KATHMANDU: Albert Einstein has rightly said: ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
Concurring with Einstein’s saying, Kathmandu Cyclist Ajay Pandit Chhetri has made bicycle the best companion to keep balance in his life.
For this 34-year-old Chhetri, cycling has become an indispensable part of his life and identity.
Ajay, born in Kathmandu’s Gokarneshwor, was just 8 years old when he started cycling. This innocent kid then had not imagined that cycling would be an inseparable part of his life, and would give him amazing life experiences.
Ajay still remembers the pain that he had to endure when the “uncontrolled bicycle” used to enter the thorn bushes while learning to keep balance on the wheels.
The enthusiast, who had started cycling for fun, is identified as 5 times National Cycling Champion, 5 times Yak Attack winner now, and young cyclists call him Ajay Dai of ‘Mtb Cogs’ in Nepal.
Started cycling for fun
In fact, I had a burning desire. I used to feel a different pleasure after hopping on my cycle. With my age, the bond toward the bicycle started becoming even stronger.
I still remember when I rented bicycles from the nearby shops and went for rides with my friends.
I along with friends used to explore the hills near Kathmandu city on the day of renting the cycles. I never dreamt of making cycling my profession then.
Cycle race Information
We didn’t have any idea that the cycle race even existed in the Nepali society. But during the phase of exploring Kathmandu city, we came to know about the cycle race.
Soon after, we decided to participate. It was in 2005. It was the first cycle race for us. The route was from Bhaktapur to Kashi Bhanjyang, about 16-17 km distance.
We had participated in the junior category. The results were unbelievable. I succeeded to secure the first position in the junior category.
First race, unaware of everything
It was my first race. In fact, I participated to gain experience. Interestingly, I had never heard about Kashibhanjyang. I was unaware of the road conditions and was a bit nervous.
The condition of the road was not favorable. For me, it was a challenging ride. But we succeeded to get a satisfactory result. I felt like a new avenue had opened.
National Cycling Championship
After bagging the trophy in the first race, I was equally unaware of the cycling championship happening at the national level. But, with my age, my knowledge about my cycle and cycling started growing.
Similarly, I became quite active in the cycling community. Moreover, the first trophy became my plus point as I was being noticed in the community.
As a result, knowing my potential, some senior cyclists informed me about the national championship. The first trophy inspired me to be part of a national championship.
The championship took place in Tokha. There was Cross Country lap. I participated in the junior category. I succeeded to become the first runner-up. I still felt contended with the achievement.
The journey that I started — knowingly or unknowingly – led me to this current situation. I still feel I have a lot more to achieve. I gathered tons of experience by committing many errors but fixed them, learned from them, and kept moving ahead.
National Cycle Championship Trophy
It was back in 2009 that I won the National Cycle Championship Trophy for the first time. This added more energy and excitement to me. I felt like a new responsibility has been added to me. I realized that I need to do something for my motherland, Nepal.
The trophy widened my thinking and dreams. A new dream of representing my country in the world started to grow in my heart. This became the starting point for beginning professional cycling.
I feel like growing as a sportsman and a person in the past decade. I participated in many national and international cycling championships continuously for 5-6 years after winning the first national trophy.
The results were satisfying. I got the opportunity to polish myself as a cyclist during this period.
During the same period, I participated in many international cycling championships. I had also been part of cycling events that took place in more than 25 nations in Europe.
Cycling gave me the opportunity to be part of the cycle events occurring in the countries of Africa, South Asia, and Asia.
I have been successful in making my family happy while following my dreams. I feel happy about the decision that I have made regarding my preferences in life. The experience of moving ahead with responsibility and dreams is quite different.
Memorable cycle ride
Once, I needed to train my body to participate in an international event. I hopped on my cycle and started pedaling towards Pokhara for that training. The distance between Kathmandu and Pokhara is 204 km. The journey on Prithvi Highway was thrilling.
Moreover, the speed of vehicles on the highway was a challenge for us. Vehicles were in rush for reaching their destination. And in the same journey, I was enjoying all the ups and downs and curves of the road along with remembering my dream and was pedaling at my pace.
I started my journey from Kathmandu at 5 am. After cycling for 8 hours, I reached Pokhara. That day still gives me a sense of satisfaction.
Disappointment in the early phase
It is natural for people to commit mistakes. But, I believe we must not cry over the spilled milk. I, too, have committed mistakes in my life journey. But, learning from the mistakes is important, and makes a person experienced and mature.
Similarly, new sportsmen, including cyclists give their best shot. Perhaps, they are unable to get the desired results. This is not unusual. Most young cyclists get disappointed for not being able to achieve their desired results.
Giving up is not the solution. Sport is like a war. One needs a deeper level of motivation to fight for victory.
Indeed, one must trust oneself, gather courage and keep self–esteem, confidence along with hope alive.
According to a scientific study, cycling and athletics are difficult genres of sports to gain the desired results. It is a long journey.
A cyclist usually cannot gain the desired results within 1-2 years of cycling training. It usually takes about 5 years of training to see the impact.
This is why new cycling enthusiasts must have patience and defeat the sadness after disappointment.
Like in other sports, diet is a major factor for cyclists. Nutrition is as important as the rest and exercise that the body needs.
