Learning > Nostalgia

Senior cyclists off to trace historic route to Singapore

After Mr Robert Tan finished cycling more than 500km from Terengganu in Malaysia to Singapore, a fellow rider suggested pedalling an even longer route – the one the Japanese took to invade Singapore and Malaysia during World War II.

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Sabrina Tiong on 06 Jun 2013

Publisher: Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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After Mr Robert Tan finished cycling more than 500km from Terengganu in Malaysia to Singapore, a fellow rider suggested pedalling an even longer route – the one the Japanese took to invade Singapore and Malaysia during World War II.


The former director of the Singapore Sports Council's Sports Excellence Scheme saw it as an opportunity to establish a route with historical significance.


Two years later, the retiree is about to lead five others from the tip of Malaysia to Singapore. Their aim, however, is not to remember the war.


"We want to establish the cycling route and make it an iconic one for people to attempt," said Mr Tan, 72, who wants to "discover and challenge the human spirit".


Next Wednesday, the six men, aged 60 to 72, will attempt the route – about 1,000km long – over 10 days. They estimate that they will be on the road for about five hours a day.


While many of them have cycled longer distances before, they will be without a support vehicle on this trip.


They have not booked any lodgings and will make spontaneous decisions along the way.


Starting at Padang Besar, a Malaysian town at the Thai border, they hope to stop at 16 places, including Parit Buntar, Klang, Malacca and Johor Baru, as they head south to Singapore. "It is only a guide because along the way, we do not know what we are going to meet – we might get lost, there might be a heavy thunderstorm," said Mr Tan.


Relatives have been supportive


Mr Gary Goh, 67, who has a 15cm-long rod in his hip due to a fracture from an accident, was taken to a bicycle shop by his son, Mr Mave Goh, 35, to make sure his gear is in good condition.


For Mr Francis Kang, 71, it will be his longest cycling route. "My family doesn't want to deprive me of what I love. If I can, I want to cycle all the way into my 80s, or 90s even," said Mr Kang, who had part of his lungs removed 13 years ago due to a tumour.


The group will give feedback to Tourism Malaysia. They are also organising a larger-scale cycling trip with the board for those who want to try the same route next year.


"It's a crazy idea but it's very interesting. We want to inspire people – the young, and even old fogies like us," said Mr Tan.

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