PERSONALITY: THE MOTIVATED ATHLETE LAURA LIONG
(3rd Overall in the Women's Open category at the Tour de Timor mtb stage race, 2013)
Laura Liong considered herself "new" to mountain biking. At first glance, we may notice that she only started cross-country mountain bike racing in 2009 – that's 6 years of competitive riding. What constituted to her fruitful results then? Bikezilla spoke to this lady and got motivated. Read on to find out more!
When Laura Liong tells you she only has 6 years of cross-country mountain bike racing experience, don't be fooled by the numbers. Yes, she only started competitive cross-country mountain biking since 2009, but this ex-National Tennis Champion is fit as a fiddle. And with the typical sportsman's attitude, she quickly rose up to top-level elite league and had since been doing very well at races both locally and internationally. Her good results and commitment to the sport also gained her some well-deserved support from the cycling industry. Meet our very own UCI Women's Elite XC MTB rider!
(Laura representing Singapore at the Asian MTB Championships in Chengdu, China, 2013. She ended up getting a World Ranking in Women's Elite MTB XC category, with a ranking of #368. 1st Singaporean to do so! Well done!)
SINGAPORE'S FIRST UCI WOMEN'S ELITE XC MTB RIDER!
Name: Laura Liong
Years Cycling: I learned to cycle when I was a teenager. Picked up “real” cycling in 2009
Current Discipline: Cross-Country(XC) Mountain Biking
Current Bike: Specialized SWorks Epic 2012 (Size Small)
Sponsors: The North Face Singapore, Gu Energy (both under Outdoor Venture) and also supported by Tay Cycle and Altitude Gym
Afflicted Cycle Group: Member of GrannyGearHeroes and the Big Tree groups
How often do you cycle: Up to 5 to 6 times weekly
(Laura's current bike, Specialized S Works Epic 2012)
RIDE LIKE LAURA!
Where are favourite cycle spots?
My favourite is a classic flowy cross-country mountain biking trail in Singapore … And Bukit Timah Mountain Bike Trail is my “backyard” – trail is 500m from my home at Rifle Range Road area.
What other sports do you do besides cycling?
I was doing competitively tennis before I started mountain biking. I was 3 times National Champion in Women's Singles and represented Singapore at SEA Games Tennis in 1981, 1983 and 1991. Other sports I do socially are rock climbing, trail running and hiking. I stopped doing these 2 years ago when I decided to spend more time to improve my mountain biking.
(Her first time riding for Singapore in National Team jersey, at the Pre SEA Games competition in Myanmar, 2013
– Singapore National Champion, Singapore National Championship Women’s Elite 2014, Cross-Country(XC) Mountain Biking
– 2nd Place Singapore National Championship, Women’s Elite, 2012; Cross-Country(XC) Mountain Biking
– 1st place, Singapore Mountain Bike Carnival 2013, Mixed Duo’s Category for the 8-hour race and also 1st place for the Enduro Race at the same event
– 1st place, Singapore’s Chase the Sun MTB Race in the 4-hour Solo Women’s Category
– 2nd Overall in the 2014 ASEAN Cup MTB Series Women’s Elite Category,
– 3rd place at the 2nd leg ASEAN Cup MTB Race in Kundasang, Sabah, Malaysia, 2014, Women’s Elite Category
– 3rd place in the Overall Classification, Women’s Elite category, Tour de Timor Stage Race in 2013 (and also 3rd place in 4 of the 5 Individual Stages)
– 1st Singaporean to receive a UCI ranking in Women’s Elite XC MTB category with a ranking of #368 in May 2013
Is there any difference between training versus leisure cycling to you?
Yes, the main difference between the 2 is whether there is structure or not during the ride.
What have you been busy with in recent years?
I spend the past few years trying to improve everything – skill, endurance and everything else – to make up for the late start in the sport.
What motivated you to do what you did?
Seeing that I can improve with some added effort, it motivates me to want to do more.
Traveling and cycling may mean many things to different people. How do they correlated to you?
Most of my travels in the past 3 years have been cycling related, going to races or doing mountain biking or road cycling tours. Some cycling tours I’ve done include the Lhasa to Kathmandu (mostly road) ride, Durango to Moab (USA) hut-to-hut partially self-supported mountain biking tour, Hanoi to Luang Prabang road tour, Chiang Mai Mountain bike tour, Chiang Mai/Golden triangle road tour, Swiss Alps self-supported Mountain bike tour.
( Chiang Mai road bike tour January 2014 )
How do you prepare for a race?
I simply try to put in a lot of training hours.
Do you have any special diet to match your training?
Not really, though I try to eat more real/whole foods and less processed foods.
In your opinion, what does the cycling community need most currently?
I think the cycling community need to have a strong leadership so that the sport can progress better.
And how do you think you can help?
I’m still relatively new to the sport and community. The best way for me to contribute for now is through sharing ideas and suggestions to those who are working on changes.
Any other areas which you wish someone could also help look into (that needed improvement)?
ALL aspects of mountain biking could be improved! Starting with the need for a strong leadership as mentioned. We also need improvements on trail access, trail development, maintenance and management, trail etiquette, rider development programs, races and events, administrative and support infrastructure, overseas races and the list goes on.
We thank Laura for sharing her experience with us. Chatting about a sport we like with an international level sports personality does indeed make a difference. We do get a sense of pressure after talking to Laura. We are pressurized to put in more saddle time and see a need to constantly wanting to improve ourselves. Thanks for the motivation, we hope to get more training tips from her soon! For now, Let's Ride!
(Swiss Alps MTB tour, July 2014)
(At the start of the classic MTB trail, The Whole Enchilada, in Moab, USA, July 2012)
(Durango to Moab hut-to-hut MTB Tour, one of the top 10 classic must-do bike trips in the world, Utah, July 2012)
(With her husband, Kenneth Koh, on an MTB trip to Bali, 2013)
(At the Everest Base Camp, Tibet side with Mt Everest in the background, during the Lhasa to Kathmandu bike tour, May 2011)
(With Specialized factory team riders Lea Davison and Kohei Yamamoto at the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge, 2013)
(Hanoi to Luang Prabang bike tour, February 2013)
(Swiss Alps MTB tour, July 2014 – 4.5 hr hike-a-bike section!)
Photos by Laura Liong