Insync Brand ambassador Patrick Robinson returns from the Himalayas after competing in one of the toughest races in the world, Hero MTB Himalaya. Patrick shares some thoughts on his experience, and tells us how his Riddick bike performed in the race of a lifetime.
I first heard about the race just 6 weeks before the event. I knew I had to get started immediately with my preparation.
My training was very simple: More cycling, eating healthier, and longer gym sessions. But while I was doing all the right things, it realistically wasn’t enough. Put simply, my 30-mile road rides paled in comparison to the 70-mile mountainous cross-country rides I would be enduring while traversing the Himalayas.
I arrived in India weighing 75kg (5kg lighter than I was 6 weeks before), equipped with my 11kg bike bag. In it was my 27.5” Riddick RD900 with Rockshox SID forks, Mavic XL pro wheels, Shimano XT brakes, Rockshox dropper seatpost, Spank Vibecore bars and stem. My bike was a MACHINE! It climbed, descended, and handled perfectly.
The first ride in India consisted of overtaking cars and bunny-hopping holes in the roads, and just that was a lot of fun. The race itself started with a prologue consisting of a 3 lap urban downhill ride around the town, Shimla. This included riding stairs and tight corners which determined our starting positions for the race.
For MTB Himalaya, I teamed up with world cup rider and close friend, Harry Molloy, to ride in a team of two for the event. But Harry and I were hyped for the event, especially after flying through the streets, jumping down stairs on the bikes.
On the first day of the race, we pushed on both climbs and downhills, finishing the day in 4th place in a team of two. But it was then that I unfortunately sustained an injury from a crash hurting my knee and elbow. My goal quickly changed from reaching the podium to finishing the race.
The evenings were spent cleaning the bikes, eating as much food as you could, pouring water from a bucket to wash and rolling your sleeping bag out in your tent. The temperatures descended below freezing at night.
The next morning, we would wake up around 5.30am from the sounds of the birds and dogs. Our fellow riders would slowly begin to emerge from their tents preparing to begin the day’s ride. The stages had everything in them: Fast roads, single track, technical sections, stairs, rivers and even landslides. And to be honest, this list could go be even more extensive.
In MTB Himalaya, you must always remain focused. The second you lose concentration you’ll in all likelihood crash – and that could be from something as mundane as a cow crossing the road to turning a corner and finding the path blocked by 30 goats hurtling towards you.
The race offered a real test for the Riddick RD900. From the gears being grinded to the tyres treading the road on the tight turns, and not to mention the brakes when you are hailing down roads reaching around 40mph with a 100ft vertical drop next to you, the Indian terrain constitutes a real test for any mountain bike. On this race, the descents can be up to 1 hour long of pure off-road fast sections. Rocks would be flying up at the frame, suspension would be using all of its travel and you would have to react fast to bunny-hop sections to stay on the right track. I was truly impressed with how the RD900 tackled technical descends. The bike had flow and handled it in style. I was learning as the race went on. I soon began to know what pace to cycle at, when to eat, when to drink and how to do it.
I noticed myself getting fitter as the race went on. However, the climbs were still never easy, and I was grateful I was on a bike that could cope with the climbing.
Unfortunately, my team mate Harry crashed towards the end of the 4th to last stage resulting in an injury that put him out of the race. Harry was on fire – this was his first stage race and he was a natural. No doubt he will be back next year. Crossing the finish line on the final day at the top of a mountain overlooking Dharamshala left me speechless. This was by far one of the most challenging races I have ever done, and it was undoubtedly the most rewarding challenge I have ever faced. I was extremely pleased with myself that I kept pushing on to complete the race – it’s an achievement I will never forget.
To describe the bike in one word: Perfect. The views: Incredible. The race: Beautiful. India: Magical.