The Cafe Bike Crawl is one of the popular fringe activities prior to the annual OCBC Cycle event – which is taking place on the weekend of 1 and 2 October this year.
And yesterday, members of the media were given a preview of the OCBC Cycle Cafe Bike Crawl, which will be taking place in the North Eastern part of Singapore this year.
Like A “Pub Crawl” on Bikes
Having taken place for the first time last year, the OCBC Cycle Cafe Bike Crawl is a unique and interesting half-day experience whereby the OCBC Cycle participants have the opportunity to spend a weekend morning hopping from one cafe to another, much like a “pub crawl” – but eating at cafes and travelling on bikes instead.
Said Koh Ching Ching, 48, Head of Corporate Communications at OCBC Bank, “We hope that participants will see the Cafe Bike Crawl as not just a cycling experience, but as a chance to experience the various cafes in Singapore. It is a very leisure and fun activity for participants.”
Adventure begun at Tebing Lane
The starting point of the 2016 Cafe Bike Crawl had been at Tebing Lane, in front of the Popeyes Fried Chicken store at about 8.00am in the morning.
This is within walking distance from the Riviera LRT station and is a popular area in Punggol during weekends, with a variety of activities including seafood and fast-food restaurants, cafes, prawning facilities as well as a hall that can be used for playing pool or snooker.
When everyone had arrived at roughly about 8.30am, we took a quick group photo and then headed off through the Punggol Waterway park connectors, in the direction of the Punggol Settlement.
Stop 1: Punggol Waterway Point
Our first stop was the ToastBox outlet at Punggol Waterway Point. This had been about 4km away from our starting point.
One of Singapore’s newer malls, this is located adjacent to the Punggol MRT Station and comprises of bike-friendly features such as a washroom located next to the bike parking bay and a 24-Hour FairPrice Finest outlet.
Here, we had a drink of our choice, together with a variety of delicious local breakfast items like Kaya Toast, BoLo (Pineapple) Bun and a Toast with Ham, Egg & Cheese. For myself, I washed all of this down with some Iced Milo.
Dining here was definitely very scenic, with the lovely backdrop of the Johor Strait in the background, and a cool breeze blowing through.
Stop 2: Coney Island
After breakfast, we headed through the Punggol Waterway Park to the rustic and scenic Coney Island. Formerly known as Pulau Serangoon, this tranquil island is a great place to get away from the hectic city life and simply enjoy some peaceful time surrounded by nature.
There were also plenty of hikers and walkers enjoying Coney Island too, when we were there as well.
And here, the home-grown Singaporean bicycle brand, Coast Cycles, had also let us try out some of their latest suspension bikes. There had been a few models on display, including the award-winning Quinn bike.
It had been a rather pleasant experience, testing out these bikes and seeing how they stacked up against each other, as well as how the various models fared on the flat trails of Coney Island.
And no, I unfortunately did not manage to spot the Coney Island Cow – maybe it had been frightened away by all of the activities! A Brahman bull that is left to wander the island as it pleases, nobody knows how this lone cow had originally got into the island in the first place.
Stop 3: Wayne’s ChillOut
Upon leaving Coney Island about an hour later, our next stop was Wayne’s ChillOut at the Punggol Settlement – roughly about 500 to 700 metres away.
A thriving place with plenty of eateries including Seafood, Peranakan, European, Japanese and French themed restaurants, the Punggol Settlement is a popular place for residents around the area to chill out with its beautiful and scenic sea views of the Johor Strait and Malaysia across the water.
The only dessert cafe located at the Punggol Settlement, Wayne’s ChillOut serves not only ice cream and milkshakes, but also simple Western themed meals such as pizza and coffee.
We were there for morning tea, so we had an ice cream and a drink each. I had the Salted Caramel flavour and this was delicious and refreshing. The ice cream was also rather nice too – quite smooth in texture and melting in the mouth. It is really a great way to cool down after doing some cycling exercise.
Battling the Singapore Heat
Following our scrumptious and cooling ice cream treat, it was then the hardest part of the entire Cafe Bike Crawl. By now, the time had been close to noon – which meant it was the hottest part of the day. Yet at the same time, this had also happened to be our longest stretch of non-stop cycling, of roughly about 8km.
Under the heat and humidity, I must admit that my bike ride now had felt pretty intense and I was literally perspiring nonstop – so that’s why I usually exercise in the early mornings or evenings when the sun’s not shining so brightly!
From the Punggol Settlement, we headed all the way through the park connectors to the Upper Serangoon Crescent exit of Punggol Park…where we had then boarded a bus to head to the Seletar Aerospace View. And our bikes went there on a lorry.
We had taken the bus rather than to cycle there, because according to OCBC Cycle, this was to ensure that the Cafe Bike Crawl sessions are extremely safe for everyone, including the beginner cyclists. Explained Koh from OCBC Bank, “We are not closing the roads for this activity so we want to make sure that people have a very safe experience as well.”
And at this very point in time, I must admit that the air-conditioning inside the bus had felt really shiok though. So I wasn’t complaining…as I happily adjusted the air-conditioning fan to blow directly at me, full-blast.
Stop 4: Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe
The bus ride took about ten to 15 minutes and we then stopped at the Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe, owned by Png Kng Joo.
This cafe is also one of the locations where you can find Shimano Tool Stations that let you perform simple repairs and tweaks to your bike. Other locations include the Tampines Park Connector Network (PCN), Changi Coastal PCN, the PCN at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 and the Shimano Cycling World store at the Singapore Sports Hub.
When I had initially set foot into this cafe, which is generally quite popular amongst cyclists, I was completely blown away by the displays lining the walls on shelves. That was because there were more than 20 classic bicycles on show, dating as far back as the 1950s and lovingly restored, repainted and redesigned by Png himself.
Png, a cycling enthusiast himself, owns more than 100 bicycles. However, besides bicycles though, his other hobby is to restore classic cars such as Ferraris and Rolls Royces.
Added Png, who is in his sixties, “This is a unique cafe that combines cycling and arts. We also have bikes from all over the world and not just Singapore, and the designs and layout of the bicycles on display at the cafe can be changed whenever we need to.”
The cafe’s dining menu is typically Western style, with dishes such as fish & chips and burgers, but there are also Asian options like Japanese style katsudon to cater to those who prefer something different. For lunch, I had enjoyed their fish & chips, which had been nicely bread-crumbed and crunchy.
An fun and enjoyable experience
After about an hour at the Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe, we headed back to the starting point, when we called it a day – this was about 2pm in the afternoon.
The Cafe Bike Crawl was definitely a fun and enjoyable experience – and possibly consisting of more eating and drinking, rather than cycling!
But then again, don’t we all do exercise…just so that we have the chance to tuck into these delicious foods and beverages…without feeling as guilty about ourselves?
That said though, I also discovered a lot about the Punggol area through the Cafe Bike Crawl. I hardly come to Punggol, so it was a pretty good educational experience about what Punggol has to offer, in terms of the sheer beauty and scenery of this location, as well as the food & beverage offerings around the area. In fact, the Cafe Bike Crawl may even have enticed me to make the trip to Punggol again to discover more in my own free time, be it by bike or on foot.
Sign up for the OCBC Cycle Cafe Bike Crawl
The OCBC Cycle Cafe Bike Crawl will take place again on the 9th of July as well as the 13th of August. Both of these sessions are open to all registered participants of the OCBC CYCLE 2016.
If you wish to experience these interesting cafes for yourself and wish to discover more about Punggol at the same time, then you can sign up at http://ocbccycle.com/portfolio_page/cafe-bike-crawl/.