Like fine wine, the more you train with age, the better you get at mountain biking.
62-year-old Heinz Iten is no stranger to this concept. Founder of Swiss Club MTB Riders, Iten can’t imagine life without the ruggedness of off-road mountain biking.
Being a true mountain biker at heart, he shares his journey and love for mountain biking with sportsIN Cycling.
“I wasn’t always this athletic. It all started in 1999 when I decided to change my lifestyle, to lead a healthier one.
“I started running, then cycled regularly. Started off-road mountain biking and it just stuck with me. It is in my skin to ride this way,” said the veteran biker.
One day he decided to bring a few friends around Singapore to explore the trails, slowly the group started growing.
He was the catalyst to get people to try new things, to be adventurous and because of that, the Swiss Club MTB Riders was formed.
Not Just A Team, We’re Family
Due to the ruggedness of the sport, lots of maintenance and repairs are bound to happen during group rides. But that’s not always a bad thing – it’s what makes them interact and connect with the team the most as memories are made, strong kinships are formed.
“In MTB, we often stop, to mend our bikes or assess the trail and figuring out the right way to overcome the obstacle. With these stops, you get to interact more.”
The close relationship he has with the members of Swiss Club MTB Riders developed naturally because of the care and camaraderie they often get from riding together.
Broken Shoulder? No Biggie
If there is any accident, they’ll all take themselves out of the challenge or any ride, to make sure that that one person is alright. Iten experienced it first hand.
“When I hurt my shoulder, the team immediately organised everything for me – from the doctor to the maintenance of the bike. When I came back from the hospital, my bike was already washed oiled, and cleaned, like nothing ever happened!”
Inspiring others, he got members half his age joining his rides.
Usually, he leads because he knows the routes best, but as years go by, they all become seasoned to the routes, so others began to take the lead instead.
“In the beginning, I used to lead the group all the time, but now they train more than me, and I’m somehow always at the back. At times they have to wait for me,” he laughs.
Let The Young Fall And Get Up Again
Despite it being an expat MTB group, Iten welcomes anyone who can keep up with the trails. He now has two to three Singaporeans who join in the majority of his rides.
He is also encouraging more young Singaporeans to try out off-road mountain biking, his three kids are no exception to that.
“Not many try out this form of riding because of the upbringing – kids are very protected, encouraged not to hurt themselves, but as Ang Mohs, we were taught to keep trying even if we fall. So we tend to be intrinsically conditioned to getting injuries since young.
“I remember riding downhill a mountain in Switzerland with the rustiest bike to get to school and somehow from then on it becomes second nature, how you control the bike – it’s in your blood and skin to just know.”
Author: Mizah Salik
Writer | Editor | Storyteller | Data geek | Aspiring Photographer
When she’s not writing, Mizah is constantly wired 24/7. She loves cats, cycling at night, and can’t survive without her weekly dose of chicken rice.