Last October, two men were fined and jailed for organizing illegal for fixed-gear bike (one gear, no brakes) races at night called Holycrit. At that time, the news invited a wave of criticisms about cyclists in general, but that didn’t deter the local cycling community. Ask anyone from the community who’s been to the races or group rides and they’ll tell you that there’s a strong sense of community spirit and bond within the group, which is exactly what Eric Khoo, one of the organizers of Holycrit, have been trying to do with the races. After the whole ordeal, Eric and the community gained a lot of support from the Singapore Cycling Federation and new sponsors for Holycrit. We recently spoke to Eric who’s currently in the midst of organizing their first-ever race at National Stadium some time in mid Feb, following the successful, fully legal and authorized one last month. Here, he shares with us his reasons for engaging the community and how his passion for bikes has developed over the years.
Why does Singapore need a fixed gear community?
I feel that it’s necessary because there are already groups for mountain and road bikers, but none for fixed gears riders. We also welcome everyone to join, not just the fixed gears. At the same time, I also realized that there are many teenagers who are into fixed gears, but have nowhere to turn to for their passion. So, we gather to go for rides and provide that guidance for these youths who might be what people refer to as “delinquents”. For example, we have a friend who used to be hot-tempered, but after joining us, he became more patient and sociable.
There was legal action taken against the last Holycrit race. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
It was a grueling two-year process. My lawyer, Josephus Tan had been helping me throughout the whole ordeal. The community was very disappointed at the outcome, but we are still supporting the community by getting together for leisure rides. So eventually, I went to jail and was fined $5000.
Why organize another race after the ordeal you had to go thourgh the last time around?
Firstly, Singapore Cycling Federation expressed their interest in supporting our race. Secondly, we feel the community is still very much supportive of the cause, so we decided to do one again.
What’s it like being a bike rider in a city like Singapore?
It’s generally an unpleasant experience. There was this one incident I faced in Singapore when I was cycling on the extreme left side of the road. Some drivers are just more impatient than others and give off this impression that they want to run us off the road. However, my personal experiences in other countries like Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia were much better—drivers are much more polite even though they have the same hectic, if not worse, traffic conditions.
What do you think needs to be done to support biking here?
I feel there’s a lot to be done to support biking here, like support from the relevant authorities and organizations (yes, they’re already involved but more could be done). But most importantly, I think that the support from the society is key in building a cohesive biking environment. I feel that they can be more open-minded towards cyclists.
In the recent past there was an impression that fixed gear bike enthusiasts were pretentious hipsters. Can you tell us about your love for biking in general and fixed-gears in particular?
I started cycling when I was 14, and continued my passion for bikes ever since. When I’m cycling, it helps me to relieve stress and gives me a sense of freedom. Besides my love for cycling, I personally think the people in the fixed gear community are very friendly and easy to get along with. So it’s mainly the people around me that keep my drive for cycling going.