I’m 28 years old and grew up in Mumbai. Besides singing and playing in a rock band called Modern Mafia, I own an urban extreme sports company and freelance as a part-time superhero. I’ve been riding bikes since I could walk, for a while I rode motocross and raced touring cars but I kept coming back to MTB every single time. There’s something about not being dependent on the the amount of gas in the tank or an engine that got me hooked on the sport.


What makes my home trails great

MTB is pretty new to most parts of India. There aren’t any trails that have been specifically built around the cities. In Mumbai, we have to travel a distance of up to 200 km out of the city with our bikes to search for new trails in the hills. When we reach the top, we realise we’re probably the first ones to ride bikes down these hills, and that is one of the best parts.
The trails are fantastic because they are so unpredictable. There’s everything from steep climbs to single track trails, and even downhill sections. The weather can be challenging in its extremes as well. Hot and humid mornings, lashing rain during the afternoon, and dense fog in the evenings are all par for the course.

The scary part is that if you crash, India doesn’t have the facilities for medical help on the trail. You’re on your own, and I guess in a crazy way that’s part of the rush.

An enduro bike with a lot of suspension travel is the perfect choice, because the terrain changes all the time. A good amount of riding experience is needed since there aren’t any trail markers or guides, and you have to know what to do in every possible situation. The local people in the villages are kind, curious and will offer any help they can to you. They love having you around as long as you respect their local laws and culture.


What to do when the riding is done

We have these places called ‘dhabas’ along the highways. It’s something like an open Bollywood-themed restaurant with beds, which is a great option when you’re done with a long day of riding. It’s great place to have a beer and kebab while you take a quick nap. I personally love this drink called ‘lassi’ which is made from fermented milk, curd, crème, more milk and a lot of sugar. They are served in tall glasses made of copper and it’s a rich and heavy drink that can be a challenge to finish.


Five trails you must ride near Mumbai

For serious riders, Manali in the northern part of India has some of the best MTB trails in the country. They host all the Himalayan bike races and most of MTB events. The trails here are crazy and pretty high up.

Lonavala, which is around 100 km from Mumbai, has a bunch of trails around the foothills. It’s not too far from local villages. It’s a mix of forest, rocky and all mountain riding. A good place to just explore.

Kamshet is a great place near Mumbai to hunt for mountain trails. There are some amazing hills around the area and if you can manage to get on top, the ride down is amazing. Look out for the hills with the windmills.

The outskirts of Pune, which is a city 300 km from Mumbai, has some really amazing downhill trails. Some of the best downhill riders come from here. The trails are a bit hardcore but if you’re crazy enough, It’s one hell of a ride.

Kolad is a town a bit further down from Mumbai which hosts some amazing single track trails. It’s tight with a lot of rock and dark with a thick forest cover but a lot of fun.


Five thing to do while in Mumbai

Eat, eat and eat. If you are brave enough to survive moving around the city, Mumbai has some really adventurous food you can try out. When they say it’s spicy, they mean it!

Ride a rickshaw (tuk tuk) all over the city. At times, it’s more extreme than riding a mountain bike downhill, while you dodge millions of people and the occasional cow.

September is when the entire city is consumed by Ganesh Chaturthi, a Hindu festival celebrating the elephant-headed god. It boils down to people taking huge idols of the god Ganesha from all over the city, and immersing them into the lakes and sea while dancing to extremely loud music. If you are brave enough, it’s a crazy party.

Walk all over the city which is an adventure by itself. From the British colonial heritage of the main city to the crazy suburbs, there’s a lot to explore.

Party! There are a lots of places to get a drink and meet some cool people!

More from our “Local Heroes”-series: La Palma (Spain) | Deister (Germany) | Wellington (Newzealand) | Salento (Colombia) | Lake Como (Italy) | Cusco (Peru)

Words & Pictures: Varun Das

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