Society has become smart. There have been many scientific inventions that aware a person about the requirement and current condition of the body. Example: Fitness Watch. We can use such types of similar inventions to plan our diet.
If we are able to take nutrition and training parallel, desired results can be obtained despite reducing the training time.
Likewise, carbohydrate is the source of energy for the sports personality. Nepali foods are rich in carbohydrates. It is beneficial for a beginner-level cyclist to continue the typical Nepali diet.
But one must be careful about the quantity of food intake. The food is similar to medicine intake. More and less consumption of the food will for sure harm the body.
So, I think a beginner cyclist can enjoy the ride and training by consuming regular homemade food and a usual diet. This will be beneficial for the body. And the cyclist must remember about eating the right food at the right time for building the body. And after gaining the experience and knowledge, probably the sponsors, one can shift to the advanced dieting routine.
The upper body is as important as the lower body
Cycling helps to make the whole body active. The upper body carries equal importance as the lower part. Cross Fit Training and jogging can be great exercises for cyclists.
It is only during the national, and international Championships, and South Asian and Asian Games that the Nepal Sports Council and Nepal Cycling Association arrange the coaches for players.
Despite the championship period, most Nepali players and cyclists research on their own to keep themselves fit and healthy.
High Altitude Training
High Altitude Cycling training is a plus point for the cyclist. This is an advantage to the Nepali cyclist.
These kinds of training increase the oxygen level in the body. Such training one week prior to participating in the championships is important. It increases the energy in the body. But, it is usually better to train at a low altitude to build the body.
Apart from altitude, the performance depends more on how the factor of a training procedure than the “where’ factor.
Inspiration must come from within
Everyone has their source of inspiration. I even used to get inspired by different people and places. I used to study and get inspired by many European cyclists.
But, instead of following the footprints of other cyclists or people, I always believed in creating my own path. I had a vision of reaching my destination.
And I have my own way of meeting the goals. This led me to become a self-motivator for my challenges. I even realized during the course of the journey that it is I who had to work in my own way to reach the destination that I crave.
The current condition of Professional Cyclists in Nepal
The days are still to come when a cyclist can totally live depending on cycling only in Nepal. It might be quite favorable to dream of the idea if one is under the umbrella of organizations like the Nepal Police and the Tribhuvan Army Club. But if one dreams about doing it independently it might be full of obstacles.
That does not mean the scenario has been stagnant. Obviously, with time, the days for cyclists are changing, even in Nepal. If we compare it to the days when I came into cycling, there has been a drastic change.
Although there are various loopholes available that can be fixed and increase the cycling scenario more smoothly in Nepal. There is a huge scope of cycling in Nepal. The concerned officials must come hand-in-hand for exploring the scope to an extent.
Challenge for Cyclists
Cycling comes under outdoor cycling in Nepal. We don’t cycle inside a stadium in Nepal. There is a lack of a definite trail for cyclists in our country. The environment is not favorable for a cyclist to start training whenever he desires.
Nepali cyclists are compiled to train to share the trail along with vehicles, people and even animals. I feel a decent and separate trail for training is one of the transparent challenges that every Nepali cyclist is facing nowadays.
Cycling-an expensive sports
I took cycling as an expensive sport when it comes to a middle-class family. This is because even an average professional cycle is usually unaffordable for a middle-class family in Nepal. But, that does not mean, one cannot start cycling with what he or she has. Even an economical cycle plays a vital role to get in shape in the beginning days.
I myself started with a cheaper one and later slowly started upgrading the cycle. It’s like when there’s a will, there is a way. If you start with strong willpower, obviously you will be able to convert the unaffordable to an affordable one. But, the main thing is you have to start first.
Favorable cycle for a beginner cyclist
There is a huge range of choices of cycles in the market as per the requirement and budget. One can easily find Steel, Aluminium, Carbon, etc framed cycle body in Nepal. But as per suggestion, it would be better to start with the Aluminium cycle for beginner cyclists. It is because Aluminium framed cycle bodies are more durable and affordable.
In comparison with the carbon frame, it is heavy and strong but light and durable than steel body cycles. The aluminum body is best for starting the professional journey as a cyclist. These cycles consume less investment and can be repaired at a low cost compared to Carbon-frame cycles.
Rising Cycle Genres in Nepal
There is a huge range of cycling genres in the world. Example: Cross Country, Trail, Mountain Biking, Road Cycling, etc. Road cycling is popular in European society. As per the topographical structure of Nepal, Induro Cycling, Downhill Cycling and Cross Country Cycling are getting popular in Nepali society.
Benefits of Cycling
Cycling is not just a sport but an environment-friendly and health-friendly sport. There is a huge benefit for a cyclist and also the environment. It helps to save the environment. It can be taken as a solution to health problems, air pollution and environmental problems.
A cyclist can be a good tool for being fit and happy. Even in my case, the level of energy is totally different during the day when I cycle and I don’t cycle.
The European society has started going on a cycle as a medium to become, fit, travel, become happy and also save the environment. As per my knowledge, almost 80-90 percent of Europeans have started using cycle.
I hope one day, after understanding the unlimited benefit of cycling by Nepali people, even Nepal will be a cycle-friendly country.