PERSONALITY: THE COMPASSIONATE MOUNTAIN BIKER LEE CHUEN LING

PERSONALITY:

THE COMPASSIONATE

MOUNTAIN BIKER

LEE CHUEN LING

 

 

As bikers ourselves, we meet passionate riders all the time. We also meet zealous folks that actively contribute to the biking community. But it's rare to us, when we chance upon this particular mountain biker that compassionately contributes to nature, did her “tour-of-duty” in shaping Singapore's mountain biking scene in its pioneer years and has such deep love for cycling and animals that her words and actions reflect just that! Meet Chuen Ling – ardent mountain biker, adventurous sportswoman, nature & animal lover/volunteer, national MTB and BMX race commissaire and passionate travel bug. 

A lawyer by profession with a naturalist alter ego, we can't help but felt inspired by her emotions for animals and cycling. Read on to feel the energy, emotion and passion from someone who goes all out to pursue what she believes in.

 

 

 

LING THE MERCILESS

My favourite is Butterfly trail. It’s got the 4 “C”s of a perfect trail … 

 

Name: Lee Chuen Ling

Nickname: LingtheMerciless

Age: Born in the 70s

Years Cycling: Mountain Biking …. since the late 90s (not counting the bikes I’ve had as a kid)

Current riding discipline: Mountain biking – cross country and trail riding being the most often

How often do you cycle: At least once a week

 

 

Where do you usually cycle

Our usual MTB haunts when cycling in Singapore ie

– Bukit Timah and connected trails
– Ubin (Ketam trail and not neglecting the rest of the island)
– Kent Ridge
– Tampines (well, what used to be…)
– Lor Asrama (when it's open for bikers)
– Park connectors (mainly to get to the Mountain biking trails)

 

 

Do you have a favourite trail?

My favourite is Butterfly trail. It’s got the 4 “C”s of a perfect trail …

Charm – wonderfully picturesque as it hugs a reservoir
Chance encounter with wildlife is quite high here
Challenging – roots, logs, short steep climbs…but yet
Cycle-able – the whole thing is doable without putting your foot on the ground  

 

 

 

What are your current bikes? 

 

Niner Jet9 RDO (Name : Vlad the Impaler) – Photo shot in Peru.

(That’s Vlad on my bike, a gift from my friend Martha. He fell off after I crashed on a ride in Peru so he’s currently on long term sick leave to preserve his immortality.)

 

Trek Top Fuel (Name : Coby). 

(Left: For the record, I’m not a fan of Louis Vuitton; the intended message : your bike would give you greater happiness as compared to a handbag. Shot in Singapore.)

(Right: That’s Coby, King of all snakes, sticking his tongue out at ya at Mt Bromo. I love rescuing snakes as part of my wildlife rescue volunteering with ACRES (Animal Concerns Research & Education Society))

 

 

Tell us about your cycle groups.

No particular group but regularly ride with ChilliCrabikers (a name coined by yours truly which is used when I sign up for overseas events on behalf of a loose association of bikers), BigTree, GrannyGearHeroes. My regular adventure racing ladies team is called “Angels”. When I team up with the guys, anything goes where names are concerned.

 

 

 

 

THE LOVE FOR CYCLING AND ADVENTURE SPORTS 

… it was the hardship races, regardless of placing, which I find were true character building events and which brings back the most memories!

 

 

Please share with us your cycling achievements so far.

In my blog link you can find some of the competitions that I have joined. http://lingthemerciless.blogspot.sg/2006/06/chronology-of-adventurling-19-june-06.html (although it has not been updated as diligently as I should)

While some are pure mountain bike races or jamborees (which I do not really consider “a true race” for various reasons), most are adventure races with a mountain biking leg. For the team events, each member is instrumental in making sure we cross the finish line as a team so the achievement is not really personal but as a result of good teamwork with awesome teammates.

I much prefer team events as you do not suffer alone and can laugh at your teammates doing silly things.

 

 

 

A summary of my adventure races (team events) :-

– Godzone (5 ½ day expedition adventure race in New Zealand) – got severely lost but finished the short course. Experience was priceless!

