With another edition of Singapore's marquee cycling event safely in the bag, many among the 6,800 riders at the OCBC Cycle yesterday crossed the finish line happy. But they are also hungry for more opportunities to saddle up in the future.
Riders were impressed with how the two-day event has evolved into a well-oiled outfit, but called for more community rides to accommodate the growing interest in cycling.
Said 44-year-old Pearlyn Nam, who rides about thrice a week: "The number of riders in Singapore has been growing, and the majority of us are adults of a certain age.
"We tend to be more cautious about doing sports that put too much strain on our knees, and cycling is not high impact like running is. More are riding and there should be more of such events."
The sales manager rode alongside 17 of her "kakis" from Yew Tee Riders in The Sportive Ride, the longer of yesterday's two community rides at 42km.
MOVING TO TWO WHEELS
We hope that more Singaporeans will take up the bicycle as leisure, and as (a form of) transportation.
Safe cycling together is a great way to get Singaporeans active.
GRACE FU, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, encouraging more Singaporeans to cycle as the Republic goes car-lite.
In total, about 4,300 yesterday were entered in this category.
Backed by OCBC for the eighth straight year, the OCBC Cycle is Singapore's largest mass cycling event and remains the only one of its kind held on a similar scale. Another event, Cycle Asia Singapore, failed to take off due to a lack of sponsors.
Back for the third straight year, Ariel Caparange, 49, who also participated in The Sportive Ride, said: "There are some duathlons and triathlons, but not enough (dedicated) cycling events in Singapore."
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu got a first taste yesterday of the enjoyment that has drawn thousands year after year. She was among the 2,100 who took part in The Straits Times Ride (23km).
With Singapore's push to go car-lite, she too, agreed that more can be done to promote cycling locally. "Mass events) are getting more and more popular," she said. "We'd like to see more of that happening at the community and local levels... on a smaller scale, so people can take part closer to their homes. Maybe that's a good place to start, culminating in an event like (the OCBC Cycle)."
Under the National Cycling Plan, improvements and additions will be made to cycling infrastructure across the country, including building cycling links to MRT stations and building 700km of cycling paths by 2030.
Added Minister Fu: "We're going to go car-lite, and we hope that more Singaporeans will take up the bicycle as leisure, and as (a form of) transportation.
"Safe cycling together is a great way to get Singaporeans active."
Some of those who got out of bed before dawn yesterday came in their trusty folding bikes while others showed up in sleek and colourful road bikes.
One mountain biker even put up a little showmanship by performing a wheelie at the start line.
They were flagged off after several reminders of the importance of safety and proper riding etiquette, including a caution in jest against hunting for Pokemon during the ride.
This year's OCBC Cycle was largely a smooth ride that drew the thumbs-up from participants.
Retiree Simon Teo has experienced the improvements made in organisation over the years, having taken part every year since the inaugural edition in 2009.
Said the 68-year-old, still grinning some time after his Brompton took him across the finish line of The Straits Times Ride: "The safety aspect of the event has improved tremendously. There are many marshals who are constantly reminding riders to slow down on corners and turns.
"I think the size of the event should be kept at this. It's better and easier for organisers to monitor."