Sunday, April 28, 2013

GP Riders Team at OCBC Cycle Singapore 2013

                               Cyclists lining up - Photo by Russel Wong taken from top of Benjamin Sheares bridge 
Many of us from GP Riders were competing in this morning OCBC cycling event in the 'Super Challenge' 61 km category for the first time.  Prior to the event, we had been training quite hard together.  We did the 40 km challenge in previous years and this year, we upped the challenge by competing in the 'Super Challenge' category.  Those competing in the 61 km category were, Ernest, Richard Tan, Tomas, Peter, Bernard, Richard Foo, William, Bernard, Gavin, Poh Kuan (the lone lady in our group), Brian (who replaced Steve who is still recovering from the fall at the last NTU ride) and me.  My buddy, Francis Higgins was the only one from our group in the 40 km 'Challenge' category. 

                                                           At the start point with my gang

Some of us had arranged to meet up at Aranda Country Club and elsewhere.  As the venue is nearer to my place, I had decided to cycle from my house on my own and all of us will meet at the bridge at Marina Square by 0400 hrs.  The flag-off was scheduled at 0515 hrs. 

The day before, I had a leisure morning walk with some outdoor friends and after the walk, I picked up my bike from Ah Hwee which was sent to him to do some tuning and cycled home.  I went to bed early well before 2000 hrs as I intended to wake up by 0300 hrs. 

When the alarm set off at exactly 0300 hrs, I got up quickly and very soon, I was out.  From my house, the ride to Marina Square was less than 10 km.  I was first to arrive at the bridge.  It was about 0335 hrs.  Bernard arrived next, followed shortly later by Richard Foo, Poh Kuan, Ernest and William.  Peter was fetching his brother, Tomas and Richard Tan and they arrived a little past 0400 hrs followed by Brian.  Gavin was last to arrive, around 0430 hrs.  Save for Gavin and Brian, all of us were donning our newly designed GP Riders' jerseys.  When everyone was accounted for, we set off for the start line at the F1 pit. 

Security was tighter than previous races, for obvious reasons.  We headed for the toilet before entering the pent.  Once we were in and we were quickly directed to the Super Challenge' line up.  There were already many cyclists at the start point.  The announcer mentioned that there were 1,300 riders for the Super Challenge race and overall, more than 10,000 riders in varied categories were expected.  

There was a slight delay to the flag-off and I reckoned it was about 0520 hrs when the first wave was finally flagged off.  We were lined some 100 metres behind and slowly, we moved to the front until we were cleared to roll off.  It was a slow start off and we had to be watchful as riders can ride past from any side.  I was with Richard Tan for at least the first 5 km mark.  I looked back a few times but didn't see the rest of my gang following behind.  We were supposed to draft as a group.  When the road was wide enough, I was cycling at 37, 38 km an hour and Richard Tan was just ahead of me.  When we came to Benjamin Sheares bridge heading to East Coast for the steep climb, Richard Tan accelerated and I couldn't keep pace with him.  I decided not to follow him.  He is a faster rider than me.  It was still early into the race and I was not sure if I had enough capacity to last that long if I cycled too hard.  Better play safe, do on own pace. 

I was on own, doing around 34/35 km/hour and was still hoping Tomas and the rest can catch up so that we can draft each other.  I began to gather more pace and was doing 40km/hour at some point.  One part of the ECP was closed and overtaking was certainly a breeze.  Soon, I found a group led by a Caucasian cyclist and tagged along them.  We were averaging 36/37 km/hour for the most part.  Admittedly, there were not enough notices to inform cyclist about the U-turn.  When we realised we had to make an U-turn, we were actually very near.  Some of us had to resort to shouting out to fore-warn those behind.  I did not witness any clash at U-turn but some of my GP Riders members told me that there were some clashes at some U-turns.  Some U-turns are narrow especially the one in the small road along East Coast Park. 

We had to do two big laps on ECP.  As I was tagging with the group most of the time, I decided to pull the group for a while on the final leg.  The Caucasian cyclist in the group broke off from us and tried I did, I couldn't catch up with him as I was slowed by some in front of me.  My legs were still doing fine, no sign of cramps or whatsoever. 

It was starting to get brighter and I was on the home run.  About 5 km to the finish line, the group broke out and we were cycling on own pace.  We had to climb the Benjamin Sheares bridge for the last time.  I am weaker on climb, slowed to about 16 km/hour but on the descent, I was hitting more than 50 km/hour.  It was cruise control to the finish.  When I hit the finishing line, I raised both hands triumphantly and I knew I clocked a personal best time for myself.  I should have clocked 1 hour 45 mins at an average speed of 35km/hour. 

