The Indian mountain biker who won a Bike Park BC competition will push his riding to a new level this week at Crankworx.
Never one to stray from a challenge, Vinay Menon said he plans to compete in some of the bike festival's amateur category competitions - despite the fact the first time he set foot in a bike park was last week.
The pioneer rider from India arrived in Vancouver on July 30 to claim his prize as winner of the Ultimate Summer of Freeriding competition.
Menon's entry, which included video, photographs and a blog submission, was chosen as best of more than 140 entries from around the world. His prize includes season passes to B.C.'s five biggest bike parks.
After arriving in Canada, Menon spent the weekend at Mount Washington Bike Park where he had three days riding trails and participating in the B.C. Cup Downhill Race.
"Had a great time!" he wrote in an e-mail about his first mountain bike experience. "On day three, I rode the Back in Black/Wizard and got some pictures there. Hit all the advanced obstacles! Loved it! Actually hiked up a few times to do sessions on certain drops."
He is now heading to Whistler to tackle the world-famous park.
"I am hoping the summer of 2010 will be one of the most memorable experiences of my life," added Menon before leaving for Canada this month.
Menon is one of the founding members of Ride2026, the first mountain bike organization in India.
He has worked hard over the last decade to develop the sport in his hometown of Pune. Among other things, he has built biking trails, held demonstrations and organized rides.
Because mountain biking is still in its infancy in India, Menon learned everything he knows about the sport from painstakingly watching videos and reading magazine articles.
"Over the years, I have been pushing myself to ride at a certain level that people here thought was impossible for an Indian athlete to reach," said Menon. "Quite a lot of new riders consider me an inspiration, and that is a big thing for me."
He also speaks freely about how difficult it is to be a mountain biker in India.
The sport is not yet recognized by many of the country's sports organizations, and there is almost no money to be made by top mountain bike athletes, he said. Many of the original members of his Ride 2026 crew have since left the sport because there so little money to be made.
But Menon hopes to use his experiences in Whistler and other B.C. bike parks this summer to continue advancing biking back in India.
"The B.C. Bike Parks experience is going to be like a mountain biking university education," said the enthusiastic Menon two weeks ago. "I have no doubt the knowledge I will gain during my visit will be crucial to progressing my sport in India."