Racing in South East asia.

Currently I’m in Kudus, a small cultural town in Central Java, indonesia where I’m reflecting on my trip so far while sipping on the local Teh.

Right in the start of 2017 I had a feeling my riding needs to be more alive and I felt I wasn’t being challenged enough in my little environment. Though I was training harder with new coach and a confirmed extension of my contract with Scott I struggled to create an environment that pushed me and made me grow.

So i decided on a near 3 month day trip to Indonesia from July to September, to train race and collect some UCI points.
I had a few good warm up races and a big one at the Asian Champs and was looking forward to my trip ahead.

Just as I was about to leave the next day I got the news of the passing of an old riding friend, Ajay.

Ajay helping me setup the bike before the race run in 2014. Himachal Pradesh

Of course we were all shocked and I did not understand on how to deal with it because I literally grew up riding with him for my first couple years.
I knew that I did not want to remember my friend like that so I decided to not postpone my plan and I flew out of the country as planned.
This trip was already getting a little wild with that shocking incident and whether I like to admit or not it did have an effect on my first race.
My first 2 weeks in Indonesia before I headed out to sumatra were just plain busy, stocking up some bike parts, repairing old ones and riding a whole lot of riding in the Cikole Bike park.
Mind you this is a bike park that’s build by the riders with govt. support and charged INR 75 rs per entry. Full day shuttle would cost you a max 500 INR if there are 5 people for each loading car. 
Some great healthy local indonesian food just outside the track and go back to the city happy in less than 1000INR on a full day. The Spartan Racing team from Indonesia helped me by sharing their knowledge and skill and I really owe the good experience I had on my bike to them.
Anyway, I was surprisingly not so excited to race in lubuk linggau (south Sumatra) but I was still looking forward to it, the entire race for me went like a fast forward button where I enjoyed a few bits but mostly just went through the motions. I tried making most of it and learned quite a bit in terms of bike setup which would guide me for the next few races.
Post this race, things took an interesting turn I was able to figure out why I was in that mindset and I decided to do my usual Gym – ride – train repeat routine for a week before I kicked off to Malaysia.

During that week I had a long XC ride to some waterfalls just outside the beautiful bandung city and that really bought the flow back for me.

XC ride to the waterfall with some great views.

I had a feeling in the back of my head that Malaysia would be super good and honestly it did not disappoint.
I was here for the Asia Mtb Series in Tambunan, Sabah and I was immediately thrilled as soon as I met my old friend Jr Barba who is one hell of a crazy rider and a bro to me.
We saw the track and I was like ok this looks just open wide and full throttle with just two bad pedal sections, one big road gap and a couple of fun features. It wasn’t very exciting to me until I actually rode it a couple of times and realized that every run was better than the next.
My main issue before the race was attempting the 22 foot road gap. It was really scary and I had never jumped anything that big. Barba spoke a few words to me while were on the uplift and they strung well in my mind.
The next run I did a clean landing and I found my self yet again thinking that it was me really who was holding me back.
It was that simple, either you do it or you don’t and the recent passing of Ajay also made me literally pull my head out and realize that life is truly short and I must make the most of any and every opportunity just like he did.

On race day, we had seeding in the morning and race in the afternoon and I seeded 5th (podium spot for DH) this got me excited and nervous at the same time. Unfortunately rain came down and I struggled riding some sections confidently and lost some time to finish 7th. I lost a chance of a podium but this was my first ever top 10 and I walked away with 6 Uci points. I know I could’ve done better but this result surely motivated me.

Sending it towards a 5th place qualification run!!

I got back in Indonesia the following day and recovered well to travel to Kudus well in advance for the 3rd legof Indonesian Downhill Series.

I’ve been dreaming of participating in this series since 2012 and for this year this will be my second race for this series.
Hope you guys will watch me live on Sunday on – 1pm IST.