Hill-climb bike race stalled over snags; riders rue organisers’ folly

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Absence of safety gears, hurdles on road and public holiday traffic disappoint participants


The Hill Climb Challenge, known for its biking thrills on a rugged ascent, was all set to reopen after several years in Pune. However, the adrenaline and anticipation were met with a low as participants were faced with several snags. The upset bikers have now taken their grievances to Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), highlighting the safety lacunae in the long-awaited challenge.

The Association for Racing and Motor Sports’ (ARMS) hill climb on the Western Ghats was a much-awaited event as the only Indian hill climb challenge used to be held at Nandi Hills, Bengaluru, was stopped in 2012.

The event returned to Pune, which was in olden days, a hub of hill-climb bike races.



However, much to the disappointment of over 100 riders, who turned up to participate in 10 events, the crowd control was awry.

The race was to be held at Mandhar Devi Ghat Road in Bhor, which is around 35 km from Wai. There was a 7.5-km hill climb under 10 categories such as Indian novice, Indian expert, veteran open, ladies’ scooter, Royal Enfield, Jawa/ Yezdi, Impulse and foreign open.

“One of our riders (on R-15) had to finish the race in seven minutes. He reached after 15 minutes and said there were two autorickshaws which were blocking his way. We were worried because we thought he had an accident on the way up,” said Kartik Konchady, aracer from Mumbai.

Konchady came with an 11-member team from Mumbai with serious preparation. The event, which was to start at 8 am, started towards 10 am and ended around 4.30 pm. Eventually, it was declared cancelled.

The FMSCI issues permit for the races and have safety guidelines. However, the official who was present at the spot, apparently lent no ear to the complaints on safety, he said.

“There were cars coming from the top when riders launched into the road. There were riders without safety gear in the race. The FMSCI officials did not insist on safety precaution,” he added.

After holding five events, the officials called off the race, they said.

“I arrived from Pune and camped at the spot a day earlier itself to inspect the road conditions, curves, and turns. I have spent over Rs 3,000 and the organiser had not even arranged water there. Before the actual event itself, I had asked them the reason to conduct it on a public holiday,” said Hrishikesh Mandke, a racer.

The ARMS, Pune officials said that they had requisite permission from police and other authorities. However, on account of Ambedkar Jayanti and subsequent rush to a hilltop shrine, the traffic could not be controlled.

“We tried blocking the road from both the ends. However, four-wheelers had already occupied the roadside.

Moreover, people were straying. Thus, we called off the race,” said ARMS president Kamlesh Dave.

Also, a long dry spell in the district was broken by the rain that wet the surface.

“Hereafter, we will not organise this format of the race. The upcoming ones will be the pro-circuit races in a farmhouse set-up,” he added.



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