Participants felt that the OCBC Cycle Virtual Ride was a way for children to understand goal-setting, practice and demonstrate determination, grit and resilience.
The OCBC Cycle Virtual Ride 2021 concluded in July with more than 6,100 cyclists participating the event. This was an increase of nearly 30 percent more participants from last year’s inaugural event.
As part of the virtual format and in keeping with safe management measures, participants clocked their rides at their own time and pace, completing their preferred distance over a maximum of four rides between 15 May and 4 July.
This year, organisers observed that participants took full advantage of the flexibility and convenience offered by the virtual format to bond with their friends and families.
Such participants included 41-year-old Mr Nizam A Haja, a cycling enthusiast who inspired his friends, his son and daughter to join him on two wheels this year and 11-year-old Denise Aguiling, who clocked a total distance of 219km – the longest distance – for participants aged between two and 12 years old.
Cycling has been a wonderful bonding activity for my friends and I over the last few years, and I’m really glad that my family has joined me in this pastime as well! My kids really surprised me this year by asking to participate, and I’ve been so impressed by their commitment and resilience to do their best. Although my wife did not sign up this year, she joined us on many of the rides as we completed our distances. Next year, all four of us will definitely be signing up together.Mr Nizam
Another cycling enthusiast who participated with his family this year was Mr Ramanan Raghuraman, 41 years old, father of two and an IT Solutions Architect. He shares with the Family of Fathers about his family’s OCBC Cycle Virtual Ride 2021 experience.
Family of Fathers (FoF): How did you first come to know about the OCBC Cycle?
Mr Ramanan Raghuraman (RR): I had heard about OCBC cycle a long time ago through social media but never considered joining because I had not been cycling regularly and I felt intimidated about cycling alongside serious cyclists.
Around two years ago, a couple of good friends and I decided to start cycling on a weekly basis to increase our fitness and also keep in touch. One of my friends, Nizam, who had already taken part in a previous iteration of the OCBC Cycle event, encouraged us to join the event last year to challenge ourselves and do something different together.
FoF: What was your inspiration and purpose to take part in the OCBC Cycle Virtual Rides 2020 and 2021?
RR: My friends and I had been cycling weekly for a few months and the OCBC Cycle Virtual Ride 2020 was a great way for us to challenge ourselves. The virtual ride format made it an easy decision since we could be flexible about planning our own routes and time and setting our own pace. The virtual ride format was also a lot less intimidating, since I could cycle with friends and not alongside competitive cyclists. We signed up for the 23km category last year, and it was a great way for us to increase our confidence and push ourselves further in a gradual manner.
After the great experience we had last year, we knew we would definitely do it again. So when the same event came around in 2021, in the spirit of challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves further, we signed up for the 200km category. The OCBC Cycle event has been a great motivator for us to train regularly and go a little further each time.
FoF: How have you personally benefited from taking part in the ride?
RR: The experience has benefitted me in two main ways – my own personal health and well-being and being able to spend quality time with friends and family.
I am not someone who loves running or hitting the gym, I find these activities too monotonous and boring. Thus, it’s really important that whatever physical activity I take part in has an element of fun and engagement. This started out with cycling with my friends, being able to catch up with my friends while pushing myself physically to cycle longer distances at a quicker pace made the entire experience much more enjoyable – becoming an activity that I looked forward to every single week. I am proud to say that since picking up cycling as a hobby, I have definitely become healthier and fitter, which is extremely important to me as a father of two energetic young children.
My family witnessed this and have not only been amazingly supportive of my cycling hobby but have also begun developing a keen interest in picking up cycling as well. It has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my two young children, and my 68-year-old dad. Having to cycle in pairs over the course of the OCBC Cycle, it gave me the wonderful opportunity of spending quality time with my loved ones, as we literally took steps to care for our physical and mental well-being through cycling together.
FoF: Why did you decide to involve your family members?
