(Photo of Calvin Auw by Poch Maui)


Writer Jerome Tan considers the touchy subject about whether we should hit the streets to conserve our dwindling trail resources


A lot of us have come out somewhat fresh from the Urban Wheels Challenge held at Kallang a couple of weekends ago. Witnessing what seemed to be the most adrenaline-pumped urban downhill event of the year, I couldn't help wondering if urban riding could form a sustainable and feasible alternative to trail riding. 

These thoughts, are nothing short of scandalous and sacriligious to the average trail-rider, and that included me. 

But despite the seeming negativity and first-hand rejection of such thoughts, it is an interesting one. Looked at differently, an urban landscape could be just as compelling and attractive as the wooded trails, albeit with less mud and dirt. (Washing up and bike-scrubbing is still on the low list of many riders. But hey, guys, it's part of the game)

It is a fact that the MTB Community has been facing certain challenges when it comes to our trails. Beloved trails like Butterfly and Tampines MTB Trail have all come under attack and fire, with the rest of the unwashed and unenlightened masses arriving in droves with their brands and pitchforks to lay waste to our simple pleasures. It's been distressing to many to watch old and familiar haunts and trails go under with no hope of resurection. 

In the light of these events, can we turn to a more readily available resource?, i.e. our urban landscapes? Our local street riders (a number of whom have been duly covered by the Editorial Team here at Bikezilla) have shown us that, viewed creatively, our urban obstacles can be a great source of thrill, rivalling even that of our rooted escapades. The planks and staircases along Punggol Waterway and Bishan Park, for example, emulate a lot of our local trail features!

But the question still remains. Is it the same? What is it about the trail that can't just be so easily replicated, or forgotten? Perhaps it is the perception that street riding requires a lot more technical skill than trail riding for it to be truly enjoyed. Or maybe, it's the TYPE of skills that make it different. Is the ability to pull off a decent bunny-hop more relevant in taking it to the street as opposed to, let's say, weighting yourself nicely through a well-designed berm and enjoying the boost of speed that comes with it?

It's a tough question to ask, and a tougher one to answer. But there could be a day, not so distant, where the feel of rubber on tacky mud or sifting gravel gets replaced with concrete and well-treaded pavement. 


Jerome Tan is part of the Bikezilla Editorial Team. He is currently off the saddle nursing some broken bones from a bad crash on the trail. When he is not writing about his passion, he is mugging his way to be a lawyer or enjoying his freedom somewhere in the trails. He enjoys spending time in the green rather than in urban jungles. Some may mistake him for a random homeless person living off the land in the depths of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. With all that said and done, Jerome enjoys wanton mee, and excessive amounts of laksa with equally excessive amounts of chilli just before a day out riding. You know, just to make things interesting. 


Ed: We love all types of cycling – especially off-road MTB and street riding. Till now, many of us can't put a finger to which one we love more. We'd probably need a bigger heart. On the objective side of things, both trail and street riding have issues that we need to note as riders – be it with the law or safety for ourselves and fellow riders. In a perfect scenario, we would want the world to be a ride-friendly place. But in reality, we would just have to ride hard, ride safe and ride considerately. (And don't tell me riding considerately would lose the biking attitude, that's bulls. And you know it… Have fun now guys!)


Photos reposted from interview with Calvin Auw