearlessness on the intimidating course. Nineteen year-old Casey demonstrated that given the right course, on any given day, new stars can rise to the top. Riders were also impressed with a relatively unkn own rider Dawid Godziek from Poland who earned a standing ovation for his fearlessness.

RESULTS

Photography: Jeff Zielinski, Justin Kosman and Garth Milan

1. Pat Casey (USA) 90.27, 2. TJ Ellis (USA) 88.00, 3. Kyle Baldock (AUS) 84.40, 4. Ben Wallace (UK) 83.93, 5. David Godziek (POL) 83.67, 6. Chris Doyle (USA) 83.33, 7. Seth Klinger (USA) 83.27, 8. Cam White (AUS) 83.00, 9. Mike “Hucker” Clark (USA) 82.60, 10. Joey Cordova (USA) 80.73, 11. Ronnie Napolitan (USA) 77.73, 12. Dennis Enarson (USA) 44.33 Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine |60


Red Bull Joyride biking once again, n ai nt ou m e yl st gravity-defying ries of slope as the exhilarating, y da to Pushing the bounda rk Pa ke Bi st athletes stler Mountain en of the world’s be te gh Ei l. va sti descended the Whi Fe r le 25,000 e Crankworx Whist crowd of more than gy er anchor event of th en gh hi a of e podium, back in front ring top spot on th cu se uk could not be held en m Se n . cal hero Brando spectators, with lo and UK’s Sam Pilgrim öm tr rs de Sö tin ar ’s M followed by Sweden

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WHISTLER (CANADA) – As the sun broke through the clouds in Whistler, it was a rider’s slopestyle paradise for Red Bull Joyride as the eighteen competitors threw down massive tricks and some unique lines in front of a 25,000 strong crowd, one of the largest turnouts for a single event in Whistler’s history. This year’s brand new course design fused elements of dirt jumping, slopestyle and classic North Shore mountain biking. With twelve trickable features, it was one of the longest slopestyle courses ever built. Big tricks and plenty of clean runs blew the judges away, but it was 23 year-old Brandon Semenuk of Whistler, BC who reclaimed the podium’s top step after his first win in 2011 with the highest score ever recorded at this event. Sweden’s Martin Söderström took second place, followed in third by Sam Pilgrim from the UK. The Canadian’s second run set the bar for the day’s event as the cleanest and most technical, earning him the highest score in Joyride history. Martin Söderström threw down a clean triple tailwhip in the middle of his second run, the only rider to attempt that trick on the course. Local hero Semenuk and the Brit Pilgrim both backflipped off the Red Bull Joyride cabin, a significant trick that very few riders are capable of doing.

“After the fall during my first run, it was a bit of a flashback to 2011 and 2010 having bailed on the same trick. I was able to regroup and have a fresh start going into my second run and that really paid off. Being back in my hometown in front of my friends and family, I wanted to put together the best run I could possibly think of and get the win at home,” said today’s best rider. Each year at Red Bull Joyride, the level of talent continues to grow as slopestyle mountain biking evolves into one of the fastest growing mountain bike disciplines in the world. “This year was definitely the best course yet, flowing really well and lots of fun to ride,” commented Semenuk. “The features were a good size but not so big that you couldn’t show off your biggest tricks”. The course catered more to technical riders than speed demons, allowing more time to set up for tricks and complete plenty of runs from top to bottom.

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The enthusiastic crowd was completely taken aback by what even the youngest competitors pulled off at the event, including 19 year-old Anton Thelander of Sweden who walked away with the event’s Breakout Award. “The feeling of being selected for the Breakout Award is really insane. I didn’t expect to be in that position,” said the happy Award winner.

1st place: Brandon Semenuk (CAN) 2nd place: Martin Söderström, (SWE) 3rd place: Sam Pilgrim (UK) Breakout Award: Anton Thelander (SWE)

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Racing against the clock down a mountain is fairly a new idea in India. But that’s soon to change! Bangalore Bicycle Championships or ‘BBCh’ as its called is a series of mountain bike and road bike races spun in Bangalore city for over three seasons now. The ‘Downhill’ rounds being one of them, with riders showing up from all corners of the country. The BBCh series is gaining racer count each season.

Words: Vinay Menon | Photography: Stalin SM - Rolling Shutterz Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine |66


For 2013 the Turahalli forest descent was blazing once again with a brigade of chainring pilots. All battling it down the tight 800mts course with a photog friendly step down at the finish. As the rain gods took a break on race day, it was yet a cloud hovered morning. Once the riders in Amateurs and women’s category crossed the finish line, it was time for the experts to race for the BBCh 2013 DH Champion title. Being the only downhill race in India, the riders are waiting for race day to flash on their calendar. This year was a millisecond battle for the win. New faces made it into the top ten. Riders from Pune, Kuttikanam and Bangalore clocked the top five timings of the day.