At the finishing, I saw Richard Tan who came in first among our group.  He had a puncture at the Benjamin Sheares bridge but managed to cycle to the finish.  Tomas, Peter and Gavin who were drafting among themselves followed shortly.  Ernest arrived next, followed by Richard Foo and Poh Kuan.  Bernard was next.  Brian, the replacement for injured Steve was last to arrive.  Brian did not have any training prior to this race and therefore, he had to take it easy and not to push too hard.  At the finishing, we were joined by Francis who did the 40 km race.  We took some group pictures while waiting for rest to join us.     

                                                             Group Pose After The Race

Most of us from GP Riders did under 2 hours in our 61 km race and this was the target we had set as a group - kudos!.  We then set off for lunch at Bedok before heading back to Aranda Club to store our bikes.             

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Desperate Call For Help

It is about an old friend, a secondary school classmate whom I have lost contact for some years or I should say I have deliberately deleted his contact following an event that has upset me till today.  In fact he lives very near where I live.  It is still the same old place going back in the late seventies when we were in secondary school, ya that long.  I did see him on few occasions around the neighbourhood but each time, I pretended not to see him.  Some may say, hey...he is an old friend after all, no harm to even say 'hello' to each other and for that, I have to admit I have been quite petty.  I won't give his real name for obvious reasons and I shall call him, D then.

D has always been very ambitious, not the studious type and owing to his 'not that bad' family background, he has had many opportunities than most of us.  He can afford to fail his exam, re-take and re-take again.  He even managed to study abroad for some years while most of my classmates including me had to start work early in lives.  I have never been good academically, anyway.

I remember when he was back from abroad, sometime in the eighties and he was already boosting to us that he will make big buck and drive big car like BMW.  Well, he did land a good job in the food and beverage industry and was made a manager.  He won't allow us, his classmates to visit him at his workplace because he was afraid we were not at their level to meet his colleagues and peers then.  I have never enjoyed going out with him, only to hear him ranting away about his job and the many important tasks he was assigned and slowly, I distanced myself away from him.  He was particularly close to two other classmates of mine and that went on for many years.                

For many years, among the classmates, we still kept in contact with Chinese New Year gathering at one of our classmate's place.  In recent years, the CNY gathering started to fizzle out for varied reasons and this year, we did not initiate any gathering at all.  D was notably absent.  When a spouse of one close classmate passed away some years ago, D did not bother to visit her at the hospital, not even some words of comfort and worst, he did not even attend the wake.  He was aware of the situation and when I learnt about it, I have decided to disconnect myself from him for good.  I had thought, even an acquaintance would have at least sent condolence on hearing someone demise but D had known her through our many years of friendship.  Admittedly, the late spouse of my classmate was close to me and it did rattle me greatly when D stayed away completely. 

Just recently, I received an urgent text message from D who appeared out-of-the-blue.  He did send numerous text messages to some classmates too.  He was urgently seeking for loan from us.  After talking to some classmates, we decided to ignore his text.  Nobody offered any help.  He continued to send desperate text to some of us.  One day I received a call from D.  Instead of asking my well-being, he just went straight to the point.  He was seeking a loan from me citing not having a job since beginning of the year and he is in desperate situation.  I could have told him off but I didn't.  I told him that I can help to find him a job but no money to loan him.  I then asked him to send me his resume and when he did not send his resume, I asked him again.  Fine, no reply and I thought nothing about it.

D started to sound more desperate in his plea for help through his continued text message to us.  I called a classmate to discuss if we should help him.  He was never a sincere friend, had ever offered to help anyone of  in distress and now, he was expecting help from us.  I relented and was prepared to loan him a small sum, even prepared to forgo the loan if he were to default.  He could have been harassed by loanshark, forced up against the wall and do something silly.  All these played up my mind and I wont' feel good if something really bad were to happen to him. 

I then replied to D asking for an appointment with him with intention to first 'lecture' him and to loan him some money too.  Gosh, when I received his reply, I decided not to offer any help anymore.  Instead of wanting to meet me, he said something to that extent that it is normal to face cash flow issue at some point and if I can help, fine and if I can't, fine too.  He made it sounded it is not a big deal if I don't help.  Or probably, he still wants his pride.  D is still single, only needs to feed himself and if he can lower his pride and dignity, he still can find a decent job, I am positive about it.  I did not reply him but I have told myself from that moment, his desperate call for help was not desperate after all.  I would have prefer to spend time helping those whom I may not know but they are more in need of help from us, be it monetary or otherwise.  D could have read this blog posting, not now but perhaps much later and I hope he will read it to know he has lost many old friends due to his selfish, self-centred behaviour.  Upset I may be but I am not shutting my door completely from him.