Cycling in Singapore – the 2017 year in review

Cycle Race Numbers

Cycling in Singapore during 2015 left many wanting, with no National Time Trial or Road Race held. 2016 saw the return of the National Time Trial, Road Race and a Criterium. An increase in races from nearly 0, to a handful. 2017 saw another couple of races added to the calendar and the inclusion of the Jungle Cross series, albeit not a road series, but racing nonetheless.

With good momentum in the cycling community of Singapore at the moment, it seems appropriate to look back at 2017 and see how far things have progressed.

I offer some opinions below, I’d love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. If I miss out anything, please let me know so that I can update the post.

2017 saw a noticeable increase in the racing calendar on the little red dot.

Before the recap, there are a handful of races worth mentioning to round out 2017.

Remainder of events in 2017

Jungle Cross V

A local event on this Sunday 12th Nov 2017. A mix of CX, Mountain Bike, Tech off-road and Single Track. It’s a short circuit with multiple laps to complete. With a number of categories to enter it’s worth heading over to have a bit of fun and support the local race scene.

A BBQ and get together to celebrate the end of the season has been organised, so head down and grab a feed while watching some racers hit it out. Halal meat  will be available as well as sausages, beers, 100plus, a coffee stand, and soft drinks for the kids.

OCBC Speedway

The staple OCBC Speedway event held in front of Singapore Sports Hub is on next Saturday. Followed, on Sunday, by the OCBC Sportive which is a chance to ride along the ECP, as a closed road. A must do as the ride along the closed ECP is worthwhile!

Johor Century Ride

A Malaysian race based up in Muar, about 200km from Singapore. 160 kilometres of pretty flat racing. Will be a fast one!

Cameron Highlands KOM

Another Malaysian race, based out of Ipoh up in northern Malaysia. Head straight up the hill, what could be easier than that?

Holy Crit

Rumour has it there will be a HolyCrit on the 18th December 2017, stay tuned for details..

The 2017 Race season in review

URA Care Free Sunday Series

The year started with a new criterium series being launch in collaboration between The Urban Redevelopment Authority, Cycosports and Share The Road. The inaugural pre-dawn criterium hosted downtown saw a large entry field and a number of spectators witness a great morning of racing.

The flat hot dog circuit, 1.7 kilometres in length, with one tight corner and one fast corner makes for fast racing!

The opening round saw both the Juniors and Womens Open hit the circuit for a planned 40 minute race with the Mens Open race having been allocated 1 hour.

The Juniors and Women finished 15 laps in 39:58 and 41:36 respectively. The organisers decided 15 laps was the racing distance.

The Mens Open completed these laps in just 34:25, raising question to the 1 hour time allocation. Could the Mens Open race have run longer?

The initial event indicated the series would be perhaps a greater success than it ended up being. Which is a shame because the race is worth the effort.

The inaugural event drew large crowds however the pre-dawn start time was a challenge for sponsors, and regular spectators a like. The early start time ensured only die-hard racers would be up early to cheer on and watch. A missed opportunity for sponsors and external funding?

The ensuing rounds saw the organisers play with the format for remainder of the year. Given the opportunity to establish a consistent race on home soil, they opted instead for variety.

Hopefully in 2018 we will see the series return with a number of events raced in the same format, to entice riders to train and improve throughout the year and measure themselves at regular intervals.

IMEvents Criterium Singapore

Cycling Singapore - IMEvents Criterium Cycling Singapore - IMEvents Criterium

IMEvents were a new race organiser stepping into the cycling scene in 2017. Somehow they secured, arguably, the best course raced all year.

A true criterium course of 1.2 kilometres, with a pinch hill on the back side and fast sweeping corners.

This race was well attended by the community, and many spectators lined the hill by the start finish line to cheer on racers.

The race received a lot of public criticism, which is unfortunate as IMEvents had only just stepped into the cycling space, and from all indicators the event was a great success.

Given the negative feedback it looks unlikely they will hold an event in 2018.

The format of the race was a surprising change to normal race proceedings. Targeted as a race to “foster healthy competition among the local cycling clubs and promote a stronger cycling community in Singapore”. A team time based event saw the following races. 3 waves of heats for Mens Open. 1 race for Womens Open. 1 race for Junior. And a final for Mens Open.

Each team member needed to record a time, the team time was then the sum of individual riders time. The winners were those with the lowest combine time.

There was some confusion with the timing system which caused a bit of angst on the day. Looking back at the timing sheets now I can’t quite make sense of it either. There is room for improvement in the format of this event, however the event as a whole was a great success.

I would love to see IMEvents hold another event in 2018! It would be a great loss to the community if IMEvents just disappear from this space.

Holy Crit X

Holy Crit had a small hiatus after the organisers were punished for “promoting and conducting HolyCrit races without approval or a permit from authorities.”. Thankfully this did not deter the organisers and they simply proceeded to hold races, this time with the backing of the SCF. Props to you guys!

