SINGAPORE - Sunday mornings are usually for sleeping in, but about 2,000 riders made their way to the Singapore Sports Hub in the wee hours of May 8 as the OCBC Cycle City Ride returned after a two-year hiatus.
Hearty cheers echoed along the highway at 5am, as Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong flagged off the physical 19km cycling event before joining the ride.
Despite the light drizzle, first-time participant Anthony Lim thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“As the day of the event neared, I felt so excited, just like a little kid,” said the 52-year-old senior director, who had woken up at 2am to cycle to the venue from his Buona Vista home.
“I really enjoyed seeing so many cyclists come down today. I got to see their energy and positivity about being back on the road cycling again.
“The feeling of being at a physical event is completely different. I can feel the crowd surrounding me.
“Even before we were flagged off, you could see everyone so eager to get onto the road.
“In a large group, I can engage with the cycling community and it is exciting to see the various riders with their different bicycles and outfits.”
Lim, who had started cycling only last September and recovered from Covid-19 in March, finished his ride in less than an hour. He added that he is keen to return next year.
For Ahmad Amin and his family, the OCBC Cycle City Ride was an opportunity for them to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri as they came decked out in green.
He signed up with his wife Marni Abdul Halid, son Mohd Zachary Ahmad and uncle, Abdullah Baeng.
“We just want to carry on the spirit of Hari Raya. It is rare that we cycle together as a group and today we were able to have some family bonding, which is important to me,” said the 50-year-old home business owner, who was in his baju kurung.
Marni, who also took part in the ride dressed in the traditional Malay costume, hopes that they can return along with their extended family next year.
Zachary said: “This could be a new way for us to celebrate Hari Raya as opposed to typical gatherings at home, you can do an activity together which is different and fun.”
They were not the only family present as therapy assistant Jack Chua, 56, took four of his nieces and nephews to their first physical cycling event.
Having participated in the OCBC Cycle as early as 2013, Chua was the reason that his nieces and nephews got into cycling. They had registered for the 2020 edition, but their plans were foiled by the pandemic.
Finally being able to participate in the event after a two-year wait, Chua’s niece, Cao Yuan Yuan said: “Cycling the city route was pretty cool and a really fun experience. We were excited leading up to the event.”
Chua’s nephew Jerry Cao added: “Cycling on the highway was very enjoyable as you could feel the breeze that you wouldn’t feel if you were in a vehicle.”
The inclement weather caused a 30-minute delay for the second wave, which was scheduled to start at 6.30am. This meant a reduced route of 13km.
Mr Tong said he was happy to welcome back large-scale sporting events like the OCBC Cycle. He added: “The sporting community has been tremendously resilient, and have worked very well in adapting and adjusting to the various measures to protect the community.
“I am very glad that, with the latest measures, we can both considerably and confidently regain the initiative in mass activities, and be able to do so safely.”
OCBC Bank group chief executive officer Helen Wong said she was exhilarated to see the throngs of cyclists taking part in the mass event.
“We took many things for granted before the pandemic started in 2020,” she added.
“Now it feels especially heartwarming to be able to pedal alongside many riders, who might have woken up as early as 3am on a Sunday.”