An Introduction The East Side
The eastern side of Singapore can be considered a cycling wasteland with relatively flatter terrain as compared to the northern and western parts of the island. Even though it does not have the hills of Mount Faber or the flat roads of Lim Chu Kang, there are many riders who still head down to East Coast Park on weekends to have their weekly dose of saddle-time. In this article, I will be introducing two cycling routes in the East which are Changi Coast Road and Selarang.
Flat Roads, Shady Trees and Planes
Often referred to as “Coastal”, Changi Coast Road is a place where you see lots of cyclists on weekend mornings as well as weeknights, some in groups, others training individually. It is a place where various cycling races such as those held by organisers like Tribob and Cyclone take place regularly. Though the road is long and stretches all the way from Changi Village to East Coast Park, I am going to concentrate on the road bounded by Tanah Merah Coast Road and Aviation Park Road.
This flat route is approximately 6km long with only about four meters of elevation-change throughout. The route is sheltered with trees on both sides, thus making it shady and cooling to ride along. Due to its location being very near the shoreline, crosswinds can be relatively heavy, but can also make your ride nice and breezy. Cyclists who want to do interval trainings can simply make U-turns at both ends of the route. When you are done, proceed to the nearby Changi Village Hawker Centre to have a cool and refreshing drink, or to replenish the calories which you have lost.
Less experienced cyclists also have the luxury of the Coastal Park Connector at their disposal. It is a smoothly paved pathway which runs throughout the length of Changi Coast Road. Amateurs who may be unsure of their bike-handling skills or wary of road conditions can use the connector for a more confident ride.
More experienced cyclists usually use the two-lane road, where they need not contend with joggers and skaters for the space. Road traffic is only heavy during peak-hours on weekdays and is relatively light otherwise. Also due to the amount of cyclists there, cars and heavy vehicles generally give plenty of clearance while overtaking, doing so from the outer lane.
It might also be a good idea to bring an extra bottle of juice if you are doing interval trainings as there are no shops available near the area.
In conclusion, cycling on Changi Coast Road is an enjoyable experience with cool winds and a consistent terrain. Taking a break midway also has its perks, offering quite a view with aeroplanes taking off and landing at the neighbouring Changi International Airport.
If you are travelling from the west, Changi Coast Road can be entered from two ways, through East Coast Park or via Xilin Avenue
East Coast Park
Cycle through Area H till the end where there is a country club, NSRCC. For park connector users, proceed to the right side of the path. Road users will need to keep to the left travelling on a single-lane road leading out, where you will make a right turn to Changi Coast Road
Not for the faint-hearted, Xilin Avenue is located at the junction of Simei Avenue and Upper Changi Road East. From there, cross over the flyover and Changi Coast Road is straight ahead. Be alert and watch out for traffic filtering in and out of the expressway.
Climb Your Heart Out
Selarang is situated in between Tampines and Changi Village. When cyclists in the East mention Selarang, they are actually referring to the road Upper Changi Road North. Although the hills here pale in comparison to those of Mount Faber or Upper Thomson Road, they do offer a refreshing alternative to the generally flat roads of the East.
Approaching from Loyang Avenue, a climb immediately greets you, forcing you to scale up this two- lane road. A short descent to recover your legs and it’s time to gain momentum for a second climb, this time shorter but steeper than the first. While it might seem relaxing to simply pedal uniformly all the way, racers who frequent this hill for personal bests know better, as this route can present quite the challenge due to the double-ascent. The route is approximately 3km long with a total elevation gain of 36m.
Although Selarang does not have a park connector, it is surrounded by several tall buildings and historical sights. Traffic is not heavy but due to each road having only one lane, it is advisable to cycle on the left side of the road. Cyclists who do not have good bike-handling skills may be spooked by trucks running beside them and end up taking the footpath instead. However, cars will normally keep their distance especially when you’re climbing up-hill and may even wait patiently behind you if they are not in a hurry.
In conclusion, though slightly more congested than Changi Coast Road, Selarang is one of the few places where cyclists from the East can get to experience climbs without going to the opposite end of the island. Unlike Coastal, there is a petrol kiosk and other shops along the way, so parched cyclists without a spare bottle need not worry as long as you have some cash with you.
Approaching from the western side of Singapore there are two ways into Selarang, either through Pasir Ris or Loyang Avenue.
Coming from Changi Coast Road, make a left turn at the junction of Loyang Way and Loyang Avenue. The uphill on Selarang immediately commences.
Upper Changi Road East
Coming from this road requires a decent sprinting ability and good road awareness as it is at the convergence of two expressways. Watch out for traffic going into the TPE, with Upper Changi Road North on the right.
These routes are just two of the more popular options available in the East, where cyclists can ride for fun or to train. The popularity of these two routes is evident on weekends, where you can see many cyclists. Some along Changi Coast Road are even decked out in skin-suits and full time-trial setups doing interval trainings, oftentimes in groups of 20 or more. Experienced cyclists who want to do more training can even combine Changi Coast Road with Selarang to form a route of approximately 30km, which is commonly referred to as the Selarang Loop.