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Living her DREAM
Laxmi Magar, a three times national champion embodies the quote, ‘life is either a daring adventure or nothing’. In her late twenties, Laxmi is a professional cyclist living her dream. Born in Gerkhu, Nuwakot, hers is a story of determination and perseverance. A woman who never gave up on her dreams despite of the odds, Laxmi is today a role model for many young and aspiring youth.
“Life wasn’t easy. I had a rough childhood where small things were hard to get,” she shares. But she challenged herself to overcome difficulties without losing focus on her dream. Her struggle to become a mountain bike racer saw that realisation when she became a national champion in 2014. She took up mountain biking in 2008 and decided to make it a profession in 2012 filling the void of a coach by learning the intricacies of championship through the internet.
She is a student of Arts at Tribhuwan University and has also achieved a technical course in coaching level 2 MTB and completedcourses in road cycling supported by UCI (International Cyclist Union).
Excerpts from an interview with the three times women mountain biking champion and young achiever:
What inspired you to become a professional mountain biker?
First of all, some level of ego led me to become a pro-mountain biker like not getting help from bike shops when I was willing to participate in a competition. It was the national cross country mountain bike competition at Dhulikhel, Kavre District. I can still recall that moment vividly. No bike shop agreed to lend me a good bike for the race, none of the boys either. Not even pro riders who refused me to use their old bike. I did not have a cycle. At last I found a good bike for the race from Pathfinder Cycling Private Limited, Thamel. I did the race. My competitor was strong with a very good bike and her name is Nirjala Tamrakar. She won the race but people took notice of me because I gave her good competition. That inspired me to do more.
What is it you love most about what you do?
Well, riding a bike in the midst of nature makes me come alive. It is the best part of what I do. And I love painting too.
Of all of your achievements, what is most special to you?
Besides all my achievements like participating in the Yak Attack which is the world toughest race, and winning other races, what is special to me is the happiness I see in my mother’s face when I show her my trophies. I feel proud of myself when I see her happy.
Tell us something about your growing years?
I was born in a simple family. We had many ups and downs, but I am proud to be the part of my family where we share so much love and care. I learned pedaling at Sadak Vibhag office in Gaucharan. I was fond of cycling when I was a little girl. I used to ride my father’s ‘budho cycle’. I used to ride that big cycle with my brother on the back carrier, away from my parents eyes. I used to also borrow my cousin’s cycle when he came to visit us. Sometimes, my big sister and me used to rent a cycle for two rupees for 20 minutes, vanish… racing each other and having fun. I passed my SLC exam from Nandi school. I was told that I had to earn for myself for studies. I worked and I used a cycle to get to college because I didn’t have money for the school bus and lunch. I worked in many places and faced a lot of challenges. I had a simple and tough childhood. I learned to ride a cycle on dusty roads but always with fun.
How difficult has it been to pursue this career?
Difficulties are always present in life. I used to be shy. In this field for a Nepali girl like me, it was challenging and very different. I was often confused why I wanted to participate and compete. But the one time I raced, I knew I wanted to compete and it just grew bigger and bigger. I didn’t have a cycle until December 2012. I was always sure that if I got a good quality mountain bike, I could do better. I lacked nutrition. Bicycle events were normally categorised only for men, and race organisers were not flexible. It was expensive for a girl to meet all these expenses at that time especially as I was not even able to pay for public bus to reach my school. I used to worry about the race entry fee. Friends started to pay for my race entry. Later mountain bike lovers helped purchase travel tickets and my entry for races.
After some years I worked at a bike shop and they gave me a good new bike at very low cost. That’s when I started to choose international races outside of Nepal. I guess it was hard to pursue becoming a professional biker but it has definitely been worth it!
How do you face challenges?
It is a combination of having a physically fit body and sound mental health to be prepared for challenges. I feel challenges polish us to be better. It redefines us into something extraordinary. The odds were stacked against me… the poor condition of my bike, lack of money, yet I never gave up on my dream. Self motivation and the ability to not give up helps me face challenges.
What does cycling mean to you?
Cycling means everything to me. It is the medium for me to be directly in touch with nature. It is good and fast transportation, and it gives you the feeling of independence. Cycling is my life. It is my world!
What are some of the routes you recommend?
I recommend Upper Mustang. It is similar to Ladakh. It is most beautiful and suitable for biking in the Himalayas. But it is very exerting due to the high altitude. For trail riders, Jomsom, Muktinath and coming back through the single tracks is enjoyable. We have lots of trails in the valley too from where we can enjoy panoramic views of the mountains.
I want to bring more girls into cycling. Towards this I am going to start Sister Cycling in Nepal and make a bike park for juniors. I have completed the second level in cycling coaching training from World Cycling Center Korea. I will select a talented junior athlete and refer her for further training in Korea for international competitions.
I also have plans to run mountain biking tours and trekking through Himalayan Action Treks and Tours.
Some things a person should know about a career in professional biking?
You should be physically and mentally fit, committed, honest and passionate. It is a profession which demands you to be FIT!
Things you enjoy beyond cycling?
I love to read, visit friends and family, and I love to paint.