JOY in riding
These three Joyriders are having a time of their life on their bikes and are not letting age stop them for doing the things they want to do.
BY: Eleanor Yap
Who says age matters? Not these three guys from local group Joyriders – Looi Beng Hoe (pictured above), Joseph Ong and Glyn Evans (pictured left). They are unstoppable and at late 50s and beyond, they can bike just as well, and even faster, than some of their younger mates!
We met up with them during the halfway point at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, while they were sipping their juice and coffee and biting into their kaya toast and eggs, after starting off as early as 6.30am on a Sunday morning from Bukit Timah. Looi, a father of two and a service engineer at Eberts Electronics, is the oldest in the group at 62, while father of two Ong (pictured on left and right, below), managing director of Tan Chong Motors, is 60 and Australian Evans, sales manager for a motor dealership and father of three, is 59. They have been with Joyriders for many years and they share their thoughts on riding and why quitting is not an option:
When and why did you all join Joyriders?
Looi: I joined in January 2008 because I wanted to cycle with a group regularly. I have been cycling since year 2000 on the roads and dirt tracks.
Evans: I started competitive riding in 1963 when I was 13 years old. My first race, I came in second. When I came into Singapore in July 2006, I joined Joyriders a month later.
Ong: I joined in 2008 as I wanted to cycle in a group because of safety and camaraderie. I have been cycling since 2005.
How did you get interested in cycling?
Looi: A lot of my friends were doing this sport and they persuaded me to join them. I cycle mainly to exercise as it is great in terms of building up strength in both legs and hands, however, I am planning to compete seriously next year in the Singapore National Cycling Championship. I would like to do the Masters (40 years and above) (52km) or Open (140km) category.
Evans: I became interested in cycling as a schoolboy in primary school and my parents gave me my first bicycle as a Christmas present when I was 12 years old. I now only ride to keep fit but in my younger days, I have competed at an international level and was a national road champion. I have won many medals including gold, silver and bronze on the road and also on the velodrome (an arena for track cycling).
Ong: I do it more for the exercise and because it looks challenging. My wife often says that if it is perverse, I would try it!
How often do you ride?
Looi: I ride six times a week intensively of a total of 300km per week if the weather is good.
Evans: I ride four to five times a week and average 250km to 300km weekly. I enjoy the relaxation and the mental stimulation that cycling brings and I find my days were more productive when I had exercised before going to work.
Ong: I ride mostly three times a week, about 40km to 60km each time.
Any other sports you do as well?
Looi: I also swim and run.
Evans: I try to play golf as I used to do it quite often when I was in Australia. Since being here in Singapore, I have only played six times in three years, and golf is like any sport, you have to do it regularly to maintain any form. I used to play a lot of tennis before I snapped my Achilles tendon in 2006 on the tennis court playing a game with my wife and have not been on the court since then. On days I cycle, it actually helps to stretch my Achilles and helps keep me mobile. In terms of sports, I enjoy all sports whether having a go or just as a spectator.
Ong: I enjoy doing Ironmans (this includes a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike and a 42km run) – my first was the one earlier this year in New Zealand (this is despite having a diagnosed heart condition and a few accidents on the bike race). In October, I will be doing the Florida Ironman (he is the oldest of three Singaporeans who qualified) and next year, my sights are on the Switzerland one. I also run marathons and sail (he is a national sailor). I have been exercising since young and though it has given me a head start, I have met athletes who were late bloomers who do rather well, even better too, for whatever the reason!
Cycling can be dangerous especially on the main road. Have you gotten injured?
Looi: Yes, a car hit me from the right side on Adam Road on the eve of Chinese New Year in 2008. The driver admitted he was at the wrong and said he was speeding and could not see me. He quickly sent me to the hospital. Luckily, when they scanned me, nothing was broken, only blue-black on the left buttock. The driver was nice enough to visit me on the second day.
