Grassroots Racing in Singapore

Behind the scenes, I’ve been working hard with both CycoSports, and the Singapore Cycling Federation, to find a way to bring grassroots racing to Singapore. Inspired by my trip to California, I hunted high and low for a suitable venue. Then on May 30th, I stumbled across this:

We (Kent & I), instantly went into action. We reached out to the land owner JTC, connected with SCF, and planned a safe run event for the day. Keen engaged all members of the community. We explored Fixed Gear, juniors, and the crew from the HandCycle community. They are all excited for the activity.

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HandCycle joins the action at Seletar Crit. Photo by Samuel Zheng

Many parts of the event would be a first for Singapore, so we knew we’d have to launch the event with confidence. We’d have to educate people on terms like ‘Prime, Lanterne Rouge, and Free-lap’ to prepare everyone for the Criterium format.

In the weeks leading up to the event, we had the OCBC Cycle Car Park Climb, and CycoSports to have the Jungle Cross. All the while we’d need to close major sponsorship deals and drive registrations. It must have been the most nervous weeks, as I frantically tracked registration numbers every day. It also didn’t help us facing a setback on a major sponsor just over a week prior the event. Fortunately, this created the trigger for the most amazing turn of events.

In the absence of a major sponsor, I turned to the community, hoping we’d find some generosity for the prizes at the event. Our nerves and humility were met with overwhelming support from clubs, distributors, restaurants, bike stores. Even the SCF chipped in to offer a sweet collection of prizes. I was especially touched by the number of people that wanted to support the juniors and the women. I thank all the sponsors through formal channels over the coming days. I also want to acknowledge that these generous acts showed us all that cycling in Singapore bonds the community together; one that should align us all in future events.

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There is no day that  passed by  without a few setbacks. Our juniors were caught up with a massive storm. This resulted to closing the airport, forcing us to call the race at the end of the prime and take an hour break. During that period, the timing system went down, causing us to resort to manual timing procedures. The near ‘compressed’ time made us try new things, like running two categories at once. It worked, and added to the excitement for those watching.

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Brian’s face sums up the day. Photo by Samuel Zheng

The Men’s Masters and Open put on an exciting show of skills, as various teams played out their strategies. Personally I was heart broken when I had to pass up my place in the Men’s Masters A, but I knew I had a job to do to keep the show going.

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Calvin Sim takes the Men’s Open. photo by Alex Dugand

CycoSports is a great bunch of people that help run events purely for the love of it. They’ve all completed Commissaire Courses, and is committed to continue to volunteer their time. I can’t thank these people enough, they put all their faith in Kent and I, and aren’t afraid to battle storms and the scorching heat all day long. This team was on location hours before the first race, and well after the final presentation. Thank you. It also gave me great pleasure to see riders personally come up to the team to thank them. It’s a small gesture, but it mean so much in sport that depends on the efforts of the community.

When you organize an event like this, you are never certain that you’re doing the right thing with everyone. It’s hard to juggle so many opinions, needs, amongst a mountain of rules, procedures, and requirements. For me, there was a special moment, a moment where my heart sung. I spontaneously jumped on the back of the Men’s Open race, but on my first pedal stroke, my new bike snapped. I was generously offered a loan bike, and I was back in the race. No warm-up, barely any food, and a mad dash from completing presentations, it was never going to be easy to hang on to this strong field. After being dropped, Donald McDonald and I worked together until three laps to go. Donald was keen to watch the finish, so I was left to finish solo. On my second last pass through the start/finish area, I heard my name  being cheered by the crowd. I never thought so many people knew my name. It was electrifying, it was my validation that perhaps this event was liked by so many. Yes, behind the publicly confident Scott, I have a healthy amount of self doubt. It fuels me to push harder, to create exciting new things in my work and my personal life. The cheers I got on my final two laps was the best feedback I could get all day.

I owe I huge thanks to every single person that came out to Seletar Aerospace Park. It hasn’t been easy to pull it off all together, but the reward was worth it. Getting the entire community to support more events will be the force that helps the sport grow. With growth, we can have more races, bigger sponsorship,  and we can start building the credibility needed to get things done in our red dot home.

I’m am open book, and I very much welcome feedback. I’d love you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. What could we have done better? What could we do to engage more riders, supporters, sponsors and spectators? And if we could create a series of events, what would you like to see?

Our hunt for more venues continues. We are currently in negotiation for several races with the year.We’d love the entire community to help us find ideal venues that fit these criteria:

  • Private land
  • Course of 1km to 3km
  • Good road surface

We are also seeking title sponsors for upcoming races, including a potential race series in 2017. We are looking at drafting a grading system for 2017, but need the help of the clubs.

We also need more volunteers to help with set-up, marketing, marshal, photography, club engagement.

Our sport depends on the broader support from the community. Together we can build a national race series with regular races that get everyone involved. Without any effort on our behalf, we encourage Channel News Asia come out to cover the event.

Congratulations to all the winners! Thank you to the sponsors, and a huge thanks to the CycoSports team.

5 thoughts on “Grassroots Racing in Singapore

  1. for taking up such an endeavour here, in one of the most fragmented two wheeled community anywhere- thank you! good on ya mate. looking forward to more events.

    i think the business parks (CBP, IBP, etc) are prime places for crits on weekends in my opinion.

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      1. there used to be a crit held at Changi Business Park over a weekend a few times many years ago. i think for the same reasons Changi was ideal – the International Business Park could also be perfect for a crit over a weekend. there used to be races held in NTU too for the more hilly centric ones. looking at it, we’re preety much limited with places to hold a proper race :X

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  2. I think this course (www.strava.com/routes/6327721) would be too short and twisty for Cat 1 speeds, but for slower or younger riders it might be fun.

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