PERSONALITY: BEAUTY AND A BEAST ON WHEELS TINGJUN
Ting and the rest of the ladies at the inaugural SOE
During the week after the Singapore Open Enduro, there was a short frenzy following the release of the results. We overheard / eavesdropped on / participated in a few conversations which invariably involved the following:
(A) "OMG how is she so fast?!"
(B)"Look at that timing… She's quite the beast!"
(C) "Holy *** I totally got chicked."
(D) "Wah lau so sia suay… Now I have to quit riding."
(E) All of the above.
You might have guessed by now that the 'beast' in question is none other than Tingjun, the speediest Gonzales among our female participants. If you happen to be one of the boys responsible for A/B/C/D/E, let me offer you a friendly pat on the back and a few words of consolation – You are NOT alone. With Tingjun's total time of 13min 36sec on the 5 special stages, two-thirds of the guys were left in the dust. Don't feel so bad, okay? We got Tingjun to tell us more about herself, just in case you are really contemplating about quitting biking …
THE BEAST IN A BABE
Any regular to our local trails would definitely have seen Tingjun at some point. A tall, long-limbed and attractive XC babe is quite difficult to miss. We're privileged to have her share a few moments with Bikezilla, answering some questions you might have as well.
Full name: Zhang Tingjun
Any nicknames you go by: Ting
Affiliated biking groups and teams: Big Tree, Team Kailan
Current bike(s): Pivot 429 and Santa Cruz Bronson
Favourite local trail: Ketam
How long have you been cycling, and how did you get started? Tell us about your cross-country team. What's your training programme like, and are there any specific workout regimes you have to follow?
I've been riding bikes since I was a kid, but only picked up mountain biking about 8 years ago, when a friend asked me to help out at a mountain bike camp for troubled teens. Leading the session were a couple of guys who took me under their wing, and over time taught me everything they know. They even helped me pick out my first mountain bike (a second-hand hard tail). Eventually, I the met Big Tree gang. My biking circle expanded and I got more into it.
Training wise, I usually get in 2 rides on the weekend. Of late, have tried to squeeze in a couple of gym sessions at Ritual or if I'm feeling extra ambitious, a bike session at Athlete Lab during the week.
Honestly though, I would say that my training programme essentially entails trying to keep up with the guys I ride with every weekend and not get left behind.
Tearing down Lorong Asrama at the MTB Carnival 2015
What are some of the challenges you face in cycling at the moment? Do you have a mantra for conquering these obstacles? How do you psych yourself up for overcoming something new or scary?
Clearing 'Overshot' at the trailhead of Ketam at Ubin used to freak me out enough to make me feel nauseous every weekend. So I kept doing it (and kept crashing) until I could finally do it without feeling sick. I think I also just really couldn't bring myself to ride a different line knowing that overshot was rideable.
Usually if I'm trying to psych myself up to do something scary, I get my friend, Han, to do it first. And if he doesn't wipe out too badly, then I figure, surely I can do it too. Only issue is he's actually way better technically than I am, so my theory doesn't even make sense. Or if that fails, ever since I got my first full-face helmet a couple of months ago, it's now become my super-(wo)man cape. So I go put it on and then try the scary stuff in invincible mode.
As for the challenges at the moment, I'm terrible at drops and anything with air. Bunny hops – not great with those either. I mean in my head I think I'm awesome and am clearing things with 5 feet of air. But in reality, when I watch the playbacks, I'm pretty much either nose-diving into something or never even left the ground to begin with.
So yea… I've always been more of an xc rider. But Enduro and DH stuff is growing on me. It's an area I'd like to improve on.
Ting, on overcoming challenges: "… I kept doing it… until I could finally do it without feeling sick…" WORD.
Your results on the SOE were no less than remarkable. We know that you also have a wealth of experience with other races as well. What are some of the races you've been for? How were they different from the SOE? We'd love to hear about some of your accomplishments.