– 6 Sabah Adventure Challenge races (2 ½ day adventure race in Sabah, Malaysia)

– 2 Action Asia Challenge Races (single day adventure race in Singapore, both times it came to Singapore)

– 4 SAFRA Avventura races (single day adventure race in Singapore)

– 9 adventure races organised by Nomad Adventures : 7 Eco-X-Capade races (single day race), 1 Eco-X-Treme (17 hrs of non-stop racing) and 1 EcoX-Cape (21 km running on 1st day, 50 km of mountain biking on 2nd day)

– 6 ACE Adventure Challenge races (1 day races in Singapore)

– Adventure Quest 2001, the very 1st adventure race to hit Singapore

– Penang Eco-Challenge, first adventure race in Penang
 

 

 

A summary of my mountain bike races (team events and/or solo events) :-

– BC Bike Race (7 Day Mountain Bike Stage Race in British Columbia, Canada) – first race teaming up with my significant other.

– MTB Himachal 2006 (9-day mountain bike stage race in the Indian Himalayans – from Shimla to Manali) – the 10 member Singapore contingent pulled out after 5 days for several reasons, the most important being the lack of safety considerations and an injured riding mate

– 4 KL Mountain Bike Carnival races

– Singapore Mountain Bike Carnival 2011 (12 hour MTB Marathon) – my first marathon race

– Togoparts Challenge (2006) and Togoparts 11 (2007)

– Krank 6 MTB 2007 (6 hr MTB race)

– All 10 Penang Jamborees (from 2002 to 2013) – was 1 of 3 Singaporeans who received a special framed jersey for attending all 10 years of torture! Yayz!

– Some other jamboree events

 

The rest of the time, I was probably busy involved in the organization of MTB races

I’m so happy to have  received a few podium prizes in several of my races, many times thanks to great teammates whom I really cherish. But quite frankly, it was the hardship races, regardless of placing, which I find were true character building events and which brings back the most memories! We haven’t stopped talking about our MTB Himachal experience since.

 

 

 

 

LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST

I love traveling. I also love cycling. The best way to get the best out of both loves and worlds is to go on a biking holiday and explore the world on 2 wheels! 

 

 

Please tell us what you have been busy with in recent years.

2013 was pretty much the same as the past 12 years before that. I was working as an in-house lawyer in a French Bank. The great thing about working for this bank was that they were pretty generous with their leave allowance. They really treasure their play time and using up all of one’s leave was not an impossibility, unlike some local companies I have worked for.

At the beginning of 2014, I decided to take a self-declared sabbatical to spend more time volunteering with animal welfare groups and other animal-related research projects. Of course that also meant I get to spend more quality time with family, especially my 2 “furkids”. And it also means I get to cycle during the weekdays (which was a luxury I could not afford with a full time job without taking leave). And when I’m not doing any of the above, I try to squeeze in as many overseas trips as I can.

Looking back, I’d like to think I had a fruitful year:-

January – SAFRA Avventura 2014. Our team KennyLingers came in 4th! Yay!

February – Visited Aigle in Switzerland (home to the UCI office). Signed up for snowboarding lessons in Tignes in France.

March – BT Outward Bound Adventure Race 2014, first adventure race in Hong Kong. Our team The Forty-Something Thieves came in 3rd! Yay once again!

March – Volunteered with ACRES in the ACRES-Lao Wildlife Sanctuary. It was coolie work helping to build and install the electric fencing in the new Asiatic black bear enclosure so that the male bears can be set free from their cages into a more natural environment. We also worked on building the enrichment structures (like swings for the bears), and providing enrichment for various animals. We never got to see the bears being released as we could not finish the work during our time there, but several groups after ours managed to finish the enclosure and the bears were finally released! Wished I could have been there for that meaningful moment!

April – Watched the UCI MTB World Cup in Cairns, Australia. Thereafter,  rode the course with a MTB tour company, and friends later also showed us some of the other awesome trails in Cairns.

May/June – Eco-X-Cape 2014 organized by Nomad Adventures in Gopeng Perak, Malaysia. We love the races that Yuen Li puts up and try to support her races whenever they’re on! Our team came in tops for the 21 km run, the 50 km bike and overall champion for both events. But then, there was very little competition for the team events. I’m not complaining 

though! ­čśë

June – Climbed the Great Wall of China and visited the usual touristy places in Beijing with my ex-colleague, Daphne. This spurred us into making plans to visit the other Wonders of the World!

