Where to ride during the Chinese New Year?

CHARLES LEE | 12th Feb 2015 | FEATURES

Where to ride during the Chinese New Year?

Thursday.. Friday.. Saturday.. Sunday.. Whoooaah!  A whooping four long days of non-work festive holidays for this Chinese New Year (CNY)!  For many of us, the duration of the holidays is long enough to make us sit down and ponder “so, how shall I spend my Saturday and Sunday?” after the yearly ritual of visiting relatives (and vice versa) during Nian Chu Yi (first day of CNY) and Nian Chu Er (second day of CNY).  Well, there are a few things that you can do.  You can choose to visit your (more distance) relatives (we hope that we are not getting some frowns).  Or you can choose to get out of Singapore to Bintan Island for a short getaway.  Or you can choose to stay within Singapore and grab a hotel stay for a short staycation.  Or you can choose to ride.  Yes, the fourth option sounds fun!  But where?

Here, at Togoparts, we thought that, apart from the routine walk-through of River Ang Bao and the visiting of relatives, it will be nice for families (or friends) to organise a cycling trip during the festive weekend.  With the CNY atmosphere in the air, we cannot find a better time to keep ourselves fit in a joyous mood!  The following places are some nice venues for you and your families (or friends) to consider for your CNY weekend cycling.  Most of you may have been to all of the listed venues.  Some of you may have been using some of the venues on a weekly basis for your training.  Then, you may ask “can’t Togoparts offer some other unique cycling venues?”  Well.. technically, yes.. we do have the expertise to advise on more “fun” cycling routes.  But we are aware that the CNY weekend is, after all, within the period of the CNY and therefore, we have no intention to propose unique cycling expeditions to keep you away from the festivities.  Whilst cycling is fun, it is important to maintain ties and relationships.  Read on and meanwhile, have a prosperous Chinese New Year!

For the Families..

East Coast Park

Distance: 15 kilometres

Type of Ground: Paved roads

Difficulty: Low

Gradient: Flat

Facilities: Common pavilions, rest-rooms, vending machines, bike rental facilities, F&B, fitness corners

This is a place that needs no further introduction.  Be it used as a venue for school-organised barbequing, wedding photo-shoots or playing in the sand with the young ones, the East Coast Park etches a special memory in everyone’s heart in some way or another.  With the vast sea and the flying commercial jets in the back-drop, the East Coast Park portrays an infinite picturesque view in day and at night.

(Beach at the East Coast Park.  Picture from www.nparks.gov.sg)

Stretched with a coastline of approximately 15-km, the 185-ha East Coast Park houses several bicycle rental stores which rent out bicycles at reasonable prices.

(Cyclists along the East Coast Park.  Picture from www.nparks.gov.sg)

Apart from the standard park facilities and an approved Skate Park, the newly opened Parkland Green, which is opened in September 2014 in Area C, pampers your taste buds with a wide selection of bars, bistros, cafes and restaurants.

(Map showing location of Parkland Green.  It is opposite the Parkway Parade shopping mall.)

Distinctively, Parkland Green houses a multi-weapon and multi-arena laser tag facility, the first and only in Singapore, and a bike/skate retailer shop.  With an array of activities to choose from, the East Coast Park is a natural choice to pick when it comes to bringing your family for a cycling trip.

(Parkland Green.  Picture from www.2bearbear.com)

Western Adventure Loop

Distance: 12 kilometres

Type of Ground: Mostly paved roads with some sandy tracks

Difficulty: Low

Gradient: Flat

Facilities: Common pavilions, rest-rooms, vending machines, water-points, fitness corners

The east of Singapore has the East Park.  On the opposite end, we have the Western Adventure Loop.  Comprising five park connectors – Choa Chu Kang Park, Pang Sua Park Connector, Bukit Panjang Park Connector, Zhenghua Park and Dairy Farm Nature Park – the Western Adventure Loop not only offers cyclists a stretch of a 12-km (from one end to the other end) ride amidst nature, it offers bird-watchers opportunities to capture breath-taking pictures of close to 50 bird species along the Bukit Panjang Park Connector.

(Map of the Western Adventure Loop.  Picture from www.nparks.gov.sg)

With water-points, vending machines, shelters and toilets situated at various check-points along the loop, there is no reason for you not to bring your family to cycle along the Western Adventure Loop to experience a different kind of CNY.

