Up close and personal with the two national-level victorious mountain bikers from Shillong


In the present era when a number of youths have become a victim of substance abuse, drug addiction and inflicted with suicidal tendencies, these two youths have proved that young energy, if channelized in the right direction can work wonders. Cheyann Wyeth Nongrum (18) and Apshai Griffith Niangti (17) are cool, energetic, full of valour and beaming with energy, ready to spill out their positivity to the world.

These two young boys from Shillong have recently emerged victorious in the Himalayan Mountain Bike Festival held in Manali. It is one of the biggest and the most challenging downhill race in India and also the biggest Mountain Bike Festival in India. Cheyann bagged the second place while Apshai managed to cling on the the 4th place in the novice category despite a crash.

Cheyann Wyeth Nongrum receiving the certificate and medal for bagging the 2nd

place in the Mountain Bike Festival

TNT- The Northeast Today managed to catch up with these two energetic mountain bikers and what they share is truly inspiring and is sure to keep you motivated to achieve your dreams and pursue your passion. Below is an excerpt from an exclusive interview with Cheyann and Apshai.

TNT: Please tell is something about yourself

Cheyann– Hi everyone! My name is Cheyann, I'm from a city called Shillong, Meghalaya. I was born on the 9th of November, 1997. I will be turning 19 this year. I went to school in Pune. I did my schooling from 4th grade to 10th grade in Vidya-Valley Schoo, my 11th and 12th in Riverdale international Residential school, also in Pune. My hobbies are running, swimming, biking, and adventure sports, not to forget sleeping.

Apshai– I'm 17years of age and currently doing my class 12 standard at B.K.Bajoria Hr. Sec. School and finished my 10th standard from St. Anthony's Hr. Sec. School. My family are motor sports enthusiast and I guess racing is in my blood . Riding is my hobby but apart from riding , I like swimming ,reading and if I'm not doing the above things or studying ;then I would spend time making or tuning the cycles.

TNT: Can you please throw some light on the competition how did you prepare for it?

Cheyann– The competition I recently participated in was the Himalayan Mountain Bike Festival. The biggest mountain bike festival in india. Riders appear from the United Kingdom, Nepal, and various parts of India. It is a big competition and the participants are among the best in the country. I knew it wouldnt be easy. So I trained everyday. Every type of section on the trails I would hit repeatedly until I was satisfied. While training, the weather didn't seem to affect me as we would train hours on end through hail, rains and storms. But I also had to keep my health factor in mind so I never exceeded my capacity to tolerate situations which hindrance my health. Hard work pays off.

Apshai– The Manali race or the Himalayan Mountain Bike festival which two of us from Shillong participated is one of the biggest and the most technical or challenging downhill race in India. And riders from the entire nation and also riders from abroad came for the event. Preparations for the race started 2 months ago where Cheyann and I and some friends would go to the local trails nearby and practice for hours… We would also practice in rains… Falls,accidents for us is a must as we won't learn anything without failures . Everyday before or after school hours ,we would go for practice and sometimes would even skip school. We would tune our bikes everyday after training so that there won't be any problems. But unlucky for me,my bike was stolen from my place at night before leaving for the race and had to borrow my friends bike for the race. With that bike,it felt like all practices were useless as it was a whole new bike for me… But overall tried my level best and was able to cling on to 4th in novice category even after a crash .

TNT: When did you develop an interest in this field?

Cheyann– I started developing an interest in this field in the 9th grade, when my father had bought me my first mountain bike, which ended up in pieces. I searched the web about the sport and then I met a few friends in Pune itself where I soon began riding with them, a few of which are the best in the country and represent the country. But as far as adrenaline is concerned I loved anything that got mine up.

Apshai– It all started when we were kids riding our bikes everyday after school for fun and never expected to reach where I am now. This all changed when I went for my first race at mawphlang … Ever since I have been going for races and also won a few.

TNT: How supportive were your parents and friends in this regard?

