Call it spontaneity, or a moment of madness; whatever it was, I take a plane to Singapore (SG). Without the bike.
Ever since meeting Glenn, the latest member of the Baroudeurs team, I’ve been wanting to go riding around Singapore, Baroudeur style! Perhaps what attracts me is a change to heat, the combination of East and West, or maybe it’s the friendly monkeys.
I had first met Glenn and his tribe earlier in the summer. Their timing for sunshine was impecable. They had made it to Corsica to catch the drama of the 100th TdF, and planned it to perfection so that the whole family, as well as fellow team-mate, Alex, were able to enjoy an idylic Mediterranean island away from the circus.
Before heading back to Singapore, a quick stopover in London is an opportunity for Glenn to ride with the rest of the Baroudeurs. On yet another beautiful warm day, gives us a chance to get together and celebrate as a team on top of Box Hill. As we head home, Alex points to Glenn’s water bottle and whispers, “you can tell he’s from Singapore.”
The humidity welcomes you as you land in SG. The combo of air-fans and air-con is the only respite from the heat. If traipsing around in the day was a struggle, I can only imagine what a bike ride would be like. Now I know why Glenn’s water bottles are XL.
Most cyclists like to make an early start on, and it’s no different in SG. Although, 4am starts are pushing it. We decide to be a little bit more sociable – have breakfast with the kids and leave around 9. Oh dear, it’s absolutely baking and I’m having to adjust my breathing to take in the heat. Glenn leads me on his route, and I have to increase my efforts just to keep up. through winding paths as we head to the coastline, and if we’re lucky, we may even catch a bite.
Despite a short stay, we manage to squeeze out another ride, and this time, with Stanko. We head west by the coastline and meet up at a popular cafe. Cyclists pass us, but at 8am they’re already heading home. Fear from the affects of the sun, local riders cover their arms and legs as if it were the spring time back in England. Whereas, ex-pat inline skaters in loose shirts and short-shorts, whizz along like they’ve come straight out of California.
Glenn is tall, but Starko is something else. He could’ve taken up any sport he wanted and would have a clear strength advantage. Yet Stanko goes for his bike. With an aim to getting back into shape and enjoy the outdoors, Stanko urges us to keep going.
It’s worth it too. As we pass a long stretch up by Changi, we watch as TT-riders race around. We don’t realise it till a couple of cops on motorbikes politely ask us to leave the race track. Glenn races ahead, as if to show the men on the drops, whats what, and heads to the nearest exit. The policemen smile and thank us. As we leave Stanko gets a puncture. As we spend what seems like half-an-hour tugging at the wheel, I’m told this is nothing new.
To my delight I learn something just as extraordinary. It’s the local delicacy of Roti-Prata. To get to the best diner in town, we cross over a small bridge as fishermen are casting their nets. There are rows of eateries, and I am disappointed that we cycle pass the crowds tucking into their delicious food. I’m famished!
Finally, we hit the last shop on the corner. You can tell this is where the serious mouths come to. Not easily swayed by the sweet scent from the other shops, hidden in the shade is the King of Roti-Pratas!
A simple concoction of grilled flour-bread served up with a curry sauce. You can’t get this on the pro-peloton. It’s a simple feast for champions! Washed down with a bottle of 100 Plus – the Asian isotonic sensation, and you’re ready to take on the miles in the killer-heat. I cannot recommend this feeding station highly enough.
We make our way through the growing industrial district; flyovers and freight areas before entering the Marina Bay. A breath-taking piece of architerture that demonstrates the aspirations of this young metropolis. We chill outside a swanky bar. Sunday morning people are brunching, strolling, or skating all around us. Who needs a cycle cafe, when you can have a cycle bar by the bay?
We cruise pass Sentosa, a oasis of sorts on an attaching island. The rest of the family are there, and a dip in the cool-pool and a drink from the outdoor bar would be a welcome escape form the heat. Even in bibs, you’re allowed in for a swim! Alas, the family’s come and gone, and we are left with the ride home to contend with. It’s long and it’s hot.
Along the way, Glenn reminds me there are no hills or mountains here to speak of in SG. Just gey, then green; grey then green. With that he pedals away up several hills throughout our day. Payback, for the stints in Surrey.
Glenn grins and tells me he’ll show me an article about some ‘genuine’ cycling in Taiwan. Why does this sound strangely intriguing?