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For two and half years, I've heard all about the famous Thomson Ride, the Sunday morning ride that attracts the fastest riders in Singapore, the only ride, I was told, that is faster than Team Absolut's TTT.

But for some reason, I always had something better to do. When I first arrived in Singapore, Saturday was the best chance to go on a long ride, something I felt I should do because it was "winter." And between a long ride and a fast ride, I'll take a long ride. Between Saturday rides and work, Sunday was my only day to sleep late.

That was before MachoMan and Beef conspired to get me into mountain bike riding. (They let me sample their bikes, the same technique drug dealers use to hook their customers.) Mountain biking with TA means Sunday afternoons at Bukit Timah. That seemed like enough riding for me. Riding in the heat, especially on Beef's singlespeed, was more than enough exercise for a Sunday.

But today was a special Sunday. Sting was making his reappearance into the world of cycling. Like Sandman who rides 600 km in a week after months off his bike, Sting goes for the fastest ride he can find. I wanted to see how this gutsy maneuver plays out. And I figured I wouldn't do the Thomson ride by myself. What if I got dropped?

Sting knows a lot of people I don't. But we have Billygoat to chat with.

"What are you doing on a bike?" they ask him. I think some of them are the same people who were teasing him for taking pictures at last Sunday's race. At least it's not just TA who missed him.

As we're waiting for the ride to start, I remember another reason I haven't been eager to do this ride. It's not very safe. Kind of a large group for a fast ride, and there are 50 to 60 riders today. Some of them seem not to be wearing helmets. In light of Sylvester Ang's death on one of these rides not that long ago, I find that hard to believe. Since I don't say anything to the reckless ones, I guess I can't complain that nobody else does, either.

Finally, the ride starts.

I eye Sting to see what position he takes. The fast first group? No.

How about the second bunch? Billygoat's with them. They seem more squirrelly, though. We let them pass, too.

That leaves us with the mountain bikes, the parking lot posers, and other people who were probably just confused about the elite nature of the ride.

And we drop behind them, too.

But Sting has a plan. 

The ride takes the long way to Mandai Road. We turn onto Mandai directly from Upper Thomson Road. As Sting predicted, we meet up with the second group at the turn past the reservoir. A group ride without all the group work. We don't even have to draft anybody to stay with them.

Hey, this Thomson Ride isn't so bad. I don't think we've been above 40 km/h the whole time, and that's just downhill. Yes, there are people pointlessly half-wheeling each other and they don't seem to have such great control over their bikes. Nobody wants to draft the helmetless riders. I am still amazed at their helmetlessness.

As we reach the end of Mandai Road, Sting suggests deviating from our plan to bail out early and take Woodlands Road back to Upper Bukit Timah Road. But we are not really interested in the Lim Chu Kang part of the ride today. I have Bukit Timah later, and Sting is just getting back into the swing of things.

But we can say we rode the Thomson Ride. That is the point, isn't it? I think I worked it in at least three times while riding at Bukit Timah later in the day. It's not like I expect to be using that excuse again anytime soon.

Our timid poseur-like appearance could have been worse--at least I wasn't wearing my TA jersey. Spanish Fly still has it. Not that I mind--he's raced three times since he borrowed it. Me? I hang out at races and rides sometimes.

Comments or criticism can be sent to gingerman@teamabsolut.net

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