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Mountain biking in Manipur needs the right push

Hundreds of festival goers flocked to Jorcheng, Lunghar to feed their souls with the thrill as over 20 daring cyclists representing four states, including Manipur, pedaled through the unforgiving track showcasing their skills, strength and endurance in the recently concluded 4th MTB downhill competition.

ByDonald Sairem

Updated 1 Jun 2022, 4:34 am

(Photo: Donald Sairem_IFP)
(Photo: Donald Sairem_IFP)

 

The MTB downhill event organised as a part of the Shirui Lily Festival in Ukhrul district reflected Manipur’s potential of becoming a mountain biking hub with the state being already endowed with difficult terrain, hills and forests. 

Hundreds of festival goers flocked to Jorcheng, Lunghar to feed their souls with the thrill as over 20 daring cyclists representing four states, including Manipur, pedaled through the unforgiving track showcasing their skills, strength and endurance in the recently concluded 4th MTB downhill competition.

The MTB downhill was first introduced in Manipur during the first edition of the festival in 2017. Ever since, the particular adventure sports has proven to be feasible to be organised in the state.

The Imphal Free Press interacted with several of the riders from different Northeast states and all of them echoed similar voices when it comes to Manipur’s MTB potential.

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Meghalaya’s Ridor Niangti said that the 1.6 km long track is one of the best in the entire Northeast region.

Ridor, who has been racing for quite some time in-and-around Northeast and abroad, opined that the track has potential of hosting big competitions. 

Saying that Manipur’s terrain is different from those in his hometown, he stated that he will definitely come back for many future races held in Manipur.

It was his third time racing in Manipur for Apshai Griffith Niangti, also from Meghalaya. He said that he really loved the energy with the exceptional crowd. He exuded confidence that the MTB competition in Manipur will continue to grow. 

Kelengol Zao from Nagaland confided that he had to even skip his CBSE exams since he didn’t want to miss out on the thrill of racing downhill.

He said that it was his first time racing in the region. While he had thought that it would be easy, he said that it turned out to be challenging with big jumps and steep terrain. 

Meanwhile, co-founder of the team, organising the event, Chiko Adventures, Shangcham Shangjam said that initially they used to organise MTB downhill as well as MTB cross country.

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"However, with limited resources, we can no longer organise MTB cross country since a diversity of challenges along the track ranging from climbs, drops, rough terrain, root section, forest section has to be built. If there is a requisite support, Manipur can definitely host MTB cross country as well," he said.  

“In order to organise a good race, we need a permanent track and big logistic support. One cannot simply build a track right and then when a competition is organised,” he said.

He further pointed out that basic infrastructures like bike park and cable car are key in giving the much needed push to harness the MTB potential in Manipur.

"The riders along with their bikes need to be carried back on the cable car after they went downhill. Otherwise, it will be very difficult since the riders have to push up their bikes along the steep track," Shangcham said, drawing the government's attemtion to work towards setting up adequate infrastructures to make Manipur the MTB hub. 

He went on to highlight that other states of India and even some countries are looking towards Manipur for the best MTB experience. Riders from several states of India and foreign cyclists have enquired about the MTB downhill competition this year even if they failed to participate owing to short notice of the festival and competition. 

While it is certain that the particular adventure sports is feasible in a state like Manipur, it is yet to be ascertained whether the government will develop the required infrastructures in the near future.

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First published:31 May 2022, 5:14 pm

Tags:

UkhrulManipurJorchengLungharcyclictsShirui Lilymtb

Donald Sairem

Donald Sairem

IFP Reporter, IMPHAL, Manipur

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