It is 4am. My iPhone is ringing like an air raid siren, trying to wake me up. I try to ignore it a little longer. I don't usually wake up this early. I usually sleep at this hour. But I have a bicycle event to attend and need to get there by 5.30am before the flag-off.
Yes, I was one of the 9,000 cycling at OCBC Cycle on Sunday.
I was doing the 40km Challenge on my folding bicycle named Sasha, a Dahon Mu P24.
I decided to grab some food at Suriya's Curry House, a 24-hour prata place near my home. Breakfast was a lovely Maggi Mee Goreng washed down with some Teh Oh Ice Limau. I read some cyclists saying on their blogs that their preparations for the ride included carbo-loading. I reckoned Maggi Mee Goreng was "carbo" enough.
The only preparations I did before the day itself was to make sure my bicycle was working (rear brakes needed to be replaced), that I had clean underwear, and the batteries in my lights were charged.
Since I wasn't planning to race or better some kind of personal world record, and since I rode to and from work daily, I didn't bother to do any training. Heck, I didn't even know what the route was. I decided I would just ride with everyone else and that way, I wouldn't get lost.
The streets were already filled with riders all heading for the F1 Pit Building. It was quite a sight at 5.00am. I have never seen so many cyclists and their blinky lights on the road before and it was reassuring. Usually, I find myself riding alone in the wee hours of the morning, when I returned home from work. This morning, the streets belonged to us cyclists as we converged on the start point from all over the island.
We spent the 30 minutes before the race began hanging out and chatting, and admiring each other's ride. It was like that scene out of Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, except without the fast cars and sexy ladies. Instead, it was bicycles and dudes (and dudettes) in tights.
Speaking of lycra, I have to say that I am glad I did not wear mine. I had a cycling jersey on (the biggest size I could find that did not cling too much to my less-than-Lance-Armstrong body) and a pair of bermudas.
Let's just say that tight bicycle clothing is extremely unforgiving to anyone with even an ounce of body fat. And even less flattering on middle-age overweight men.
Besides, I felt happy wearing what I normally wore on my daily ride, my berms and sneakers.
The ride went smoothly enough. Though there were some silly bottlenecks which meant we had to wait in a bicycle jam for a few minutes.
The weather was perfect for riding. Because we set off so early, most of the ride was in the cool air of the morning, before the sun came out in full force.
When we finally finished our ride, we joined the queue to get our J-chip removed from our fork (it was used to clock our times) and pick up our "goodie bag".
I say goodie bag with air quotes because it was pretty sad. Inside were mostly flyers for products. There was a packet of wet tissues (1 piece), a small 1 oz tube of SPF 30 sunblock, a cheapo pen, a pack of disposable razors (3 inside), and a 20% discount voucher.
Good thing I didn't join for the goodie bag. Well, the OCBC jersey they gave out was quite decent, I suppose.
Then it was time to peel off the stickers of our bib number from the helmet and the bike. I was a little worried about the sticker messing up the paint job on my frame but it came off fairly easily. My mother later told me that she bought my bib number for 4D but it didn't come out for any prize.
It was 8am by the time we were done. I chatted a little with my foldie friends and then took my leave. I had to rush home to take the kids and the wife to church, a way more stressful activity than riding 40km because getting home with all the road closures was a bit of a challenge.
Oh, my 40km time? 84 minutes and 6 seconds. Not too bad. Maybe next year, I’ll make myself more aerodynamic and wear that suit that Michael Phelps wears for swimming. And add some carbon bits to my bike to lighten it. I may shave a whole 6 seconds off my time.
mrbrown aka Mr Kin Mun LEE is the accidental author of the popular Singapore website, mrbrown.com, and has been documenting the dysfunctional side of Singapore life since 1997.
Affectionately known as the Blogfather of Singapore, his readers follow his writings closely, which these days range from current affairs, his family, and even his trips abroad.
Currently, mrbrown also hosts the mrbrown show (mrbrownshow.com), probably Singapore's best known comedy and satire podcast.
mrbrown is married to Ginny, his long-suffering wife for 12 years, and is father to three lovely kids, Faith, Isaac and Joy.