10Q WITH: JT TAN – PRINCIPAL, JT Gravity Squad | BUILDER, Southern Gravity Bike Park

Q: How are you JT? Thanks for taking some time with us for this interview. The ice-breaking question, since you always ‘turun’ Melaka, can you recommend the best ‘Asam Pedas Melaka’ spot to us? 🙂
A: Hi there, I’m good. Asam Pedas Melaka? Hmm… maybe the one at Pasar Borong Batu Berendam. Sure syiok!

Goin’ max speed at Bukit Dinding recent race | Photo credit: The respective owner

Q: Tell us how you got involved in this sport. What was your first bike?
A: Well, it started out when my friend showed me some downhill video clips. The ride, look and style of the sport got me hooked and the rest was history. My 1st bike was an RM300 Le Run Bike, I trashed it while going downhill. Patah!

Rewind back to 2013

Q: JT Gravity Squad is one of the most competitive teams in the enduro and downhill circuits. What inspired you to form the team and how does one get chosen to be on it?
A: JT Gravity Squad is a team of close friends. We ‘re like a family. We encourage each other to push our limit and support each other in any ways possible. To be part of the team is very simple; honest, friendly, respect others, no POLITICS and enjoy riding. Getting a podium is a bonus.

JT Gravity Squad: Full force!

Q: Managing a team is not easy, financially, so to speak. So, how do you rope in sponsors to keep the team well-funded?
A: Managing the team is not easy because I’m not always around. So, team riders will have to manage and practice by themselves in preparation for any race. As for sponsors, SPEED Singapore and Southern Gravity Bike Park provide jerseys for the team. Funding and sponsorship do not come easy so we have to work hard for it.

Q: We saw you’ve been working really hard on Southern Gravity Bike Park, from inception to planning, to getting endorsement and such. Can you share the built-story with us from the beginning? Was there any setback?
A: It started out when we approach Datuk Neo Wee Siang for land to replace Bukit Beruang Gravity track due to some issue with landowner and hikers. He’s impressed with the biking scene and would like to see it grow, so he gave us 25 acres of palm oil land to build a bike park. The only setback we have is there’s so much to do but we don’t have enough manpower to do it haha.

Q: From racing, to managing team, to building bike park, your spouse Grace Cho is always by your side. Rain or shine. What does her support and contribution really mean to you?
A: Grace’s support and contribution are priceless. I think most women would not work under the hot sun and get their hands dirty. This whole park is built and designed by Grace and me with a little help from the bulldozer. It’s not an easy task for both of us and with Grace’s help, we’re coming to a completion stage now.

Q: You’ve built a bike park and are now managing one. In your opinion, which one is better: build new bike park or open new trail? Why?
A: Building a bike park of course. Bike park will sustain, as trails are very unpredictable. Trails will be stormed by hikers or taken back by landowners. In contrary, a bike park can be privately owned and be well-managed in and out.

Southern Gravity Bike Park: built and tested by the pro himself!

Q: If you have the means to push our rider and the sport further (internationally), how would you do it?
A: To push riders to international level, we have to have more parks and big features accommodating to their level. I would love to build downhill trails and features almost close to their natural course.

Q: If you can sign up with any team in either EWS or UCI Downhill Championship, which one would you choose and why?
A: Santa Cruz Syndicate, because my Idol Greg Minnar is in the team. He is humble, loyal to his sponsors and he’s a super-experienced rider.

Doing his thing at Tok Bok’s DH Challenge 2018 | Photo credit: The respective owner

Q: Where would be your dream destination to ride outside Malaysia? Why?
A: My dream is to ride in Whistler because of the whole built. The park features are insanely out of this world. And I would love to build a bike park like Whistler!

Hat’s off to JT and Grace for their endless dedication towards the sport. We would love to come visit your bike park one day and ‘layan asam pedas’ together. Keep going and cheers from OUTRAGE!

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