First off- we want to say a huge thank you for all of you that have read and engaged with the Spotlights so far. It’s really cool to see that people enjoy reading about different riders as much as we do!
Next up, we have Kishan. I would love to say I’ve seen Kishan ride first hand but although I’ve been in the same races during the CX season- he’s been away at the front leaving me striving for a top 15! He seemingly floats over mud and has power to get through the toughest of courses- even though he is built like a lightweight climber! I noticed that he has a really close family who are always at his races, pitting for him- holding his bike on the front row whilst he gets ready and even racing themselves! He has done a load of cool things even at such a young age and is a very well spoken and mature person- which you’ll see for yourselves now 🙂 Enjoy and a massive thank you to Kishan- he is going to be doing big things so keep an eye out for him (even if it is when he is lapping you).
Name: Kishan Bakrania
Teams you ride for or clubs you are part of:
Primary: Panagua CC
Secondary: Team Darenth
How did you get started in cycling and when?
I’ve always enjoyed riding bikes since I was old enough to ride. During primary school, I was very active and participated in football at the end of school. When I was around 11 years old my brother (Shrish) and I joined the local football club which kept us busy on a Saturday morning, but I found that even though I enjoyed it, I was not confident enough and got left out. Shrish then broke his arm later that year so the incentive to continue with football dwindled and thus we left. My parents thought of cycling to keep me active and my Mum found a Team Darenth as a local cycling club. I liked it from the start as a social activity but then heard about the racing side and quickly got hooked into the Go Rides Races and then progressed to the Bedgebury races as my first taste of competitive racing. From there I moved on to the more serious Races like the Gorricks and Southerns etc
Favourite places to ride? Any particular roads or segments?
I enjoy riding almost anywhere, off-road and on-road. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to ride abroad, such as in Mallorca, France, America and Holland. But my favourite place to ride is locally, both on-road and off-road because there are tons of roads, fields, paths and woods I still haven’t discovered yet properly which keeps things interesting still.
What disciplines do you ride? Do you have preferences?
I ride cyclocross, cross-country mountain bike and road. Prefer mountain biking and cross more because of the technical side such as rock gardens, jumps and mud. However, I still do love racing and riding long miles out on the road. I find the constant switching and freedom to change discipline keeps me motivated and keeps it interesting. In my opinion, it is also really important as each discipline has translatory skills which can be used to improve across the board.
You first came to the attention of TCC when you were ripping apart the field (both people and grass) at the London and South East Cyclocross league. For someone so young you rode with such style and speed- and most importantly maturity. How do you approach your riding and racing and what influences it?
Thanks, I really appreciate the compliments, it means a lot!
I approach my riding with focus and commitment but always try to keep it enjoyable and not too serious. Riding with a passion and a smile on my face to share good energy with the people around me is important for both myself and the environment of the sport. I’m inspired by those who do the same, being relaxed and serious in a race situation while simultaneously performing to a high level. Striving to have good skills and style on the bike is a big thing for me as it gives a solid foundation for building the speed and power on top of. When I see MVDP ripping up the circuit with seemingly little effort it inspires me to be the same not only because it looks good but saves energy too, both mentally and physically.
You have a very supportive family/pit crew who are also very much involved in the sport, are they a major factor?
Yes, 100% they take me to races and fund my passion for cycling. We all ride and race, except my mum, but hopefully we can fix that soon. It’s brilliant to ride with my family, especially in lockdown, where I can not only improve myself but see my brother and sister progress too and try to pass on knowledge of my own to accelerate that. We are all passionate about the sport so it creates a positive environment.
What would be your advice for juniors and riders younger than you who are looking to get into racing (whether that be road, CX or MTB)?
My advice to younger riders looking to get into racing would be to start at local racing events and Go ride events which can be found on the BC website. Just go along and enjoy it. If you’re starting MTB racing I would definitely recommend the Bedgebury boars go ride races, it’s where I started racing. For cross, local races early in the season when it’s not so grim is a perfect entry for any level. For road racing look for races in your age category on a closed purpose-made cycling circuit with no cars like Cyclopark or lee valley depending on where you live. The older you get the more bunch riding skills you will need to develop in order to stay with the bunch, but that will come from experience and attending training sessions where you can learn in a safe environment with a coach. The idea is to keep yourself safe and also the other riders around you. Ride and train because you love it, not because you feel forced. Focus on good technique like cornering and bike handling because the power will then come later especially as you get addicted and ride loads. And lastly, learn from others and ask questions. Don’t be intimidated, stronger rides will often be open and have excellent advice you can use. If at a race, or anywhere for that matter, you are ever confused or stuck on something everyone is very welcoming and willing to help you out if need be. So to cap it off, attend local races and get experience, ask for help and advice when needed, work on essential skills but lastly and most importantly, have fun with it!
How do you balance riding with general life? What do you do outside of cycling?
Balancing school and riding is difficult when I love riding so much, although I do recognise the importance of getting good grades. Apart from cycling and school, I don’t do much else, I do my work then ride and train as much as I can, balancing 3 different disciplines racing every weekend all year with effective training in-between.
Talk us through a week of your training and riding, what are the best and worst parts?
In a regular week during the winter, I go to the gym Monday and Tuesday for either watt bike sessions of strength work, sometimes take the Monday off if I need the rest. Then go to Cyclopark Wednesday for road and Thursday cross-training and then try to get a quick ride in after school on Friday if it’s light enough. Saturday is then a pre-race ride of 1.5 to 2hr depending on how hard the race is the day after on Sunday.
During the summer I substitute the gym days for outdoor riding and free weekends for sunny summer miles. Also, in the summer I race crystal palace crits on a Tuesday and Cyclopark crits on a Thursday.
