Pre-dawn start not a deterrent

Pre-dawn start not a deterrent
Competitors negotiating the gradient of the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, which many riders said was the most testing section.

The blaring note of the starting horns obliterated most other sounds at the F1 pit building about two hours before dawn on Sundayas the sixth edition of the OCBC Cycle Singapore marked its third and final day of activities.

On the cards were the 59km, 40km and 27km categories - which drew the bulk of the participants in the country's biggest cycling event.

From toddlers on tricycles and serious competitors on carbon wheels to octogenarians on foldies, more than 11,500 people in all took part this year's event which had also featured world champions and Olympic medallists in the Pro Criterium on Friday.

For many, it was the draw of the community, to be among the like-minded, that dragged them out of bed to meet the early start times from 5.15am - which marked the roll-out of the 59km Super Challenge.

Said Pang Sow Yong, 82, one of the oldest participants: "I feel it's wonderfully good.

"There's a lot of people out here today, cycling together. I still feel like a young man."

The retired teacher rode in the 40km category with his social cycling group, Bikers 21, who meet weekly at the East Coast for group cycling.

Muhammad Razid, 47, who was in a group of 12 foldie riders, said: "It was a smooth ride today.

"I'm here because it's a form of exercise together in a group," added the man who works in the construction industry as a coordinator. Some had come to test their limits.

Said triathlete Claudia Lim, 18, who took part in the 40km challenge: "It was a tough ride today. I haven't been training a lot before this and it was tough on the slopes."

Like many others, the ITE student found that the hardest part of the route was the final climb on the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, about 2km before the finish.

Said student Yasser Amin, 18, who timed 1hr 20min in the 40km ride: "Oh my God, I nearly died there. "I didn't do a good timing this year but it's okay.

"Overall, it's a good event."

Some, however, feel that improvements are necessary, especially to reduce congestion which created bottlenecks at some parts of the course.

Said retired army officer Tang Wing Kee, 74, who signed up for the 40km event: "There was such a long queue to the starting point (that it) made some people miss the start of their 40km."

Engineer Ho Ki Han, in his third appearance at the event, said he encountered more bottlenecks this year.

Said the 31-year-old: "I had to stop more often this year and I also noticed more crashes."

However, he was glad that the issue of "direction signs, which caused a lot of confusion last year, was actually better now. "I guess it's not easy to control over 10,000 participants."

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