Night race HolyCrit makes comeback

Night race HolyCrit makes comeback

When night falls on Saturday, a quiet 320m stretch of road in Kallang will transform into a street circuit for around 70 avid cyclists.

The HolyCrit race has received the green light from the authorities to stage its comeback on Saturday at a location near Stadium Drive, its organiser, Mr Zulkifli Awab, told The Straits Times.

The night race, involving the use of fixed-gear bicycles with one gear and no brakes, was stopped more than two years ago, after its organisers were prosecuted by the police for organising the event illegally.

Now, with the help of the Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF), the race has got the required permits and approvals from the relevant authorities such as the Land Transport Authority and Traffic Police.

Mr Zulkifli, 40, a freelance project manager, said the race marks a "fresh start" for him and his co-organiser, bicycle business owner Eric Khoo Shui Yan, 30.

"We want the fixed-gear community to be alive and kicking, and get more people interested in cycling.

Hopefully, this will be the first of many more races to come," he said.

Last month, Mr Zulkifli and Mr Khoo were each jailed for seven days and fined $5,000 for organising and promoting eight editions of the race without permits.

They have since served their sentences.

SCF president Jeffrey Goh said: "We feel that fixed-gear cycling is also part of cycling.

How it contributes, whether or not there's a medal doesn't matter; it's still cycling and the SCF would like to support them and organise a legal race."

The duo had admitted they were wrong to go ahead with the races, after failing to get sponsors to defray costs.

They started the race not for profit but to bring youth together through sports, said Mr Khoo.

Friends Sim Jia Fu and Jason A. Dennis, both 18-year-old students, have been gearing up for their first HolyCrit race by cycling almost every week from Woodlands to Marina Bay.

They hope to complete the race as a tribute to one of their friends, who was involved in a bicycle crash in 2014 and later died from his injuries.

Said Mr Sim, who studies at Republic Polytechnic and started fixed-gear cycling about four years ago: "I'm not expecting to win.

I just hope to gain more experience and finish the race as a way to remember him."

The race will feature a new category for mountain bikes, which are typically used for off-road cycling.

All participants have to pay $10 to enter the race but, unlike the past, those without an existing SCF insurance have to pay an additional $15.

Over the past few months, Mr Zulkifli and Mr Khoo have managed to rope in about 20 sponsors, more than twice as many as they have had for previous races.

SCF honorary secretary Hing Siong Chen said the federation will help to bear the costs of a standby ambulance and medical crew.

To enhance safety, the race route will be lined with water barricades and floodlights, and participants will be guided by about 20 marshals, said Mr Zulkifli.

There will also be about six medics. The route, which is normally open to traffic, will be kept a secret to participants for now, as the organisers do not want riders to train there for safety reasons.

"It's been a while since I touched my bike, but I signed up for the race immediately when I heard it was back," said full-time national serviceman Chen Zhencai, 20, who previously participated in seven races.

"It is for the sake of fun and I am looking forward to seeing my old friends. HolyCrit has always been an event that brings us together.

This article was first published on November 28, 2016.
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