[dropcap size=small]O[/dropcap]nce a cycling interest group started here by premium British apparel brand Rapha, Rapha Cycling Club (RCC) Singapore has grown to a tight-knit tribe that’s 250 strong. Those are significant numbers for a paid membership club.
Of this total, close to half show up for the major destination events, where they’re joined by hundreds more from other Rapha cycling chapters. As for within Singapore, perhaps 30 members gather each day before the crack of dawn to zip across a stirring Singapore.
Mind you, many of these are high-powered executives who power on straight to the workplace after. But there are no airs or egos when we meet five such members for a chat. There’s just easy camaraderie, unbridled enthusiasm in sharing golden memories, and an uncanny knack for completing one another’s sentences. These are bonds that have been tempered into something more than friendship – the members are almost family.
What club activities do you participate in?
CLT: The regular 5.15am rides – four days a week, before work.
AT: On Tuesdays, we normally cover 60km. Wednesdays, we do Sentosa, so that’s about 30 to 40km. Thursdays, we do about 40 to 50km around Mandai. Friday we do social cycling, and that’s about 30km.
JN: So we start at 5.30am, and by 7am we’re already done.
CLT: There are also other rides – members put the details in our group chat, and on the (Rapha) app as well, and people would just come along if they want to.
CWK: In Hong Kong, we went for a “eat-and-get-drunk” ride. Soon, a bunch of us are going to do a hawker ride!
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Do these rides help with kick-starting the workday?
ALL, IN UNISON: (chuckling) Not the Tuesday ones!
CLT: You go to work with a burst of energy. But I can’t deny that, by lunchtime, I start feeling quite tired! But honestly, the feel-good factor is very high.
TDG: When I’ve got a day where we go hard, I would go to the office late after a half-hour power nap.
JN: But not everyone has the luxury of doing that! (chuckles)
AT: It does help me to have more focus and make the most productive use of my time. I believe it’s not about how much time you spend in the office, but rather how productive you are.
Does riding with the club push your pursuit of the sport?
TDG: Yes, for sure. There’s a guy waiting on the corner under a lamppost at 5.15am that you don’t want to disappoint, and that’s why you get up.
JN: I never thought of cycling as a form of exercise or losing weight. I just wanted to commute without paying for Uber. But the thing is, in trying to keep up with them, within just six months, I’ve dropped two suit sizes and lost 6kg. It’s not about wanting to be competitive. After going on one overseas event with the club, I want to sign up for more cycling trips.
TDG: That’s the thing with the club – it lowers the barrier for you to do the next big thing. I would never have raced on my own without the club.
What’s special about riding with the RCC?
CWK: It’s really amazing how some of the strongest riders are also some of the kindest. They’ll always ride back to get you.
AT: I remember my first ride. I dropped my water bottle and a club member came back for me. And he said: ‘Ride in front so if you get lost, we know where you are.’ That stuck in my mind. Now, when I see someone who needs help, I see myself; I was there once.
JN: There’s a guy called ‘Hooves’. He’s like a real-life Jason Statham. Like a real Daniel Craig type.
CWK: Has he ever scolded you?
EVERYONE: Of course!
AT: He’s got something of a sergeant-major mentality. But he really cares.
JN: He helped me change my punctured tyre on my first ride. On a ride, you’ve really got to trust one another.
CWK: Exactly. You’re going down a hill at 65kmh, inches from one another. If you don’t like and don’t trust one another, there’s no way you can ride together.
If you were relocated for work, what would you miss most about this ‘family’?
TDG: People here care for one another. That’s what I’d worry about most if I ever have to join a new club.
JN: I’m one of the newest. Even if there are people who don’t know you or your name, they’re still extremely encouraging.
AT: Beyond the rides, we even talk about launching business ventures together. It’s really blossomed from that seed into many different things.
CLT: It’s really the people I’ll miss. They’re pretty much the reason why I wake up at 4.30am. There’s always a lot of post-ride talk…and FOMO (the fear of missing out) is really there. I’ve made a lot of good friends, and many friendships I want to keep for life!