SINGAPORE - With most activities cancelled or conducted from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, Dennis Tan was looking for outdoor activities to keep his seven-year-old son Ethan entertained and engaged.
"He's a very active boy with tons of energy so we didn't want him to be cooped up at home too much. Rather than the routine of going to school, enrichment classes, then home, we wanted to try to get him outdoors more," said the regional sales director at a cyber security firm.
So when the chance to join the OCBC Cycle 2020 Virtual Ride arose, he signed himself up for the 23km The Straits Times VR and Ethan for the 5km Mighty Savers Kids VR.
"I like that we can do this at our own time and pace, so we decided to give it a shot and burn some calories," said Tan, 39, a first-time participant of the OCBC Cycle.
"One of the most important things is to instil a sense of discipline in him, because you have to cycle in an orderly manner. Besides that, I hope to show him more of Singapore and that it's pretty connected.
"Hopefully cycling becomes a habit or hobby for him because it's another form of transportation he can use to explore new places in Singapore."
Ethan is excited about having another opportunity to spend time with his father. They usually play Mario Kart and board games like Monopoly together.
The Pasir Ris Primary pupil said: "I'm very excited. I like cycling because I can exercise and my feet won't get blisters, unlike running when you sometimes get blisters.
"I'm happy to cycle with my dad because it's bonding and we can celebrate completing the challenge together.
"I prefer cycling to playing board games because board games teach you something but cycling teaches you way more things. Board games are about luck but this is about hard work and sweating."
Tan and Ethan will be among 4,700 riders taking part in the sold-out event from Nov 1-15. Like the father and son duo, almost 70 per cent of the participants are signing up for the first time, an increase from about 40 per cent in previous editions. All slots were snapped up one month before organisers planned to close registration.
The original OCBC Cycle, which usually sees about 7,000 participants, had been postponed from May 9-10 to an unspecified date. It was later cancelled and converted to a free virtual event.
Besides the 23km ride, the third category of the event is the 42km Sportive VR while children aged from two to five will cycle 800m in the Mighty Savers Kids VR.
Participants can record the distance in each category over a maximum of four separate rides. They are required to submit photos of themselves before and after their rides, which can be done anywhere safe, indoors or outdoors, in Singapore.
To show proof of the completion of the virtual ride, participants must use a fitness tracker or workout app on a smartphone to record ride details, and submit them to race organisers by Nov 15.
Those who complete the event will each receive the OCBC Cycle 2020 medal and tote bag by post by Dec 7.
Koh Ching Ching, OCBC Bank's head of group brand and communications, said: "Being able to continue to create the opportunity for friends and families to come together to have fun and exercise - in small groups this year, given the current situation - has always been a key objective of OCBC Cycle.
"While it is a pity we are not able to bring the more than 6,000 cyclists together in one place because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the different format that circumstances forced us to come up with has been well received. Our team is really looking forward to all the pictures and selfies that the cyclists will send us over the two event weeks."