Love on two wheels

Cycling has brought Ms Leah Soo, 21, an aquarist at the S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa, "so much joy".

There, she helps to take care of the wide variety of marine animals from the majestic to the minnow.

Leah's job allows her to see amazing underwater creatures, but she says that as an avid cyclist, she has witnessed breathtaking scenery, discovered hitherto secluded pockets of nature and experienced the most romantic moments on her bicycle.

Yes, while Leah has been cycling for 13 years - and easily puts in 40km to 50km every week - the best rides are the date-rides with her boyfriend, Barney Ong, 22, an army regular.

Recalling one special ride in December, the bubbly woman talks about how she and Barney cycled from their respective homes - hers in Bedok, his in Balestier - and met at Fort Road in the morning.

After breakfast at a cafe in Bencoolen Street, they cycled together to Loysel's Toy Cafe, at Kampong Bugis.

It was then off for some sandwiches at Clarke Quay, before finally reaching Marina Barrage to watch the sunset hand in hand.

She says: "It was a perfect day. Yet, we didn't spend a single cent on transport."

Adds Mr Ong: "It's hard to find quiet, romantic places.

"Thankfully, cycling can bring you to these amazing finds."

For Leah, the freedom to explore with cycling is not just about romantic getaways.

She also saw a well-decorated tomb at Bukit Brown cemetery two months ago.

"It had two statutes of Indian soldiers standing on each side. I've never seen anything like it.

"But it was very deep in, and I don't think visitors on foot would walk in so far to see it."

Leah has also encountered numerous interesting animals while on wheels.

Just last month, she spotted a wild boar in Pulau Ubin, while cycling with her father, civil servant Soo Wai Man, 59.

She says: "I was just 3m away, and photographed it with my phone.

"Strangely, it didn't attack or run away. It just stood there, looking at me. Later on, it even approached to sniff at my bicycle."

Leah also says that she encountered a wild rooster two months ago while cycling in the Kallang area.

"If I were in a car or MRT, I'd have to keep going.

"When I'm cycling, I can stop and appreciate the nature around me.

"I can't afford to travel overseas, but Singapore is very beautiful once you get off the beaten track."

A highlight of her cycling year?

Next month's OCBC Cycle Singapore. It will be her third time participating in four years.

Since 2010, she has also taken part in adventure races. Some, like the Safra Avventura race, even require her to run and kayak as well.

She says: "I love the adrenalin rush. The steep slopes, windy lanes and tree roots.

"After I conquer them, I always feel a sense of achievement.

"And who says you can't be a girl and be tough at the same time?"

Watch out for video diaries and blogs of our riders on the road to OCBC Cycle Singapore 2014

Tech specs

Bike: De rosa R848

Bike frame: Carbon fibre

Wheel set: Fulcrum racing 7x

Group set: Shimano 105

Saddle: De rosa

Helmet: Giro

Shades: Oakleys

Kilometres covered per week: 40-50

Hours of training per week: 5

Never cycle without: iPod touch

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