PERSONALITY: THE GO-GETTER RIDER
FAROZ "NOBITA" MARZOKI
We like Go-Getters. They are mentally strong, know their own strengths and weaknesses and make the best of what they have. We met a pro-active young rider who, rather than sit and wait for things to be spoon-fed to him, would rather go out and get them through his own effort. Meet Faroz, a rider who knows what he wants from experiencing the various disciplines of mountain biking!
THE MAKINGS OF A GO-GETTER?
Name: Faroz Marzoki
Years Riding: 10
Current riding discipline(s): Downhill, All-Mountain & XC/Trails
Sponsors: The Secret Society, collaborations with BYX for Niner, Rodalink (Jurong East) for Marzocchi Suspension and Kore Components, Cycle Asia/Sony Singapore for Sony Action Cam.
Affiliated Riding Group/Team: #TheSecretSocietyCrew
Current bikes: Specialized Enduro, Giant Trance (Cross discipline training bike), Niner Rip 9 Carbon (Main Race bike)
Daily Grind: Talent Management Officer in SIA.
How often do you ride: Twice to thrice a week.
Favourite trails: Locally is Asrama, Fort William Red Route
THERE AND BACK AGAIN. REPEAT.
Please tell us about your cycling experience.
I picked up cycling as form of substitution for skateboarding. The interest grew along the way, and I took part in races and got to know new friends and later small grassroot sponsors. First sponsor was Kahfi Racing Team – they had my race fees covered. I rode with the team for two years and I found more opportunities along the way. Locally (to be honest) it's tough to get full sponsorship and I'd say it's more a collaboration than sponsorship. I now race under the team #TheSecretSocietyCrew. My stuffs are pretty much from everywhere. Mostly all paid for by myslef but… at super special prices as I take part in races for marketing and advertising purposes too. My Niner Rip 9 Carbon bicycle frame was specially freight from the Vietnam Factory by BYX, my suspension and components were given to me at a heavily discounted price by Rodalink Jurong East. As such, my main race bike is on Marzocchi suspension and Kore cockpit. Other miscellaneous stuff such as drivetrain and controls, I choose them according to my personal preference. Nothing fancy actually. I'm on eleven speed Shimano gears and Avid brakes as I prefer the feel of dot over mineral oil. My current crankset is one of my favourite – the Raceface RF Next SL. Apart from that, my tires are sponsored by The Secret Society Inc whom kind of look after the rest of my nitty gritty cycing needs including my riding wear. So it's these little things that actually make me different and unique when I'm out riding/racing. My current team manager is very understanding as I don't go for placing (when I race). My race exposure is thus more for building rapport with fellow riders and to create business opportunities for my sponsors. During races,podium finishes would not be my main objective. But for other kind of events, I tend to set my targets, for example, in jamborees I may want to finish within the top 10% of the overall participants, or maybe top 50 out of a 1000-prticipant category (eg. men's open) etc. Bottom line is – every type of race event is an opportunity to gain more experience.
Tell us some of your interesting experiences during races or rides.
So far none. I know it's too good to be true. I've been constantly pushing my limits but I always play it safe. One funny thing happened during a race was I took a dump while the race was still on. ( No choice – when nature calls). In the end, I still manage to come in top 100 in a crowd of 1100+ participants.
Another interesting incident happened when I was racing for Ride Brothers back in the days where Tampines Bike Park was still around. I thought we had a bad run in the Men's Duo Open XC race and was already packed to go home with my racing partner Yong. It was then that the organiser announced that our team got third place! Back then XC was totally not me and I was only replacing someone who couldn't make it at the last minute. I never thought of getting a podium finish. Naturally, things got interesting from there.
Your recent experience at a UCI XC race really made the local community proud. Please share with us how it all came into place.
I didn't go around telling people that I was going to race in Windham but instead told them that I'll be there to watch the world cup races.
There was this state level race that I decided to take part and I won. News travelled fast within the cycling community. What happened was I joined the Frst-Timer Category and it was literally my "virgin trip" to States. While I was doing the practice run, I really thought I went on the wrong track! I thought I had mistakenly stumbled into their downhill track or something. But after seeing the world cup female riders went down the rock garden section, I told myself – "This is it then!" Joining the race is really to experience the XC World Cup track which I would never be able to find in Singapore.
How did you prepare for the race?
Nothing much. I just packed my bike in the bike bag and some clothes. I simply took it like as if I'm going for another oversea riding trip. So you can say my preparation for the race was to take things easy, rest and eat well.
And was the feeling different from your other races on race day?
Oh yes definitely, everyone was game for it but yet casual. No one was outwardly too serious about winning. The participants were trying to convince each other they shouldn't die in the race and should at least complete it. It was a funny atmosphere! I like their sense of humor.
What advise would you give to aspiring racers who wish to have a go at the world stage?
Ride more, ride far and ride long. Our focus starts to change when fatigue kicks in. Also, condition yourself in all sorts of riding terrains, weather and give other riding disciplines a try. When you think you're fast, there's always someone faster. So be humble, never ever keep questions to yourself. No questions are stupid.
Are you setting your eyes on the next UCI race?
UCI races require licence. I am targeting to race at places that does not require UCI license nor are sanctioned by them. I would love to do enduro races in countries like New Zealand and Australia.
We are sure your experience in race and riding in general has levelled up after your recent race trip. What do you think you have learned from this recent trip?
Always be prepared mentally and physically. Don't be too serious, chill, relax and take it easy. But don't be complacent and slack off too. Have fun and gain that experience where you can't get locally. Cater some off-saddle days to take your mind off for a while before piloting the next ride. That way you will have a balance of life and what riding is all about.
Do you prefer downhill or Enduro races? Why?
Enduro of course. Downhill is a matter of descending a hill or course at full speed with "big balls" and trying your best to get it done in as short a time as possible – usually under five minutes for most race course. And winning a race is often within splits of a hundredth seconds. For enduro, you get a chance to race a couple of stages, have time to enjoy the trails' view and enjoy different kind of riding terrain. To me, that is what mountain biking is all about.
What is the best way to train for downhill race in Singapore?
The best way is to ride overseas. That's where downhill is. Nothing here is close to what is found overseas.
Do you think Singapore’s local races are up to international standard? (Granted we have limited space for a long race.) And what do you think local races should do to match up to international standards?
XC maybe. But we need to start adding friendly drops and rock gardens in our XC trails. We can't change much about our terrain's elevation and descent, but it would be a lot more interesting if our XC races test our techincal handling skills too.
Any message to the local cycling community?
Ride a while even when you don't feel like riding.
Always change the menu of riding. Don't always do the same routine or route.
Be friendly, greet and acknowledge one another when you're in the trails.
Strava records don't matter – that superb timing clocked by a certain lady rider profile could be a man in disguise.
Every pro will always say "Have Fun", it's cliché and their definition of "Have Fun" is actually train hard and train smart. That is for real, really!
Change the way you ride, not the trails and not the bike.
Check your bike set up (tyre pressure, lever angle, saddle height etc) properly first before and after a ride. Understand what the bike's intended usage before going around complaining "I can't complete BeeTee in twenty five minutes because I'm using a DH bike".
Wheel sizes and frame numbers don't really matter. (That's if you are still thinking that you are having difficulties in getting the right type of bike that is most suitable to your riding style and capabilities.)
Special thanks to Faroz Marzoki for the interview and advice.
All photos by Faroz Marzoki