Review: OCBC Cycle Singapore 2017 (42km Sportive Ride)

The two mass ride categories at the nation’s largest cycling event, OCBC Cycle Singapore, took place this morning kicking off at the Singapore Sports Hub with more than 6,500 riders taking part.

Click here to view the OCBC Cycle Singapore 2017 photos at the photo gallery.

Categories at OCBC Cycle

These were the 42km Sportive Ride category and the 23km Straits Times Ride.

More than 2,600 riders took part in the Straits Times Ride, decked out in their favourite fancy costumes. This was because the 23km event had a superhero theme, and as a result, some cyclists turned up in their favourite superhero costumes such as Superman, Spiderman and Batman.

Yesterday, the OCBC Cycle event, now into its third year, kicked off with the competitive Speedway Championships for the Corporate, Club and South East Asian categories – the latter of which The Philippines won, shocking favourites and two time defending champions Malaysia.

And to cater to the young ones, the OCBC Mighty Savers Kids and Family Rides also took place later on Saturday, with close to 300 children aged 2 to 12 years old riding along the OCBC Speedway route – together with their parents in tow, for an enjoyable family event.

OCBC cycle also gave back to the community with The Business Times Cycle of Hope Corporate Category, where 1,400 riders from 44 companies took part in either the Straits Times Ride or the Sportive Ride to raise funds for the event’s beneficiaries – that is, The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, The TODAY Enable Fund and the NUHS Fund Limited.

Took part in the 42km Sportive Ride

For me, I took part in this morning’s 42km Sportive Ride, which had flagged off at 5.15am in the morning. So I woke up at 3am, to give myself time to make last minute preparations before cycling down to the Singapore Sports Hub.

I had reached the Sports Hub just before 4.15am, as the event organisers had recommended that cyclists arrive at the event site one hour before the commencement of their ride.

By that time, there was already a massive crowd queuing up and patiently waiting for the start pen to open. I joined the queue, when it opened at 4.15am sharp.

I was placed in Pen B, so this meant that I was to be the third wave flagging off – after the Champions Wave and the Pen A riders.

Ride flagged off on time

After the route had been cleared, the ride had flagged off sharp at 5.15am with the Champions Wave.

This consisted of teams who were invited to take part in the Speedway Championships the day before, so they had probably been using the 42km event as an easy leisure recovery ride after their Saturday morning exertions.

My turn to flag off

I was flagged off about ten minutes later. When the horn blew for Wave B to begin, I took off, cycling at a slow and leisurely pace as my intention had been to enjoy myself and simply soak up the sights and sounds of early morning Singapore. I was not really going for timing, as this was supposed to be a non competitive event, after all.

The Route

The route took us from the Singapore Sports Hub and took us past familiar landmarks such as the Gardens By the Bay, Central Business District, Marina Bay Sands and East Coast Park.

There had been some changes to the route from the previous editions – last year, the route had covered West Coast Highway but this had been removed from this year’s event. Instead, we covered more of East Coast Park and we also got to climb up Sheares Bridge twice, instead of once like last year.

Cycling Ethics

As I had been flagged off in one of the earlier waves, I did not have any issues with the crowds and it was smooth going all the way, but for Mohd Hafiz Mohan, 50, a Senior Manager he felt that many of the slower riders could have been reminded of the basic cycling ethics so that they did not block the faster ones.

He said “The emcee could have made it a point to announce that slower riders could stay on the left so that the faster riders can overtake them and maintain their speed.”

I did think that a few of the lanes had been a tad on the narrow side though, which had made it a little hard for overtaking some of the slower riders. There was also once during my ride when I had been overtaking another rider, and at the same time, a faster rider was overtaking me so careful balance was needed in this case, so that there would not be any accidents.

Well organised and orderly 

Otherwise this year’s edition of the OCBC Cycle was a very well organised event as everything had been very orderly and well managed.

Agreed Hafiz, “The route and event logistics were in order and well arranged. It was very well done.”

Hydration Stations

There were three hydration points along the route, serving riders with both mineral water as well as bottles of 100PLUS beverage. I didn’t really require any hydration as I was riding, thanks to the nice weather during the ride. It was a cool and cloudy day, and the sun didn’t come out much this morning.