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Hardtail rippers were on the loose down the smooth Turahalli course. Jibin Joy from Kutikanam, Kerala on his trusty rigid frame, cranked down the course in 1:15.8 (fastest time for a hardtail) and placed 5th for the day. Ignatius Chen Chin Fa from Bangalore crossed the finish line with a time of 1:09.2 and took the 4th spot. The Podium was grabbed by the Pune clan once again. Gautam Taode with a time of 1:09.0 finished third. The fight for the win was pretty close with seventeen year old Piyush Chavan taking the lead with a time of 1:08.4 and myself crossing the finish line in 1:08.5 and taking the 2nd spot.

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A big shout out to the volunteers, organisers and the trail builders for keeping this event alive in spite of low sponsor support. Keep an eye out for the Mtn bike XC and Road bike rounds of the series that are on throughout the year. I’m sure other cities will take note of this and

accelerate the wheels!

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Photography: Patrick Gutsche

On the past weekend, the iXS Swiss Downhill Cup was headed to Anzère, which also played host to the Swiss Championships 2013. Among 335 riders from 13 different nations, Emilie Siegenthaler and Nick Beer were the winners. Anzère in Wallis is situated at 1500 meters above sea level and therefore provided riders and visitors not only with a breathtaking view over Sion and the Rhonevalley, but also with a 2-km-long track and a vertical drop of 300 meters.

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The track walk and first training sessions were scheduled for Friday, whereas the obligatory training and seeding run were on Saturday’s agenda. But this past weekend, nearly nothing went according to plan: because of a huge thunderstorm the seeding run had to be canceled completely and the Swiss Championships had to be rescheduled for Sunday. Usually, with every big event comes big speculation. Everyone asked the same questions: Would Nick Beer (Devinci Global Racing) and Emilie Siegenthaler (Gstaad-Scott) take part in the SC, this year, after being absent in 2012? And if so, would the reigning champs Lars Peyer and Miriam Ruchti (both SC-Intense) be able to defend their titles? Fortunately, both the thunderstorm and the heavy rain were gone just in time for Sunday’s Swiss Championships with its 100 participants. First man down the hill in the Elite Men category was Gustav Wildhaber (Cube Action Team), who already drew a lot of attention with two victories in the Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series. He set a first fast time of 4:15.489 minutes. Both Pascal Tinner (Gstaad-Scott) and Freddy Hunziker came near his time, but it was not until Martin Frei (GT- Akira Tuning Racing) came down the hill that Wildhaber had to leave the top spot. The next rider was Felix Klee (Gstaad-Scott) who went 3 seconds faster and could not even be edged out by last year’s winner Lars Peyer. The last man down the hill was odds-on favorite Nick Beer and he did exactly what everyone thought he would: With a best time of 4:05.310 minutes and a more than 5-second gap to second place Felix Klee, he won the title. Third place went to Maxime Chapuis followed by Frei and Wildhaber.

In the Elite Women category, Emilie Siegenthaler edged out her 6 competitors for the victory with a 10-second lead and a best time of 4:40.535 minutes. Vice champion 2013 is Martina Brühlmann (iXS Gravity Union), followed by Alba Wunderlin (Stützrädli) in third place. Another odds-on favorite was Noel Niederberger (Gstaad-Scott), who dominated the U19 category with a best time that even would have reached the third place in the Elite Men category. The last year´s winner of the race in Anzère Christian Greub (Radsport Frei/ Akira-Tuning) again won the title in the Masters category. After a rather short break, everyone was up on top of the hill again – ready for the iXS Swiss Downhill Cup to start. The Masters category was dominated by Thomas Ryser (Thömus HOT-TRAIL DH Racing), followed by Fabrice Tirefort (Verbier Bikepark Team) and Christian Greub, whereas Frederik Buch (GER - Propain Co-Factory Racing) won in the U17 category. Second place went to Bennett Newkirk (SUI - ewz mountainbiketeam loop), while Romain Grognuz (SUI - Dirteam) finished in third. Last year’s Swiss Champion Miriam Ruchti, who had crashed during the SC, was back up on top again in the Elite Women category. She went first, ahead of Alanna Columb (NZL), who already had reached the third place at the Wiriehorn, and Martina Brühlmann. Emilie Siegenthaler did not take part in the SDC, as she had to catch her flight to the World Cup in South Africa. Nick Beer and Noel Niederberger had to leave for similar reasons.

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The remaining protagonists of the SC, also seemed to dominate the iXS Swiss Downhill Cup at first. The first one in the Red Bull Hot Seat was Wildhaber, then Hunziger. With a time of 4:04.133 minutes, Martin Frei set the first time that was faster than Beer’s in the SC. But due to the improving weather conditions and a drying track, Felix Klee and Maxime Chapuis came down even faster. In the end, however, they all were defeated by Jack Moir (AUS - Yeti Foy Shox), who set the weekend’s fastest time of only 3:57.614 minutes. With a 5-second gap, he was the only one who reached the finish line in less than 4 minutes.

Looking back at an incredible weekend, and in spite of the challenging conditions, Anzère did a really good job. The results are in the books and there is a lot to talk about. The next round of the Swiss Cup is scheduled for October in Bellwald. All other race dates and information can be found on ixsdownhillcup.com.

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Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine #17  

Issue # 17 - September 2013

Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine #17  

Issue # 17 - September 2013

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