HolyCrit duo on track to revive bike races - legally

Zulkifli (far left) and Khoo are being helped by the Singapore Cycling Federation in their attempt to revive the HolyCrit bike races, which used to be held at night and involve the use of fixed-gear bicycles that come without brakes.
Zulkifli (left) and Khoo are being helped by the Singapore Cycling Federation in their attempt to revive the HolyCrit bike races, which used to be held at night and involve the use of fixed-gear bicycles that come without brakes.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

They secure venue with help of Singapore Cycling Federation and are seeking sponsors

Nearly two years after the HolyCrit street cycling race was stopped for breaching the law, its organisers are making progress in their bid to revive the race.

For a start, they have secured a site in Stadium Drive, with help from the Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF). Details of when the event will be held have not been confirmed yet.

The race's organisers, bicyle business owner Eric Khoo Shui Yan, 29, and freelance project manager Zulkifli Awab, 40, told The Straits Times they are determined to bring the night race back - but with the authorities' full backing this time.

The SCF had helped to secure the Stadium Drive site free of charge.

Said SCF honorary secretary Hing Siong Chen: "They did not have enough funding and were driven to the edge. We want to help them as much as possible so they can run the race legally."

Keen to extend its reach to some 500 fixed-gear cyclists here, the SCF will also offer technical advice on safety and circuit planning.

KEEPING THE EVENT ALIVE

Moving on is important for us and we want HolyCrit to be an event that people will not forget.

FREELANCE PROJECT MANAGER ZULKIFLI AWAB

MEANINGFUL RACE

We all felt at a loss because HolyCrit, the one thing that we looked forward to or trained for, was no longer there.

 MR KAVIN LOUIS, an avid cyclist who works as a sales assistant.

The HolyCrit race, which was in the news in 2014 after its organisers were hauled up by the police for organising the event without the relevant permits, involved the use of fixed-gear bicycles that come without brakes. The race, which debuted in September 2013, was previously held about once a month at venues such as Stadium Drive and Changi Business Park.

On Tuesday, Khoo and Zulkifli were each jailed for seven days and fined $5,000 for organising and promoting the races without police approval and permits. They were arrested shortly after their last race in November 2014 and are currently serving their sentence.

Khoo, also a freelance driver, said he started the race not for profit, but to bring young people together through sports.

"We didn't want them to go astray or hang out with bad company in their free time, so we tried to get them to cycle with us as a hobby," he said, adding that participants pay $10 to enter the race and the winner takes all the money.

Most riders are aged 12 to 14, with the youngest 10, said Mr Zulkifli, who said the group has grown over the years through word of mouth.

Beyond the sport, the cyclists also support each other by sharing their problems and giving advice.

Khoo's bicycle shop at 71, Sultan Gate was once a gathering spot for about 30 teenagers, who dropped by daily after school to fix their bikes, and also to chat, often till dark. Business at the shop is slow these days.

Mr Kavin Louis, 20, an avid cyclist who works as a sales assistant, said: "We all felt at a loss because HolyCrit, the one thing that we looked forward to or trained for, was no longer there."

However, Khoo and Zulkifli admitted they were wrong to go ahead with the race without a permit, after failing to get sponsors to defray the high costs.

District Judge Carol Ling said on Tuesday that there was a certain level of disregard for the law displayed in holding the races, and public safety was compromised.

Zulkifli said that while cyclists were racing at high speeds shoulder to shoulder, they had been briefed on safety thoroughly prior to each race. There were also at least four first-aid helpers and about 20 road marshalls on site, he said.

In any case, the duo are hoping to rope in sponsors to help defray the costs of staging the race again. For instance, to fulfil permit requirements, Khoo said they would need at least $25,000 for things such as hiring marshals and insurance for riders and spectators.

Without sponsors, participants would have to pay at least $50 each, he said. There are between 40 and 50 participants in each race.

Meanwhile, Khoo has also asked his lawyer Josephus Tan, who represented him pro bono, to be HolyCrit's legal adviser.

Zulkifli said: "Moving on is important for us and we want HolyCrit to be an event that people will not forget."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'HolyCrit duo on track to revive bike races - legally'. Print Edition | Subscribe