The first time I ran into the guy, I almost addressed him as ‘Sir’ based on what I had heard about him and assuming him to be in his mid-20s and then I found he’s only 17 years old. Guess that’s all the more reason to address him as such for accomplishing so much at such a young age.
Editor in chief of MTB Mag India and a mountain bike instructor who also recons trails and supervises bike camps, I think Prateek Singh may impute a bike to his body one of these days. His room already resembles a pimped out bike garage, mutating his body into a bike wouldn’t seem like such a far away step. I guess as far as one can, he and his bike have already reached a union as one. I’ve been on rides with him, and it’s a strange sight to see someone decked out in proper biking gear rip through the streets of Kolkata, hopping clean over manholes and on and off curbs.
Allow him to explain:
Siddarth: I see you ride on, and it’s a very rare case to come across a biker like you in this city. How did you get started in this?
Prateek: Well I started riding as I wanted to do something which was fun to do outdoors. I never liked field sports. Since a kid I was fascinated by mountains and hills, they gave me an unexplained high and excitement whenever I was amidst them. Once on a trip to my uncle’s place in Dehradun, I started riding my elder brother’s bike. It was a crappy, Indian, full suspension bike but it didn’t really matter then. I used to ride to the woods behind their house and ride the trails there and that was when the bug bit me. Soon, I had figured; this was it. Since then I have learnt more and more about the sport with each passing day, learnt more about riding, got onto better and better bikes, improved my skills, and then started competing. Now it’s more than a passion. I’m obsessed with my bikes and biking itself. Now it’s a pipe-dream to earn a living riding bikes and being in the sport.
Being in a country like India where biking is not that prominent, I plan to change that. I’m more into downhill and technical trail riding. I love free-riding and urban free-riding as well. Riding is an addiction – worse than a drug. Eat, sleep, ride, repeat is the notion I live on. Party on the trails.
Siddarth: Editor of MTB Mag India, how did this magazine come into being?
Prateek: Mtbmagindia is a mountain bike magazine which features the biking scene in India and also keeps one up to date with the latest happenings of the world of MTB everywhere along with tech tips, tricknology, etc. It started when Sir Mesum Verma (an elite DH biker from China/ a professional photographer) , whom I consider my mentor told me he had quit a previous bike magazine he used to run in India. The news was shocking that there were some business troubles and treason by the deputy editor of the previous mag. So he asked me if I would like to be the editor in chief of a new magazine. So now we have mtbmagindia, with me as the editor in chief and Mesum Sir as the CEO/photo director. Check out www.mtbmagindia.com for more information.
Siddarth: What kind of riding do you do? What about it appeals to you?
Prateek: I am basically a “mountain biker” and enjoy all disciplines of it. Free-riding and downhill appeal to me the most. Currently I’m just increasing my skills on a Hardtail XC bike which I abuse like dirt jump bikes. I love riding, except on roads. I love my bikes more than myself – in short, I love riding. I love riding aggressive mountain style stuff; anything that gets me stoked.
Siddarth: A basketball player dreams of dunking, a soccer player of doing a banana/bicycle kick; what’s an epic trick/move you want to nail?
Prateek: I would love to nail the back-flip someday. And also tail-whips like Dylan Sherrard. These two tricks are on the top of my wishlist. Rest are bar-spin drops, really big drops, and high bunny hops. Wheelies and manuals don’t fancy me much.
Siddarth: Which states have you been biking in?
Prateek: I have ridden in several states but my favorite would be Sikkim. Other states are Uttarakhand, Himachal, North Bengal. My next plan is to go to Ladakh, and also to shred the trails around Pune. India is full of places to ride – like a huge menu card where you are spoilt for choice.
Siddarth: You rode in the Kolkata Cyclothon; I know your views on road biking, but the event must have taken you aback with the passion for cycling in Kolkata?
Prateek: The cyclothon in Kolkata was a surprise in itself. Then, the number of participants was another surprise. There were a lot of elite riders and well, it was a road bike event. No comments on that.
Siddarth: A mountain bike rider would yearn to rip through the hills. Residing in Kolkata, what kind of shredding do you do here and where do you do it?
Prateek: There are some pretty sweet flatland trails to ride around Kolkata. Good to do on an occasional weekend. Regularly I just make shredding fun. Jumping off kerbs, hopping over big potholes, getting air on the bumps, just having fun, zipping through the traffic, and I also enjoy the stares. They see a crazy nut wearing a helmet and jumping over shit , they are bound to give a second look. People in cars give second looks, and the best is the “what the hell just happened?” look. I personally love the broken and cracked Kolkata roads a lot. Smooth roads make me feel sleepy while riding.
Siddarth: What are you up to these days?
Prateek: Well…I’m in 12th grade – last year of high school. I’m a mountain biker, the youngest MTB instructor (with Himalayan footprints), a race organizer, trail supervisor and editor in chief/owner of mtbmagindia. I spend my days travelling, riding, biking camps, working, and when I’m in town and free from biking trips, I spend time with friends and my girlfriend. I go riding with my local group of biker friends. And at times I try to study but end up riding.
Siddarth: In MTB issue 1, it quoted you “We have the greatest mountain range next door.” Care to elaborate?
Prateek: The Himalayas! – The greatest range of all. The versatile terrain, the dizzying altitudes, the amazing scenery, the natural trails, and what not. The vast stretch of the ranges, the endless downhills, all scream about how amazing the Himalayas are for mountain biking. India even has amazing hills in the South, the Western Ghats,the plateau region has some trails too. Eastern Ghats, the Aravalli range, and so on. India is full of awesome places to ride. So, why don’t we ride?! We have the privilege of such riding conditions which others, in pursuit of spend so much to travel to, in our backyard. Its like you have a gold mine in your backyard and you don’t even know it.