By Sheryl Gwee (18A01D)
Mud. Sweat. Gears. After sixty kilometers and nine hours on their bicycles, Gear Up participants certainly had a taste of all three.
An annual cycling event hosted by Raffles Outdoor Adventure and Activities Club (ODAC), Gear Up gave participants a chance to bond with their friends, get a good workout and to explore our little island, all without having to fumble with maps and other logistical issues.
While Gear Up had been an overnight cycling event in previous years, this year it began at 1 pm in the afternoon and ended just after 10 pm. While some might have been disappointed over not being able to cycle in the cool darkness throughout, the event was no less exciting as participants were able to experience both daytime and night-time cycling, and to witness the sunset as they cycled towards the glittery Marina Bay Sands area.
Having fun was a priority at Gear Up, but so was safety. With 63 participants and 22 Group-ICs journeying across Singapore, countless potential hazards and prevention measures had to be taken into account. All participants had to go through a proficiency test several weeks before the event to ensure that they could confidently manoeuvre narrow pathways, sharp turns and pedestrian crossings on two wheels, and to allow the organisers to look out for the less seasoned cyclists during the event.
Groups of five participants each (as per the sign-up requirements) were led by three or four ODACians and accompanied by friendly teacher chaperones as they journeyed across the island. Beginning at East Coast Park, participants travelled through Bedok, Tampines, Lorong Halus, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Kallang and Marina Bay Sands, before returning to the starting point. Participants cycled an average of one-and-a-half hours between breaks, with six rest stops (two of which offered refreshments provided by the event’s sponsors) along the way.
For many, Gear Up was a welcome break from the hectic school semester. “[Gear Up] was a good change of pace from the usual school grind, and an exciting ride around Singapore,” said Michael Chow (18A13A). Casual conversation and light-hearted banter under rolling clouds and picturesque greenery, which soon turned to shimmering city lights in the night sky, certainly lifted the participants’ spirits. “It’s a feeling I’ll never forget—that of feeling the breeze at night and enjoying the scenery,” said Chua Ying Xuan (18S03Q), who had signed up for Gear Up with her OG-mates.
Moreover, the event was also a fresh experience and an opportunity for participants to take in new sights and sounds as they travelled through both parks and urban areas. “I really liked how we got to explore places in Singapore I never knew existed, especially together with friends!” expressed Ying Xuan.
With changing weather conditions, traffic, accidents and many other factors beyond control, planning for and organising Gear Up was no small feat. It was the organisers’ hard work—all those weekend “recces”, action plans, liaising with the sponsors, the teachers and the school—that pulled the event together seamlessly.
That night, all participants—seasoned long-distance cyclists and first-timers alike—successfully completed the journey, with no major injuries. One can easily imagine the physical exhaustion they must have felt (sixty kilometres isn’t a walk in the park), but also the immense satisfaction of having finished what they set out to do. All in all, the participants certainly gained much in the process, be it friendship, good spirits, or simply a good workout.