Meet Anissa Lamare from Shillong, India’s only female ‘Downhill Mountain Biker’


SHILLONG, April 23: On a rainy afternoon, the clouds roll over the hills of Shillong as I sat at a table waiting for the subject of my interview. While thoughts run wild and free, a young lady walked in; her hands in her pockets with a Puma jacket on. A young cyclist from the city sits on the chair opposite to mine and do read on to see what happens when a journalist meets a cyclist!

As we ordered our coffee and biscuits, the conversation ensued.

So tell me little bit about yourself and your time as a cyclist.

Cycling is my ' fountain of youth'. It is something more than a childhood memory, it has no limits. Cycling is and will always be a part of me; be it as a lifestyle or as a sport. My name is Anissa Lamare and I'm a cyclist. Also, I am a Downhill Mountain Biker.

A Self-Portrait of Anissa Lamare ( Source : Instagram)

When did you start? And what was your inspiration?

I was familiar with cycling ever since I saw kids on the streets riding bicycles. It just caught my attention and learnt how to ride a bicycle when I was 5 years old. The journey begins from there.

With time it started to become more than just a hobby. I was introduced to a new realm of cycling and that was the sport that is, racing. With no knowledge of what is required my friends and I took our bikes and      rode on several tracks and this was when the adrenaline kicked it so hard that I knew that I wanted to race again

As for inspirations, they came from all over. There were already many athletes in the sport and what they       have done to get there has pushed me to do better.

Coming to your daily life, how has cycling impacted you?

Cycling has had a great impact on my life. It changed my thinking about life as a whole in fact. It taught me to push harder to get to the 'destination' as it were. It has freed me from the negativity. It has strengthened my legs (laughs) and I feel all of this was achieved from those two wheels of freedom.

So how did get into cycling professionally or as a sport?

As of now, I cannot call myself as a professional rider for there are very few riders in India. Although the        scene is growing, I hope I can encourage women to take up cycling. I also hope India will recognize cycling as more than just a recreational activity and take it more seriously.

Building on that, how seriously do people take cycling as a sport at least in India? And in relation say the national or state level what is the standard of the sport.

The scene in India, as I have pointed out, is still very limited. The Cycling Federation of India is starting to take things into hand. However the category of cycling that I'm into which is Downhill Mountain Biking is yet to be recognized by India as a serious sport.

Anissa in action ( Picture Credit : Gregory Warjri)

Q.Has there been any help from the government in the sport?

The government has not showed any sign of help to our fellow riders. This is the scene is Meghalaya and we make efforts to raise awareness among the public about sport.

I am a member of a group called Cycling Shillong; it was founded by enthusiastic cyclists and has welcomed every one to take up cycling. The group manages the funds for races from their own pockets as much as they can.

As a female cyclist what are some of the hurdles you have faced.

In India, there is no female Downhill Mountain biker and this saddens me deeply. My last race was in              Bengaluru this past January and I really thought I would meet a few [female riders] but did not. In all the downhill races I have participated there has never been a Female category because there are no female         racers in the country.

But I plan to take this sport further to encourage more female racers. Personally, I feel the female population must test their limits and try out something new.

What have been some your achievements and what future plans in the sport?

I have participated in 6 downhill races all in men's category and I have qualified in all the races.

In road cycling last year I stood 2nd in both the races one which was held in Guwahati and one in Shillong.

Finally, a word of advice to future cyclist.

One must try out something that will do no harm to you be it as a lifestyle or a sport. Cycling has no limitations. You may fall down, get bruises even break some bones but that is a part of life and it is definitely a part of cycling.

"Feet don't fail me now, keep going ".

By Julian Jyrwa– The writer can be reached at