Rupesh’s epic journey


Rupesh Shrestha was nearly paralysed after a spinal injury, and his business was on the verge of bankruptcy. Just when he thought things could not get much worse, he lost his wife to cancer.

Today, Shrestha is a living example of someone who turned adversity into accomplishment, using a positive mental attitude and persistence to transform a small bicycle shop into one of Kathmandu’s top mountain bike stores.

“When you are on the edge you learn so much about life, and it was my passion for business that drove me to success,” says Shrestha. “You can either get stuck or move forward.”

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Five years ago, after suffering a prolapsed disc, he was hospitalised then bedridden at home for months. It was rigorous physiotherapy and yoga that saved him from paralysis.

Against his father’s advice, he had set up Epic Mountain Bike in 2000, when he was just 20. Shrestha was ahead of his time because Kathmandu was not yet ready for mountain biking, and the business did not do well.

Then tragedy struck: his wife was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and despite treatment she died in 2016.

“This was a very difficult time for me, but during the 13-day mourning period I did a lot of self-reflection about life. It was the support and counselling from my friends and family that helped me to move on,” recalls Shrestha.

The trick was to put his energy completely into his mountain bike store, understand the market, promote cutting-edge technology and focus on making the venture successful.

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“At that time, 80% of my clients were westerners and 20% Nepali — today it is just the reverse,”  says Shrestha, who sees many urban Nepalis now adopting the sport, taking advantage of the country’s challenging topography and stunning scenery to undertake adventures on two wheels.

He went to Singapore to train himself in the potential for mountain biking, and read and researched the subject starting with the bible of the sport, The Complete Book of Mountain Biking, by mountain biking pioneer Gary Fisher.

Back in Nepal, Shrestha re-started his shop in Jhamsikhel and trained staff to become mechanics. “I was very passionate about this business, not only to sell bikes but to get more Nepalis interested in going out to the great outdoors. This is both fun and environment-friendly.”

Shrestha started mapping mountain-biking routes around Kathmandu Valley, giving enthusiasts on-the-spot training to develop biking skills and techniques. Outside Kathmandu, his sister company, Epic Rides Nepal, started guided tours, taking cyclists for one-day trips to Hetauda and Chandragiri Ridge, and then longer and tougher 10-day grinds in Mustang and Annapurna.

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The company organised even longer 21-day trips to Lhasa, cycling 1,000 km. This September, Shrestha’s team organised the first of a kind, 12-day biking trip for Nepali riders in Colorado and Utah.

“Since the beginning we targeted Nepalis because that made the business sustainable,” says Shrestha, adding that his Nepali customers have helped his company grow to an annual turnover of Rs20 million today.

Shrestha is also involved in various charities, organising awareness campaigns through annual bike rallies on Breast Cancer Day in memory of his wife, donating the proceeds to hospitals to treat cancer patients who cannot afford treatment. He also helps with an HIV/AIDS treatment centre in Kirtipur.

Rupesh Shrestha’s advice for success is to muster courage, patience and passion, and learn from failures. And finally: “Only get into a business doing something you are really passionate about, and don’t rush it. Never give up.”

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