OCBC Cycle: Designing animal-shaped routes adds fun to this cyclist's rides

Isaac Lee has designed six unique animal-shaped routes published them on Strava for other cycling enthusiasts to use. PHOTOS: DESMOND FOO, ISAAC LEE

SINGAPORE - When Isaac Lee started cycling in May last year, he found himself hooked to the speed and "the wind blowing against my face".

However, four months into his new hobby, he had run out of ideas for routes he could cycle on. "When I started cycling, I searched for popular cycling routes on the Internet. After being on many routes on the park connector network, I felt like there was nothing left to do," the 39-year-old said.

While scrolling on the mobile app Strava, which tracks users' physical exercise routes, Lee chanced upon a cycling route designed in the shape of a Merlion.

"When I saw the Merlion route, I decided to try the route together with my brother and subsequently decided to start designing my own routes closer to my house," Lee said.

The real estate agent has since designed six unique animal-shaped routes (hawk, seahorse, elephant, bull, angelfish, dove) across the island and published them on Strava for other cycling enthusiasts to use.

His knack for visualising and designing these routes came from his time as a graphic design student while he was in a polytechnic.

"Before becoming a real estate agent, I was a website designer and interior designer so basic drawing came naturally to me, but plotting a rideable route requires more skill and time," he explained. "I also get inspiration from Strava when I look at other cyclists' routes to see if there are resemblances to any specific designs."

Lee's drawing process starts from a simple screenshot of a map where he begins a process of trial and error to see if he can sketch out any shapes.

Next, to make it into a rideable route, Lee marks out the starting and ending points and makes modifications to ensure it is feasible for riders to navigate.

"Sometimes while planning routes, I encounter closed roads, military bases and expressways and will have to make multiple modifications. I take at least a few hours to finish the design as I have to factor in these considerations."

His unique designs have helped him build friendships within the cycling community as well. "I met this lady who rode road bikes but struggled to keep up with her friends so she suggested that we ride one of my animal-themed routes together. After our ride, she even suggested other design ideas to me," he said.

Wanting to reach out to more, Lee started his own cycling-related YouTube channel called "NotsoShiongride" two months ago. His most viewed video features the new 75km Round Island Route and has over 27,000 views to date.

"At that time, there were not many resources on the route and available maps for cycling so I videoed my journey and created my own map to let others utilise it. My videos are more on the informative side with tutorials and recommendations so I can value-add to the cycling community," he said.

Lee's knack for visualising and designing the routes came from his time as a graphic design student. PHOTOS: ISAAC LEE

For Lee, cycling has helped him maintain his health while also being a great source of stress relief. However, his biggest thrill remains being able to share his resources with fellow cycling enthusiasts and giving them more ideas on where they can cycle.

Lee will be participating in the OCBC Cycle 2022 Straits Times 60km Virtual Ride, which takes place from May 7 to June 6. He hopes his routes will come in handy for fellow participants.

"When I picked up cycling, I didn't know there were such mass cycling events. I am not a fast rider nor a long-distance rider, so I think this category suits me. I also want to encourage other cyclists to use these animal-shaped routes to complete their own versions and to upload it online," Lee said.

Registration ends on April 25 or when all slots are taken up. More information can be found at this website.

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