Goa international mountain biking challenge stage 3 at Panjim came to a nail-biting finish in front of hundreds of spectators and riders of Goa. The crowd roared and cheered as Goan riders cross passed them in every lap. And final race ended with obvious and deserving winner Rohan Buddhi Tamag from Nepal, the way he finished every stage astonished everyone.

There were over 40 participants across the globe including Australia,  Nepal, Zurich, India. Even though this was only the very first year for Cycling Goa to organize such an international race, but the event was up to mark and expectations of all riders. Even the track crafted for all the stages are of international standards and tough to make you realize the true sense of a cross country race. I consider it more of Enduro race as there were downhill portion,  rock patches,  blind curves, single tracks, few technical small jumps, gruelling uphill, large river stream. Race comprised of 3 stage from which first two days lap was 4.5km approx and last day was a 2.4km circuit. Obviously race was no childs play, to complete in provided time period, you need skill to control your bike, skills to conquer those humongous uphill, skills to maneuver easily in blind turns, skills to race fast in horrifying downhills. And its not only skill which got tested, you need to have stamina, energy, endurance, power and a huge positive spirit to compete the race in hot and humid climate of Goa.
A small video of day 2 race

GIMBC Day 2 stream crossing!
Goa International Mountain Biking Challenge Day-2 race started off with the riders going through a stream. #GIMBC
Posted by Lumos on Sunday, October 18, 2015
Pointing about race management, it was conducted in a very good manner with everything at the position, from the hotel to food, transport, race venue selection, route marking. Every participant enjoyed a lot and stay at Jungle Book resort which was our first 2day stay location,  situated in the extensions on Dudhsagar waterfall river. It was one of most astonishing, marvelous, and extraordinary place we could ever have. Even the last day also when we got shifted to Panjim for stage 3 race and prize ceremony,  the hotel provided was too good, situated near to Miramar beach. Organizers took care of participants and their satisfaction level. And this helped us to focus on the race and perform remarkably.

This was my first mountain biking challenge while I was struggling with my bike and such a technically challenging and demanding track, there were participants who literally flew on their bike and finished 1 hour prior to me. First two days I was so stocked with the race struggle I was not able to finish in time. The third day I succeeded to clock a good time just 15min late from the first rider. Good enough for a seasoned rider. This race taught me so many skills and technicalities and virtue of mountain biking. Now that I am back, I am still dreaming about those woods where I rode to finish my circuit. And I have already made up my mind to compete next year, but with lots of more preparation, training and discipline.

Even though the festival ended, to me it felt like the new beginning of mountain biking era in a country like India. If you ask me, this is what India needs at this stage, we need more races like this to push riders to a whole new level and tackle top athletes around the world. Hope next year GIMBC will keep up its standards and make the race worth attending again.

Riders that just wouldn't Quit! The Finishers are ecstatic! #GIMBC

Posted by Lumos on Sunday, October 18, 2015
It's been two weeks now that I am back from my 21days mind-blowing tour covering 8500km. I finally was able to steal some time from office work, to pen down my story.

My trip ended with a real bang, I was at MTM 2015 Bangalore for last 2days. While I was returning from my journey,  I came back to Pune, removed all the dirty and unnecessary stuff, got my saddle bag loaded with new fresh clothes and left for Bangalore. 800km of dull and tiresome riding constantly on 6 lane highway as doing 100+kmph is just not me. Somehow I managed to keep my self-focused to complete the journey, thanks to one Harley owner, from Belgaum. Meet him somewhere in between and after that the journey to Camp Shirti was little bearable riding with him.

So what I did at MTM?

Ever since the dates were announced I was dancing with excitement and eagerness to be part of this, and luckily I was even able to finish Leh Ladakh trip in time to make sure I don't miss it.   I had been to IBW twice, attended many biking events in Pune, joined some groups, but no one was able to keep attached to me, cause for me biking is being myself and traveling, places which are less populated, spend time with myself sitting at some hill top, camping in woods. And MTM is home for such legends, who did world tours or bike, cycles, legends who had scripted their name in Guinness book of records, legends who are riding for 10years.

Surrounded by rocks and boulder hills camp shirsti is like a hidden beauty, between the darkness of forests. It is a place where you can be yourself, without bothering about city traffic, and being with like minded people. You get to stay in camp, have the stomach full of food whole day and enjoy biking and feel happy of being a rider. Those 3 days, I did not feel like even taking out my camera, cause moments and time like these can never be captured.

The story does not end here, the real reason of being at MTM is meeting all of those legends, Bharadwaj Dayala, a simple guy who did world tour on a Indian bike, Deepak Kamath, who had many records in his name,  Dilip bam, first guy to cross Sahara desert on a punny scooter and the list is endless. You talk to them, listen to their stories, experience, memories, photographs and get inspired. Plus you get to have the selfie with lots of big bad bikes. It is a completely different event, people laugh, share, talk, enjoy barbecue. It like a heaven for motorcycle travelers. I was able to meet Akhil and Shaquib. We had a good time, whole day discussing, listening, talking, blabbering about the bikes, bikers, and everything lovely about biking. 

What more you can ask for after a long solo ride. 
"If you don't ride in the rain and get dirty, then you don't ride".

Pune MTB Dirt Race - Edition 1, organized by Team Pune Racing, was not about just cycling, it was a phenomenon which has just started, a whole new level of  competition ever experienced by riders.

As mentioned by few rides "Awesome trail, a very different one and it was fun riding".

And we guess this is what MTB Dirt Race is supposed to be, a tough, rugged, unexpected, muddy, rocky path to test a rider true cycling spirit, to test his stamina, endurance, his skill and maneuvering qualities as a mountain biker. Surrounded by scenic hills of Sus Gaon, this cross-country race gave riders chance to explore and understand different types of Mountain Biking  genre.

