A Ride To Remember

I signed the kids up for OCBC Cycle Singapore a few months ago
My husband and I were prepared to be their audience and cheerleaders

Then, a couple of weeks before the event, my girl friend asked whether I would be interested to join her for the race

I thought since I probably wouldn’t be able to run a full marathon at 40, I might as well cycle one
And my husband thought he should come along, just in case I have a burst tire and he would get a chance to rescue a damsel in distress

I can cycle but only when the conditions are right

As in, my feet must be able to touch the ground when my butt is on the saddle
And I can’t pull off stunts or delicately squeeze between other cyclists
Getting overtaken by high speed cyclists terrifies me
I feel like I have to slow down and make way

I ride leisurely, at my own pace
The last time I did that was more than a decade ago

So to cycle 42 km in one ride meant that I would need some training
It would help if I could raise the saddle and cycle like the pros
and brake and dismount from the bike without panicking and collapsing into a heap of bicycle and me

I had about a month to sort that out
But first, I needed to get a bike

My beloved sister and her husband were kind enough to loan us theirs
and I finally did my maiden ride 2 weeks’ before race day

I did 15 km on Day 1 (ok, It was more tiring than I thought)
Cycling works on muscle I barely used when I jog, swim or rollerblade
Then I did another 15 km on Day 2
and then 25 km and finally 40 km

Within a week, I clocked 120 km on the bike
I thought my thighs had grown instantly
Eeeeks !
and I was hungry all the time

Throughout the week, I was fumbling with the gear
The bike had 3 gears on the left and 9 on the right, which gave a total of 27 gears
That’s a lot of combination to run through
And it takes time for a novice like me to figure out which combination works best for me

Then my husband had to travel for a week and I hardly had time to train
And because of his busy work schedule, he hadn’t been cycling either

I went on the internet and read more about bikes
I found out that no serious rider would race with a mountain bike, especially one with knobby tires
I could change the tires but that would cost money and it wasn’t my bike to start with

We decided to just race with what we had

Then I read about the most efficient gear settings
A combination that I had never tried before and race day was the next day

I was a nervous wreck that night
I barely slept
I laid in bed worrying about falling off my bike
And I wondered about the gear setting that I would be trying out

My mind just wouldn’t rest
Finally at 4 am, I gave up, my day began

The event was massive
I had never seen so many cyclists in my life (unless you count those on TV)
Many had spent thousands and even tens of thousands for the best equipment and trained for this day
It was heartening to witness such passion

There were also novices like us, who didn’t quite know what to expect

It took us a long while to finally get to the starting line
It was quite chaotic
Just less than 5 minutes into the race, I witnessed the first accident
A lady, probably a newbie like me, crashed into the side railings

I spent the first part of the ride worrying about crashing into another bike, imagining being flung off my own and being run down by others
An incessant fear fueled by a rampant imagination

I braked excessively while charging down Sheares Bridge
I realised my heart wasn’t quite built for that

The ride finally got smoother when we hit flat ground
Then it started to rain and I stopped to raise my saddle
It was about the same time that my husband’s rear wheel came loose and I lost him in the sea of cyclists
I slowed down and stopped to look for him
It was only after the U turn that I found him on the other side of the lane, trailing behind

All this while, my girl friend was nowhere in sight

This was us, before the race started
She was way ahead of us like many other cyclists
It was obvious that many were there for serious competition

How often do you get to cycle a bike on the highway
The answer is, NEVER
It is strange to be cycling on a bike instead of driving in the car on a highway that we commute almost everyday

A sort of tininess in a boundless vastness
A feeling rarely felt in our mostly man made and highly populated homeland

My husband insisted that we last did something like this, cycling without kids, more than 20 years ago
although I thought it was 10

It was like reliving the old days and I had the urgency to savour everything
And almost wishing that the lanes could stretch forever so that we could go on peddling and the race would not end

This is us, on top of Sheares Bridge (me wearing my son’s helmet)
We took 2 hour 18 min

It was a good ride
and an unexpectedly good date
and I learnt that cycling is not just about fitness and endurance
It is also about the equipment, the skill to handle it, and the guts or balls to go for it





  1. Susan says:

    Wow way to go Hai Fang! I bet it was an awesome feeling doing something that you didn’t imagine you would have done. I’ve never been one to cycle fast as I have a fear of losing control and crashing. But I do recall taking part in the OCBC cycle many years ago on roller blades. It turned out to be a great date too as I was holding hands with Alexis and blading along the run way while the world whizzed by.

    • malmal says:

      hey Susan, I didn’t know they used to have roller blading category. It must be very scary going down Sheares Bridge on rollerblade ! and is it even possible to blade up ??

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