(Zhenhua Park.  Picture from www.nparks.gov.sg)

Punggol Waterway to Punggol End

Distance: 12 kilometres

Type of Ground: Mostly paved roads with some sandy tracks

Difficulty: Low

Gradient: Flat

Facilities: Rest-rooms, water-points, bike rental facility, F&B, fitness corners, playground

Opened in October 2011, the Punggol Waterway is the latest green initative by the National Parks Board for residents living in the North-Eastern part of Singapore.  Since its opening, the 12.25-ha Waterway has notably been attracting more visitors from other parts of Singapore.  This is not a surprise, given that the well-paved tarmac leads to the Punggol Settlement, a far-flung waterfront filled with restaurants, bistros and cafes.  For those who wants to soak in more adrenalin-pumping activities, there is even a horse-riding ranch for you to pick up some horse-riding skills.  For the kids, there is a playground for them to mingle with their peers.  For those who want some quiet moments, they may want to bring along their fishing rods to fish at the jetty.

(Cyclists along the Punggol Settlement with a row of restaurants in the background.  Picture from The Straits Times.)

For families (and friends) who want to clock more distance, they may choose to cycle eastwards to the Punggol Promenade, which leads to the Sungei Serangoon Park Connector.  Cycling along this “riverside” connector will bring you to directly to the Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 Park Connector.  This stretch of connector may be long (it takes more than 2 hours for a family of four to complete the journey), but you will get to enjoy the scenic view of the Sungei Serangoon canal and the rustling leaves along this green belt.

For the Adventurers

Pulau Ubin Ketam Trail

Distance: 10 kilometres

Type of Ground: Steep climbs, drop-offs, sharp corners and tricky obstacles

Difficulty: Moderate-High

Gradient: Varying steepness

Facilities: Pavilions, skills park

The Ketam Trial, situated at the nostalgic Pulau Ubin, can be considered a second home to local free-riders and downhillers.  The latest addition to Singapore’s mountain bike trails, the 10-km Ketam Trail is the only trail park that satisfies the standards of the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

(Location of the Ketam Trail in Pulau Ubin)

The Ketam Trail comprises three types of trails.  Those categorised as Blue Square trails are suitable for beginners.  Black Diamond trails are for middle-skilled riders.  Double Black Diamonds suited riders with advanced biking skills.

(Different track categories.  Picture from www.mytwowheelers.blogspot.com)

(A downhiller executing a cornering along a berm in Ketam Trail.  Picture from www.singaporemtb.com)

For riders who want to fill up their stomachs before they head back to mainland Singapore, there are a few nostalgic Chinese restaurants which offer seafood and Zi Char at reasonable prices.  During the CNY season, Lo Hei is also on the menu in some of the Chinese restaurants for riders who wants to “Huat Ah!!”.  For Malay-food cravers, there is a long-running Malay food store (situated next to the jetty) which sells home-made delicacies such as Mee Rebus and Nasi Lemak.

Given that February is classically a drier month, it is advisable that riders going for the Ketam Trail be hydrated adequately at all times.

For the Roadies

South Buona Vista Road to Mount Faber

Distance: 20 kilometres

Type of Ground: Paved roads

Difficulty: Moderate-High

Gradient: Long straights with hilly ascents of varying steepness

Facilities: Pavilions, rest-rooms, F&B, tourist facilities

This route should be familiar to most roadies.  Classified as “moderate” on the scale of difficulty, this 20-km route is aptly suited for those who want to shed the extra kilos that are gained during the CNY binge eating.  South Buona Vista Road marks the start-off point.  Whilst Singapore does not offer many challenging ascents, riders are encouraged to take on the hilly climbs (marked in the illustrated map) along Vigilante Road, Pepys Road, Henderson Road (and turning left into Telok Blangah Green) before climbing the stretch of road leading to the Mount Faber.

(Route from South Buona Vista Road to Mount Faber.  Notice the marked areas with hilly ascents.)

At Mount Faber, those who want to grab a bite can consider Spuds & Aprons, a café for food junkies.  For those who are contented with their hydration packs, do spend some time appreciating the panoramic views of Singapore.  The views are splendid at any time.

(View of Singapore from Mount Faber at night.  Picture from www.flickr.com)

(View of Singapore from Mount Faber during the day.  Picture from www.wikipedia.com)