Agreed Kow Choon Ming, 57, Executive Vice President at S P Setia Malaysia, “It was great! The weather was perfect.”

Marshals did a great job

As I was riding, the marshals and volunteers lining the route also did a great job in terms of warning riders when there were sharp turns ahead and when the downslopes were approaching so that we could slow down accordingly.

They also made sure they repeated their warnings at regular intervals so that none of the cyclists would miss out on hearing these.

Sheares Bridge climb was challenging 

I have to say that the most challenging part of the ride was the Sheares Bridge climb on the return leg. On the way down, my legs were still fresh so that was not too bad, but coming back took a bit of effort.

But I managed this, as I reminded myself that whenever there was an uphill, it would be accompanied by a downhill that I could enjoy later.

Agreed Choon Ming, “The climbing of the bridge had been the hardest part of the ride.”

He added, “But it was really nice to be able to ride up the bridge because they do not usually close it. I felt as though the whole road and the highway had belonged to me, and it was definitely an experience like none other.”

View at the top was beautiful 

But the view at the top of the bridge was rewarding, and so I allowed myself to stop and take a photo when I had reached the summit.

Due to the great views at the top, the bridge had also been one of the designated selfie points along the route and I think that it was probably by far, the most popular one too, looking at the crowds congregated there to take photos.

Added Hafiz, “The selfie points added some fun to the route, which I liked.”

Finishing the ride

After conquering the bridge for the second time, the rest of the ride was smooth going all the way. On my way back to the Sports Hub, I saw the Straits Times ride being flagged off, and seeing the eager faces of all the 23km riders who was about to begin their journey, had brought a smile to my face.

It was also nice to be able to cycle into the National Stadium dome. Cycling into the Stadium has become an iconic feature of OCBC Cycle Singapore and I look forward to this feature of the event each year. And this year, I noticed that the organisers apparently had a cheerleading squad to welcome in the riders.

It gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling when I heard the cheerleaders screaming and cheering us on as we cycled into the stadium. And this is probably the closest feeling that I am going to get, to experiencing what the national athletes feel when they are competing for their country.

Finisher Entitlements 

After completing my ride, I collected my finisher entitlements which consisted of my medal, as well as a bottle of water and a can of 100PLUS isotonic drink.

Now it looks as though I will have to be back for the next two editions of OCBC Cycle Singapore because beginning this year, the medals over the three editions of the event can be pieced together to form a bicycle cog.

I thought that this is an interesting and innovative idea, that will certainly keep riders coming back to the event as they would want to complete their medal to form the complete bicycle cog.

Before exiting the National Stadium to head to the OCBC Cycle event carnival, I took a few photos of myself together with my bike and medal, in order to mark the precious memories of the event.

Post Race Carnival 

Also, I checked out the post race carnival which had plenty of photo booths, as well as some giant inflatable bicycles positioned around the area for selfie opportunities.

Said Choon Ming, “I loved the carnival type atmosphere at the Sports Hub after completing my ride.”

As well, free bananas and apples were available too – for the hungry riders to replenish their energy levels after their ride.

But I admit that I would have liked to see a wider selection of food being made available though, perhaps such as ice cream, yogurt, cookies, or healthy nuts.

The OCBC Cycle race expo was still open this morning too, and so I took the opportunity as well, to head inside to check out the promotions and discounts that were still available since I was already at the Sports Hub, anyway.

A fun and thrilling early morning ride

Overall though, it was a really fun and thrilling early morning ride that I had really enjoyed thoroughly.

Added Choon Ming, “OCBC Cycle 2017 was really a good experience. Everything had been well done and well thought out. In fact I cannot find fault with the organising at all.”

However, Hafiz would like to see longer ride categories introduced in future editions though. He said, “For some experienced riders, 42km is not challenging enough for them; so longer ride categories in future editions would be good. But that said, this is a really great event and I hope that it continues to be maintained annually.”

Thanks again to OCBC Cycle Singapore for putting together another smooth and well managed cycling event.

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