Meet Indian Downhill racer Piyush Chavan

Introducing Indian downhill racer Piyush.
Interview by Jamie Edwards

We heard a rumour that an Indian rider was at the British Downhill Series so we camped out at sign-on to track him down. Sure enough, 2 minutes before closing time Piyush Chavan appeared and signed on for a race 6,000 miles from home.

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Hi Piyush, welcome to the British Downhill Series. Can you tell us who you are and where you’re from?
I’m Piyush Chavan. I’m 18 years old and I’m from India.

And what brings you all the way to Fort William?
Well Fort William is a World Cup track which is the whole reason I wanted to race here. The British Downhill Series had its second round here so I spoke to Si and he said I could come down here and race. I was pretty exciting and I’ve been training for like 4 months just for this race! It’s been like a dream come true to ride this track where all the World Cup racers have ridden. It’s an awesome experience. I’ve come from about 40degrees heat in India, it’s a drastic change but it’s nice! The weather changes here are pretty rapid but I suppose you get used to it!

So have you ridden a World Cup or a World Cup track before?
No. It’s my first World Cup track!

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What was your journey like to get here? Obviously you had to fly all the way from India to be here?
Yeah, I did fly all the way from Mumbai in India but it wasn’t that long, it was just like 20 hours travel to get here! It’s all worth it though man! I live in Pune which is like the mountain bike hub in the country.

So you haven’t had an easy trip so far, have you? Did you have some bike trouble?
Yeah I had a bit of trouble with my bike, the track is pretty gnarly here you know?! It takes a toll on your body as well as your bike! Thankfully the guys at Nevis Cycles at Inverlochy set my bike up and helped me with my rims and stuff. So it’s holding up pretty well and I’m feeling confident which I need to for this race!

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And what’s mountain biking like in India then?
Mountain biking in India has a LOT of variety! You go to any part of India and you’ll find different sort of trails … but there aren’t many riders, it’s still growing. But you can find a lot of riding. We also have the Ski Himalayas in Manali where the downhill mountain bike trophy happens every year in July. That’s where I’m heading out to after this race.

And are there any Indian World Cup Downhill Racers? I should know that, sorry!
Not yet, but if you ask me that question after a year you’ll probably have a good answer! I’m sponsored by Lifecycle Pune which is a bike shop in Pune. I race at elite level in India. I won the Downhill Trophy and I’m hoping to get some more good results this year.

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Do you get much support from the government or council or anything like that back home?
No, not really, I’ve been spending from my own expenses. But I’m hoping to get good results and get some new sponsors later.

I can see you’ve got a Specialized bike with Conti tires, Nukeproof pedals … lots of well known names to me. How easy is it to buy bikes and parts back home in India? 
The funny thing is you can’t really buy a downhill bike yet in India. We still have to import our bicycles. Regarding servicing and maintenance you can do it easily. All the shops have started gaining the knowledge and it’s growing really fast.

Thanks, that’s it! Good luck for this weekend!
Thank you!

Don’t miss our Trackside video from this weekend’s British Downhill Series race here.

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