Cheyann– My parents were pretty supportive in terms of finance, and moral support. I also had loads of moral support from my friends and a biking community in Shillong. It's like a big family where people help each other no matter what as we share the love for the sport. Though it's still growing, the impact of how something like this can influence a person's life is still yet to be understood to the friends and family of riders. So it is growing.

Apshai– My family were supportive as most of them are racers themselves… Friends are also supportive.

TNT: Did you face any hurdles before achieving this feat?

Cheyann– I faced many hurdles. This was my first race which I competed in. So the pre race jitters were horrible. I did not use my bike and I had borrowed my friend's bike simply because it's easier to ride and has more pros compared to mine, one being, it was a downhill bike. So it's meant for these things. During practice, I used to crash many times while riding, but as I've learned, you don't fall you don't learn. You don't fall you never let go of your fears.

Apshai– The main hurdle is that there is no support from the government and other organization in shillong except for the club we cyclers have and also going for races in other states is quite expensive and most times have to cancel most times trips because of low budget . Secondly parts for the cycles we ride are hardly available and can avail them nearest at guwahati where we have to place orders for them. Thirdly places for practice are to far away and takes up lots of energy and time and if we practice in nearby trails ,the locals will shoo us away.

TNT: How do you feel now that you have become a known figure across the Nation?

Cheyann– I feel completely normal. I wouldn't like to be flying too much with the first podium too much, as pride is the worst enemy. But I did feel amazingly awesome!! Even if I would've come third, I wouldn't have mind, as long as it's a podium and since it was my first race. God was by my side and also my abilities in the sport to put me in second place. But i was really stoked. Though I had zero expectations.

Apshai– You do feel the pride as being recognized by other is a big thing for me and especially being recognized by other riders who are better is just speechless.

TNT: What are your future plans?

Cheyann– I will be doing my first year of hotel management. Then will be specializing in culinary. As far as biking is concerned, I will train harder, try to be the best of myself, and have good times ahead. I would like to also fo it professionally as I would like to promote the sport in India and cycling itself as a mode of transportation. Cycling helps people calm their minds, keep fit and have fun with no tensions, so it's something that must be spread to as many people.

Apshai– My future plans are clear;keep on riding keep on training and keep winning till I've reach the summit and also promote cycling as it is fun, healthy and also economic and eco-friendly.

TNT: Who has been your inspiration?

Cheyann– My inspiration has always been my fellow riders and my friend who I started off biking with. He is one of the best in the country and also represents the country. He works hard and it pays off as well. His name is Piyush Chavan. He shows consistency, and respect. Thus an icon for me.

Apshai– First of all I wouldn't be what I am if not for God. Secondly my uncle Eugene Niangti. Then Aaron Gwin , Stevie Smith(RIP),and a lot of rider world wide.

TNT: Whom would you like to credit this success to other than yourself?

Cheyann– I would like to credit this success to my friends who were there while I trained for it, as they took some time and helped me and improve my skills by helping me train. Also to my parents as it would not be possible with them. The first steps to support always start from home.

Apshai– All my credits would go to God who has been and still watching over me and my mom who have been physically,mentally,economically supporting me and also to my entire family.

TNT: Any message for our readers?

Cheyann– Follow your dreams. Your passion. There will be times when you feel like giving up. Everyone's been there. But no matter what don't give up. Be strong, by heart, mind and soul. No guts no glory. No legend no story. Chase your dreams and work towards it. Things don't come without efforts, and always think that the effort your putting In are never enough. Cheers!!

Apshai– And yeah to my fellow young riders who have just started that it is a fun sport and that it is way better better than the virtual games and that you will never regret it ….. Unless you fall and hurt yourself but the pain is only temporary but the thrill,adrenaline and excitement will last and not to forget the senior citizens who love cycling to keep on cycling and for those who would like to start cycling that it is not too late to learn.

TNT-The Northeast Today wishes these two young boys all the very best on behalf of all our readers and pray that they soar higher in their ladder of achievements.

By Shweta Raj Kanwar