Prajwal Pingali is a 16-year old XCO (Cross-Country Olympic) and road racer based in Hyderabad, India. He has been training with The Bike Affair since last year.
Recently, he won the U-18 cross-coutry MTB race at the Bangalore Bicycling Championships. Over the last year and half, Prajwal has been working hard at improving his endurance which took him a long way in winning the race. Here is a quick Q&A with him where he shares his experience of this particular race and racing in general.
How long have you been into riding, and how did you get into it competitively?
I have been cycling for around 6 years in the endurance field. When I started, I had no plans of racing. However, after a few long rides, my parents and some friends suggested that I start racing since I have the potential to do well in it. With that in mind, I contacted Gokul, of TBA in February of 2017, and that's where my racing career started. He helped me make several changes to my lifestyle, which helped me get down to business quickly. From there on, day in and day out, we would train to make me a better, faster and smarter rider.
How did you go about preparing for the BBCh XCO race, considering that it was your first XCO race?
I spent a few weeks riding up and down a closed quarry with my mountain biking freinds - they gave me tips & tricks to use while racing. I also got a chance to speak to Shiven Aerohawk, an international cross country racer, and he gave me a few tips to follow.
What was the experience of the race like? Both, mentally and physically?
The climbs are physically demanding while keeping a lead, and descending is more mentally demanding! The climbs were steep and really bumpy, I almost wanted to stop beside the trail and rest mid-race due to the pain. The descends were just as bumpy as they were on slick road slabs. There were points at which I couldn't process the speed at which I was moving. I was in first place since lap one and I was always bugged by the thought that I might be pushing too hard and if I push too hard too early, it could mean I would not win, or even secure a podium spot. It was at that point that I relied on my mental strength and determination to keep the pace up.
Tell us a bit about other races you have taken part in, and some wins you are proud of.
I took part in the Tour of Glory, last October and I won all stages in the U-18 category. That is my proudest set of wins.
Share a little about how you learnt from your mistakes over time.
Did I make any mistakes? Yeah, a lot! Firstly, nutrition is a really big deal. It affects the way your body functions. I spent months changing my eating habits. The other thing that I had to learn was to be consistent. To be completely honest, it is hard for me to keep it consistent. But, in the end, one has to. No "ifs", no "buts" - if you want to earn something, you better do what you need to. I spent a long time trying to stay on the bike for longer to build my consistency.
What is next in line? What race are you preparing for?
The BBCh Criterium is up next. My main goals for now are The Tour of Glory 2 and the Indian National Road Race.
Now that the sun is shining really hard, how will you plan your summer training?
1. Buy an AC and use an indoor trainer
2. Or, get our early and return before 9:30 AM
Are there any professional cyclists you look up to?
Yes indeed! I do look up to Naveen John, Shiven Aerohawk, Parshuram Chenji, Aman Punjani and Kiran Kumar Raju. Each rider has a certain "Never Give Up; Never Give In" attitude to them, that I try to implement in my life as much as possible. It is important to understand the effort and depths of pain & struggle these men have gone through to achieve their respective places.
Want to know more about TBA's coaching? Head to this page, or contact Gokul via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 9985000701.
This interview has been edited for readability.