Easy: East Coast Park
Start: East Coast Park
End: Changi Village
Along this coastal stretch, built entirely on reclaimed land, it appears as though the whole world and her auntie are mastering balancing on two wheels. With kids running loose and rollerbladers taking up part of the path, this spot is more suited to laidback cyclists rather than speed demons.
Starting where East Coast Service Road meets Fort Road, the ride heads east along the coast towards the airport. Along the route there are constant off-the-saddle distractions, including the wakeboarding water park, a BMX/skateboard skills arena, a radio-controlled car race-track and an 18-hole golf course.
Younger swingers can try mini golf at Lilliputt located at Playground@Big Splash, which also now hosts a monthly flea market on the last weekend of every month in the car park. If you do want to work up a healthy sweat, the path meanders along the coast all the way to Changi Airport and beyond on the 42km park connector network.
Gastronomic delights pop up along the path as well. Cold beer is on tap at Brussels Sprouts at Big Splash and Scruffy Murphy’s at Marine Cove, but the real gems can be found at the East Coast Lagoon Food Centre where falling-off-the-bone grilled chicken wings (Teddy Bear, Stall 44) can be washed down with more affordable ale.
Those without wheels can hire from one of the PCN Pitstop shops located in Singapore’s parks, allowing you the choice to drop it off at a different location. If you plan a longer route, East Coast Park is connected to seven parks on the Park Connector Network.
Start: Changi Ferry Terminal
End: Pulau Ubin
A quick boat ride away, this nature reserve is quiet and, apart from the odd mini bus, free of traffic, allowing riders to explore at their own leisure. Despite its proximity to the mainland, the island is worlds away from modern-day Singapore and feels like a leap back in time to the 1970s. Ubin used to be a vital resource of granite (the literal meaning of ubin in Malay), the stone used to build the original causeway to Malaysia. After the industry died off, nature reclaimed its quarries and tourism became the island’s biggest earner.
Stepping off the boat ($2), take a left turn and negotiate your way through the bike hire shops and restaurants of the main village. Exiting the village, head east, passing the Pekan Quarry on the right. This old granite quarry is now a beautiful lake and the surrounding area home to an assortment of birdlife including the rare Oriental Pied Hornbill.
Follow the path and take the first left onto Jalan Jelutong. Continue past the island’s sole hotel, The Celestial Resort until the road forks. Take the left-hand turn, and as you bike uphill the road becomes a rocky track. This is the beginning of the international-standard Ketam Mountain Bike Park, where 10km of mountain-bike trails offer an off-road adventure for riders of all levels, from an easy white circle run to an advanced double-black diamond. The reward is a fast, albeit bumpy, descent back to sea level.
Reward yourself with seafood staples and a cold beer at the end of the day from First Stop Restaurant, a scruffy spot that has been serving the postbiking crowd for over 20 years.
Rental hire fees start at $2 per hour (negotiation is often required) for a basic bike, with higher prices for mountain bikes for those wanting to try their luck on the trails.
Hard: Bukit Timah
Start: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
End: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
This is the most intense mountain biking trail in Singapore and offers the thrills to prove it, so be prepared to bike through the jungle and get yourself muddy. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is the largest patch of primary rainforest left in Singapore and is home to more species of trees than all of North America. It’s also the highest part of the island, so temperatures are (slightly) more suited to frantic leg-thrashing exercise.
Entry to the reserve is off Upper Bukit Timah Road, opposite the Courts superstore. The bike trail starts at the bottom of the car park and is well signposted. For any queries there’s a National Park office at the top of the car park, with a warden on hand to advise whether the trail is fully open, as sections are sometimes closed due to repair work or bad weather.
The track winds its way through dense jungle, with a healthy dose of heart-pounding ascents and descents to test your stamina, before emerging into the open at the old stone quarry (despite its name – timah means tin – the area was mainly mined for granite). The park is also popular with hikers and you’ll sometimes meet walkers on the bike trail itself, which, along with the resident monkeys and the odd monitor lizard, will certainly test your reflexes.
If you’re one of a select few you may even catch a glimpse of the fabled Bukit Timah Monkey Man, who’s rumoured to dwell in this last patch of forest, occasionally crossing into civilisation in darkness to forage through an unsuspecting bus-stop bin. There’s nothing to worry about; he’s harmless. Do, however, make sure you wear a helmet, and remember there’s no shame in walking the tougher sections if it lets you finish in one piece.
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