July / August – Summited a snow-covered 6,168m mountain called Mt Chola or Que'er Shan located in western Sichuan Province China in the Ganzi Tibetan Prefecture, near the eastern Tibet border. Thanks to our Expedition Leader, Kim Boon and my bunch of merry friends, it was definitely a trip to remember – love the crampons, ice-axe and jumaring!

September – MTB Bali with Bali Rides! Our local friends Ramang and wife Nina were a riot! 

September – ACE Adventure Challenge 2014 – the 10th and final installment of the ACE Adventure Challenge races organized by Joanne Soo of Ace Adventure. Our team Angels came in 2nd! Woohoo! Should have changed our name to “Auntie Angels”… although we said that maybe 10 years ago…

September / October – MTB Nepal with Epic Rides Nepal. Awesome and brilliant reintroduction to Nepal after having only visited it once more than a decade ago. Our guides Bardaan and Dinesh were awesome!

October – Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge 2014 (LIMBC) in Langkawi, Malaysia. Was appointed as national MTB commissaire for this event – my first overseas assignment. 

November / December – Although I’ve been spending time on and off with animal-related volunteer work, most time was spent around year-end with PROJECT SOUND, a Sterilisation of Dogs project in Pulau Ubin and nearby fishfarms. I also had an awesome time working with Tze Kwan and her team on her Civet Project and learning the ways of herping from Marie-Ruth!.

 

 

 

What motivated you to do what you did?

As far as volunteerism is concerned, I’ve always loved animals. I grew up thinking that animals could fend for themselves. With changing times, it appears humans are slowly decimating animal populations around the world, often driven by greed and intolerance towards other species. I realized that humans were ironically also their only hope and chance for survival. If I can’t save the world, I want to be able to play what little part I can in saving, where possible, even the smallest creature. It’s good for the animals, and good your soul.

As for traveling, I’ve always loved exploring new places (even if it were a new trail in Singapore). I can’t remember when was the last time I had a holiday which did not involve  any form of outdoor activities. I always say that I need a break after my holidays!
 

 

 

Traveling and cycling may mean many things to different people. How do they correlate to you?

I love traveling. I also love cycling. The best way to get the best out of both loves and worlds is to go on a biking holiday and explore the world on 2 wheels!

I also love other outdoor sports like diving, trekking and just about anything under the sun. But most of my trips of late have been cycling trips. 

 

 

 

Please tell us some of your more memorable contributions that you felt had benefited the cycling community.

From 2002 – 2006, I was the legal advisor to SACA (Singapore Amateur Cycling Association) . My duties did not stop at that.  Back then, we were such a lean team at SACA that we had to do everything ourselves. Some of the memorable moments that I helped out with as part of the MTB Sub-Committee :-

– Invited SACA naysayers for coffee session to debate on why SACA needed to focus on competition (as compared to leisure events), which resulted in our forming an alliance with them to conduct bike clinics in preparation for our first ever International MTB Race and our first Schools MTB Race

– Doing all the coolie work of setting up tapes for the trails for MTB events and other logistics and operational tasks

– Put together the manual timing team for MTB races with immediate post-race results (as we did not have any timing system back then)

– Co-organised the first joint trail maintenance exercise at Bukit Timah with Togoparts, Singapore Mountain Bike Forum (SMBF) and National Parks Board (NParks)

– Designed the event posters and event collateral eg t-shirts, medals etc (thanks to my “shifu”, Ah Bong who taught me how to use the Adobe softwares to make posters and videos)

– Put together and maintained the old SACA website

– Learnt a lot about events organization from a solid team from Quick Release Adventures from KL, Malaysia
 

We also had to support not only our MTB discipline but other biking disciplines where we could. 

I was so inspired by all disciplines working together that I actually spent a lot of time filming, editing and putting together a short video about SACA back in 2006. Wrote something on my blog about this :  http://lingthemerciless.blogspot.sg/2006/06/bicycle-bicycle-bicycle-i-want-to-ride.html

I was also into filmmaking back then. And I was also curious about how mountain bike trails were built. I wrote a blog piece about this back in 2005 : http://lingthemerciless.blogspot.sg/2005/11/evolution-of-biketrail.html

From 2007 – 2009, I then joined the DirTraction team. Again I assisted where I could as a volunteer as I did for SACA, except that DirTraction was more involved in trailbuilding, bike clinics and events organization. I also helped to design the DirTraction logo and some event collateral, roping in good friends to assist with all aspects of events organization which needed help.