Holy Crit X held at Singapore Sports Hub, National Stadium, under all the bright lights retained it’s loyal ‘cult like’ following, and in 2017 Holy Crit opened entries to road racers for the first time.

Holy Crit held 2 events in Singapore throughout 2017. Their approach to racing is similar in nature to that of Red Hook Crit and The Rapha Nocturne. Evening races with a more relaxed atmosphere.

We look forward to seeing what events are in store for 2018.

OCBC Team Time Trial

Changi Airport expanded adding a new road that hugs the Tanah Merah coast. An extra 10 kilometres of bitumen was laid, adding a purpose built cycle lane. The first of its kind in Singapore.

This new road opened to cyclist before the road went public. Hosting the OCBC Team Time Trail.

There’s not much to write about the Team Time Trial. It was a great event, on a new piece of road. Coupled with the LTA safe cycling campaign which aimed to raise awareness of cycling safety on Singapore roads.

This is exactly the kind of promotion and support we like to see at events. I hope the LTA will continue to support events in 2018.

Loads of competitors were keen to try out the new road, many of which stayed on and enjoyed the remainder of the day. Tents were setup by teams and I’m lead to believe many beers were consumed.

A hot day with hard racing saw Team SCF narrowly beat the Specialised Mavericks for the Mens Open title. Team SCF took out the Womens Open title ahead of Ell’Riders.

OCBC Singapore National Time Trial and Road Race

Cycling Singapore - 2017 Singapore National Road Race

Both races hosted by DirTraction, who have held a number of events in Singapore over the years. This year, again, saw both events secure the backing of the SCF and the results would culminate in National Titles for each discipline.

Both the Time Trial and the Road Race used the same Seletar Banana course. A 6 kilometre “hotdog” with a curve in the middle, to me it looks like a banana. The course can be challenging if there is a prevailing wind coming from the Lower Seletar Reservoir or the Straight.

Mens Open – The TT scheduled for 5 laps putting it at a respectable distance of 30 kilometres, the RR scheduled for 12 laps putting the race distance at 72 kilometres.

Womens Open – The TT scheduled length of 4 laps and 24 kilometres, with the RR at 10 laps and 60 kilometres.

Rain plagued both the Time Trial and the Road Race this year.

Thunderstorms called a halt to the Time Trial before the Mens Open got underway.

The RR saw 32 riders from a field of 78 riders DNF, many were caught out in a horrific high speed crash in the first 3 kilometres of the race. The crash is at 3:50 in the video.

It would be great to see a longer RR circuit in 2018, however given the difficulty of road closures it seems unlikely. I feel here is another missed opportunity to further develop the Singapore national cycling calendar.

Jungle Cross Series

The Jungle Cross Series is not quite a CX race and not quite a MTB race either. It sits somewhere between the 2 and both disciplines are run on different loops using the same area.

Hosted behind The Grandstand at The Cage Sports Park, there is no need for road closures.

Given the availability of the space it’s a shame the community have not taken to the series like a duck to water.

5 races held throughout the year saw a small selection of roadies embrace the dirt. For many MTB fans this was a welcome series. Building on a solid base the community really need to get behind this series.

Crazies

Crazies is an unspoken topic. In reality it’s not a race, simply a fast group ride. Crazies has no organisers, no start line and no finish line. In 2017 Crazies seems to have been decimated by lack of numbers.

It would be great to see the return of numbers to this great weekly ride. You don’t have to be a machine to join the ride and there are a couple of shortcuts you can take to get back on if you aren’t up for riding at the front.

Cycling in Singapore would continue to grow if more people were to ride Crazies.

Wrapping up

From a local stand point the calendar seems to be filling out nicely. The addition of the Car Free Sunday series, the return of Holy Crit and the addition of IMEvents saw a total of 12 organised races on the roads of the red dot in 2017. With another 2 days (OCBC Speedway and Sportive) planned next weekend.

The 2017 race season was the best of recent years and that is thanks to a concerted effort by a number of people.

These people include but are not limited to Singapore Cycling Federation, Share The Road, URA, LTA, the many event organisers, the photographers and all the support staff who work tirelessly to put on races.

Also thanks to everyone who participates, comes to watch and cheer on friends and family.

From the community as a whole, and from me personally I’d like to say thank you all!

Cycling Singapore - You Rock

Cycling in Singapore has come a long way however the reality is there is still room for improvement. We’ve come a long way in a year and I look forward to what’s to come.

When you look at cities in other countries where criteriums are held nearly 7 nights a week during summer, and regional races at least twice a month.

In 2018 I hope we can take a page from their books and have a weekly cycling race in Singapore where attendance numbers are in the 40’s 50’s or even 60’s.

2 thoughts on “Cycling in Singapore – the 2017 year in review

  1. I would have loved to see more women’s criteriums and women’s races in general. One (full field) and one beginner’s only criterium in a whole year is pretty disappointing, hopefully it’ll get better in 2018!

    What happened to the carpark climb in 2017?

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