How I became Nepal’s first women in Downhill Mountain Biking

South Asian Game 2019, Nepal

Standing tall on a podium, Gold Medal shining bright on your neck, broad shoulders and bright smile on your face; that’s the one moment every “Athletes” dreams about & So did I. I imagined those moments hundreds and thousands of times and I still dream about it. But achieving those dreams is not easy as it is spoken. There is always a lot of hard work & dedication hidden inside. It’s totally invisible which cannot be touched or seen but can only be felt by heart.

Sometime i questioned myself “Why Mountain Biking?” Many of you guys might not know that I used to train for karate before getting involved in cycling. It was Back in 2005, when i was studying at 5th grade. I didn’t continue that sport because I couldn’t get attached to it. Fast forwarding to year 2009, i learned to ride a cycle with the help of my friends. Like everyone I crashed, got bruised & cried a lot. I simply needed to figure out how to ride a cycle.

My Starting Journey

I get asked many time, who was my inspiration for cycling? I answered: My Dad and my Mama(uncle). They are my biggest inspiration and the reason i am in mountain biking. My dad really loves adventurous stuff. He travels places in his mountain bike along with his friends. I remember my dad went for an adventure trip where Heli dropped in the Langtang region & cycled to syabrubesi. I wondered how amazing it would be if I could travel like him one day.

My Mama (uncle) used to be a racer and a guide in cycling. I wasn’t aware about racing and guiding back then. I only knew they go for rides, wearing fitting jerseys and spandex. Their outfits were so cool and those “clipped in shoes’ ‘ which are attached into your pedals. I was amazed and interested in them. I wished I could have that cool stuff too.

Yup! That’s me.. Haha it feels amazing to have these old memories coming back now that I am writing this. I was super rookie & timid to attempt anything back then. Not having any knowledge on How to properly ride a Mountain Bike & How to properly gear up yourself i used to crash a lot. Getting bruised, swollen elbows & knees were like my daily routine. But that’s how I was learning more about Mountain Biking.

Mudkhu was the nearest place I rode mostly in my beginning phase. It used to be a hub for mountain bikers. A place where everyone stops by for their famous hot lemon tea, chana-aanda & allu (chickpeas, boiled egg & stir fried Potato). My mama took me for the first time, Mudkhu, a place where I struggled to reach. I had to stop several times to catch my breath but still managed to reach the destination. I still remember the vibe I got there, the welcoming environment, the smiley faces of riders waving their hands toward us, asking my mama who she was? Mama proudly said “she is my niece, & from now she will start mountain biking too” i still remember those words.  

Mudkhu is the place where I learned about mountain bike racing. A place where my senior rider brothers encouraged me to participate in mountain bike races and a place where I decided to become a Mountain Bike Racer. It was the year 2014, I started training and going riding with professional racers. They were fast, strong and very skilled riders. The easiest trail for them was my hardest ride ever. Those hardest single tracks, those downhill, those rocky sections were scarest to me but were the easiest trails for them. I was scared to attempt those sections but they did it simply.

Inside the life of an Athlete

Success is what everyone wants to see! But Inside the life of an athlete is an unexplainable roller coaster of emotions, mental pressure, emotional breakdown, anxiety, fear of not being able to perform well, getting judged by the society and so many other worries that are not shared openly in public.

Nishma Shrestha

No one wants to talk about the hard time any person faces in their life. I am also that person, i wanted to handle everything myself without sharing anything. I hid my pain and smiled for the sake of others’ happiness. I hid my true self and only showed a brighter version to the world. Even though I was struggling, I said ‘I am okay’ and tried my best to be okay. I was still young & in my teenage when I got into mountain biking. I couldn’t figure out if I was doing good or not. I was losing myself inside my thoughts.

I started having anxiety & overthinking before my second XC race. I remember, I still had a week left for my second race. I was in a bike shop, talking with the brothers about the upcoming race. I suddenly started panicking & thinking what if i couldn’t do well in the upcoming race, what if i couldn’t stand in the podium, What if………. What if………..

I couldn’t sleep well, I couldn’t eat well, I was always worried about those “what if..” thoughts. Instead of taking a good rest, eating good food, I started feeling restless. And on race day “Anxiety” hit me hard. I was in a Start line, I was sweating, my body felt heavy, my mouth was dry and my stomach started aching. The race was about to start and I had no idea what was wrong with me. The only thing I could think of was finishing the race as soon as possible.

After that experience, I was devastated. I didn’t like that feeling, it was making me feel uneasy and uncomfortable. I started having self-doubt & blamed myself for not doing good. I started making excuses for everything. I started avoiding people around me. I ended up staying in my room for a week. I couldn’t control my emotions. I would get angry easily, irritated with everything. I would stay silent in order to hide my feelings. I was overthinking a lot, I didn’t share my feelings with my family or friends. I was scared I would get judged by the people around me.Then I started hating XC races and started searching for its alternatives. And I still don’t like to race XC….

Overcoming & Finding Happiness

Now that I look back, I feel like I have come a long way. I had no idea what mental health was and why it was  important. Even with all of those insecurities hidden inside me, I am trying to overcome all those hardships and be truly happy with the things I have.

The reason I chose Mountain Biking is because it truly gave me happiness and freedom to be who I am.   When I am riding my bike I am happy and free from trouble. I feel more confident about myself and show people how brave I am.



  • Samir

    A good read and well done??. Congratulations on your many great achievements and you deserved them unquestionably.
    No matter what the situation is, train to be mentally strong, rest will follow and you will have positive result. I wish you all the best in what you do. Ride on ??.

  • Anisha Gurung

    Sorry to know that you went through anxiety but definitely it made you a person who you are. Nice that you are clear about what you like and dislike and much respect your family. You are fortunate in the part Nishma. Thanks for sharing tmro story with us. It really helps. 🙂 Please keep writing because it really helps you grow in many way. Much Love Nishma.

  • Asmita


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