By SARENRAJ RAJENDRAN
Photos by ANDRIAN TAM
The scorching heat and gushes of wind blowing up red dust everywhere couldn’t keep downhill biking fans away from the finish line at the Red Bull Jungle Meltdown.
The first of its kind in South East Asia, the race saw 100 riders from the region go head-to-head through a harrowing downhill trail at Bukit Ramlee in Shah Alam Selangor.
It started with time trials at around 8am. From there, the top 16 were selected to move on to the knockout rounds where the riders battled it out in pairs.
But they weren’t just battling each other. The riders had to contend not only with their fellow competitors, but with the trail and the elements as well.
The Bukit Ramlee trail, said to be the finest in the country, is 890m long, with an elevation of 250m. If the height of the course isn’t enough to give you the shivers, then maybe the “Tree Top Drop” right before the finishing line would – it’s a 17 foot drop.
Judging by the number of participants and the crowd who turned up for the event, downhill biking is a growing sport in the region; and according to rider Aaron Chan, 22, competitions like this will go a long way in helping it fulfil its potential.
“Being passionate about your interest isn’t enough. You must look out for opportunities like this to develop that interest,” said the broadcasting graduate.
”You don’t need a sponsor to participate. Coming in with entry level bikes is good enough. It’s the rider that matters most.”
Electrical supervisor Saiful Bahri Mujir brought his family along for the competition, and he said: “I prefer my children to be exposed to sports like this, rather than sitting in front of the computer over the weekends. I can’t say if they’ll pick up downhill biking after this, but the least I could do was bring them out to watch the competition.”
In the end, the final was contested between two Indonesians, Yavento Ditra Pranata and Agung Fambudi, with the former coming out on top. The highest ranked Malaysian was Arif Jamaludin, who finished fourth.
According to Yavento, it’s important that riders are given more opportunities to put their talents to the test. He said there are so many biking competitions back in Indonesia, he sometimes has to pass up on some of them.
“Having downhill biking competitions among colleges and universities could be something the relevant bodies could look into,” said Ditra, 22.
“Also, diversifying the categories could allow riders of different backgrounds to get into the sport. This event is a good example of that,” added Ditra.
The BRATs young journalist programme is organised by R.AGE. Our next workshop will be held in Penang from August 14 to 17! For more information, log on to facebook.com/starbrats, or email email@example.com.