From 2007 – 2013, I got my qualifications as a national MTB and BMX Commissaire as part of the first batch of commissaires in each discipline. I was then assigned as a commissaire for almost every major cycling event (whether on the UCI calendar or otherwise) which required national MTB or BMX commissaires.      

 

 

 

What do you think the Cycling Community need most currently

I think it’s great that from our humble origins of having 1 mountain biking trail in Bukit Timah, we have expanded our treasures to more than 4 specially dedicated mountain bike trails in Singapore for the past decade, with special thanks to certain individuals who made this happen (you know who you are).

The idea of another mountain bike association separate from the then SACA was debated on for the longest time. I am glad that this idea has finally materialized in the forming of the Mountain Bike Association (Singapore), which has been doing good work. (MBASG is currently pro-tem).

It is also heartening to hear of various mountain biking groups maintaining these trails to the benefit of all mountain bikers – my big thanks to all of them.

Other than the above, I have not been updating myself on what’s been going on in the local cycling community so I’m not too sure what the cycling community needs most as of now.

 

 

 

How do you think you can help from here on?

I‘d like to think that I have played a little part in helping the MTB community, having dedicated almost a decade of my life volunteering with cycling-related activities (although not as much as some others who are still going strong like energizer bunny rabbits). Unfortunately there aren’t enough MTB and BMX races in Singapore where I could put my commissairing qualifications to good use. So I would really like to just take a back seat, enjoy the ride and volunteer whenever I can. 

I am currently focusing on helping animals – which can’t speak for themselves. Sometimes those advocating for the preservation of wildlife and those advocating for mountain biking share the same goals – how to preserve as much of our remaining forests as possible which we seem to be losing to development. 

On the flipside, there will be conflicting interests as wildlife do not like to be disturbed and the right thing to do is not to encroach on their territory. It is basically their home and they are not there for our enjoyment. Our reasons for being in the trails  are presumably  to enjoy the ride whilst being part of nature, and trying to catch a glimpse of wildlife. But I do plead guilty in wanting to spot wildlife whilst riding.  It always ends up being a debate as to what causes the least impact on nature and wildlife.
 

 

 

Please share some of your adventures or funny stories from your cycling trips

There are too many stories to share on such little space. If you are interested, do go to my facebook photo albums and click on my travel albums. Some of the more shareworthy stories are also set out in my blog. 

If anyone is interested in learning more about my adventures through the blogs and photos that I have shared, you can do so at my facebook album pages at :-

https://www.facebook.com/LingtheMerciless/photos_albums (which I have been diligently updating)

or at my blog at

http://lingthemerciless.blogspot.sg/ (which I have not been maintaining unfortunately as I’m too busy trying to live life to the fullest). 

 

 

 

MESSAGE TO BIKERS!

Ride more…. Leave something of yourself in it. Does a bike have a soul? Only if you do

 

 

 

Do you have anything you wish to say to the cycling community?

Ride hard, but ride safe. Push hard but know your own limits.

Join as many cycling events as you can because organizing them is hard work.

If you’re planning on going on a holiday, why not make it a mountain biking trip for a change?

Give back to the cycling community in whichever way you can.

 

I’d like to end off with an extract from an article by Gary Fisher which is quoted in my blog  here : http://lingthemerciless.blogspot.sg/2005/11/does-bike-have-soul.html. I had the privilege of meeting the man himself in 2009 when he was in Singapore to take part in the Eneloop MTB Carnival organised by DirTraction. What he said reflects my sentiments exactly about bikes and cycling. I love all the bikes I have ever had, but I love more the memories that we’ve shared together while biking. I’d like to think that I’ve left part of my soul in each of them.

"Does a bike have a soul? By Gary Fisher

I don’t think bikes are sacred. But I know biking is…. Maybe this sounds like sacrilege coming from a bike guy. But you’ve gotta remember, bikes to me are just a means to an end…

Which gets me to my point. There’s one way for a bike to have a soul. The rider has to put it there….

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The best bike is one that disappears when you ride it. I live for the moments when the bike just blots itself out, and every little element is singing the same note – me, the bike, the trail, the sky, the dirt. Yes, yes, yes.

Maybe what I’m trying to say is this: ride more…. Leave something of yourself in it. Does a bike have a soul? Only if you do.”

 

 

All photos by Lee Chuen Ling

Photos layout by Lee  Chuen Ling

 

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