My race history has been a little varied, with a couple of adventure races, an X-terra and some local XC races thrown in the mix over the years. I've been fortunate to have raced with some amazing teammates over the years who've pushed me and continued to challenge me not to settle or be lazy.
The SOE was my first Enduro race. It was definitely a very different style of racing from what I'm used to do. Everything was in short bursts as opposed to long grinds. And there was very little room for error because it would have such an impact on your timing! It was a lot of fun though and less painful (in terms of exhaustion and effort) compared to XC racing. I'd definitely do it again.
The SOE was also really well organised so there was a lot less waiting time than what I expected, which was nice.
I'm looking forward to the next SOE because I crashed on one of the descents during this past one and it still annoys me till today. I need to get it out of my system during next year's race and nail all the descents or it'll keep bothering me.
A champion quad team
How do you normally prepare yourself for a race? Any pre-race ritual or dietary restrictions?
Nothing too special. I try to get a good night's rest and have a good breakfast. Stay hydrated; make sure my bike is set up right. All the usual stuff. Sleep is usually my biggest challenge. I have a really hard time falling asleep before races.
How would you convince a reluctant female friend to get on a bike and start bicycling? Would you recommend that they try mountain biking, or other disciplines such as road biking? Why?
I would definitely recommend they start with mountain biking because road biking is so boring they would probably never want to ride again (please don't hate me roadies…) Honestly though I've introduced mountain biking to a few female friends and now they're all scarred and bruised and blame me. But really, it's not my fault they keep falling.
Just some rocks …
I'm confident that this is something many are curious about, so I'm going to be bold and ask it upfront. Despite your very 100%-am-Chinese name, you sure don't look totally Chinese. Are you of mixed heritage? If so, what 'mix' are you?
Heh yea, I get this one a lot. Most people expect to see a China man. My mum is a Caucasian American and my dad is a Chinese Singaporean. So I came out looking like this, but with a Chinese name. I've got 3 sisters; they all look like me, with Chinese names too.
We understand (okay actually we stalked you on Facebook and found out) that you're the executive director of Mercy Relief. That is certainly very high profile and hectic. Tell us more about what happens at Mercy Relief. What's a normal workday like for you?
I feel really fortunate to be working alongside my team at Mercy Relief. As Singapore's leading independent disaster relief agency, the organisation focuses on providing timely aid in the wake of disasters and building resilient communities. In my role, a typical day at work could be with my team on the ground in Nepal for example, in the aftermath of last year's earthquake. Or buidling cross-sector partnerships and fundraising back home in Singapore to support our ongoing efforts.
It's been a special journey for me to be honest. I think when disaster strikes, it is easy to see those affected as victims: desolate, destitute and defeated. But after you spend time on the ground, you come back seeing things differently. You see people coming together to help one another, fight back, and protect their way of life. That's what it is about for us at Mercy Relief, a commitment to supporting the indomitable spirit of survivors.
If you're interested in disaster relief, we actually have a pretty cool event happening in August to commemorate World Humanitarian Day. Our Ground Zero Run simulates what happens in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and participants have to go through the challenge of completing a 5km or 10km route carrying a relief pack, which will eventually be distributed to needy families in Singapore. We've even got a kids' race this year too! Click on the banner for more information!
I hate missing my weekend rides. Like seriously, I hate it. But i'll be hanging up my wheels on August 14th. Would be cool to have some of our biking community come represent that Sunday if you're up for it!
A quick trivia 🙂 Tell us the answer that comes to mind first.
a) Motorbike or monster truck? – MOTORBIKE
b) Have a dragon, or be a dragon? – HAVE A DRAGON
c) Desert, or Antartica? – DESERT
Enduro has uncovered many stars in the world's biking scene. We know that this is a race format that demands good all-round capability, both in downhill and cross-country. The inaugural SOE has given us a glimpse of the players we have here at home. We must say that we are indeed proud that we have talents like Ting. Thank you for sharing your time and insights with us – and we at Bikezilla look forward to seeing more of your stellar performances!
For more information of Ground Zero Run, visit www.groundzerorun.com