Mountain Biking Guide and 2014 National Downhill champion Rajesh Magar has come a long way. Now with a spanking new bike, tireless training and a promising career, the 20-year-old looks all geared up to reach new heights.
I’ll throw that bicycle out of this house!” Rajesh Magar’s mother would yell, unable to stand the greasy mess of DIY bike repair in his room. Two years later she’d be on the phone with Rajesh, tears of joy in her eyes. Rajesh became the downhill national champion of Nepal in 2014.
For the 20-year-old professional cyclist, it was never a walk in the park. As a kid Rajesh would see other kids his age ride bikes but his family wasn’t well off and couldn’t afford one. Helping out with domestic chores in people’s homes, he saved his tiny salary to buy an Oscar bicycle, an unremarkable bike at best. Fascinated by downhill bikers, he was eager to follow suit. “I knew about the Hattiban trail from a friend who was also interested in downhill,” says Rajesh. There was no way his Oscar could survive a downhill trail. When all else failed, Rajesh hooked up the bike with an old scooter’s suspension and took it on practice runs.
Nasty falls and crashes became a norm, and unsurprisingly, the bike cracked several times and even broke into two pieces a couple of times. Relentless in his efforts, he welded them together and got right back. “I’d see other bikers on the trails but I never had the confidence to talk to them,” confesses Rajesh. “Instead I trained myself with stunts and tricks I learned from YouTube videos.”
Lucky enough to borrow a proper mountain bike for the National Championships in 2013, his first ever race, Rajesh reflects, “I came sixth in the race. This was perhaps the biggest confidence boost for me.” In Life Cycle Downhill race a couple of months later, he was again practicing on the same Oscar bicycle on the downhill track. He adds, “I was lucky once again and was given a high-end Banshee bike for the race. Unfortunately, I ran out of luck when the chain broke and had to pump the bike in the last section. Despite the mechanical problem, I managed to finish fourth by just a second or two.”
Sad but not demoralized, he got a second shot at the Nationals in 2014. With enough practice on a robust bike this time around, he was determined to perform better. “I was extremely pleased with the result when I stood on the podium that day as the new national champion! I was hoping to come in the top five, but hadn’t expected to win.” Race after race, Rajesh would put up a menacing performance and take the podium by storm. Whether in Showdown Dharan, Palpa Urban Downhill, Himalayan Outdoor Festival orTansen Ultra, Rajesh made his presence felt and with quite a few golds and silvers under his belt in the first two years of racing, his biking career looks more promising than ever.
In the Downhill Championships 2015, quite unexpectedly, Rajesh came in third with a margin of mere milliseconds behind the winners. As it turned out, he lost valuable time due to a mechanical glitch on the final round. But like a true sportsman, he carried it off with a smile and not once blamed anything or anyone for the result. This incident indeed has motivated him to train even harder and become more dedicated to the sport he holds dearly to his heart.
“My mother struggled throughout her life to raise me and make me a successful person,” says an emotional Rajesh. “I’m very proud to make her dreams come true.” Though his family seems to have come to terms with the risks associated with downhill biking, “They’re still not quite happy with the grease on the carpet when I fix my bike in my room,” he chuckles. As a mountain biking guide for Himalayan Rides, an adventure company, Rajesh has been able to provide for his family and fulfill his responsibilities.
In fact, owing to his dedication and achievement, Rajesh has been sponsored a brand new Yeti bike with which he’s training relentlessly for the upcoming National DH Championship as well as Asian Enduro Series race, an international event scheduled for April 2016. It hasn’t been easy for the champ as he’s had some run-ins on a few occasions, but Rajesh’s persistence to improve his performance is quite inspirational and a reminder that nothing is impossible with a bit of luck, commitment and a whole lot of training.