Gautam Taode : Downhill MTB Maestro
You might have heard about downhill MTB riding, on the other hand, you may have no clue what it is at all. Don’t worry, I didn’t either, until I met Gautam Taode and he introduced me to one of the most intense and dangerous sport out there! Imagine hiking a cycle up a steep mountain and then racing against time down it on neck breaking speeds all while maneuvering across the rough terrain. Sounds scary enough? Well, I can assure you that it most definitely is. One small slip, hit one rock the wrong way and you could be hurtled across the bars enduring painful injuries that result in months of recovery and physiotherapy.
Ask Gautam, he has more broken bones than anyone I know.
He is sponsored by Giant Starkenn, the top cycling brand in the world. He found his passion for bike riding at an early age, whizzing through the streets of Pune. Once he was introduced to mountain biking, his passion only grew stronger. Gautam achieved something great when he was the first Indian athlete to step foot on the podium of the Asia Pacific Downhill MTB Championships, Bali. He even raised the Indian flag!
TALKING TO THE MAN HIMSELF
We had a short but engaging discussion with the man who faces all these challenges and does it with pride!
What do you love most about what you do?
I get to travel across the world, meeting new people and experiencing new things all while doing what I love! I think I would consider that being the most fun part.
What was your worst moment?
My worst moment was when I had a fall and cracked my skull in two places. The recovery time was 3 months and not being able to ride during that time was the worst feeling ever. I am the kind of person that needs some sort of physical activity otherwise I go crazy!
What was the best prize you have received for after your race?
Honour and respect! Just kidding! Well, including that, the best prize had to be the 50,000rs that I won at the Kerala Downhill MTB 2012. It was an international event attended by racers across the world, it was an amazing experience racing with them!
How do you train for these races?
I split my training into 2 ways. One is the gym and the other is on my bike. I go to the gym and do core and strength training and that helps me better myself during races. Riding my bike is a must, I train around the hills of Pune at least thrice a week. The most important part though is being mentally prepared for the race, because anything could happen at the spur of the moment and one must be prepared for it.
Are you scared of getting back on your bike after a bad fall?
Actually, I can’t wait to get on my bike! I have fallen down more times than I can remember and I have broken numerous bones. The recovery is long and intense, during that time, all I can think about is getting back on my bike and racing!
Besides racing, what else do you do?
I have recently started my own company, GT Adventures. It is a adventure company that features mountain biking camps, tours and other sorts of activities. That is now my main focus besides racing, which will always be my number one!
How well known is this sport in India?
When I first started racing, barely anybody in India even knew what mountain biking was. There weren’t even any races held in the country, that’s why I had to go abroad to race. Now, 6 years later, I see a vast amount of young riders taking a keen interest in the sport and more and more races are being held in India.
It fills me with immense pride to see an Indian excelling in an extreme sport. The rising generation of India loves exploring, experimenting and creating. Gautam Taode is an inspiration for all of them.
Step out, break social constructs and conquer life!