By MELLY LING
What started out as a hobby for young local mountain biker Aaron Chan Chow Hee is now his biggest pride and passion.
The full-time professional mountain biker who will be turning 22 this June has been in races all over South East Asia and New Zealand.
“I enjoy mountain biking because it is not only a physical sport but it also challenges one’s mental strength especially during races against the clock. One has to be focused intensely for this sport because of the speed and obstacles involved on the track,” said Chan who won the Jerejak Rainforest International Downhill Challenge in Penang last year.
Growing up like every other teenager, school and tuition were a chore for him but cycling was a form of an escape from the academic pressure.
“I love the feeling when I am on my bicycle because it gives me a form of satisfaction that no other sport can offer.”
He recalled receiving his first bike that was a cross-country mountain bicycle from his uncle for his13th birthday.
When he first started cycling, it was just normal riding around his neighborhood. But that has changed over the years where he took cycling more seriously as he wanted to keep fit and stay healthy.
At 17, the half Chinese-Portuguese lad decided to sign up for his first downhill race although with no proper training.
“Downhill racing was relatively new to me then. I wanted to try something new, so I signed up for the race and surprisingly, I finished third.” added the broadcasting graduate. Ever since that unexpected triumph, Aaron started training up for more races with his team manager/coach Rizal Onn.
With guidance and proper training, Aaron grew in confidence and his riding skills improved. Since 2008, he knew that he wanted to go far with cycling. Thus, he joined bigger competitions that took place in Thailand and New Zealand, where hegained experience and competition smarts.
The trophies were soon to arrive. In fact, Aaron’s ordinary teenage life became more interesting as people started to recognise him as a professional biker. The attention also piqued the interest of sponsors like Ayam Brand, Teva, Banshee and Fakawi Bikes.
“You just don’t want to limit yourself to downhill riding only because that will just bore you. I like having a mix of everything so I do tricks and fixed gear riding,” said Chan who rides a wide range of wheels – be it dirt jump, fixed gear, cross country or road
When he is not cycling, Aaron suits up for the camera as a part-time model. His modelling career began during his high school years when he was scouted by a teen magazine at a concert. “It was weird when these two girls came up to me. They convinced me to join Roxy Summer Splash Model Search back in 2008. Somehow I did sign up just for the fun of it,” he recalled.
He was shortlisted for the finals at the competition and that opened doors for him in the modelling industry. Having appeared in numerous TV commercials and magazines, Aaron is still keeping his career options open. He does not plan to take up modelling as his full time job.
“It’s fun to be in front of cameras but that cannot replace my passion for cycling. It’s just a different ball game – I enjoy the dirt and mud from biking,” said Chan.
In the future, he hopes to run his very own production house as he enjoys making films.