Mountain Biking is a growing adventure sport in India, and has seen a boom in the past few years. Nowadays, we see a lot of mountain biking action in India over the internet and it is also a chosen career path for a few individuals. Back in the days when there was dial-up internet and live streaming of extreme sports on ESPN at 6 in the morning, a teenager named Vinay Menon decided he was going to take mountain biking to the next level!
Vinay Menon, a.k.a Venom is a familiar name to you if you’re into the mountain biking scene in India, Nepal or even Canada. Hailed as the “Pioneer of Freeriding in India’, this 33 year old is also the Co-Founder of Psynyde Bikes, Deputy Editor for Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine, and an ace sports videographer.
Recently our man, Ajay Padval (who also calls Vina his mentor) caught up with Venom and fired a quick round of questions.
VM: I’m Vinay Menon, 33 years old, from Pune, India. A Mountain Biker, Videographer, lover of bicycles. Been into mountain biking for nearly 20 years… it’s been a fun journey!
So you started mountain biking when there were barely any mountain bikes available in the country?
VM: Well, in the late 90s, we couldn’t get a decent mountain bike easily in a bike shop across the street. Not until 2006 when there was a bombardment of international bike brands jumping into the Indian market! I was riding a simple steel hardtail with steel rims and an 18-speed drivetrain in the late 90s that my mom gifted me. That was the best machine available in India at the time.
What inspired you to do this?
VM: I’d seen Mountain Bike commercials and downhill mountain biking on a sports channel somewhere around 1992-93 and was intrigued with the concept of riding a simple machine like a bicycle at crazy speeds on rough, rocky terrain. I had a bicycle I’d commute to school on, so tried riding on the hill near my home in Pune. Been glued to it since!
What were the major issues you faced?
VM: Issues? Not having access to good bikes in India back in the day may be one. Other than that, I don’t think anything really is an issue as such. If you have a mountain, a bike and the will to ride, everything is possible!
At what point in time did you realize this is it?
VM: Riding is just a way of life for me. I crossed paths with the sport and now I’m simply merged in! When I saw the Downhill races and freeride features on TV as a kid, I connected strongly with the sport! I couldn’t see anything else more fun than mountain biking!
Your favorite place to ride?
VM: On top of the list would have to be my home town hills of Dighi in Pune. That’s where I started riding as a kid and still ride often! I’ve progressed my skills and have good memories from the trails there. Other than that, the Leh-Ladakh region, Spiti, Mustang region of Nepal. The secret forest trails of Kerala and Uttarakhand! The B.C province of Canada is unique!
The world is ending, what are the 5 things we’ll find in your backpack?
VM: Hydration, energy bars, multi tool, a Tube and a pump! Ride into the apocalypse!
What’s with the long hair?
VM: Lots of new things keep me excited! Hence the Long hair!
Any tattoos on your body?
VM: I haven’t been inked, but quite a few scars on my body with a story attached to each!
If you had to get inked, what would it be?
VM: I’m close to my family, so something related to them may be.
Any words for our cycling readers?
VM: Follow your passion, stay on your bike! The trails, they go up and down! Enjoy the downhills, the crashes and the uphills. Journey to the peak of a mountain gifts you the best memories and the peak, the best views!
Shout-outs to your supporters?
VM: Big Thanks to my folks for supporting me in following my passion. All my buddies who inspire me to ride more and power my off the bike projects!
Psynyde Bikes team, Freerider MTB Magazine crew, ‘The Vibe’ team, Loose Riders India and Haul Apparel for the swanky ride wear. All the riders out there who love to ride!