Evans: I have had many close calls with cars especially taxis and prefer to cycle in the mornings when there is not much traffic, and of course, it is cooler. My most recent accident was in January this year in the early morning when it was still dark. I was riding in a group of Joyriders when a wild dog/animal came out of the side bush along Neo Tiew Road at Kranji and knocked me over the handlebars. I landed on my right shoulder, head and right arm. I ended up in hospital for four days with a dislocated shoulder, three broken ribs and a pierced lung. The doctor said that if I wasn’t wearing a helmet, I would not be here as the helmet smashed instead of my head. Unfortunately, it was exactly one week before I was due to fly to Adelaide to meet Lance Armstrong and follow the tour Down Under. Falling off my bike is always a concern or fear and probably why I don’t race anymore.
Ong: Yes, I have had my share. It is preferable to ride in a group for visibility of motorists. But still you have to be alert for the odd motorist who could not care less if he is reckless and kills you. Such dangerous idiots are a misfortune of society that we all have to endure.
Can you share your most memorable ride?
Looi: I had two great rides. One in year 2002, cycling for charity from Hat Yai, Thailand, to Singapore in seven days, averaging about 165 km per day. The other ride was early this year with Joyriders on a trip to Fraser Hill, Malaysia, where we cycled up and down not-so-steep hills. The weather was cool and the scenery was beautiful. There, you can cycle down fast, all the way from the summit to the bottom. Manoeuvring the corners gives you a feeling of racing on a Grand Prix track.
Evans: That would be in 2004 when my eldest son Wayne and I rode in the Cape Argus Tour in Cape Town. The Argus is the world’s largest ride, all done for charity and consisting of 35,000 riders going off in groups of 800 to 1,000 riders at five-minute intervals and riding round Cape Point a total of 109km.
Ong: It is great to cycle overseas especially in Japan during Autumn. You got to do something different.
What advice would you give a senior who might be interested in cycling?
Looi: You must have the passion and the desire to keep fit.
Evans: My only advice to anyone interested in cycling is to try it but make sure you always wear a helmet. Also, don’t try to be a champion but ride at your own pace and remember “the art of cycling is pedaling not pushing”. You can purchase a good bike with all the gears, etc, for under $1,000 to start off until you improve or get more addicted to cycling. Most good bike shops have shop/group rides that cater to all levels and I would recommend contacting one of these shops to get started. The most important thing is your riding position and any reputable shop can set the rider up correctly.
Ong: Get the most expensive bike and helmet you can afford. It is easier on the eye, less prone to breakdown and that in itself is safer. The inexpensive bike that is nice, can do everything well and not breakdown has not yet been invented!
Any secrets to ageing gracefully?
Looi: Behave and think like you are a 24-year-old!
Evans: Staying young, don’t smoke and live a healthy clean life. Also, make sure you sleep enough and of course, keep cycling!
Ong: Forget about such ridiculous thoughts. You are going to grow old, period. Train your body to function as it should, as best as it should. In other words, optimise your potential with time, training and the determination you have within you.
Any last words?
Ong: Try a bit harder. Also, do not give yourself an excuse, please. The knee does not hurt when you run but hurts because you have not taught it how to run properly. If you have not run in years and suddenly you go out to run 5km, it is guaranteed that your knee will hurt. Begin slowly, tediously, patiently and continue tomorrow. I try to figure whether the things I cannot do is due to the so-called “age factor” or just another excuse.
Most times, it is just excuse. I need regular rest like everyone else. I travel a fair bit so I put in an hour or two to exercise whenever I can and do not get hung-up about missing sessions. … We should seek personal improvement rather than have a mindset that is preoccupied about keeping young to starve off ageing. Do something positive today. In other words, shut up, think less and go enroll in studying Norwegian!
** EDITOR’S NOTE: It runs in the family – Glyn Evans’ two sons are A-grade cyclists in Australia (shown right). “My youngest son rode for a professional team in Holland, while my eldest son in Australia is an accredited coach and has just been appointed official manager for two Team Garmin riders, Cameron Myer and Travis Myer, both who are world champions.”
* For more information on Joyriders, go to www.joyriders.sg.