Friday, September 4, 2015

OCBC Cycle 2015: 42km Sportive Ride

This is my fourth time joining the OCBC Cycle ride, and each time gives a different experience. There is something special about cycling on closed roads which cannot be done on normal days in Singapore.

My first OCBC Cycle was in 2011, and I rented a mountain bike for the 20+ km community ride. At that time, I did not use my Dahon Boardwalk for the ride. The second ride was in 2012, and I used my upgraded Dahon Boardwalk to complete the 2012 39km Challenge route, with a respectable timing. That was the first time I used my own bike for the OCBC Cycle.

Route Data in OCBC Cycle 2012

I skipped the 2013 edition, and joined the 2014 OCBC Cycle. In 2014, I also used the Dahon Boardwalk to complete the 40km Challenge route. However, I felt that the 2014 edition was not well organised, with narrow lanes and too many riders. Along the way, I had also witnessed a few accidents. After that time, I had decided not to join anymore OCBC Cycle rides as it was too dangerous.

However, in 2015, OCBC has found a new event organiser to take over, and it has also pledged to implement many improvements to enhance safety and give a better ride experience. With that, I decided to give it another try. This time, the OCBC Cycle ride was held in August, instead of the usual March-April timing.

This would be the first time that I am riding in the OCBC Cycle event with a road bike! With my new Merida Scultura 5000 road bike, I am looking forward to having a good fast ride with friends. Also, this ride would be well documented, with a front Shimano Sport Camera, a Cyclic Fly6 rear camera, and also the Garmin Edge 510 cycle computer that will log all the ride data.

As recorded from the front and rear cameras, together with the data from the Garmin, an edited video can be seen here, showing my ride from the ECP expressway into the ECP Service Road area. Enjoy!

Video highlights of my OCBC Cycle 2015 Ride! Click HD version for a sharper video.

Also, here is a chronological pictorial highlight of my OCBC Cycle 2015 ride. Due to the pictures coming from screen captures of the video, and also low lighting conditions, some of the pictures are blurry and grainy. I used pictures from both the front and rear camera.

Riding from the meeting point outside Kallang Wave Mall to the start point. This was at about 515am.

However, we found that we were near the back of the long long queue to the start point. The queue goes very far, as can be seen from the waiting riders on the other side of the road.

I only passed the start point at 630am, more than an hour after the planned flag off time of 515am. The first wave only moved off at 545am. This meant that I was standing or walking for an hour in the queue while waiting for the ride to start.

First highlight, riding on the smooth F1 racing track! 

First climb of the day, up Bayfront Avenue. This was where many riders started to go faster.

On the Bayfront Avenue, with a good view of the lighted skyline 

Turning into Shenton Way at the Lau Pa Sat junction. I was still warming up, after standing around for one hour in the queue.

Going up to the Keppel Viaduct

Slight slope up the viaduct

Route on top of the Keppel Viaduct was narrow, with only one car lane's width in each direction

Passing by Vivocity on the way to the first water point. By this time the sky was getting nice and bright.  

At the first water point! We only stopped to take a look before moving on.

At the first water point. Distance at this point is about 10.5km.

After making a U-turn at the first water point, the route goes back along Keppel Viaduct, past Vivocity again 

Still narrow lanes, so not much chance to go faster or overtake 

Finally, the roads opened up and there was space to go fast! This was where I started pushing harder and going over 30km/h. 

Entering the MCE tunnel, an interesting experience! 

The journey through the tunnel was a short one 

Exiting the MCE tunnel! The wind blowing into the tunnel was really strong, probably driven by the powerful ventilation system. This resulted in a feeling of riding in a wind tunnel! Strong winds together with an upslope made it a challenge for many riders.

Heading towards the Benjamin Sheares bridge, the first major climb of the day.

Riding up the Sheares bridge slope, enjoying the climb. Still going strong with fresh legs!

Pulling away from other riders. The Merida bike climbs well!  

Rolling down the other end of the Sheares bridge! Can reach 50+ km/h even without pedaling, and is more stable with a road bike than a folding bike.

Rolling downslope at Sheares bridge, going fast even without pedaling. Distance is about 20km at this point, which is the halfway mark.

Entering the ECP stretch of flat expressway

Near the second water point, with cheerleaders! 

Grabbing a much needed bottle of cold 100 Plus from the volunteers 

After resting for a few minutes and regrouping, it was time to continue! At this point the distance was about 22km. 

Forming a paceline to go fast together 

Weaving through the other riders. Not much difficulty as the expressway was really wide. Note the road marshal standing on the single wheel electric scooter!

U-turn into the ECP Service Road near the East Coast Park lagoon. 

Distance at U-turn point into ECP service road is about 27km.

Picking up more friends along the way with our paceline 

Join the train!

On the right side of the picture, a newly set up U-turn point has been created, and the ECP blocked off. This is at Tanjong Rhu area, and is for those who did not manage to reach the cutoff point by the required timing.

Going over the Fort Road flyover  

We had this powerful rider with a single speed bike joining our paceline since ECP. His gearing is quite high as he is able to keep up with us without a particularly high cadence.

Powering ahead up the Fort Road flyover! 

However, I could see that he was suffering up the Sheares bridge slope, due to the high gearing.

Respect his determination for riding up the long and steep slope without stopping, unlike many other riders with multi-geared bikes.

Beautiful climb with a view of the Singapore skyline 

Rolling down the Rochor road exit! Last downslope for the day.

Heading back to the end point, with the stadium in the background 

Final stretch of the route, heading towards the stadium! 

Quite a wonderful experience to ride into the huge stadium 

End point! Kind of an anti climax, without any fanfare or photographers. 

Final distance clocked was about 41km, with a moving time of just under 1 hr 27 mins.

Overall route and distance for this ride. About 41km, with a comfortable average speed.

It was fun to join this OCBC ride with friends, as we could ride in a group and encourage each other during the ride. Riding in a paceline is also more efficient as we could take turns to pull at the front, allowing us to go faster together than it is possible riding alone.

Overall, the organisation of the ride was quite good. Apart from the delayed start time, the route was well demarcated with sufficient road marshals stationed at turning points and critical areas. There was also plenty of cold drinks for riders. Some parts of the route were quite narrow, but I guess there are limitations to the routes that are available.

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