Why Vote for Rajesh Magar, NatGeo’s Adventurers of the Year 2018 nominee?

One of Nat Geo’s Adventurers of the Year 2018 nominee, Rajesh Magar, shares his journey from being fascinated by other professional riders to stepping on the podium of the national championship.

Text by Subas Lama

In 2008, when Nepal hosted the 14th Asian Mountain Bike Championship, Rajesh Magar was an enthusiastic middle-schooler. At just 11 years of age, he was excited to see the hordes of professional riders zooming in and out of the Chobhar hill in fancy gear and fluorescent active-wear. Nepal Cycling Association (NCA), the organizer of the event, was then warming up to the potential of the country serving as a premier destination for mountain biking.

“I remember saying to myself that professional events like these actually happen in Nepal,” Magar says. The event, however, was only a punctuation mark on what had been a long love affair. Magar’s affinity with biking had already begun a few years back. Now at 21, with immense exposure of the sport and several honors to his name, like his recent nomination under National Geographic's 2018 Adventurers of the Year, he feels it is imperative look back to when it all began.

Born and brought up in Bhaisepati in Lalitpur, his first experience with bicycles came early in his childhood. When he was nine, his mother used to work at a neighbor’s home, where the daughter, the same age as him, used to ride a bike. “I was allowed to ride her bike one day to run errands,” he recalls. Soon, he learnt to ride and was venturing out of his neighborhood in an old Avon bicycle to more bonafide trails like Chobhar, Bungmati, and Hatiban. “I felt free while cycling,” he says.

The charm of weekend excursions, however, soon wore out and he began to watch YouTube videos to learn to do stunts, leaning more towards biking as a sport. It was only in 2013, after seeing his potential, that he was given the chance to compete at the 3rd National Downhill Championship, where he came in sixth. The results were good enough for a first-timer, but he wanted a better outcome. The next year, with a more professional bike in tow, and with more time to hone his skills, he was declared the new national champion. He has not looked back since, and has stood on the podium in the nationals as well as in other events like Palpa Urban Downhil, Himalayan Outdoor Festival, and Tansen Ultra, among others.

Now, he is enjoying a steady recognition and a future full of promises, and is set to add his name to National Geographic’s famed title and join the ranks of athletes and previous title winners like Pasang Lhamu Sherpa and Mira Rai. Magar will have to beat seven other nominees in order to win the title, the voting for which will be open in a month.