My Name is Dhiren Bontra and I must confess that I was the most notorious kid in school. I was always very passionate about sports and fitness.
After completing my graduation, I and my friend Arun Rajpurohit were not keen on doing a “9 to 5 job” and we knew that our passion of bicycling was our calling.
During school and college, we used to ride our bicycles to avoid traffic. This sparked an idea of starting our community oriented bicycle store – ‘BikeShark’ in Borivali, Mumbai. We offered performance bicycles, cycling products and skilled service. North Mumbai did not have a quality bicycle store so our venture filled the gap.
The first year was a struggle. Second year was when we were in control of our business and not the other way around. We realized that customers coming to our store to buy high-end expensive bicycles would trust only a professional cyclist. So, I decided to participate in local racing events.
I took part in my first race, without training or knowledge. I thought it would be easy and manageable to compete. It was a complete other way round. I was placed second last. It destroyed my confidence.
But then I found my coach Mr. Paramjeet Singh Bhumrah, a Commonwealth Weightlifting Gold Medalist. Thanks to him – I understood the meaning of training. I got focused woke up at 5 am, ate right breakfast, rode 15km to go outside city traffic zone and then train 100 km on highway and ride back home 15 km, have protein enriched food, then get back to managing my store.
One year later – after completing nearly 20,000 kms of training, I won my first race. A feeling you can’t buy.
Over the next three years I participated in 45 races, won 39 and the rest were podium finishes. I was Mumbai champ thrice, and won many Bicycle races across India. Milind Soman, actor-model and the -first Ironman-Triathlete from India used to visit our store. We used to train together. He inspired me for Ironman challenge, and I did two half Ironman triathlons, Dubai and Goa. A different challenge altogether.
It was a defining moment in my life, when I was invited in my school to inspire the students. As a speaker, motivating the young generation not only for sports but for career and to live a healthy lifestyle is a great feeling.
It was unbelievable! Never ever dreamed of this day would come!
Our store BikeShark is now considered as one the best stores in India. We have been training kids and adults, conducting workshops. My goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle for all by conducting racing and triathlon events across India. A mantra I always endorse, ‘Everyday goal for everybody – 40 minutes of Exercise.
Cover image credit and article written by Dhiren Bontra
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai