A Wildly Fun Festival On Bangalore Trails:: Bangalore Mountain Festival 2.0!

A ‘Rock’ing Festiva! Bangalore Mountain Festival!

As a roadie that once rode MTBs and had loads of fun, I have no qualms in admitting that the most fun I ever had on a bike was on a trail. So, when I heard of this event which had an MTB XC race, a 10k and 21k trail run along with DH race on the same day, I was keen on being part of it, if only as a spectator. And, oh boy! What a spectacle it was! The Bangalore MountainFestival! Seeing the hundreds of Mountain bike riders, trail runners and DH shredders, having a ball on the most grueling of courses I have ever seen, I so badly craved for getting back on an MTB.

Last year, for the inaugural edition of the Bangalore Mountain Festival, they had all the three events, XC Race, the trail run and the DH race on the same day. I was mind blown on how they pulled off such a massive event with three races all on the same day! But this year, they decided to have the XC race and the DH seeding run on Saturday with the trail running event and the DH final run on Sunday.

XC Race:
The field for the XC race had the current MTB National champion(ITT), Kiran Kumar Raju(KKR) from Trek Racing, lining up at the start line along with some of the best riders from all over the country. Devendar Takhur (Hero/UT bikes) from Shimla, Madan Sandeep(BTwin) from Delhi, Tangsabam (Scott) from Sikkim, Craig Raynes(Spectrum Racing), Paigambar(Polygon bikes) were some of the hot starters. As the start gun went off the guys charged off the gates and disappeared onto the trail in no time. I ran hiking up the hill to find a nice spot on the top of the hill from where I can watch most of the trail or at least the most beastly part the trail.

The trail was a 5km loop has a few steep kickers one finishing on top of a hill with a temple and quite a few gnarly downhill sections that are quite technical. The 30km XC race saw the riders getting 6 chances to perfect their lines and kick up some dirt for the riders behind.

The first lap(5km) of six laps saw KKR, Devender, Tangsabam and Craig were closely bunched and were way ahead of the rest of the field apart from Paigambar who was a few seconds behind them. The second lap saw Tangsabam disappear from the front with a mechanical and Paigambar closing a little more gap on the front three. 

The way the guys were taking on the most technical of sections with ease and élan was a treat to watch. KKR, looked in particularly good shape and in his flow on the trail. Being a local boy, he had bit of an advantage of knowing the trail by heart and it matters a lot on a particularly technical trail like this one. By the third lap, he began to build up a gap over Devendar and Craig lost the third spot to Paigambar. As the laps went on KKR’s lead ballooned to almost 2mins with Devendar behind him and Paigambar 2 mins behind him. Craig was a few seconds behind at 4thspot and did not manage to pull back anytime the finished the race in that order.

After the presentation ceremony, we headed to the most exciting part of the day, the DH seeding run. The line-up had not only the best from all around the country, particularly from Pune, but also some of the best from Nepal. The only female participant, Anissa Lamare, traveled from Sikkim, all on her own, to be part of this awesome event.
Riders hauling their bikes up the hill for the DH seed run! Pic: Utkarsh Rao Photography
The 1km long DH track starts on a rock head on top of the hill and descends via a rock garden down to a boulder wall, jumps on to a temple complex and another jump off the temple wall onto a couple of kick-ass dirt jumps that were built specifically for the event and down another rocky twisty but fast finish.
Downhill seed run! Pic: Utkarsh Rao Photography
The seeding run on Saturday went without incident and everyone was kicked about the final run on Sunday.

Trail Run:
On Sunday we gathered to witness the trail run where hundreds of runners ran on one of the toughest trails in this part of the world. The run up the steep temple stairs had the runners’ quads burning while the hopping down the rocky downhill had their calves and shins screaming for relief. 
Start of the trail run! Pic: BMF

The beautiful fast section by the lake must have offered the temptation to take it easy but the clock was running and they had no choice but to keep up. The 21km trail half marathon run saw the Ethopian Gazelle, Mengist, take the top spot with 1hr 8mins. Lemlemu from Kenya finished second in 1hr 10mins while Santosh from Indian Army finished just behind him in 3rdplace. In Women’s 21k run, Joyti from Indian Railways finished first followed by Mamata and Akruthi from Bangalore at second and third places respectively.

The DH Mayhem!
After the podium ceremony for the trail run completed, we headed watch the main attraction of the day, the final DH run! I found a spot on the top of the temple water tank that offered me an uninterrupted view of almost the entire DH course. While the heart skipped several beats watching a few of the guys take tumbles, the adrenaline rush of watching some of the best DH shredders bombing down the course was unparalleled. I watched the high voltage DH action, I had to stop myself from jumping up and down too much in fear of breaking the roof.
The dirt jump on the DH course!  Pic: Utkarsh Rao Photography
One of the first few guys who shot out of the gates, Harith Noah(Kerala, India), set a furious pace for everyone to beat at 1:33.17. One might have blazed a section of the course but one wrong line or a briefest period of hesitation would cost valuable seconds. So, it is a delicate balance of aggressive pace, skilful maneuvering and masterful technical wizardry. Of course, not to forget the balls of steel they need along with an extremely focused and calm mind. 
Rajesh Magar, the most aggressive rider and winner of the DH course!  Pic: Utkarsh Rao Photography
Ajay Padval from Pune, India, came the closest to Harith with 1:44.72 until Rajesh Magar from Katmandu, Nepal, blasted the course at ferocious pace at 1:31.51 and took the win in style. His aggression on the course is hair rising to say the least. Rajesh finished first followed by Harith at 2nd and Ajay at 3rd. Rugved Thite(Maharastra, India) finished 4th with 1:45.85 followed by Piyush Chavan at 5thwith 1:47.37!

Some guys were crazy enough to ride the course on hard tails and Pranit Hemanth was the fastest amongst them.

Like the first edition last year, the event left an indelible mark on my memory and will surely bring me back next year. This has brought back memories of the joys of single track riding that I did in Vermont, USA, when I started cycling. I’m very tempted to pick up an MTB right away and rediscover that joy. Who knows, I could actually participate in this kick-ass event instead of enjoying it as a spectator.  
DH Podium signaled the end of the amazing Bangalore Mountain Festivities!
BMF:The Making Of A World-Class Event!
Here I leave you with a few more videos from the event including one from Global Mountain Bike Network(GMBN) the mountain bike equivalent of GCN show, featuring BMF(2:01 in the video below). BMF is well on the way of putting the Indian MTB and DH on the world map! Truly amaing job by Sunil Nanjappa and his team of rockstars for an amazing event. Really looking forward to the next edition!

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