The terrain was fabricated of single tracks, forest tracks, downhill portions, gutwrenching uphill. With the total distance of 3.5km. Also rains 2days prior to the event, made the track little more interesting. The format was very also very different, there were 3 categories based on riding skill Elite, Pro and Women's categories, and all categories had different laps. As the race progressed, riders rushed to get hold of that podium and results were  unbelievable. Even the army brats gave a tough competition to experience downhill and MTB riders of Pune. Pune Racing an initiative by Raw Adventure Solutions have started with new series of cycling, running and all different kind of race activities. They are planning to have mountain biking races, road races, trail marathons and the list is uncountable. These races will help Pune Cyclists learn more about cycling, different kinds of races which happens in cycling sports and will also encourage cyclists to understand more and love cycling sports.

Disclosed here few pictures from the race.

Revving up the engines, lined up, full geared, all modified bikes. When we all  started the ride to complete 60km of tough terrain, crossing some unknown pavements, jungles, mud, slug, broken rocks,  n number of waterfall, rivers, we had no idea how the ride will be.

Even though the route was same for 70%, there were 100% chances of surprises, and u can not tame a dense n dark jungle who is ready to gulp you up and leave no traces of you or your machine.

Race path was so slippery,  that even a minor mistake you take you to deep inside the valley which was following us at every turn.  Even though we fell again n again, but we keep riding and kept conquering the untamed path across Panshet Jungles.

And we reached the completion of Stage 1 30km from the start point. Rested for few minutes,  some photo sessions, some stunts, some enjoyment in the cold river and we were ready again to complete the journey u had started.  This time controlling bike was difficult now. Trails were more slippery, slugs and mud had covered whole bike and the riders, even the off road tyres failed times. Enjoying the beauty of Panset Dam and struggling with offroad we finally reached to finish line.

Pune Off Road Expedition is not a race or a rally, it is a whole new level of a ride for everyone. You will get time and chance to understand your machine and yourself. Not everyone over there is dirt race professionals. There were many bikers of different genre and many first timers. And at the end you will be a different biker, a biker who respects his machine, his friends, his co-riders. This was my 2nd Off Road Expedition and I had an awesome time meeting some old friends and making many new ones. As I mentioned this expedition helped me to understand my machine and how it behaves in different conditions. What are its limitations and where my bike excels, which I would not have learned ever in million of km of road riding.

Now this brings me back to my question, and my answer is yes, it does not matter what machine or bike you have, it does not matter if your mudguards are removed or not, it does not matter is you have a dirt bike or not, only thing what matter if you have the courage to ride an unknown and different terrain with your lovely machine. And it bet once you complete the track, you will thank me.

Every time I do a solo ride, questions starts pouring on me.

"Why solo?
Dont you get bored?
What u will do in case of any problems.
Dnt go alone, its not safe."

And all I do is smile on their misery and go on one more solo trip, bombarding my social website with lots of more photos and giving glimpse of how awesome my solo trips are.

I am not a pro rider or a traveller but I had done enough of rides and travelling all solo to rant about, how fun and excitement a solo trip can be, and advantages of travelling solo are enormous. So here based on my experience I am adding few points which makes me love solo riding or travelling.

1. Freedom. Peace. Flexibility. 
Travelling alone gives you feel of freedom and peace related to your plan. You can change modify and update your plans spontaneously without any compromises or accounting for anyone else feelings. You can stop where ever you want, can have food wherever or whatever you feel like. Can go places you like. Can sleep, stay, do on your wish, no discussion or wastage of time. So you will be travelling on your own term and guess this is the reason you opted for the holiday at first place. Your trip is like a blank canvas,  start painting it with colors of your preferences. 

2. Learn New things.
Life is a long learning process. And travelling alone opens the door of knowledge.  You will get to know and learn many new things which no book can teach. Once you hit the road, you will face the reality, it won't matter how much preparation you have done, life out there is different and sometime can be cruel and that where you will excel. During my trips, I actually don't plan much, I decide on the go, depending on conditions.

3. Making new friends.
Travelling alone gives you the chance to make friends and interact with many new peoples. Many are scared of doing so, and the reasons are always valid, but u don't get always negative. During my trips I meet 80% of good people, some welcomes you for dinner, some let you camp at safe place. Being solo you are naturally open to everyone and the hesitation is lost.

Example :
 During my GOA trip, I had flat both of tyres in my cycle, glad there was a restaurant opposite to road, he helped me fixing my bike, if he had not been there I would have been stuck in a dark night on a highway surrounded by jungles.

One more story where I had beer with Bikers from Chandigarh during my Leh trip.

If I had been in a group all of these would not have happened, I would have been stuck with people I came or I am with.

4. Confidence.
While travelling alone helps in building confidence, as when you are alone, you have to face all the situations by your self and this helps a lot. Like you have to camp alone, make camp fire. Travel in a new city without my issues. While in group trips you wont face all of these situations as someone or other will help you for sure. Like I had to repair my bike when it breaks down,  even if  it takes time I learn while I do and it helps me in my next trip. You overcome the fear of heights, darkness, spiders or even new food. The more you travel, the less you fear. As long as you make regular solo trips, you will feel more confident each time, no matter what your fear is which is also a good excuse to travel regularly.

5. Save Money.
This is kind of contradiction, but I was able to save money many times during my solo travels. You get hotel as per your own budget, you eat what fits in your pocket, public transport etc. Solo travelling opens gate to all such possibilities.

For example like in my leh trip, I am able to save almost 50% of amount, the tour organizers charge. No one actually believed me.

So next time, you are in doubt, gear up and leave on a solo trip. You never know what you will hit and what amazing story awaits you on the other side.