At only 27 years old, Singapore National Road Cyclist Darren Low has made his country proud in numerous international races including SEA Games Silver Medalist in the Individual Time Trial (ITT) (2011), two-time National Champion in the ITT (2010& 2011), two-time National Champion in the Road Race (2010 & 2012).
His most recent feat was the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held at home in June 2015. Albeit not feeling well on the race day and recovering from a bad crash, Darren managed to finish ninth in the Men’s Individual Time Trial. We caught up with the rising star for a quick e-interview while he is at rest back in Singapore –
What’s the greatest thing about your national colors and representing the country?
I must say, it is to compete with other nations’ bests to gauge personal performance against theirs. Also, it is an honor to represent my country, (to) be able to project a good image of Singapore regardless of performance.
Lastly, to let my family and friends know I am not training in vain or aimlessly, it is a nice opportunity to represent Singapore.
What did you learn from your SEA Games experience?
Throughout my cycling journey, I have realized that I am always learning new things. Things are always changing, for example the dynamics of racing and standards are improving. The basics of racing becomes more important: Teamwork for example. We have all seen how Team Malaysia managed the criterium and road race together as a team. They raced together often in UCI races and have drilled their leadout train very well.
Do you have any new targets for the next SEA Games and Asian Games?
With my accident back in April and having to play catch up, I did not have a good season this year. In fact I had only six race days this season compared to 50+ last season. I have ended the season to sort out some of the lingering effects from the crash. I hope to recover from it quick and from there with a positive mindset, I’ll set a specific target for the major games.
How do you inspire and motivate yourself to keep on top of your game?
I regularly view my training data to keep in check that I am improving, power values are good, etc. Also I have good memories when I am in good form and thought through how I rode during those periods.
When I just started out racing, I tried to mimic the pro riders’ training (Five hours daily) and my body felt sore and fatigued after those training sessions. With proper planning and lots of information on optimal training available, I know I can handle the sessions.
I started out a little later than my peers. Some are only 19 this year and racing the same schedule as me. I tell myself that it takes time for body to adapt to the higher training/racing load. Just keep on focusing on the main goal of improving instead of getting depressed over poor results.
What’s the most memorable route or race that you’ve cycled on so far?
In 2011 SEA games Individual Time Trial, I took silver in a 50km route that took almost two hours due to the 30km climb. I remembered it was hard but I was having a good day so I enjoyed all the suffering and atmosphere.
Other than that, I raced in Europe for a month last year. The level was of greater intensity level, I can’t seem to lose the last few kgs and I kept getting almost dropped on the climbs and I rode by myself to meet the time limit. Throughout the whole expedition, I rode alone for 60km, 100km. The last tour race in Romania I rode 140km alone because I was dropped early from a mechanical and nursing an injury from a crash. Those times, without having to stay alert like I have to in the peleton, I actually enjoyed the view.
During training, the only memorable route is when it’s scenic and my first time riding it, after that it’s not memorable anymore haha!
Any new apparel/gear from Shimano, or other gadgets and technology in your training or races that you would like to highlight?
Apparel – I think in the past, Shimano attire was not too popular but now that Shimano is putting in more research efforts in their apparel range, they have invented the Accuwear-3D. Accuwear-3D I believe, is the top range, was developed by the racing team, who gave feedback what to improve on, and features to include. Though it may not match the likes of established brands out there, it may just be a moment of time they be up there as seen from the development of the cycling shoes, Di2, wheels.
Powermeter – I rely on power data a lot, coming from an engineering background. I wouldn’t like the thought of training without knowing if it’s optimal, where can I improve, track my progress against previous months/season. Of course, at times I get too obsessed about the values I lose focus.
What’s your favourite way to recover from a long ride?
Nice protein shake, healthy lunch, good shower and lie on the bed with legs propped up and nap without having to think about running errands.
Do you listen to any music when you train? What’s on your playlist?
I don’t listen to music anymore, because no one does that in the team during training, might be a little rude to plug in the earphones, denying the teammates a chance to chat with you. Also, it could be due to safety.
So… Rumors say that you are dating fellow Singaporean cyclist Dinah Chan…
Yeah we have been together for quite some time already. Not a secret.
What’s it like dating another professional cyclist? That doesn’t happen all the time!
I am not too sure… At least we could train and date together? And after training we are tired, we don’t go “dating” anymore. I don’t know really, never got to discuss or observe how it is like to date a non-cyclist.
There you go! If you would like to stay tuned with his latest updates, follow him on Strava here.