RR: My wife, Shalina and I have always wanted to make sure that our kids have a balance of school, play and physical exercise. To encourage them to have plenty of time outdoors and physical play, we got both our kids balance bikes before they turned three. Our daughter learned to ride a proper bicycle when she was four and has not slowed down since. We’re glad that both our kids took naturally to cycling and really enjoy it.
FoF: What was the process like, to convince them to take part?
RR: My kids have always enjoyed being part of challenges and competitions, so it really was not difficult to convince them to be part of the OCBC Cycle event. Once they heard that they would be getting goodie bags and medals for completing their distances, they were so excited that they wanted to get on the bikes right away and get started immediately!
FoF: What were your hopes and concerns about your children taking part in the ride?
RR: When we first started out, I had no idea what to expect! In the current climate, I was concerned about the safety measures that might affect our participation, the greater distances my children insisted on signing up for, and of course, their safety. However, I knew that this was an opportunity for us all to accomplish our individual and shared goals, making it worth the while.
As Rakshath is only three and trying out a 5km distance for the first time, it was a brand-new experience for him and the rest of the family. Compared to the 800m that I signed him up for last year, this 5km sounded like a much bigger challenge for my little boy. He surprised us all by completing his 5km distance in just one ride, and Shalina and I were so proud of him. We told him that the medal was like a reward for his hard work, and he was so excited to hold onto it and show it to his relatives. He posed for so many pictures with the medals that you would have thought he won gold at the Olympics!
His elder sister, Rashana, also amazed us by asking to up the distance this year. She graduated from the 5km ride last year to the 23km this year. Initially I was a little worried that the distance would prove too much for her, as she is just six years old. This proved to be unfounded, as she made us proud once again by completing her rides at a really quick pace – in fact, I believe she could have gone further if it hadn’t started raining that afternoon!
In just two short years, I’ve seen my children grow in their resilience, confidence, and physical ability, and it is my hope that they will continue to commit to this wonderful hobby in the years ahead.
FoF: How did the family train for the ride?
RR: Personally, my cycling sessions with my friends over the last few years have helped build up my strength and stamina gradually. When we first started cycling regularly one and a half years ago, I could barely complete a 12km ride without being winded. We made a commitment to keep at it regularly and motivated each other to go slightly longer and slightly faster each time.
For the OCBC Cycle Virtual Ride, we were allowed to split our 200km distance over four rides. In the lead up to the virtual ride, we regularly rode 40-50km per session to prepare ourselves. By the time it came to log our rides for the event, we were able to complete our four rides without too much trouble, and even managed a 65km ride to the popular Tuas Lamp Post 1. I also have to thank my friend Nizam for planning out all our cycling routes and playing the part of tour guide to Singapore by taking us across the various scenic park connectors around the island!
With the kids, we made sure to get some regular cycling time in the parks around our home. I had hoped to take them to a variety of parks in other parts of Singapore to motivate them further, but due to the COVID restrictions and safety concerns, we decided against it. Even with such restrictions, the kids were extremely motivated to keep going, and even without much training, both managed to complete their distances without any issues.
I have also been tremendously inspired by my 68-year-old father who took it upon himself to become healthier and more active in his retirement years. He would regularly cycle around 10km near his home, but he wanted to challenge himself to complete the 100km evenly over four rides. I rode with him to help map out his routes and prepare him for the longer distances. I was extremely impressed by his perseverance and commitment. He managed to complete his 100km virtual ride with no problem at all and is already practicing to take part in the 200km category next year!
FoF: What do you hope your children take away from the experience?
RR: Through this experience, I hope that my kids will always find excitement in trying new hobbies and grow in their confidence and perseverance. With each race category they asked to be signed up for, they have set goals for themselves (probably without even realising it!) and accomplished what they have set out to do.
Cycling is a great way for the kids to build their resilience, too. I’ve seen both my kids fall many times, get up and still want to keep going. It makes us proud as parents to see their determination and grit. I also hope that this will continue to bring them closer to each other and to us, their grandparents, and friends – building strong bonds of family and friendship that will stay with them as they grow up and become adults themselves.
Images credit to OCBC Cycle Virtual Ride