I don’t have a coach and so don’t get things set for me, I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and what I respond well to, then structure my training around that. I also do research into training such as what types of intervals and foods are most effective in making me stronger.
The best parts of training and riding for me are long summer miles with friends. The worst is probably indoor sessions on the watt bike, but the huge gains make it worth it.
The past season/year
You had a lot of success in the year- what were some of the highlights?
The year went well. I would say my highlights of the season were finishing 35th/114 people in the week-long Junior Tour of Assen over in Holland, managing not to deck it or get swept all week in the chaos and finish all the stages, most of them in the top groups. Moving onto cross, finishing 2nd elite in the regional cross championships, Winning 7 of the London X league rounds in U23 whilst also being top 3 elite in many of the races as well as taking the overall for the season. Furthermore, managing to win a round in Preston park and be 2nd at Crystal Palace after a puncture to non-other than Alec Briggs.
Just how hard was riding the Koppenberg multiple times in a race?! Talk us through the experience and what you learnt from it. Doing practice laps with Eva Lechner must have been pretty good!
I have done the Koppenbergcross twice now, in both the bone dry and sticky mud. When racing, you start from the bottom in an all-out brawl to the top, however, fortunately for the rest of the race you only have to climb half of it. That half being the steepest part for maximum pain. Putting a foot down is not an option if you want to actually ride it all because it’s very difficult, and impossible in the wet, to get going again. During last year’s wet edition I was unfortunately forced to go on foot a few times, which turns out, funnily enough, to not be much slower.
Practice at the Koppenberg the day before is very quiet as the pros are racing the day before somewhere else. In 2018 during practice, my friend noticed that Eva Lechner was on course which was pretty nuts. We then proceeded to casually join behind her for a bit. I decided to give it a little nudge and she followed for the rest of the lap. She was really nice to talk to after saying it was nice to follow my lines down some of the technical stuff on track which was pretty cool. I managed to get it on video on my YouTube channel ‘Fluid Bikes’.
Which riders impressed you the most when racing, whether in your category or another?
Quite a cliche but Mathieu van der Poel is someone quite special in the sport. The way he rides so effortlessly whilst going Mach 10 is brilliant to watch. Another rider is Ben Tullett who is the same age and is very local to me yet achieved so much in the sport already. Just shows that everything I need to be a great rider is on my doorstep which is crazy to think about.
What were your goals at the start of the season/year?
I had a range of goals I wanted to achieve in 2020 pre COVID across all disciplines.
In MTB I wanted to win several regional races in different leagues, and get a top 3 overall ranking.
For the road I wanted to retain my cat 2 licence, finish top 5 in an E,1,2 race and a top 3 in a Cat 2 only race.
As for cross, I want to win the overall U23 category again in the London X League and the East Kent. Then improve on last year with more wins and top 3s in the elite category. Hopefully I can still look to achieve my goals come the winter as lockdown eases for racing.
How has lockdown affected your plans and what have you done to adjust?
For sure, like I said my road and MTB goals and aspirations have been stopped mostly but cross should still be fine. However, in this time of no racing, it has allowed me to work on training more to be better prepared for when racing returns.
Do you think racing and riding will change once things are back to ‘normal’?
After such impactful events of 2020 so far, I see riding and racing changing temporarily and permanently in different areas, with dwindling temporary measures in place over the course of the next few months of the year. For example, social distancing and the limited contact of people will be temporary, however, increased sanitisation, sterilisation and general awareness of illnesses will be a positive permanent fixture in the sport for years to come.
What are your plans for post-lockdown?
To get back to racing as like many people I’ve missed it. Although not too quickly on the road because I can imagine a lot of sketchy riding and more crashes from people being extra eager and out of practice in a bunch setting.
How do you go about choosing new goals for the next season/year?
I look at what I have achieved that year and what I could have achieved, looking also at my progression rate and what could be a tangible but also challenging for the following year. Try to make it specific enough that I know what to aim for and know when I have achieved.
Do you have any plans or aspirations away from just racing? Adventure rides etc
I would really like to do some bikepacking with a group of friends over some fair distance. Also really want to ride in different parts of the world, such as the swiss alps.
Road training: Holdsworth Trentino
Road racing: Cervelo r3
MTB: Specialized crave expert
Cross: Focus Mares
Cross: Vitus Energie
Not really. The saddle on my Cervelo is bolted together with a metal plate as a quick fix after it snapped with my humongous 50kg ass.
Kit you can’t leave home without:
Garmin or phone to track my ride, because if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen ;).
Glasses. Keeps the wind, bugs and trees from making me blind.
New saddle for my Cervelo haha.
Nutrition and fuelling whilst riding:
Not very strict, but try to keep it natural when I can, bananas, dates, raisins etc. drink little and often with energy drink on hot or long rides. Try to eat something every hour on the bike if it’s 2.5hr or more.
Favourite pro and why:
Peter Sagan. Rides with such style and finesse. Always doing something cool or funny.
Best bike shop and why:
Panagua bikes, obviously!
Indoor training or outside?
Flat or hilly?
Tricky one, I’m good on the hills but I also enjoy speeding around on the flat.
Dry or wet conditions for racing?
For cross and MTB I generally do better in the wet and slippy, but at the end of the day it’s pretty grim. Dry for road races every time!
Giro, Tour or Vuelta?
Any songs you sing in your head whilst riding?
Anything I’ve listened to 48hrs before
Describe your riding and cycling style in 4 words:
Fun. Focused. Competitive. Adventurous
Finally, please recommend 5 riders to follow on Instagram:
Danny_macaskill – Mad skills
Yoannbarelli – Mad energy
Vinny_t_ – Epic POV vids
Alec_pedaler – Always doing something cool
Kade_2000 – Brilliant edits