It was the seventh edition of the OCBC Cycle but Singapore's biggest cycling event still managed to mark several firsts yesterday.
This year saw the introduction of The Straits Times Ride (23km), in addition to The Sportive Ride (42km). The participants also got a chance to finish the event inside the National Stadium.
There were also Saturday's Speedway South-east Asian (SEA) Championship, which saw regional teams racing 10 laps in pairs around a 1km course, and Speedway Club Championship. The latter gave local cycling clubs a rare chance to go head to head in a competition.
Yesterday's community rides, while non-competitive, were still challenging enough to keep serious cyclists entertained.
Kate Williams, 38, a first-time rider in the ST Ride, gave the route a thumbs-up.
"The route was challenging with its climbs but the downslope afterwards was thrilling," she said.
"Ending the ride in the National Stadium was the highlight of the race. It is my first time inside here and it is simply gorgeous."
Martin Tan, 72, who took part in The Sportive Ride, added: "There were a couple of inclines and hills and you could see people pushing their bikes up because they were too tired."
"I saw three cyclists crashing after they completed the downslope but the injuries did not seem too serious," he noted.
Foong Xiang Ling, 17, welcomed the scenic route which took riders past Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Flyer and Gardens by the Bay.
She said: "It is my first time riding such a long distance (42km) and the route is quite interesting. The view was great, the full moon in the night was beautiful and afterwards we got to see the sunrise."
While some participants had fancy bikes, others, like "Spider-Man" Stanley Neo, 51, caught the eye with their fancy costumes.
And then there were those who were riding to support a cause, like para-athlete Shariff Abdullah, aka Blade Runner. He is a familiar face in endurance runs but was tackling the OCBC Cycle for the first time.
The 46-year-old, who took part in the ST Ride, said: "I have never cycled before and this is my first time doing it.
"I want to tell them (people with disabilities) that if I can complete the ride with one leg, they too can come out of the darkness and do it."
While this year's participation number of 7,300 was lower than last year's 11,500, Koh Ching Ching, OCBC's head of group communications, said it was a deliberate move on the part of the organisers.
She added: "We are very satisfied with the turnout and we had to intentionally keep the figures lower compared to previous years' for safety reasons."
Safety was a key focus this year following the death of a participant, full-time national serviceman Chia Wee Kiak, last year.
He died after suffering serious head injuries in a crash during the 59km Super Challenge event, which has since been scrapped.
Among the enhanced safety measures this year were extra marshals and volunteers to warn cyclists of turns and slopes ahead, more signs, bigger cones and designated selfie and water points.
Ignatius Low, managing editor of The Straits Times, said: "It was a great opportunity for two established companies to come together and create an experience for participants, not only from the main activities but from fringe activities too."
This article was first published on Aug 31, 2015.
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