“The RTI is this biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig!”
The Big Feast
Jono is looking refreshed as we sit down for a delicious meal of Roti Prata. I can’t wait. Glenn strides over and claims a table for our feast. As he sits there, I can’t help but notice how unashamedly proud he is of what we have achieved. We’re two thirds into our journey that started earlier in the day, around 4AM.
We started with Lyndon, making the quartet, but with a near miss with a local taxi, and some unscrupulous party goers opening the car door in mid-transit, just inches from Lyndon, he understandably decides not to carry on.
Is this why Glenn is proud? I don’t think it’s as simple as that. Although 4 other members of the Singapore Baroudeurs (SBCC) aren’t present on this ride, it doesn’t take away the expansion of the cycling team Glenn has established on this far-eastern island.
Just last year, I was rolling these very same roads with Glen and Stanko. Two riders who love cycling and catching up on a Saturday, in a city where two wheels are thriving. A year later and the club now boasts 8 regular members in team kit. The Singapore Baroudeurs hold regular rides and trips to neighbouring islands: Darwin, Australia – been there. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia – done that!
“We’re not parking. We’re recovering.”
Round and Round
Today we’re going to see Singapore in a way like no other. The ‘Round the Island’, or RTI as it’s known to the locals, is a scenic tour around the, you’ve guessed it, the island of Singapore. It was first imposed, I mean, presented to me in 2013. Besides familiarising myself with the terrain again, I was eager to talk to the boys about the Baroudeurs. I wanted to know what was happening: how they met; their goals and how we could work together. I was also very curious to see how the country had cultivated its land for both the booming influx of migrant workers and the local community.
I really wasn’t surprised about the makeup of the SBCC members: a motley crew of brigands lost in a time-warp…sorry, that’s just my imagination. These boys don’t need to any introdution. With Glenn as their Captain, and a Baroudeur after our own heart, it was bound to be a club of mindful, cheery and strong riders. The SBCC take riding seriously, but they see life doesn’t need to be.
It’s like this
I’m riding along, like we’ve been riding together for years. There’s a natural connection to both the space between our wheels and the area in our heads. Although it’s been dark for ages we talk of family, adventures, and what we’d like to see happen in the days and years to come.
Cycling is thriving in Singapore. There are weekend races, bike shops full of bling, and others full of heritage. There are pairs, and there are droves. We pull up at a popular filling-station, and I witness groups number 20’s to 30 members. England could learn a thing or two from the confidence of the women rides here.
It’s not all good news. Part of me feels that these large groups aren’t a sign of solidarity, but rather, a reflection of safety in numbers. Motorists in Singapore, simply aren’t accustomed to the sport, or feel safe themselves around cyclists, and as a result panic. Often, but not exclusively, the result is blaming the cyclist, who, even if they wanted to discuss the matter, are left trailing behind as the Lexus speeds away, and the driver satisfied, having vented their frustration.
It’s by no means all like this. Our day, with the exception of the taxi incident, is filled with nothing but good riding, excellent company and a feast – both at the ‘feed station’ and at home.
My hat off to the SBCC. It’s not the number of cyclists riding in the club today, but what the people in the club are doing to celebrate the sport we love, and with the company that we enjoy. I have no doubt that this will continue to appeal to the growing population of cyclists and that the next time I ride in Singapore, there will be an even bigger B.
We’re going to need a bigger clothes line.
Bon Anni, SBCC!